Scripture: And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.'” 1 Kings 13-14 ESV
Observation: Instructed by the Lord to seek refuge at the brook Cherith where ravens would feed him, now that river is dry from drought, God redirects Elijah to the pagan city of Zarephath where a despairing widow will feed him (17:1-9). So Elijah complies and settles in a foreign land with people who do not know the God of Israel. And as commanded, Elijah seeks for this nameless widow at the gate of the city. Immediately, he asks the widow to bring him a vessel of water and a morsel of bread. With deference, she sullenly explains that what little she has will be hers and her son’s last meal (17:10-12). Elijah then urges the widow to allay her fears and follow his instructions with the promise that neither her jar of flour nor the jug of oil will run dry until the rain returns to the land (above verses). Stepping out in faith, she complies and “for many days” witnesses a miracle (17:15-16).
Takeaway: Faith begets faith. Elijah continued to grow in his faith as he obeyed his Lord’s commands and saw the fulfillment of his promises. Now God would up the ante. No ravens, no brook, the Lord would provide bread and water through a despairing widow who had no faith in him. And when Elijah followed through on his Lord’s command, the widow responded in like-kind. Together, they would witness God’s faithfulness.
If the story ended there, it would still inspire readers to trust in the Lord. But there remained one more trial of faith. Just as it seemed that her life had risen from the ashes, the widow’s son dies of an illness (17:17). Assuming that her past sins caused her heartbreaking loss, she rails at Elijah for provoking God’s judgment on her (17:18). But Elijah maintains hope, stretches out her only son’s lifeless body to the heavens, and cries out to the Author of Life to restore life. The Lord hears his prayer and resurrects the boy (17:19-23). She then responds, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth” (17:24).
This poignant, miraculous story foreshadows our beautiful Gospel. We, the hopeless, despairing, and godless people, witness a miracle when the only Son of God (who truly died for our sins) rises to new life in our hearts and minds. And it’s all because others who have taken a step in faith obeyed the Lord and told us how he loves and has forgiven us and will care for us the rest of our days. Faith begets faith.
Prayer: Father God, we thank you for your Son who bore our sins in body and died a sinner’s death to bring us new life. Would you please enlarge our faith in your love, forgiveness, and provision for us and inspire us to go and tell others? Amen.
Rev. Gordon Green, M.Div., M.A. Counseling