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.”
1 Kings 17:8-9
This chapter opens with Elijah the Tishbite telling Ahab that there is going to be a drought, then heading off to a cave by a brook and staying there as God tells him to. While Elijah is there, he is able to drink from the brook and eat food that is brought by ravens. After a time, the brook dries up and God tells Elijah to go to Sidon and stay with a widow there. Elijah does.
This widow sees two miraculous things happen in her home.
First, she meets Elijah while getting ready to prepare her last meal — that is not the miracle, even though meeting the right person at the right moment involves God orchestrating things. All the food had run out and she was getting ready to make a bit of bread for her son and herself so they could have one last meal before they starve to death (vv. 10-12). Elijah tells her to make him some food first and then make her last meal. She, to her credit, does what he tells her and the bit of flour and oil she had lasted for years (vv. 13-16).
Second, she sees her son resurrected from the dead (vv. 17-24). Her son falls ill and dies and she brings it to Elijah’s attention in a rather harsh way — she accuses him of staying with her to bring her sin to remembrance. Elijah takes the boy and prays over him three times and the boy comes back to life. It is after this that the woman says “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth” (v. 24). She overlooks the fact that Elijah told her that her flour and oil would last while he stayed with her and it had still not run out after a long while. She does not believe that Elijah is a man of God until she receives her son back from the dead.
Both Elijah and the widow have application for me.
Elijah holds application in that he is no one special when he shows up on the scene. He is Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead. And that means next to nothing. He becomes, by his actions and his faith in God, one of the greatest prophets in the Old Testament. As Elijah did, so , too, can I do. I can also be a person of no importance and be used mightily by God. I may not mouth off to rulers and declare droughts or bring back the dead, but I can most certainly speak the Word of God.
The widow holds application in that she saw, but did not believe. I, too, have seen God do miraculous things. These should strengthen my belief. If they do not, then I need to consider whether I am holding God to an impossible standard. Do I require Him to raise the dead in order to believe? He has already raised my soul from death to life. That is where my salvation began.
Let me know that God can do mighty things through even me. And let me believe without requiring God to do more and more miraculous things. A wicked and perverse generation looks for a sign. Let me not be of that generation, but believe.
Father, thank You for Elijah’s lack of pedigree. Thank You that he is just a man like any other. Please remind me that You use men — just ordinary people to do extraordinary things.