Then the word of the Lord came to him: “Get up, go to Zarephath that belongs to Sidon and stay there. Look, I have commanded a woman who is a widow to provide for you there.” So Elijah got up and went to Zarephath. When he arrived at the city gate, there was a widow gathering wood. Elijah called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup and let me drink.” As she went 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 don’t have anything baked—only a handful of flour in the jar and a bit of oil in the jug. Just now, I am gathering a couple of sticks in order to go prepare it for myself and my son so we can eat it and die.”
Then Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid; go and do as you have said. But first make me a small loaf from it and bring it out to me. Afterward, you may make some for yourself and your son, for this is what the Lord God of Israel says, ‘The flour jar will not become empty and the oil jug will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the surface of the land.’”
So she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah. Then the woman, Elijah, and her household ate for many days. The flour jar did not become empty, and the oil jug did not run dry, according to the word of the Lord he had spoken through Elijah.1 Kings 17:8-16
I Kings 17:7 makes what could be seen as a matter-of-fact statement that may seem of no significance until you think of it in light of today’s passage: “After a while, the wadi (brook) dried up because there had been no rain in the land.” (I Kings 17:7 CSB) We don’t know how long Elijah had been camping out by the Wadi Cherith after the beginning of the drought God had told him would happen. For Elijah, this could be seen as a major trial, though. He had a nice life going in his little camp by the Wadi Cherith. The wadi provided his water and the ravens brought him food each morning and evening for his nourishment. This would have been a prepper’s paradise. It wasn’t meant to last forever, though.
Once Elijah’s water supply had dried up, God moved him on to his next mission during this season. It was a mission that would bring him out of his private camp and into a shared life with another. God wanted Elijah to move from his place of personal provision into a place where his blessing would be shared with others: a widow and her son on the brink of starvation. On top of this, God lead him to a Gentile widow in Sidon, the very land where Ba’al, the god many in Israel had abandoned Yahweh to worship, had originated from. It is hard not to see the irony of this.
This widow was getting ready to cook the last bit of food in her house before she assumed she and her son would starve to death once that small loaf of bread was consumed. Through Elijah, God announced a different plan, though. She was to give a first small loaf from that grain to Elijah to eat, then God would supply all the grain she needed from this point forward. With nothing left to lose, she took God up on His offer and He was faithful in his fulfillment of the promise. Elijah continued to live with the widow and her son and likely continued to share in the blessing of the never-empty jar of grain.
Sometimes we can get in a place of comfort with God’s provision for us and be content to just ride out the times of testing with little thought of others. God may have other plans for us, though. He may even need to cut off a portion of His provision to open our eyes to opportunities to provide for others through us. He may call us to step out of our comfort zone into a new place of mission.
- Have you become comfortable in a place of personal provision? Are there ways God is calling you out of your comfort zone in order to bless others?