The message was brought by Rev. Eddie Foster.
I Kings 17:1 And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. 2 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, 3 Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 4 And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. 5 So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. 6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. 7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. 8 And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, 9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lordsendeth rain upon the earth. 15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. 16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.
Elijah makes a dramatic prophecy. As I read it you might have concluded that I’m going to preach about him. But I’m going to speak about the widow woman. First, let me say Elijah was a true prophet. What he said came about. That was the test of a true prophet. If someone said something that didn’t happen he wasn’t a true prophet of God. Some only said what was pleasing to the people listening. In this story, Elijah was sent to Cherith and ravens fed him. That in itself is different because a raven would have been an unclean animal. A woman from a territory that belonged to the wicked Queen Jezebel was sent to help. God sent help both times in unexpected ways. God provides in ways beyond our narrow expectations. He gives us a daily provision because he takes care of us on a daily basis. I’m living today. I may not be alive tomorrow or the Lord may return. I’ll not need anything then. In the model prayer Jesus said to pray “give us this day our daily bread.” In the wilderness, if the children of Israel tried to gather more mana than needed it rotted. They couldn’t be lazy and try to get enough today for tomorrow. The only day they could do that was the 6th day because they were to rest on the 7th. It didn’t rot then. We’re untrusting people. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t put up for a rainy day. We should. The Bible tells us to consider the ant. It puts up in preparation for the winter. I believe in trusting God in all things but we must use our own common sense too. But some say to themselves, ‘now just in case God may not do it tomorrow, I’d better do this.” The same God who took care of me yesterday will take care of me tomorrow. Heaven is not bankrupt and God still owns the cattle on a thousand hills. The streets of heaven will still be made of gold.
Elijah leaves Cherith and goes to Zarephath. He asked for some water. In a drought water was hard to come by. As she was going for it Elijah asked her to make him something first. She said As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. She told her story. It sounds like a selfish request on Elijah’s part, but he gives her a blessed promise in verse 14. All she had to do was trust God. So I want to point out some things about the woman.
One: she lived a defeated life. You can see it in her. She had given up hope. Tomorrow would be no better than today. At the end of the rope we need to see that God is still there. She was going to make a meal for her and her son and they were going to die.
Two: in the midst of a defeated life, Elijah told her to fear not. Jesus said this many times. When the disciples were on the water in a storm and feared for their life, he said fear not. If you have physical courage you’re not afraid of anybody. I don’t have much of that kind of courage. Moral courage is always doing what’s right. I want this. I think God’s people ought to do the right thing so others see Jesus. There is a good fear. The Bible tells us about it. We are to fear the Lord; this is a reverential fear toward God. He has our next breath. Noah moved with fear when it had never rained and did what he did. People face fear of failure, of loneliness, of old age. I’ll tell you that I’m ready to go to heaven but if I get sick, I’ll go to the doctor. I don’t want to go yet. Be honest. That’s why we pray for someone to get better. God will heal us one way or another. Many fear loss of health. Many fear death. We need to be ready to die. That comes by faith in the Lord.
Three: We are to put God first. Even though we know what God is doing, it still sounds selfish. Elijah asked for the last morsel. Why? God must be placed first. Matthew 6 tells us to seek God first and all these things shall be added. First seek God. Put him first. I think our priorities are like this–God, family, church, work. Why put family ahead of church? When the family suffers, the church suffers. I know Bob wants to be here today but he is where he ought to be. Daniel put God first in refusing to obey the king’s decree. The Hebrew children put God first in refusing to bow. They said whether God spared them or not they would not bow to the image. God needs to be first in our love life. The church at Ephesus was a literal church but all the letters represent church ages. God told them they had left their first love. I’ve learned in 31 years of pastoring you can’t browbeat people and make them come to church. If a person falls in love with the Lord he will come to church. God has to be first in giving too. Ninety percent goes further than 100. Some don’t believe it. Give it a try. You’d be surprised what a church can do if the people put God first.
Four: Faith is tested. It’s never enjoyable. Elijah told her to make something for him first. If God doesn’t come through, she and her son will die. But they would have died anyway, so why not just trust God. We fall on our knees after we try every other way to solve something. Why don’t we go to God first? I’ve gotten so aggravated at a mower or weed eater when I jerk on it and it won’t start. Then I say “Lord, I need some help.” Next jerk it starts. Why don’t I think of that sooner! What is faith? Simply believing without seeing. I didn’t see Christ die but I believe he did. Even if this woman believed but didn’t move and do as Elijah asked she would have gotten nowhere. She did as he asked. Look at other instances in the Bible where God moved after the people did. The water was rolled back only after the priests put their feet in the water. The lepers were cleansed as they went on their way to the priests. Noah built the ark before the rain came. Why does God test us? So we’ll know ourselves. It’s to help strengthen us. We are even strengthened if we don’t pass the test. Many failed in the Bible. David committed adultery and had the woman’s husband killed yet God said he was a man after his own heart. After we make a mess of things God is there to help us. We need to pray for God to increase our faith. Help us walk for him even when we can’t see. When the storms hit, help us trust him. In spite of opposition, Nehemiah built the walls of Jerusalem in 52 days. In spite of all the discouragement, he trusted God. Be an encourager. Live every moment like Jesus can come any day…because he could!
Five: Faith involves trust. Let go of your life and let God work. He won’t fail!