It was a time of serious political unrest. King Ahab was the evil king of Israel at the time and took part in detestable “religious” activity, instead of worshiping God. God’s anger burned against the King and his wife Jezebel. Up until this point, no other King had angered God as much as Ahab had. Many followed the King and so those who loved God would have been in the minority, just like they are today. This culture of unrest is important to understand as we talk about the small stuff seen in our passage today.
Enter, Elijah. He was a prophet of God who was used to speak God’s very words to the people of Israel. Elijah announced to King Ahab that there would be a drought in the land. “Not a drop of rain or dew unless I say so.” We see in scripture that God often uses “natural disasters” to turn people toward Himself. It’s in these dependent times that we begin to see our greatest need, which is not a home or even food, but a broken heart that has come face to face with our sin and our need for a Savior. This is especially important to consider as we turn on the news, even this week. Pray that God’s people will surround the hurting, help to meet tangible physical needs and bring the good news of Jesus to them!
God protected his servant Elijah. He told him to leave the area he was in and promised to provide food and drink for Elijah as he went.
Just as God promised, He brought a raven to bring a little bread and a little meat to Elijah morning and evening. Ravens bringing food? This is when you know you really are God’s man! Elijah received water to drink from a brook, until one day it dried up. He then told Elijah to go to another town and ask a widow there for some food. As Elijah entered the town, he saw her. The widow God had promised would help him was standing there gathering sticks. Her “mourning clothes” probably gave her away as the widow he was looking for. He asked her for a drink and “oh, also one more thing? A little bread?” Each household was feeling the drought. It had taken a toll on every one and every Farmer’s Market in the land. Now, Elijah was asking a widow for some help? The poorest of the poor? Shouldn’t he be helping her? But he was obedient to what God had asked him to do, even though it could have seemed insensitive.
Her response breaks my heart. It’s one of desperation and yet respect for this man of God.
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.”
She lived in serious poverty. It wasn’t that she didn’t have a willing heart, but she really didn’t have ANYTHING to give. After their last meal together, she knew she would slowly watch her son die and she had already experienced the death of her husband. Now this strange man was asking her for more. Elijah had pity on the widow. He told her not to be afraid, but to go home and do exactly as he had asked, which was to make him some bread. He gave her the promise that God would not allow her oil or flour jars to run dry until the rain returned and the drought was over. Believing this man, she went home and opened her jars with a little oil and a little flour and made some bread for Elijah and her son.
I can imagine how she must have smiled when every time she went to make something, the little she needed was there in those jars. This brings new meaning to “give us this day our daily bread”. It was literally just what she needed for each day. This was living by faith and extreme obedience. What the widow had to give was very small. It would seem insignificant to most of us, but God had a plan. He worked not only in the widow’s life, to increase her faith in Him, but today, in ours as we reflect on how God provides for His people.
I’ve never had ravens bring me food or had olive oil jars that didn’t run dry, but God has shown me that He is my provider in other ways. When my husband was a youth pastor in Michigan and we were new college graduates paying off large amounts of school debt, someone brought us a laundry basket full of food. I sat on the floor of our apartment and cried as I unpacked it. I had been in the store earlier that week wanting to buy some of the very things that were in that basket, but because of our tight budget, I didn’t. God knew and He cared enough to show me.
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