Friday, October 5, 2007

"it came to pass that the brook dried up."

This is from I Kings where we are introduced to the prophet Elijah. God has sent him to warn the people of a severe drought. Having delivered his message Elijah is told to go to the brook Cherith. He will have water and he will be fed by ravens. Elijah obeys. He sits beside this source of water and is indeed provided with food in the morning and the evening. But it comes to pass that, as the drought stretches on, this little brook dried up. One wonders what he must have been thinking as he sees this source slowly dwindle away. He was doing what God had told him to do. We can identify with that. And yet the situation seemed to be deteriorating.

Perhaps what he was learning was the difference between trusting the gift and trusting the Giver. The gift may seem good for a while but the Giver is eternal Love, the source of all good that never runs dry. When the time was right, God spoke to him again and sent him on to Zarephath. He is told a widow will take over his needs. Had Elijah been sent directly to Zarephath he might have missed something. That had been a time of spiritual growth that was preparing him for what lay ahead. He had strenthened his faith there and now would be able to bless another in turning to God as the source of all good.

When he arrives she is busy gathering a few sticks to build a small fire. The first thing he asks of her is a drink of water. After three years of drought, no small request. But she heads off without complaint. As she goes, he calls after her for something to eat. Now she responds gently that this is more than she can do as she is about to prepare the last of the meal and oil for one little cake to share with her son. Then she fully expects to starve to death. Elijah encourages her to do her baking but to bring him a little bit of it first, and then she can prepare food for them. She is not to fear because God has promised that her barrel of flour and cruise of oil will not run out before the drought ends. She does as he has told her and all three of them had food from then on.

Was this part of what Elijah was learning at Cherith? His food was brought to him twice a day by ravens. Dummelow's Bible Commentary says the original may possibly mean merchants or Arabians. Perhaps God had commanded them as He would later command the widow to care for the prophet. Where the food came from is not the issue, the fact is that he was provided for twice a day in a way arranged by God.

Elijah was able to communicate directly with God. So was this widow, who had heard God tell her to care for Elijah. Both were given their daily bread, grace for that day. Jesus knew about this woman and her story because he referred to it saying that there were many widows during Elijah's day but the prophet was sent to this woman of Zarephath. The prophet had not been accepted in his own country. Has that ever happened to you? At any rate, something set her apart and she was sustained. Perhaps total trust in God's laws is more than water or bread. The miracle wasn't in her kitchen, it was in her trust and obedience. It did not fail in her heart and so did not fail in the barrel or cruise. What an example for us to ponder!

Go in peace today.

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