V. 1, Elijah the Tishbite... It has been depressing reading about the stubbornness, wickedness and sin of Jeroboam and the kings following him, from chapter twelve through chapter sixteen. Now we come to a bright spot midst all the sin. The heresy of Jeroboam did not bring Elijah on the scene; rather, it was the total wickedness of Ahab and Jezebel.
There was never a king as wicked as Ahab, and there was never a prophet as great as Elijah. Ahab is the peak of wickedness for Israel. Elijah is the peak of the power of God, crying out against Ahab's wickedness. My, how we need some Elijah's today.
Elijah My God is Jehovah. Elijah steps into history the same as he steps out. He cam in wit a tempest, and left in a whirlwind.
Elijah makes a statement here that is a direct challenge to Baal. Baal was considered not only the owner of all, but the creator of all, having power over rain, among other things.
When Elijah said, As the Lord God liveth, he said, "The Lord, he is God over all. He alone is alive, and not dead like these dumb idols of Baal and Ashtoreth."
No dew ... rain... "Baal does not control these; the Lord God of Israel does, and I will prove it."
James 5:17, 18, this statement, however, was a result of prayer on Elijah's part, and he prayed this way at God's command.
Can not we see Ahab's fact here. He looked surprised as he probably said, "Who is this crazy fellow who dares to speak against the king (state). He is full of hot air. Baal controls the weather. We can pass a law and make it rain. We can educate more people in the art of serving Baal, so they can cause it to rain."
Of course, as time went on, he found out differently.
V. 2, the word of the Lord said...
V. 3, hide thyself.
Two reasons for hiding himself:
First, so he would not see the misery of the nation as they
suffered the drought that only he could change.
Second, Ahab would be looking for him with blood in his eyes for his head.
But Elijah did not go hide until the word of the Lord told him to do so. There is nothing wrong with hiding ourselves from danger, but it had better be at the word of the Lord if we expect him to provide.
There is so much here, but I really do not want to spend that much time in this section with Elijah, so I will just hit some high points. As we do look at Elijah, we might keep in mind that he was a man like we are, subject to he same passions as we are.
God is getting ready to call the people back to himself, 18:39, and to deal with the false prophets, 18:40. God now is going to prepare a man to do his work in these areas. Elijah, at God's command, sticks his neck out, to the point he must now depend on the Lord's protection, or he is done. Elijah was not ready to fact the 850 prophets of Baal yet. He could face one man, but there was still work to be done in him. The grace of God had to work. Now, look what he had to go through to get this grace.
V. 3, brook Cherith. Cherith Separation, Solitude, discipline.
1. God could have protected him in the middle of his enemies,
2 Kings 1:10-15.
2. God could have changed the hearts of his enemies, and put a fear of Elijah in those hearts.
But Elijah needed seclusion at this time. Even though he had spoken for the Lord to the face of wicked King Ahab, he still needed to learn complete dependance upon the Lord. Hee God protects and feeds him.
A person in God's perfect will has God's protection and supply. Elijah's supply was bread, meat and water. We have come to expect the supply to be a new car, house and steak with mashed potatoes and gravy.
God provides for him here for a year; thus, he was alone here at the brook for a year.
God could have brought beasts to him for him to kill and eat, but he fed him by an unclean bird. God will use whatever mens suits him best to teach us dependance upon himself. Elijah learns that God supplies the bread and water of life. Elijah learns dependance upon the Lord, not on his own strength, wisdom or abilities.
Human reasoning would not have told him to go here, but God's word did. We must follow God's word and will for our lives, even if it does not look like there is any food in it.' Elijah's daily provision came from obeying the word of God and from NOTHING ELSE. I sure wish we as Christians could learn this simple, yet complex, truth of God's word. How foolish for man to think he can have his needs supplied elsewhere.
Notice, however: Elijah could have gone elsewhere, found a job, built a nice home, and maybe even lived happily ever after, but:
A. Ahab might have found him.
B. Elijah would never have met the 850 false prophets head on' in the power of God.
We can teach our kids their needs can be supplied elsewhere. They may still be the children of God, but they will miss out on seeing the fire of God fall. We must teach them their needs will be met by obedience to God's Word.
V. 4, there... There was only one place Elijah could find safety, protection and supply, there. Where? Right where the Word of God told him to be. It might not be as glamorous as we wold like. It might be where only the ravens can find us, and then only by God's direction complete solitude and separation. But there is where God's protection and provision will be found. Anywhere else will be presumption and tempting the Lord. Anything else will be other god's before him.
There. God took Elijah from nowhere, and sat him before the king.
First, God then took him from before the king to the wilderness, there.
Elijah had to be there in order for God to care for him. If he had said, "Lord, the conditions in the city or in Moab or in Egypt are better, I think I'll go over to one of those places until you need me gain. When you need me, just holler, and I will be right back. Elijah would have starved anyplace except there.
Second, v. 6. The food was sent there, not to where Elijah might have wanted to be. Our provision is based upon being where the Lord wants us to be in education, intelligence, reasoning, social standing, job clarification, wealth, &c. The rich people were probably starving the same as the poor widow. Read some of the prophecies of God concerning judgmental famines and their effect upon the rich.
Third, there did not seem like a good place to be, but it was the best place in the world at this time for Elijah.
He left a land of plenty for a land of wilderness, famine and dependance. God knew the famine that was coming, and that Elijah would be better off there in the future, although it might not have seemed to be the best place now. God knows the future, and the there where he wants us to be. There may seem worse than where we are or where we want to be, but we do not know what the future holds. We need to seek to be therethat is, the place where God wants us, for that is where his supply will be found.
V. 7, the brook dried up. Note that even though we are there, problems and difficulties can and often will arise to where we feel we are forsaken. Elijah did not say, "Lord, look at the mess you got me into. Ahab wants to kill me; the nation is against me, and now you brought me into this forsaken place that only the ravens know about. I am going to die, and no one will even know where to find my bones. I told you Lord, this place did not sound good when you told me to come here."
(Notice that we are not told what runs through people's minds in various situations, though the Lord did reveal what was in people's hearts. We are only told what they say to the Lord or to others. Evidently, it is human nature to have many doubts and fears in difficult places, but as long as we do not allow those doubts and fears control us, God overlooks them.)
I think that after seeing God supernaturally feed him for a year with ravens, Elijah said, "OK Lord. The brook is drying up. if this is how you want me to die, I am ready. Whatever you will Lord is fine with me."
Then the Lord said,
V. 9, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there... Elijah had been in seclusion, and cut off from all help but help from the Lord.
Does it seem all are cut off from us? Maybe the Lord is trying to teach complete dependance upon himself. Maybe he wants to show himself strong through us. If so, this is the first step cut off from all except himself.
Elijah stays here even beside the dried up brook until the Lord moves him.
Here is where we get in trouble. The brook starts drying up, and we start looking for somewhere to move, before his time. I know people by the dozens wh did this. Troubles come, the book dries up, and they move to greener grass and die there. One cannot move out of a problem, and God will not move one out of a problem, nor change it until we learn what he has for us to learn from that problem.
"OK Lord, I will die here by this dried up brook if that is what you want, and I will by faith rejoice in it." One does not move from problems. If a move is tried, the problem will come also in a different form. We must not move until we have a definite word from the Lord. A move requires a passage to back it up. It is better to die by a dried up brook than to move without the Lord.
Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of the Lord.
(V. 9 is a verse the Lord impressed Bettie with when we started corresponding in 2002.)
V. 9, move to Zarepath. Look at the meaning of the word. Look at where the Lord is sending him from the separationfrom the frying pan into the fire. Zarepath means furnace or workshop for refining of metals.
The Lord is getting ready to use Elijah to put to death 850 false preachers, and to call down fire from heaven.
Spend a year in solitude with the Lord, being fed by ravens and watching a brook dry up. "Oh, that's no problem. I could do that if the word of the Lord told me like it did Elijah..."
The word of the Lord says, It is required in stewards that a man be found faithful in every area. Are we?
Now, God calls Elijah from separation into the furnace or workshop for refining metals:
1 Peter 1:7 That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:
"Lord, are you sure? The brook is dried up here, and I am cut off from everyone. And now you want me to go to a worse place than thisinto the furnace, to a poor widow on top of that. Lord, are you sure you have the right Elijah? Check your records again. Remember, I'm the one who preached to the king. Surely after a year of solitude, prayer and dependance upon you, you would have something better for me than a furnace for refining metals. Lord, I've had all the workshop I need. And besides, it being a furnace and workshop for refining, that is Zidon. That's the capital of Ethbaal. Jezebel's dad has control of Ethbaal (16:31). In case you don't remember, that man you sent me to, Ahab, is married to that man's daughter. What are you trying to do to me? Surly there are some better places."
Instead, Elijah said, "Your will be done Lord. If you want to feed me here, I'll rejoice while I have breath. If you want me to die here with no water, I'll rejoice until I have no more breath. If you want me to go to Zidon where Jezebel's dad is, I'll rejoice as I go. If you want me to go to the widow, that is where I'll go. It really makes no difference to me. You show me from your word, and I'll do it, regardless of how good or bad it looks, and rejoice in you as I go."
Look at what is involved here:
James 4:6 But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Proverbs 3:34 Surely he scorneth the scorners: but he giveth grace unto the lowly.
2 Corinthians 4:15, Paul had an abundance of grace because he had an abundance of trials. 2 Corinthians 2:24.
We are told to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and saviour Jesus Christ. (2 Peter 3:18.)
How do we grow in grace? See the example of Elijah. Remember, grace is the desire and ability to please God. (Philippians 2:13.) Only as we submit to him through his word, and go through trials (watching the brook dry up and rejoice in the Lord), does he give us more grace.
As he gives us more grace, he moves us to other trials, and there is more grace yet. The grace to face the trials of life and glorify God in our bodies comes from the trials, not from the victories. God builds grace on grace. He adds grace to grace, building toward the coming battles.
Notice where Elijah fell. It was not by the brook or in the furnace of refining, but in the victory. (1 Kings 19:4.) There is abundant grace to handle anything in the fiery trials as we submit to the Lord and his word. "Whatever you say, Lord, I'll be faithful." But there is no grace in victories. God gives grace to handle defeat, but not grace to handle victories. Why? It's easy to be humble in defeat, but very difficult to be humble in victory.
God allows failures (the brooks to go dry) to build grace in us. If we respond wrong, we lose out on the grace he had for us.
If we seek to men's wisdom to handle life's situations, we lose out on the grace of God, and he says, "Ok, go ahead, try it the way you feel is best. You may succeed for a while, but the natural results will come to pass.
Elijah humbled himself before the word of God each time; therefore, he had the grace of God to call down the fire when it was time.
THERE WILL BE NO GRACE IN OUR LIVES FOR VICTORIES UNLESS THERE HAVE BEEN SOME MAJOR HUMBLING DEFEATS!!
If we run from or resist those defeats, we will have bitterness instead of Grace
Notice here that the grace of God will enable us to be fed by the Lord.
As Elijah met each challenge here, bot h at the brook and at Zarepath, he grew in grace to handle the situations that were to arise with Ahab. Elijah went from light to light. He followed the light as he had the light; therefore, he had more light. As we obey light, we have more light, but disobedience results in darkness.
Vv. 9, 10. Let us look here for a time. Notice that the widow woman was there gathering of sticks. She was busy. See Luke 4:24, 25. There were many poor widows in Israel at this time, but Elijah was sent to this one. Why?
There are some reasons worth considering:
First, she was busy. There was a famine. She had very little food left, only one meal for her had her son. She could have said, "What's the use. No need to even cook this little that I have left. We will just die."
However, she would not give up. I'm sure she had been praying to the Lord God to supply her needs, but she did all she could, even in her poverty. The left food was so meager that she only needed two sticks to cook it. V. 12.
Second, God had commanded her to feed Elijah. But she did not know it. God was going to prepare her to help Elijah. Again, the grace of God was even working in the heart of this widow. He could have let her starve, but for some reason known only to God, he chose to spare her.
Third, she did not know. She was just out gathering sticks. God did not appear to her and say, "Go gather sticks, and I will send someone to you." She was just doing what needed to be done, and God worked on both ends.
We just need to do what is right, and leave the rest up to the Lord, though it certainly seems foolish. The intellectual' way would be to ask everyone who came down the road, "Hay, are you the prophet I am to feed? We need help."
It seems best that we help the Lord out. He will work on both ends to provide the need if we will only do right. God's purpose will be worked, either with or without us.
Forth, v.v. 9, 15, 16. She acted by faith. V. 14, For thus saith the Lord. She acted by faith in the word of God. Reason would say, "I'll make mine and my son's first, and if any is left, I'll give it. Let me try God first, and if he comes through, so will I."
She did according to the saying... She proved her faith in the face of death defying odds. If it did not work as the Lord said, she would die. She placed everything on the line by faith.
God met her need for 2 ½ years. Might we be able to look death in the fact, and do right as did this widow.
Fifth, she lived in the refining furnace.
A. A widowlost her husband.
B. Pooronly one meal left.
C. Starving-preparing to die.
D. Lost her son-who Elijah brought back to life.
E. V. 18, feared judgment-she though the death of her son was judgment on her sins. However, it was not. Rather, it was to show the power of God, and to prepare Elijah for his coming conflict.
Doe it seem we are in the furnace? We must trust in the Lord,
obey his word, and expect to see great things of him.