1 Kings chapters 17 & 18 show us some great things concerning Elijah. It’s amazing to think about the things that happened here, as they’re recorded. Read along with me today as we peer into that chapter of Elijah’s life.
In Case You Missed It!
I went through 1 Kings chapter 11 & 12 HERE.
Angela covered 1 Kings chapters 13 & 14 HERE.
Tammy did a great job on 1 Kings chapters 15 & 16 HERE.
1 Kings Chapter 17, Elijah By the Brook
After telling Ahab that there would be no dew or rain until he gave the word, the Lord told Elijah to go and hide by the brook Cherith, by Jordan. He also told Elijah that he would send a raven to feed him, and he would drink from the brook, and that’s just what happened.
Every morning, the raven brought meat and bread, and it did the same every evening. But after a while, the lack of rain caused the brook to dry up. That’s when the Lord came again.
This time, Elijah was instructed to go into Zarephath. The Lord said I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
Asking no questions, he went exactly where God had told him to go and the first thing he saw was a widow woman gathering sticks. Now, I have often wondered how it was that Elijah knew she was a widow? Was there a specific kind of clothing that widows wore in that time? A specific veil or covering? Or had the Lord, untold in the Scriptures, explained to Elijah whom he would see?
While we may never know if other directions were given to Elijah, the study of widow customs from those days is definitely something I’ll be looking into. In the meantime, if anyone reads this and knows the answer, please share it with me!
The Widow & Her Son
As soon as Elijah saw her, he called out to her for a drink of water. Sort of as an afterthought, he also asked her for a bit of bread as she came back. When he asked for the water, she simply went to get it. But when he asked for the bread… well that’s when it got personal.
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.
Well. It’s obvious Ms. Widow is not one to mince words! She’s basically telling Elijah, the water was fine, but this is all the food they have! How dare he!
These days, the guy would have been like, “Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t know things were so bad for you, don’t even worry about it.”
But that’s not what Elijah did.
God, the Barrel, & the Cruse
Elijah had heard from God. The widow woman’s story wasn’t going to change the fact that God had said, this widow would SUSTAIN him. So, instead of graciously bowing out, he said:
Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me therefore a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 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. (1 Kings 17:13-14)
Elijah didn’t just ask for bread anyway, he wanted it FIRST. And while that seems ludicrous to us, we have to understand that he had HEARD FROM GOD. And so, he trusted.
The widow must have trusted as well because she simply turned around the did it. And after that, the whole household ate “many days” the Bible says.
The Son Dies Anyway
After making it through the famine, the widow’s son got sick and died. She asked Elijah if his point in showing up was to recount her sins to her and kill her son. Again. No mincing words.
Elijah took him and cried out to the Lord. He asked, point-blank… if He had brought evil on the woman and her son. Then he stretched out on the child, three times, crying out for the Lord to restore the boy’s soul to him.
God heard that cry and the boy was revived. Elijah immediately took the boy back to his mother, showing her that he was alive. Her response reveals what the boy’s death might have been about all along:
Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth. (1 Kings 17:24)
1 Kings Chapter 18, A Well Known Story
A long time passed, but God finally sent Elijah back to Ahab, right in the middle of a Samarian famine. Ahab had sent Obadiah to every waterway to find food for their animals so they wouldn’t die. They split the land up and each took a half.
As it should so happen, Obadiah, who feared the Lord greatly, ran into Elijah. Elijah then instructed him to go and tell Ahab that he was there but Obadiah feared for his life in doing so. He explained that he thought if he went and told Ahab Elijah was there, that the Spirit of God would catch him away and Ahab would think he had lied and kill him.
Ahab was finally called after Elijah promised to stay, and when Ahab arrived, they traded a few words. Elijah told Ahab to gather up the prophets of Baal as well as the prophets that served Jezebel.
When everyone was assembled, Elijah told them they could no longer sit on the fence. They were going to have to choose whether the Lord was God, or whether Baal. There was no response from anyone and Elijah declared himself the only remaining true prophet of God.
Calling All Prayer Warriors
Elijah gave instructions for the building of an altar and told them all to call on the names of their gods, and he would call on his. The one that answered would be the true God, he said, and to this, everyone heartily agreed.
And so it began early that morning.
The bullock was dressed and put on the altar and they began to call upon Baal to no avail. By noontime, Elijah was mocking them. Surely this god of yours must be busy or traveling, or maybe he’s asleep. He chided them and told them to cry louder.
They not only cried louder, but they cut themselves until the blood was freely flowing. This went on until late evening, and still, Baal had not answered.
Having finally had enough, Elijah called everyone to him, and then took the time to repair the altar. They had broken it down with their jumping and screaming and cutting and crying.
After repairing the altar, he added stones, one for every tribe of the sons of Jacob. Then he dug a trench around it. He added wood, the cut-up bullock and commanded that four full barrels of water be poured on the sacrifice as well as the wood.
They brought the four barrels, but he called for them to repeat this a second and third time. By now, the trench was full of water as well. He called on God to let all those standing by know that he was God so that their hearts would be turned back to Him.
The fire of God fell at that time and consumed the bull, the wood, all the stones, the dust, and obliterated the trench full of water as well. There was no doubt now. The people fell on their faces crying out that the Lord was indeed God.
Ridding the Place of Baal
Immediately, Elijah demanded the murder of every single prophet of Baal and then turned around and told Ahab to go and get something to eat.
It’s gonna rain.
Getting down on the ground with his face between his knees, Elijah began to pray. He made his servant go and look towards the sea to find out what he saw. When the servant told him there was nothing, Elijah made him go back, seven times.
The seventh time, the servant saw a cloud that was about the size of a man’s hand. Elijah told him to run to tell Ahab but to go fast, or the rain would stop him.
When Ahab heard and saw that the sky was black with clouds, and the wind was blowing a great rain, he went in his chariot toward Jezebel. But since God was with Elijah, He gave him the ability to run faster than the chariot’s horses could carry it, and he beat Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel.
There sure are plenty of things to discuss in these two chapters!
First of all, there’s the idea of the widow woman providing bread for Elijah. While God had told HIM about the widow, He didn’t tell the WIDOW about ELIJAH. I have to wonder… how many times is that the case for us? Has someone asked a great deal of us lately? Have we had things come up that just seemed to be too much for us? I wonder, could it be that God’s blessing was right around the corner, just behind our obedience?
Then there’s the fact that after she DID feed Elijah, and after they WERE sustained, all of them, for many days, the woman’s son died anyway. How many of us would simply have given up at that point? EVEN THOUGH God’s hand was strong through the famine, even though the needs were met, something this bone-crushing might cause anyone to throw in the towel.
And then there’s also the thought in the back of my mind… I wonder how many OTHER widows – the ones Elijah wasn’t called to – I wonder how many of them DID die, along with their sons. Of all the needy families in the land, God had only sought out one for His intents and purposes. Just… wow. Right?
And of course, I would be remiss to leave out the turn of events that led to Elijah mocking the servants of Baal as they cried out in earnest to their God. Gutting themselves, screaming, jumping up and down on the altar and the dead bull that lay on it. What if we chided people that way in this day and age? Aside from a charge of hate speech or bullying, what would it get us?
It seemed that Elijah, being the mighty man of God that he was, would be an example to be followed, but I personally don’t think I could do that. And then having them killed afterward. Insult to injury. Or so it seems.
SHOULD we speak out against evil at all? Is there a place for righteous indignation, according to God, in the world we live in? Do you think it would change things if we were so bold as to chide and then follow through with a mighty outpouring of signs and wonders?
I truly think the world will never know.
Precious Lord, Almighty King, Creator God, I thank you that we are no longer under the Law, but under the grace that Jesus brought when He walked this earth! I thank You that we’ve not really HAD hardships in comparison to the way things were for the people of the Old Testament. I thank You, also, though, that You are still just as mighty, just as much a provider and a repairer of the breach that we can trust You amidst ALL our circumstances, however trivial they seem in light of Scriptures like these! Give us wisdom, Father, to know, to see, to hear, and to speak. We will never fail to give You all the glory and honor due Your mighty Name!