Before we get started, I'd like to thank everyone who supported me in prayer last week as I traveled. I appreciate it so much, and God blessed with safe travels and good scheduling. God is good!
Our woman of the Bible for this week is a widow woman, a Gentile, who was perhaps not as old as some of the widows we have studied. She has a young son, and her life is about to change when she meets a man of God:
In the first few verses of this chapter, we see that Elijah has been dealing with some difficulties. What kind? Well, let's go down the list . . . this was the time of Ahab and Jezebel, a horrible time for the children of Israel. Ahab had married Jezebel, and not only was she a Gentile, so it wasn't a great idea in the Lord's eyes (He had specifically warned against this type of union) but she was also an idolatrous, scheming, evil woman! She was turning the nation to idol worship, and the whole country was doing detestable things. It was beginning to look like the worship of God would die out altogether in the northern kingdom, because the land was swarming with priests of Baal. These men were absolutely reveling in their new power; they were insolent, greedy, and depraved, and the queen was "egging them on." The fires of persecution were burning!
Of all the thousands of people in Israel, only seven thousand remained who had not kissed the statue of Baal, who had not bowed their knees in worship of the idol. And they were so paralyzed with fear that Elijah didn't even know they existed! So Elijah, whose name meant "Yahweh is my God" felt very, very alone.
In this desperate situation, Elijah prayed earnestly that it would not rain in Israel -- his faith was rewarded when God withheld the rain for three years and six months (later it rained, but only when Elijah prayed for God's blessing to be restored). Perhaps everyone else thought the Lord was dead and gone, but Elijah knew He was the only real thing in his life! He went into hiding, trusting in God.
His place of hiding was beside a small stream, and ravens came daily to bring him bread and meat. He had water, in stark contrast to the rest of the land. Then the stream ran dry.
What would we have done in Elijah's place? Would we have expected God to do something amazing? Send down a band of angels to cleanse the land of idols and restore the stream to a torrent?
But instead, He told Elijah to go to Zarephath, and to ask a Gentile woman, a widow, to supply him with food. . . . Wow. What were the thoughts running through Elijah's mind now?
Have we had times in our lives when the streams ran dry? When God allows us to be drained? Gifts can ebb away; money can flow through our fingers like water in the creek; our health can flow away too; our jobs can end; things can dry up. Do we ask Him why? Why would He allow this? It's times like these that we have to trust and obey. We must lean on Jesus and let Him carry us on through.
We see that Elijah had this well in hand. He trusted God and headed for Zarephath. He was on his way to the widow lady's house.
We'll learn more about what happens when they meet, the next time we study together.