Living Principles for Unsettling Times
Key statement: “Practicing faith instead of fear.”
Tonight we are going to look into the life of Elijah and see how he prepared for an uncertain future. His ministry is filled with many different events, but it begins with confrontation.
Elijah before King Ahab
Very little is known about Elijah’s life before he went to see King Ahab. The only information is Elijah was a Tishbite (some interpret this word as ‘stranger’) from Gilead. Gilead was a mountainous region east of the Jordan River.
King Ahab was a wicked king who married Jezebel, who served Baal. She was a great persecutor of the believers. Her wickedness was so severe, her name became the name of a wicked woman.
The Lord sends Elijah to pronounce judgment on the nation of Israel because they had forgotten the Lord and began worshipping Baal. Judgment is severe because their sins were severe against the Lord.
Withholding the rain crippled the nation’s food supply.
The judgment began by prayer, and the judgment would be ended by prayer.
Notice how Elijah spoke:
1. The God of Israel who lives – the one true God
2. God of Israel will withhold the rain and bring a famine – famine was a sign of judgment
3. Only by my word will the rain come back.
Drought brings famine and famine brings death.
Elijah’s ministry began with a confrontation with King Ahab, king over Israel.
I can imagine that King Ahab did not know who Elijah was before this encounter and probably doubted his word of judgment. He brushed it off as the ranting of a wild man. Only time will tell and as time went by King Ahab realized that the rain would not return until Elijah prayed for rain.
Elijah in hiding
1 Kings 17:3–7 ESV “17:3 “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan.
17:4 You shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
17:5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord. He went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan.
17:6 And the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.
17:7 And after a while the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.”
Lord sent Elijah from the presence of the king to hide by the brook Cherith which was located east of the Jordan river. Here Elijah could remain hidden from the king.
He did not know how long the Lord would leave him there but he waited on the Lord.
Notice the command of the Lord to Elijah, “I have commanded the ravens to feed you.” God took care of Elijah’s needs while he was in hiding by the brook. We do not know how long he was there but we do know the drought continued for 3 1/2 years.
James 5:17–18 ESV “5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth.
5:18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.”
Some Bible scholars believe Elijah could have remained at the brook for up to a year until the brook dried up.
Elijah sitting by the brook watching the water level dropping day by day as the drought continued in the land. The day came when the creek bed was dry but the Lord had already prepared another place to meet Elijah’s needs.
At the widow’s home
1 Kings 17:8–16 ESV “17:8 ¶ Then the word of the Lord came to him,
17:9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.”
17:10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.”
17:11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
17:12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
17:13 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.
17:14 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.’”
17:15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days.
17:16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.”
The Lord spoke to Elijah and told him to travel to Zarephath which is located in Sidon. Zarephath is a Phoenician city, near where Jezebel was born. Her father was the king over Sidon. The Lord sent Elijah to the place where King Ahab or Jezebel would never expect him to be.
“After the brook Cherith dried up, Elijah was directed by the word of the Lord to go to Zarephath. This village was in Sidon and was governed by King Ethbaal, father of Jezebel. The drought covering the kingdom of Ahab extended to the kingdom of Ethbaal, showing that the living God controlled the sky and weather of Sidon as well as Samaria. When Elijah arrived at Zarephath, he found a widow in desperate plight because of the drought. She and her son were starving. She doubtless worshiped Baal, but Baal had not eased her critical need.”1
Elijah realized the famine not only affected Israel bur the rest of the land. Here was a poor widow who was down to her last meal and then was going to starve to death.
Jehovah sent Elijah to the widow because the Lord had commanded her to take care of Elijah. Lord sends Elijah to a widow who had nothing to take care of Elijah with but God provided.
When he entered the gate of the city, he saw a young widow. Probably just widowed because he would have recognized the mourning clothes on her which showed she was a widow. Elijah approaches her and asks for a drink of water, which she kindly goes to get. Even in her destitute condition, she shows Elijah kindness.
Then Elijah asks a for something to eat. She tells him she has just enough flour to make a cake so she and her son could eat one last meal and die. She told Elijah that she had nothing to offer because she was destitute.
He insisted for her to make him a meal first and then make a meal for her and her son. She knew that if she did that, there was nothing left for her son and herself. Elijah assured her that Jehovah would provide and the food will be provided.
She was probably not a worshipper of Jehovah, more than likely she worshipped Baal. But Baal had not supplied her needs because he could not; Baal was a false god.
Notice that Elijah’s statement included the words, “Do not fear.” This is what the Lord does, He removes fear when we trust Him.
She had to trust the word of the prophet Elijah that Jehovah would take care of her. She did as he asked, and the Lord provided for her household during the time of famine.
Elijah was there for several years since the drought lasted for three and half years.
Widow had an uncertain future. She thought her son and she would starve to death. But God sent Elijah to take care of her needs and she took care of Elijah’s needs.
Living Principle – She had to trust the Word of the Lord in order to do.
Proverbs 3:5–10 ESV “3:5 ¶ Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.
3:6 In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.
3:7 Be not wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil.
3:8 It will be healing to your flesh and refreshment to your bones.
3:9 ¶ Honor the Lord with your wealth and with the firstfruits of all your produce;
3:10 then your barns will be filled with plenty, and your vats will be bursting with wine.”
Matthew 6:25–34 ESV “6:25 ¶ “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
6:26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
6:27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
6:28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
6:29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.
6:30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’
6:32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
6:34 ¶ “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”
1 Wilson, Charles, The Wesleyan Bible Commentary, Volume 1 Part 2, Baker House, Grand Rapids, MI, p. 277