When your back is against the wall and you have nowhere to turn, but to God, that’s when the real test begins…
At times like this, you get to find out who your real Source and Savior is, and upon what the foundation of your faith is built.
This is where the rubber meets the road for every believer!
Faith always requires the risk of our stepping out in obedience to God’s Word; and many times we’ll put that kind of decision off until we find our back is against the wall, as the following story illustrates.
Here’s the backstory:
In chapter 17 we are introduced to the Prophet Elijah. His ministry extends through 2 Kings 2:11.
God spoke to His people through prophets during times of sin and declension.
These prophets were really mouthpieces for Jehovah. They fearlessly cried out against idolatry, immorality, and all other forms of iniquity.
They urged the people to repent and return to the Lord, and then warned of dire consequences if they failed to do so.
Some prophets ministered primarily to Israel, some to Judah, and some to both.
Since Israel was the more wicked of the two kingdoms, God accompanied the prophet’s messages to Israel with miracles and wonders.
This left Israel without excuse.
Elijah is mentioned in the Gospels in connection with the ministry of John the Baptist.
John came in the spirit and power of Elijah (Luke 1:17).
Elijah came from Tishbe in Gilead, east of the Jordan River, and was thus called a Tishbite.
His history is recorded only in Kings.
We are told nothing about his background, family, or call to the prophetic ministry.
But that he was a man sent from God no one could deny.
He was God’s chosen instrument to bring adulterous and haughty Israel to her knees.
His prayers could bring down blessing (rain) or wrath (drought and fire).
He served his generation as a fearless, embodied conscience.
His first recorded act was to announce to Ahab that the land would suffer a drought.
This was obviously a divine judgment against idolatry.
God chose to use a severe drought to get the people’s attention.
They did not care that idolatry had brought a spiritual drought upon the land, but they could not ignore the physical drought that typified it.
In a nation that was required by law to care for its prophets, it is ironic that God turned to ravens (unclean birds) and a widow (a foreigner from Jezebel’s home territory) to care for Elijah.
God has help where we least expect it. He provides for us in ways that go beyond our narrow definitions or expectations.
No matter how bitter our trials or how seemingly hopeless our situation, we should look for God’s caring touch.
We may find His providence in some strange places!
Elijah and the Drought
When the widow of Zarephath met Elijah, she thought she was preparing her last meal.
But a simple act of faith produced a miracle. She trusted Elijah and gave all she had to eat to him.
Faith is the step between promise and assurance.
Miracles seem so out of reach for our feeble faith.
But every miracle, large or small, begins with an act of obedience.
We may not see the solution until we take the first step of faith.
Even when God has done a miracle in our lives, our troubles may not be over.
The famine was a terrible experience, but the worst was yet to come.
God’s provision is never given in order to let us rest upon it.
We need to depend on Him as we face each new trial.
Sunday, March 27
Today in the Word
Courage and Obedience
WIDOW of ZAREPHATH:
Now I Know…
Slowly the Israelite kings are drifting further and further away from God’s laws.
Hoping to remedy this, the Lord sends a prophet to guide the kings.
That prophet, Elijah, certainly lives up to his name, proclaiming his God (Eli) is the Eternal (jah)—Eli-jah.
He uses many methods: demonstrating God’s power through miracles, reminding of God’s purpose through oracles, and acting out God’s will through his appearance.
While his guidance sometimes reminds kings of the correct path and helps them return to it, ultimately nothing he can do will stop the Northern Kingdom’s destruction.
1 Kings 17:1-24
Imagine that your pantry is empty…even the shelves of your refrigerator are bare.
You have no idea where you will get your next meal.
That is what happened to the widow of Zarephath. She lived during a time when people often turned to idols to supply their needs, the most prominent being Baal.
In fact, during the reign of King Ahab, Baal worship even became prominent in Israel.
The prophet Elijah arrived with an ominous message from God.
A terrible drought was coming that would prove Baal powerless (v. 1).
After Elijah delivered his message, God instructed him to go to a remote hiding place, where Elijah could drink from a brook and be fed by ravens (v. 4).
When the brook dried up, God instructed Elijah to go back into Baal territory—to Zarephath, where God would provide for him in another unlikely way.
The Lord had commanded this poor widow to feed Elijah. While we don’t know much about her, we do know she had no food to spare.
She had been planning her last meal for her and her son before they would die (v. 12).
Then Elijah made a miraculous promise:
The widow’s flour and oil would not run out until God brought rain (v. 14).
So the widow trusted in God’s promise, acting in obedience.
But her troubles were not over. Her son became ill and died.
In grief, she lashed out at Elijah, fearing that her own sin had killed her son.
Elijah took the boy’s body to his upper room and prayed until God restored his life.
She knew two things: Elijah is a man of God, and the word of the Lord is truth (v. 24).
There are times when we are called to walk by faith and not by sight.
We trust that God will protect us and act on our behalf, even when the way before us seems troubled.
If you are in that situation, turn to God for help and deliverance today.
PRAY WITH US
The pressures and fears of our daily lives often feel more immediate than Your presence, Father.
We ask that You provide us respite and remind us that You are in control. We turn to You for the peace we crave.
Come join the Adventure!