ELIJAH: Fed By The Widow
The churches of Christ Greet You (Romans )
Text: 1 Kings -16
As we’ve seen, 1
reveals the testing of the Prophet Elijah by God as He prepares him for
to come at
On the other hand,
Not only was the
facing drought and famine in the land, but they were also facing a
the Word of God. Because of their indifference, idolatry, and unbelief,
sent Elijah out of the land and to a Gentile widow. This was a form of
and has a two‑fold significance for us: This was somewhat prophetic of
the church when, because of
Sending Elijah to the widow reminds us of our responsibility to carry the Gospel to all men (Matt. 28:18-20; Mark -16). This also teaches us we should never take our blessings for granted. Being a Christian – a child of God - is a wonderful privilege, but privilege never guarantees success (cf. 1 Cor. 10:1‑13). It provides the basis for success, but we need to take heed how we use our blessings. When a nation or individuals ignore the Word and turn to the substitutes of the world, they eventually experience the judgment of God. God may finally turn them over to the futility of their own solutions or strategies for life (Amos ; Rom. 1:18ff; 2 Thess. 2:10‑12; 2 Tim. 4:3-4).
The Response of Elijah (1 Kings 17:10a)
Both in 1 Kings
17:5 and , we see how the prophet moved only when he
had a word
from the Lord. Even though the brook was drying up, he remained by the
until word came from God. Isaiah 28:16 says, "he that believeth will
make haste.” The RSV has, "he who believes will not make haste," and
the NASB has "he who believes in it (the cornerstone) will not be
disturbed." Interestingly, this statement of Isaiah 28:16 is made
following a reference to
But Elijah waited on the Lord and help arrived. But in what manner? He was commanded to go on a long and toilsome journey through wild and barren country. Further, with so many widows in the land, how was he to find the right one? Isn't this a natural question? It appears he didn't know who the widow was, but he knew the Lord who did and that was more than ample.
The Point: Elijah was operating by the principle of Proverbs , "but the path of the righteous is like the shining light (or the light of dawn) that shines brighter and brighter until the full day." While this verse refers primarily to the moral rectitude of those who walk with the Lord, it may also illustrate how the Lord directs our paths making His will plain as we walk in His righteousness by faith. The righteous live by faith (Hab. 2:4). Day‑by‑day, step‑by‑step as we walk in fellowship with the Lord, He leads and directs the path of the righteous (Rom. ).
faith, Elijah did not argue with the Lord, he did not whine, complain,
away. Instead, we read, "So he arose and went.” No questions, no
arguments, no complaints, just obedience and undoubtedly, in the joy
expectation of what the Lord would do not only in him and for him, but
him. Why? Because, like the Lord Jesus, he would be there not simply to
ministered to, but to minister. We also believe he understood why he
being sent to the widows of
The Relief to the Widow (Read 1 Kings 17:10b‑16)
When you and I measure what God is doing, we tend to measure it by what we see and think according to the natural man. We tend to measure God's supply, or our confidence and hope in God's supply, by what we see. When we do this, we are walking by sight rather than by faith (2 Cor. 5:7). The question we need to ask ourselves is: "DO I TEND TO LOOK AT HUMAN CONDITIONS AS A BASIS FOR MY CONFIDENCE OR DO I SEE THROUGH THEM TO THE SAVIOR”? Obviously, we need to know human conditions. We need to know the facts. For this reason, God allowed the spies to go into the land, but what they saw was not to become the basis of their confidence in what God could do nor for what they should do (Numbers 13-14). That was to be found in God's person, promises, and commands to go in.
Elijah's Response (vs. 10-11)
Our text tells us,
when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there
sticks." Again, we have the word "behold," that little
demonstrative particle, hinneh, which is designed to arrest attention.
things here: First, we find Elijah at the gate of the city of
If Elijah was looking for something to encourage him from the human standpoint of the widow, like a well‑dressed woman living in a luxurious house with a well‑stocked pantry, his hopes were soon dispelled. "Gathering sticks," was a sign of poverty. This woman was so poor she had no fuel, and in order to cook even a meager meal, she had to get out and round up a few sticks. Until now Elijah knew only that his source of supply was a widow. Now he knew she was a poor widow.
reasonable was it that the man of God could expect sustenance under her
It was no more reasonable than Noah should build an ark before he had
rain, much less a flood (Gen. 6-9), or for Joshua to command the people
The Principle: The Lord is the same yesterday, today, and
(Heb. 13:8). Circumstances change, but the Lord never changes (Mal.
circumstances do not diminish the character and power of God. They can
way change His faithfulness or omnipotence. Elijah responded in faith.
DID FAITH MANIFEST ITSELF? Like Abraham on
In verses 10 and 11, he asked the widow for a jar of water and a piece of bread. Was he believing the promise of God and acting on it, or was he looking for confirmation by her response that she had been expecting him and had plenty to eat? We know he was believing the promise of God because Elijah knew she was poor by the fact she was gathering sticks.
The Widow's Response (vs. 12)
afresh the wounds and pain of her heart. She could conceal her pain no
Her words showed she was not only poor but severely depressed. She had
and was ready to die. This was their last meal and after that they
starve. It also appears she was without any real knowledge of the Lord
without faith. Still her heart was ready and had been prepared for
and the ministry of Elijah. Note her words in verse 12, "as the Lord
God lives." This suggests she must have recognized Elijah as a prophet
Elijah’s Response (vs. 13-14)
What was Elijah to
Was he mistaken? What gave Elijah the courage to act like he did
throwing in the towel? Remember, as a man thinketh in his heart, so is
(Prov. 23:7). Elijah's response in verses 13 and 14 were words of
compassion, and vision. As a man of God, he undoubtedly felt compassion
this poor woman. He knew his solutions or strategies for meeting his or
needs were not sufficient. He knew God was faithful, powerful, and
He knew she was poor, yet God's source of supply was no accident or
knew his needs were God's concern and that they were met in the Lord.
God was aware of his longings to preach in
Please Notice THIS: For us today, Elijah's words to the woman in verses 13 and 14 are equivalent to two things: First, we must give others the promises of God's love, concern, and care - such as the promises of Philippians 4:19; 1 Peter 5:7; Psalm 55:22; and John 10:10. Second, acting as the Good Samaritan; sharing our blessings with others, knowing that our giving will not be our lack (Phil ). The woman listened to Elijah's instruction and it was just as he had promised according to the Word of the Lord. She saw the power of God - the widow, her son, and Elijah were all sustained.
What lessons can we learn from this passage of Scripture? First, look beyond the circumstances to the Lord as Yahweh Yireh – the Lord who supplies. Second, never judge or measure God's supply by what you can see. He is the One who does exceeding abundantly beyond all we can ask or think (Eph. ). Third, ask God for the vision needed to see the opportunity for ministry lying, perhaps, right under your nose. Fourth, ask God for the compassion and love needed to reach out to others with His power and love. Fifth, know that the Lord is aware of your longings and turn them over to Him. Sixth, know also that your basic needs have been met in Christ. Knowing that, commit yourself to fulfilling God's purposes in your life.
We must not end this lesson without a WARNING: God sent Elijah out of the land because the people were indifferent – indeed, rebellious to the Word of God. No man, nation, or congregation can neglect God's truth without dire consequences. It can mean a famine, not just for bread and water, but for hearing the Word. This is not just a matter of what God does to us, but what we do to ourselves, of what happens within mankind that hardens us and causes us to ignore and turn away from God.
Far too often today when people look for a church they choose one like they would a country club or a shopping mall, on the basis of consumerism rather than on the teaching of the Word of God and the ministry of its people to one another. Many times the basis of their choice is not the solid teaching of the Word, but programs, music, the number of youth, the activities, and other similar consumer‑like issues. Our nation is filled with steeples, but there is a famine in our land. Not a famine of food and water but of the proclamation of the Word of the Lord (cf. Amos ).