There was a drought but God had miraculously provided for Elijah at Kerith brook. When the stream dried up God said, ‘Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon.’ It was 80 miles from Zarephath to Samaria (the capital of Israel). This seems like a really strange move from God. Israel were his chosen people but Elijah had to leave the land of Israel to be provided for. The Jews were in a mess because they were being led astray by King Ahab who was being influenced by his wife Jezebel. Jezebel was from Sidon that is only 8 miles from Zarephath. God provided for Elijah at the very centre of the pagan worship that was corrupting Israel. Map image from freebibleimages.org.
Elijah is led by God to a widow who is gathering sticks to make a fire so she could cook the last of her food. Elijah promised her that if she used her last flour and oil to make him some bread that there would always be flour and oil left in her containers until the drought ended.
The widow recognized that Elijah was a prophet and she trusted him and cooked him some bread. From that day she always had enough flour and oil as God had promised. The widow would have been brought up to worship and follow the pagan gods Baal and Asherah but she is willing to take a leap of faith into the unknown. She is willing to trust in the God of Israel who can feed her. It’s ironic that the Israelites wouldn’t turn back to and call on God to end the drought but this pagan woman does. Taking a leap of faith is risky, but if God is leading us I hope that we will have the courage to follow him.
God’s leading seemed to be in the wrong direction but Elijah took a leap of faith and when he arrived he saw God at work in the unlikeliest of places. Some Christians have great expectations of God in a church building but not in their workplaces or in a nightclub or a mosque. Do you really believe that God is confined to a building and that he doesn’t get out much? It bothers me when Christians call an area spiritually dark, do we really believe the darkness is greater than God’s light? Elijah learns to join God in what he is doing in territory that was hostile to his faith. Instead of worrying that he is the only believer (that does come later on) he trusts in God to be more than enough. Will we do the same?
The widow was ready to eat her final meal and die. She had given up but then God provided a miracle. Is there something you have given up on? If so are you willing to bring it to God and to listen for his leading? God had instructed the widow to feed Elijah and God gave Elijah directions. Sometimes we don’t move forwards with a difficult situation because we aren’t listening for God’s leading.
The widow was willing to trust God with the little she had left. What do we give to God? Do we give a little when we have plenty or are we willing to give plenty when we have a little? Is our trust in God or is our security in having enough?
Is it time for a leap of faith?
You can read the story for yourself in 1 Kings 17:8-16 and if you want to know what had happened to Elijah previously then click on the links below.
Elijah part 1: Do miracles happen because God announces them or because we ask?
Elijah part 2: When God does something weird
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