Monday, September 5, 2016

The Widow of Zarephath

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:
 Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.” 10 So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”15 She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah. (I Kings 17:7-16)
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.


Austin Towers said...

A lovely story and so much to learn through it xx

Katie Isabella said...

I am just getting started. I love how it begins here.