God can wonderfully raise up servants and suit them to the work He designs them for.
He can, if He chooses, use one man to arrest the downward movement of a nation,
and with no weapon but the Word of God and prayer.
I Kings 1
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 LORD sendeth 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.
17 ¶ And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him.
18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
19 And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed.
20 And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?
21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
23 And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth.
24 ¶ And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
I Kings – J. Vernon McGee
1 Kings 17:1-7 – Sin’s Climax Summons Jehovah’s Prophet
Gilead was far from court or temple—God trains His workers in His own school. The prophet’s name—“Jehovah is my strength”—suggests where he abode and whence he derived his power. He stood before God for the uniting and the uplifting of a divided people. The drought was the result of prayer. Elijah felt that nothing less could arrest king and people, James 5:17. The man who stands before God is not afraid to stand before Ahab. Now and again God bids His servants hide themselves toward the sunrise, but in these periods of enforced seclusion He makes Himself responsible for their supplies.
1 Kings 17:4, 9 – “I have commanded the ravens… a widow woman… there.”
We must be where God desires.—Elijah spoke of himself as always standing before the Lord God of Israel. He deemed himself as much a courtier in the royal palace as Gabriel (Luke 1:19). And he could as distinctly stand before God when hiding beside Cherith, or sheltering in the widow’s house at Zarephath, as when he stood erect on Carmel, or listened to the voice of God at Horeb. Wherever you go, and whatever ministry you are called to undertake, glory in this, that you never go to any greater distance from God.
If we are where God wants us to be, He will see to the supply of our need. It is as easy for Him to feed us by the ravens as by the widow woman. As long as God says, Stay here, or there, be sure that He is pledged to provide for you. Though you resemble a lonely sentinel in some distant post of missionary service, God will see to you. The ravens are not less amenable to His command than of old: and out of the stores of widow women He is as able to supply your need as He did Elijah’s, at Zarephath.
How often God teaches best in seclusion and solitude! It is by the murmuring brooks of nature that we have our deepest lessons. It is in the homes of the poor that we are fitted for our greatest tasks. It is beside couches where children suffer and die, that we receive those preparations of the heart which avail us when the bugle note summons us to some difficult post.
God leads through death to life.—It was needful that the child should die, that sin might be remembered and dealt with; but through Death’s portal the trio entered a richer, fuller life. Fear not that gateway!
1 Kings 17:8-16 – The Jar of Meal That Wasted not
Even at Cherith we cannot be exempt from trial, and it is hard to sit beside a gradually dwindling brook. But God always provides. None of them that trust in Him shall be desolate. Whether the visible agents are ravens, or a poor heathen widow ready to perish, it matters little. God’s majestic “I have commanded” is enough. Whether it is ordinary or extraordinary, natural or supernatural, through Jew or Gentile, God’s purpose does not tarry.
Gentile help supplied what Israel might not give, Luke 4:25, 26. God uses the weak and foolish things as well as those which are not, I Corinthians 1:28. Yet there were noble qualities in this woman. She did not complain, but went at once for the water; she was generous and hospitable, and believed that God would supply their need. How little did she realize the greatness of her reward, Matthew 10:41, 42! But her faith was great. She stood the test of making Elijah’s cake first, believing that afterward there would be enough for herself and her son. Though she little understood it, she had within her a spark of the same fire that burned in the soul of the great prophet; and therefore, when we all stand in our lot at the end of the days, Daniel 12:13, her portion will be with the great prophets and heroes of faith.
1 Kings 17:17-24 – New Life for the Dead
It must have been a severe trial to Elijah’s faith, first to note the gradual diminishing of the brook; then the abject poverty of the woman to whom he was directed; and finally the illness and death of her child. But through it all, he held fast to the living God. It was still, “O LORD my God,” I Kings 17:20. Affliction is no proof that we are off the path of duty. The way of obedience is sometimes paved with flints, as every servant of God has discovered. But the difficulties only give room for the exercise of greater faith, and reveal more of the delivering power of the Almighty Friend.
The true physician bends over the little child of the poor, eager to save a human life; but his power is limited. To faith and prayer, however, other forces are available, which accomplish what no skill or medicine can. When we have confessed and put away sin which the hour of anguish has brought to light, room is made for the exercise of that divine power which is always within the reach of hands that are lifted without fear or doubting.