Gracefully Truthful

Courage,Digging Deeper,Faith,Freedom,Hope

Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

1 Kings 17:8-24

8 Then the word of the Lord came to him: 9 “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.” 10 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.” 11 As she went to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.”

12 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.”

13 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, 14 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.’”

15 So she proceeded to do according to the word of Elijah. Then the woman, Elijah, and her household ate for many days. 16 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.

17 After this, the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. His illness got worse until he stopped breathing. 18 She said to Elijah, “Man of God, what do you have against me? Have you come to call attention to my iniquity so that my son is put to death?”

19 But Elijah said to her, “Give me your son.” So he took him from her arms, brought him up to the upstairs room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord and said, “Lord my God, have you also brought tragedy on the widow I am staying with by killing her son?” 21 Then he stretched himself out over the boy three times. He cried out to the Lord and said, “Lord my God, please let this boy’s life come into him again!”

22 So the Lord listened to Elijah, and the boy’s life came into him again, and he lived. 23 Then Elijah took the boy, brought him down from the upstairs room into the house, and gave him to his mother. Elijah said, “Look, your son is alive.”

24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know you are a man of God and the Lord’s word from your mouth is true.”

The Original Intent

1) Who was Elijah and how did he end up in Zarephath asking a widow for the last of her food? (verses 8-11)

During this time, Israel was a divided kingdom between north (Israel) and south (Judah). The northern kingdom was ruled by the wicked, idol-worshipper, King Ahab, and his notoriously evil wife, Queen Jezebel. (1 Kings 16:29-33, 1 Kings 17:1) God sent the prophet Elijah to speak judgment over Israel in the form of a drought for her persistent rebellion against God as a people. They eagerly followed the vile example of idol worship set by Ahab and Jezebel.

After he prophesied the drought, Elijah traveled to Zarephath in obedience to God and in spite of the danger. Why was it dangerous? Zarephath was a town belonging to Sidon, Jezebel’s homeland where her father was king. (verses 8-10) In Zarephath he found a widow whom God had commanded to provide for him. ( verse 8) However, the drought Elijah had prophesied also affected Sidon. And, with drought, came famine.

Although the text clearly states in verse 9 that God had commanded the widow to provide for Elijah, when he asked for food, she hesitated. (verse 12) Give the last of her food to a foreign man rather than her only son? Elijah’s God had told her to provide, but could she really trust him? Why should she? Yet, she did the unimaginable; she agreed to trust the foreign prophet’s God, and made a small loaf of bread for him with all the food she had instead of feeding her son. (verse 15)

She surrendered what little she had in obedience to the God of Israel. With stunning amazement, we watch the Lord accept her surrender and replace her hopelessness with hope. The flour jar and the oil jug never ran empty during the famine. (verse 16) Elijah ate. Her son ate. She ate. And they lived.

The Everyday Application

1) Who was Elijah and how did he end up in Zarephath asking a widow for the last of her food? (verses 8-11)

We all long for hope. Even in the darkest of days, hope for a better future motivates us to continue. How much more so for the one who has trusted Christ with their soul! Our hope is not merely wishful thinking but absolutely certain as we look forward to the eternal perfect life with God!

What can we learn from this destitute, defeated widow whose future was hopeless? In spite of her efforts, she knew death was near for her and her son. Elijah’s response is comforting, “Don’t be afraid… 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.’” (verses 13-14)

Were these hollow words to her, or did they remind her of the command God had already given? In faith, she surrendered what little she had to Elijah’s God and God provided hope, not as part of some mystical deal, but as a deliberate act to display His providence.

God calls us to join the widow in surrendering our fear and what little we have so He can demonstrate His goodness and embrace us with Hope. We cannot conjure up Hope on our own. We cannot control Hope by pretending we control our situation.

The Author of Hope longs to fill us with joy and peace as we trust Him so we may overflow with hope for others to see. (Romans 15:13) We must surrender our control to the only One who truly has control, even in the darkest of times. He alone gives us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. (1 Peter 1:4) Who is our Living Hope? Jesus Himself.

The Original Intent

2) Why did God allow the widow’s son to die? (verses 17-24)

The Gentile widow recognized her sin before the Almighty God of Israel. She believed the payment for her sin was the life of her only son. (verses 17-18) Once again she was filled with hopelessness. How could God allow her son to live through the famine only to die because of her sin?

Not only was the grief overwhelming to her mama’s heart, but, as a Gentile widow, she had little hope of survival without a son to provide for her, leaving her with only a few undesirable options (like selling her body or becoming homeless). Elijah took the boy, prayed, stretched over him three times, and prayed again. “So the Lord listened to Elijah, and the boy’s life came into him again, and he lived.” (verses 19-22) He presented the son to his mother and she said to Elijah, “Now I know you are a man of God and the Lord’s word from your mouth is true.” (verses 23-24)

Through the death of her son, God called this Gentile woman to surrender herself as He revealed His sovereignty, love, and care for her. As God revealed Himself, she responded with surrendered belief in the God of Israel! God also desires to reveal His sovereignty, care, and love to us. (1 Timothy 1:17, Romans 11:33-36, John 3:16-17)

Where have you seen evidence of these around you? Have you believed Him at His Word that your sin payment was made at the cross of Jesus on your behalf? He has offered to cleanse us from our sins so we can stand before our glorious God with utmost hope and the fullness of life. (Ephesians 1:7-9) Whether it’s your soul, relationships, finances, or fears, the call is the same, surrender to Him and believe!

The Everyday Application

2) Why did God allow the widow’s son to die? (verses 17-24)

Honestly, while I can speculate why the Lord allowed her son to die, I don’t know. Perhaps we can glean some understanding from a story in the New Testament as Scripture itself helps us understand Scripture. Do you recall when Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead? (John 11:1-45)

In her book, Jesus Through the Eyes of Women, Rebecca McLaughlin writes of this event. Lazarus was sick and his sisters, Mary and Martha, sent Jesus a message saying “Lord, the one you love is sick.” (John 11:3) Then John tells us, “Now Jesus loved Martha, her sister, and Lazarus. So when He heard that he was sick, He stayed two more days in the place where He was.” (John 11:5-7). Wait. What? Jesus loved them, Lazarus was seriously ill, and Jesus didn’t immediately pack His things and go to Bethany?

John reveals why Jesus waited. First, Lazarus’ death and ultimate resurrection would bring glory to God. (John 11:4) Second, Jesus waited so His disciples would believe. (John 11:15) Rebecca McLaughlin writes, “He (Jesus) stayed away because He did care.

The best thing he could give these siblings, whom he profoundly loved, was not immediate answer to their prayers, but revelation of Himself.” God wants to reveal His glory and power so we can confidently know the words from His mouth are true. (verse 24) This is why Paul wrote that he “consider(ed) everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:8) Reach out and “touch the hem of His robe” for ultimate healing and peace! (Luke 8:43-48)

He wants to reveal Himself to us through prayer and the study of His word. Surrendering our lives daily to God is not natural for us, but as we know Him more, we understand that surrender to the sovereign King is the only pathway to gaining our Living Hope. 

The Original Intent

3) What does this passage tell us about God? (verses 8-10, 15-16)

In this Old Testament narrative we watch God daily provide the widow with enough ingredients to bake bread for Elijah, her son, and herself, saving them all from starvation. (verses 15-16) When we look closely at the widow, understanding her background and culture, we see more clearly the God who loved her and us. She was an unbelieving Gentile woman, probably descended from the wicked line of Cain. (verses 8-10) She was just one widow among many in her village, yet God saw her and knew her when she didn’t know Him. God saw her hopelessness, and through His unending grace and sovereignty, He miraculously provided daily food for the length of the drought and famine.

Deeper still, through the resurrection of her dead son, this foreign widow came to believe through genuine faith in the God of Israel. (verses 22-24) God sees. God knows. God provides. God desires for you to know him more. As you grow in your knowledge of him and his truths, you will also grow in your desire to surrender yourself, believe in Him, and trust in Him.

The Everyday Application

3) What does this passage tell us about God? (verses 8-10, 15-16)

Both of these miracles point directly to Jesus. First, we see God’s provision in the bread. The widow baked bread so they could sustain their physical bodies. (verses 15-17) Jesus said that whoever would come to Him and believe in Him would never hunger or thirst again. (John 6:35)

Physically? No. However, when we receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are spiritually filled and satisfied through the Holy Spirit in a deeper way than food could ever fill us. (John 14:15-17) This does not guarantee an easy life, but the Holy Spirit within us brings us peace in the midst of suffering. (1 Peter 1:3-9, 1 Peter 4:12-14) Jesus is the better bread because He is the living bread who sustains us eternally.

The power God demonstrated through Jesus’ resurrection provides us with all we need for life and godliness. (2 Peter 1:3) Sit and eat. Meditate on who He is. Enjoy His fullness and provision. As for the second miracle, Elijah prayed, bowed over the son three times, and prayed again, bringing the son back to life with God’s power. (verses 20-22)

However, at Lazarus’ resurrection Jesus merely spoke and Lazarus was restored to life. (John 11:41-44) For Lazarus and the boy, their resurrections were temporary; they each experienced death as we all will. Only Jesus’ resurrection of His own dead body by the power of God is strong enough to offer eternal life to all who would receive Him as their personal resurrection and life. (John 1:12-13, John 11:25-26)

Jesus is the better Elijah. If you have received Jesus as your Lord and Savior then you, too, have been raised from your spiritual death into life. If not, surrender your heart and your life to Him. Allow him to raise your heart from the dead and fill you with Living Bread. Study His Word, pray, and you, too, will find hope in your surrendering.

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Debera Witty
Debera Witty
1 year ago

This is so rich in words of wisdom and truth! Thanks for sharing this article.

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