I Kings 17:5-16–“So he (Elijah) went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.”
This passage is rich in meaning and in blessing. There are so many lessons we can learn from careful study of this passage. Elijah models faith in action by his obedience in verse 5. God’s abundant awareness of our physical needs is shown in verse 6. God’s all-knowing presence in our life and His constant provisions for us is clearly seen in verses 7-9. Elijah demonstrates for us the kind of trust we are to have in God in verse 10. In the latter part of verse 10 and through to verse 11 we see that Elijah is operating solely on faith. The Lord had told him that a widow woman would sustain him and now he is trusting the word of God by living it out in his life. The widow woman in verse 12 shows that God is looking only for a willing vessel to use. He isn’t looking for self-qualified individuals. He is looking for individuals He can qualify for service. In verses 13-14 we are given a glimpse into the requirements of service. The widow is asked to give all she has to God, first, so that she may reap all that He has for her. Then finally, this passage ends with the promise that awaits all who fully trust in God and who obey His word. It ends with the widow being blessed beyond comprehension. These are just a few of the many truths contained within this passage. All of them are precious and each of them have the power to change hearts and lives. But, for today’s devotion I would like to focus on the blessings associated with a life that trusts and obeys.
I wonder how many of us would just, “Arise,” and go? For most of us to even consider picking up and leaving everything behind it would require a huge advance notice. Our lives are so complicated and we have fallen into satan’s trap of thinking that we are solely responsible for our provisions, safety and security. We often forget that the current job we hold, the house we live in, the friends and family we enjoy are all blessings from the hand of God. Now, I am not advocating living irresponsibly and urging you to disregard all your possessions and ignore what you hold dear. What I am pointing out is that you remember, “your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask Him.” (Matthew 6:8). All those things you hold dear are just gifts (“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”James 1:17) from God. They are blessings He has chosen to give to you because He loves you. If you are constantly clinging to what you have, refusing to see that what you must cling to is the provider of what you have, then you limit what He can give to you. In the case of the widow woman, she had come to the very end of all she had. At first glance it may even seem that Elijah was greedy, or unfeeling. This was not the case at all. Elijah was helping her to receive the greatest blessing of her life. By giving all she had to Elijah, she was about to empty herself that God could fill her completely.
What did it take for Elijah to trust that this seemingly helpless, unlikely widow was going to be the solution to his problems? Think about it. Elijah was a strong man. He had lived in the wilderness. He was used to depending solely upon himself and God. Now, God was getting ready to humble him to the point that he was going to have to trust God to place upon the heart of this widow to provide the sustenance he needed. What did it take? It took complete trust in a God that could not fail. It took faith to believe that what seemed impossible was not only probable but was certain. God had said He would provide for Elijah at the hands of the widow woman and so the circumstances did not matter. The fact remained. God spoke so it was sure. It was this kind of trust in God that led to Elijah’s obedience.
What did it take for the widow woman to give all she had? Perhaps, we should linger here for a moment. The thoughts surrounding this question take me immediately back to our earlier thoughts on what we hold dear. I think all too often we place our faith in what we have, in what we can do and not in God who is truly the foundation for our existence. I think that sometimes we get so caught up in ourselves that not only do we forget the needs of others but we forget the still small voice within us that calls for us be tools in His hands that we may be used in His service. The widow woman of I Kings 17 never lost sight of this opportunity that laid before her. She fully understood. You see in verse 9 of this passage God tells Elijah that He had commanded the widow woman to sustain him. So, the widow had heard from God. She had been given her task to do for an Almighty God. And unlike many of us, she did it. She knew exactly what it was going to cost her. She knew she did not have even enough food to adequately care for her and her son yet when God asked for it she gave it freely and willingly without hesitation. The facts and circumstances surrounding her work for God did not play into her decision to follow where He led and to give what He required. She obviously did not see how this was going to happen. Perhaps, she didn’t even see the fairness in the job she was being asked to do for God. Regardless, she trusted and obeyed.
Now, let’s look at what trusting and obeying did for both Elijah and the widow woman. For Elijah it provided all of his physical needs. It no doubt strengthened his faith and it allowed him to teach a wonderful lesson to someone else. He was given the opportunity to teach the widow woman that not only does God provide all your needs if you trust in Him but He will bless you abundantly as well. For the widow woman, she was afforded one of God’s richest blessings. She was given the opportunity to know what happens as a direct result of giving all you have to God that He may fill you up to overflowing. The widow woman experienced the supernatural blessing of watching God multiply what little we have into miraculous and marvelous abundance. Forever she had watched her barrel and cruse going dry but when she invited God into it, she saw it could never run dry.
What issue in your life is God asking you to step out by faith and truly put your trust in Him? Do the circumstances surrounding it seem overwhelming? Perhaps, you can not see the end and are therefore uncertain of the outcome. Oh, my friend, remember Elijah and the widow woman. Elijah followed the voice of God for His very sustenance. No doubt, when He saw what God had provided for him the circumstances would have overtaken him had He not realized that God was in control and knew best. Oh, take a very close look at the widow woman. Surely, our hearts would have grown weary as we heard God say to give all that we had. But these two, employed their faith to such degrees that they could do anything God asked because He was their sustenance and He was the very essence of their being. They had complete trust in a God that could not fail and had blinders to everyone and everything else. All that mattered was what God had spoken to each of their hearts. They were going to trust and obey. Though they lived on the other side of the cross and the grace of God through His Son had not yet appeared, they knew of God’s grace and mercy. Oh, how much stronger our faith should be now that the Holy Spirit lives within us (John 16:7). Today, I challenge each of you. Reach for all the blessings He has for you by letting go of this world and the things there of and grasping onto the hand of Almighty God. Trust in Him and obey His voice.