The word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.” So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.” As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.” Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.’” So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah. [1 Kings 17:2–16. Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.]
The most important lesson we can learn from the life of Elijah is this: God calls us to be obedient: not popular, wealthy, or successful. Success and provision are in the Lord’s hand, so we should always be eager to seek His blessings, not the things of the world.
The prophet had just taken a bold stand for God. As we saw in the first post in this series, the northern kingdom of Israel had rejected the One True God of Israel and was now “officially” worshiping the Canaanite fertility god, Baal. Elijah declared that HE, as God’s spokesman, would declared when it may rain again—not King Ahab, Queen Jezebel, not one of Baal’s prophets or priests, and not even Baal. Yahweh, the One True God of Israel, controlled the weather, and He would let Elijah know when rain will come again.
Let’s face it, this is not the way to win popularity contests. People do not want to hear that the God you serve is in control of everything (how narrow-minded and exclusive can you be?), and that we all will be held accountable to Him. If they do believe in God, they do not want to hear that His opinion is different from that of most of society, or conflicts with the power-brokers in your nation. If you stand with God, you may find yourself at odds with most of society.
Modern culture tempts American Christians to think that we can rely on the resources of the world for security and satisfaction. That is not true. The prophet Isaiah warned the Israelites of his day against trusting in a mighty empire (Egypt), with its military might, for protection, instead of seeking the strength of the Lord (Isaiah 31:1–3). However, many Christians have failed to learn this lesson. We trust a favorite political party, our education, our media, and a host of other “gods.” We expect our jobs to meet all of our needs. In many cases, our idols are turning against us. We need to return to total reliance upon God almighty.
God protected and preserved Elijah. For much of the biblical account of his life, he lives as fugitive, separated from his own nation who had turned their backs on God. Safety was not found among the Israelites, who had rejected their covenant with the Lord and decided to follow the gods of their pagan neighbors.
As we watch our nation turn our backs on God and reject its Judeo-Christian heritage, we can no longer assume that we can enjoy the security we had in the past. Previous generations of American Christians could trust that our laws had some consistency with, or at least respect for, biblical values. This is no longer the case. When the President of the United States invites the Pope to the White House, and then packs the guest list with homosexual-rights activists and others hostile to church teaching, America can be considered as apostate as King Ahab’s Israel was. Our nation deserves judgment as much as that nation did. Men and women of God cannot trust American values and institutions meet their needs.
It is time for change. Christians must learn to follow God whole-heartedly, as Elijah did. God called Elijah completely out of his comfort zone. His first stop was the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. This place was “…one of the wildest ravines of the Fertile Crescent, and peculiarly fitted to afford a secure asylum to the persecuted.” Although a fugitive could hide safely there, food still posed a dilemma. God used an unusual way to feed Elijah: breakfast and dinner deliveries from ravens, which were unclean animals according to the Torah (Leviticus 11:13-16).
When the water dried up, God’s next source of protection and provision for Elijah was even more drastic: A widow in a pagan nation. She was at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, in Queen Jezebel’s home country, in the midst of the drought. God appointed a woman who thought she and her son were going to starve soon to feed and protect the prophet.
The point is that Elijah could not rely on worldly common sense. He had to rely on God’s direction, even when it defied logic. Yet, God protected him, provided everything he needed, and preserved him so that he could complete his mission.
This is the challenge for the American Christian. Under Obamacare, government agencies have ordered Christian organizations to pay for “medical benefits” (abortion, birth control, etc.) that defy their religious beliefs. In the name of “tolerance” and “equal rights, some Christian businesses have been ordered to provide services that defy Scripture. We can no longer trust the United States Constitution to protect us, since the First Amendment rights to freedom of religion have been cast aside in favor of the right to sin and to live apart from God. Our neighbors, even many of our church members, have bowed to the god of the state instead of the God of Scripture.
Let us pray for the courage to follow God when He calls us out of our comfort zone, so that we may be faithful to Him. “Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever” (1 John 2:15-17). The key to persevering with Christ, as a modern-day Elijah, is to choose to love God above all things, even when that seems drastic.
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