The Widow of Zarephath:
God had caused a famine, in Israel and the surrounding area. Elijah, God’s Prophet, had been fed with bread by ravens, next to a stream of water; during part of the famine. But now the water had dried up, for there had been no rain.
Yet God would not forsake His Prophet. And Elijah was told what to do next.
1 Kings 17:9 “Arise, get to Zarephath, which belongeth to Sidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.”
Let us take a look at this command.
First, God said it; and is He not able to deliver? Of course!
So Elijah goes to the next country over, Sidon; and to the city of Zarephath.
At the command of God (What else made this woman gather sticks at just this time) a widow was at the gate, preparing for her, and her family’s last meal.
Seeing her, Elijah asks for her to get him a small drink of water. Even in her extremity, she was courteous, and was going to go to get it.
Then Elijah, understanding that this was the woman to whom he had been sent, asks her another favor.
1 Kings 17:11 “And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thy hand.”
This stranger would have seemed very presumptuous, in my way of thinking. After all, wasn’t I being nice enough to get him a drink?
But remember: “I have commanded”. This was a test to see if indeed this was the woman.
1 Kings 17:12 “And she said, As the Lord, thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but a 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.”
She was not rude.
She just told this man the truth. But notice; she recognized him as an Israelite; and a Godly one; since she said, “As the Lord, thy God liveth”.
Convinced that this was the woman to whom he was sent, Elijah gave a command, and a promise to her.
1 Kings 17:13-14 “And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof 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.”
She was to feed him first. This, again, may seem presumptuous, but how else would he have known if she believed the Lord’s Word? If she had made three cakes, one for her son, one for him, and one for her….that would have been generous, but unbelieving. It would have been the wait and see attitude. Maybe you’re right, maybe not; here is what we have, we all eat, and see.
But she was to believe God, and make him a cake, and see him eat it; and return and make cakes for herself and her son.
Amazing God we have, who can move a heart, any heart, to truly believe enough to obey.
1 Kings 17:15-16 “And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah.”
God’s Word is always true. Our believing enough to obey, is often the problem.
It was the same, when the Lord Jesus returned to His hometown of Nazareth. They refused to believe His clear message, that He was the Messiah. In His rebuke of their unbelief….the wait and see attitude; Jesus then speaks of this widow.
Luke 4:24-26 “And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
but unto none of them was Elijah sent, save unto Zarephath a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.”
Belief is always recognized, and honored by God.
God’s power works within us, as well as without us; if we trust and obey. It did for Elijah–God saw to his needs, in the famine. It did for the widow, who trusted God’s word, obeyed.