Heavy Cloud, but no rain (1 Kings 17: 8-16)

by Xylia Sparks-Davis on 10/18/12

Stress, it’s a killer! Sometimes it feels like you are carrying a Volvo on your shoulders.  Stress filters into every aspect of your life – work, home, bills.  It creeps into your physical body and into your daily relationships. At times it can be overwhelming, the issues of life and the one thing you want above else is release and peace.

The Widow of Zarephath knew stress. She had a problem that was completely out of her control.  Famine had overtaken the land.  She did not cause the famine.  King Ahab turning away from the will of God had done that.  Ahab had married the daughter of the King of Sidon, Jezebel. Jezebel was not only a princess but also a priestess to the pagan deity Baal.  When she moved to Ahab’s kingdom, she brought prophets and priests with her to aid her in introducing Israel to Baal worship.   God’s law forbade worshipping any God other than Jehovah. Ahab did nothing to protect his kingdom from this onslaught. Elijah the prophet of Jehovah stepped in and commanded there would be no rain until Jehovah said so.  Zarephath was a gentile city belonging to Sidon and was caught in the middle of the crisis.

National decisions do affect the daily lives of average people.  The widow bore the consequences of Ahab and Jezebel’s actions- (attempting to shut God out of the daily life of Israel) - the economic burden that comes with having no rain.  Gardens do not grow without rain. Fields were blighted.  Fresh vegetables? Don’t even think about it. You’ll only stay hungry. Vendors in the markets cannot sell food that does not exist.  For them no food meant no job. The Widow of Zarephath was trying to survive in an economic down turn.  She had scrimped, saved and rationed; living on less until at last her pantry stores were finally down to the dregs.  Just a little meal and oil and all the food for her and her son would be gone. She thought she could outlast this recession on her own and now it seemed it would outlast her.  One last meal and she and her son would die.

Preparing for the end, she gathered firewood to cook her last meal. She didn’t know that God’s provision for her would be determined by her hospitality to a stranger. She encounters Elijah, the same prophet who had commanded the rain to stop and the dew to cease. Elijah asks for food and something to drink – and feed him first.  The widow replies, "As Jehovah your God lives, I don't have a cake, but a handful of meal in the jar, and a little oil in the jar. Behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son that we may eat it, and die."  When questioned by Elijah for food she does not give her oath by the name of Baal or any other god of Sidon, but in the name of Jehovah.  Perhaps during this famine she had questioned which god could answer her prayer to survive the crisis.  Baal had left her with an empty pantry- struggling and to the point of death.  Would Jehovah be any different?  No other god had been able to contradict His command for no rain.  If she trusted Jehovah, would her needs be met?  Elijah knew that Jehovah would provide.  It was time for the widow to see His power in action in her life.

The widow reaches into her pantry and pulls out her last stores.  I wonder if she argued with herself about who she was really making bread for (her son or the prophet) or if she released her will to God immediately, but by the time she finished baking and brought the plate out to Elijah she had decided.  She would take a leap of faith. She would try the God of Israel.  I wonder what was going through her mind as she returned to the pantry and looked down into the jar of meal. She knew she had emptied it. There should be nothing left, but there was food! There was meal and oil and once she made her and her son’s dinner there was still a supply in the jar. Jehovah had done something for her that Baal of Sidon had never done. He had supplied her needs!  She did not know when the crisis would end. She did not know when the rain would return, but she did know her needs would be supplied until the crisis was over! She had a provider!

….And so do we.  As economies around the world struggle and fall know that no matter where you are God will supply your needs.

 Until next time,