May 10, 2020. Mother’s Day 2020.

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1 Kings 17:8-24 New King James Version (NKJV)

8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ ” 15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.

  • Command performance
    • Three years of drought led to region-wide famine (as in days of Joseph)
    • This narrative precedes the showdown on Mt. Carmel in chapter 18
    • God commands a widow in Zarepath of Sidon to take care of Elijah
      • God often used the surrounding nations as a refuge for his servants (Jacob in Haran, Joseph in Egypt, Moses in Midian, toddler Jesus taken to Egypt,…)
      • We don’t know if the widow audibly heard from God or if God intuitively laid his will on her heart
    • Often guest stars pop into the biblical narrative out of the blue (Melchizedek, Zipporah, Naaman, Balaam, Barzillai, Shunammite woman, woman at the well, woman with the issue of blood, Tabatha…)
    • We do not know this widow’s name, background, beliefs, character…
  • The encounter
    • Elijah sees the widow picking up sticks to make a fire outside the gate
      • Elijah discerns that this is the correct widow
      • Elijah doesn’t know her condition or anything about her
    • Elijah, without introduction, asks her to bring him water and some bread (hospitality was a major social obligation in biblical times in Near East)
    • The widow recognizes Elijah as a man of God (by his clothing? by revelation?)
      • The knowledge that Elijah is a man of God governs story
      • To trust God is to also trust the man that God has sent
    • A godly woman trusts God in all circumstances, no matter how dire (by Word, leading of Holy Spirit, and godly counsel)
    • The widow tells Elijah that his request is impossible (how God works)
      • She was a widow with a son and enough oil + flour for 1 meal
      • She was about to make their last meal and then starve
    • Elijah insists that she follow his instructions
      • Don’t fear (common admonition to God’s children)–Romans 8:28
      • Make a cake for Elijah 1st (take care of God’s man 1st)
      • God promises that the oil + bread will not run out until rain
    • Widow had to decide whether she trusted Elijah’s words
      • She already knew that he was a man of God (what kind?)
      • God would not have chosen her for this task if he had not also known that she would comply
        • God uses holy women who yield to him (Sarah, Rahab, Ruth, Esther, Abigail, Mary, Tabitha…)
        • A simple informed faith is a great tool of God
      • The widow complies, apparently without argument
    • Elijah, the widow, and her son eat for many days on a little oil and flour

17 Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. 18 So she said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?” 19 And he said to her, “Give me your son.” So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. 20 Then he cried out to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?” 21 And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the Lord and said, “O Lord my God, I pray, let this child’s soul come back to him.” 22 Then the Lord heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. 23 And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, “See, your son lives!” 24 Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is the truth.”

  • Testing & trusting
    • The widow’s son was her only source of joy
    • God takes her son’s life (no explanation)
      • This is the ultimate test of faith
      • Brings her to point of acknowledging her sins
    • Elijah takes the child and pleads for his life (God answers and child lives)
      • The miracle of oil + bread = fell short of complete faith
      • Now she knows Elijah is not just a preacher, but a prophet
    • God cares about women and particularly the widow (I Timothy 5:1-10)
      • He uses the humble and faithful
      • He tests the faithful and seeks to grow faith via the testing

Key Verse:

I Timothy 5:1-10 [New King James Version (NKJV)]1 Do not rebuke an older man, but exhort him as a father, younger men as brothers, 2 older women as mothers, younger women as sisters, with all purity. 3 Honor widows who are really widows. 4 But if any widow has children or grandchildren, let them first learn to show piety at home and to repay their parents; for this is [a]good and acceptable before God. 5 Now she who is really a widow, and left alone, trusts in God and continues in supplications and prayers night and day. 6 But she who lives in [b]pleasure is dead while she lives. 7 And these things command, that they may be blameless. 8 But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. 9 Do not let a widow under sixty years old be taken into the number, and not unless she has been the wife of one man, 10 well reported for good works: if she has brought up children, if she has lodged strangers, if she has washed the saints’ feet, if she has relieved the afflicted, if she has diligently followed every good work.