by Rod Jackson
All verses are quoted from the NASB anything in [square brackets] is added by me for clarity.
During the 3.5 years of drought, Elijah was staying by a brook to get water from. The passage tells us that -
"It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him [Elijah], saying, `Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I [God] have commanded a widow there to provide for you.' " 1 Kings 17:7-9
Notice that God is saving Elijah here from dying of thirst. So God commands Elijah to go to a window who lives in Zarephath. This command of God, is a verbal command to Elijah. It is clearly in Elijah's best interests to obey God (otherwise he would die without any water). So God tells Elijah that there is a widow whom God Himself has commanded her to provide food and drink for Elijah. This is very interesting to me. Because it is clear that this command of God to the widow is going to be obeyed by her. If she would disobey this command then God would not send Elijah to her! Now let us read how the passage continues, bearing in mind that God has commanded this widow to provide for Elijah.
"So he [Elijah] arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, `Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.' As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, `Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.' But she said, `As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.' " 1 Kings 17:10-12
Notice that this widow does not say anything about God telling her to feed Elijah. Moreover it is clear that this widow has had no verbal command from God as she and her son are going to eat their last meal and die. This means that even though God had command this widow to feed Elijah, the widow herself is unaware of being commanded by God. The story continues -
"Then Elijah said to her, `Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the LORD God of Israel, "The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth." ' So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through Elijah." 1 Kings 17:13-16
Notice that the prophet Elijah has to verbally tell this widow what God has (already) commanded her to do. She, of course, is obedient to the command of God (that was why God sent Elijah to this widow and not to a widow in Israel: cf. Luke 4:25-26).
We started looking at this story of Elijah where the brook dried up, if we go to the start of the chapter and see what happens when God sends Elijah to the brook we read -
"Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, `As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.' The word of the LORD came to him, saying, `Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.' So he [Elijah] went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook." 1 Kings 17:1-6
In verse 4 we read that God has "commanded the ravens to provide for you there". God commanded the ravens to bring Elijah food while the brook had water in it. This expression is the exact same expression that is used in verse 9 when it says that God had "commanded a widow there to provide for you". So the command of God to the widow was not known by the widow (until Elijah told her) and yet she obeyed it without even knowing she was commanded to obey it.
This reminds me of the time that Peter confesses Jesus is "the Christ".
"He [Jesus] said to them [His disciples], `But who do you say that I am?' Simon Peter answered, `You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.' And Jesus said to him, `Blessed are you, Simon Barjona, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.' " Matthew 16:15-17
Peter confesses Jesus is the Christ, it is most likely that Peter, from his personal perspective, thought he had figured that out for himself. But Jesus corrects him, and informs him that Peter was blessed because it was God the Father who revealed this to Peter! So then like the widow was unaware of God's commanding her, so too Peter seems to be unaware that God the Father has spoken to him, until Jesus tells him that this is the case.
The vast majority of Christians are Arminian in theology. This, I believe, is because they base their theology upon their experience and then try and interpret the word of God according to that. Arminian theology is more man centred whereas Calvinistic theology is more God centred. It was Jesus who said,
"No one can come to Me [Jesus] unless [God] the Father who sent Me draws him; and I will raise him up on the last day." John 6:44
Here we see that even if in a Christians experience they are ignorant of the drawing grace of God, like Peter was ignorant of the Father's informing him and the widow was unaware that she had been commanded by God to look after Elijah - it is still God who draws the individual. So a can modern day Christians be ignorant that God the Father has drawn them to Jesus the Christ.
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