Dr. Jimmy Knott talks about how Elijah appeared on the scene in one of Israel’s darkest hours.
- Where To Go (“Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon”) – About 100-mile journey through Ahab’s domain. Zarephath was Queen Jezebel’s home town (16:31). It was the HQ of Baal worship, the devil’s backyard.
- “Kerith” – to cut off, to file down, to whittle away
- “Zarephath” – a smelting house, a place of refining, a meltdown. Noun form means crucible.
- What To Do – “and stay there”
- What It Says to us – God has places to refine our faith and develop it (1 Pet. 1:6-7; 4:12ff; 5:9ff).
- Principle – God never commands without His promise of provision.
- Means – Not through a wealthy merchant, but a gentile, destitute widow. Before it was big, black, loud, nasty ravens. Now from a poor widow, even her last meal (vv. 10b-12). Neither ravens or widows are likely means of God’s provision. Many find it easy to give, but hard to receive. When we do what He commands, He promises to take care of us – don’t question His means.
- The Place of Provision (v.9 “Go…and stay there…in that place to supply…”). The place of appointment is the only place of provision.
Again, no discussion or debate. His obedience was instant and complete. We applaud service, God applauds obedience. In each case, it was Elijah’s obedience (and hers) that preceded God’s provision.
- (vv. 10b-16) The dwindling barrel provided at least two tests for Elijah:
- TEST #1 (vv. 10b-11): First Impressions – It was humbling enough to be fed by ravens, but now by a destitute widow in heathen Zarephath – and her last meal. First impressions can be so deceptive and discouraging. Elijah could have quit. He refused to yield to first impressions.
- TEST #2 (vv. 12-16): Physical Impossibility – Only had a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. How going to feed three people? Her circumstances belied God’s Word (v.9). Though physically impossible, Elijah knew God comes through when He says He will. God is faithful to His promises (vv.13-14). Every day that widow met God in her little kitchen when she looked into that jar and jug (vv.15-16).
- (vv.17-24) The dying son was more of her test than Elijah’s. She had obeyed (v.15) and would now be tested. First, her husband died, now her son!
- 17 – A Severe Trial came sometime later (about 2 yrs.). Her son, the light of her eyes, the joy of her heart, & her hope for the future, all gone.
- 18 – A Bitter Complaint – Her son’s death awakened in her sad memories of the past. The man of God’s holiness and God’s goodness surfaced her sinfulness. Whatever her sin, she felt it bad enough to kill her son.
- 19 – A Strange Request – Elijah, showing no defensiveness or impatience, moves into action
- 20 – A Confused Prophet cries out to God. Though she thought she knew why Elijah didn’t. But, he did know who, which is better. Always talk to God about things you don’t understand.
- 21-22 – A Prevailing Prayer – Elijah not only asks God for a great thing but gave himself wholly to it. Three times he stretched himself over the boy. The first recorded resurrection.
- 23-24 – An Honoring Confession – Can you imagine the reunion as he placed her son in her arms? Now, she knew. The miracle of the jar & jug had not convinced her, but a son passing from death to life did! God’s Giver of life & Source of Truth.
CONC— When we show up in obedience, God shows up in power. Elijah’s training was over for now. His God had ordered him to leave and hide, now ordered him to go and present (18:1-2). The lessons from the obscurity of Kerith and humility of Zarephath had been learned. Through intense training, he knew he could rely on God (Pro. 3:5-6).
ASSIGNMENT: Read 1 Kings 18:1-46 several times this week.
- What would it take to make you happy?
- When was the last time you and God were in a contest of wills?
- What is the biggest takeaway from today’s lesson you can immediately apply?
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Thanks for listening. Pastor Jimmy.