We are at 1Kings 17:8 to 17 We had just finished covering the quick obedience Elijah had to the voice of God. Again, Elijah is obedient when he is told to rise up and go to Zarephath which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. He is told by God that he will be fed by a widow there. Now he was to travel north west across this hot land to go to Zaraphath which is a small village on the outskirts of Zidon. For Elijah to go to Zaraphath was to go into enemy territory. It is hostile because these people had worshiped Baal. This was the citadel of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians whose daughter Jezebel had corrupted Ahab. There, Elijah was to live in full view of his most violent opponents. In truth this was much harder than going to Brook Cherith. Zarephath means “the place of refining”. He was chiseled at Cherith and at Zarephath he would be polished and finished to prepare him for the future tasks which lie ahead.
The fact that he was told that he would be fed by a widow should be a consolation but in those days, they respected widows and their plight of few provisions. It was strictly observed that one did not impose upon a widow and her offspring (Exod. 22:22-24). One could not take unfair advantage of these members of society. It was sinful and a stigma with society to do so.
Elijah knew all this. Therefore, he had to be sure that his messages from God to go to Zaraphath and be fed by a widow truly came from God and to be obedient no matter what. Just by reading Scripture without a commentary to follow – one would miss this point. It seems like an easy enough task just by reading Scripture but it goes much deeper – as usual! There was a double danger for Elijah! Not only that, Elijah was acutely aware and painfully self-conscious of his role in this whole big drought that now paralyzed all of Palestine. Seeing all this, one can see how truly in union with God Elijah truly was to know ALL OF THIS and still press forward on! Elijah was sure he was in harmony with God’s Will for him.
So he now comes to approach this woman who is in the country finding sticks with which to cook what she sees as her final meal because she only has left a little meal and a little oil for her and her son. Elijah approaches her, all ragged from his long journey and many days in the desert. His lips are dried and parched and cracked and swollen. He asks her for some water. She must have noted his holiness (and need) because she promptly goes to give him some water. As she goes to get water, Elijah called to her, asking that she also bring him a bite of bread. Now she stops short in her tracks and responds that she only has this meager amount of food for her and her son. In essence, she is saying – “You are transgressing the Law!”
Elijah was a man of God and her view of caution did not obscure his view of what God could do. He was sure God would provide for their needs since God had sent him there. Elijah had amazing confidence in God. He spoke, prayed and acted calmly in the face of uncertainty. His words and calmness inspired her faith in God as well and she was obedient to his demand to bake him some bread first and then she would see that God would supply sufficient for all the rest.
Anything turned over to God can be touched and transformed to take care of all those around us. He waits only for our response, faith and trust – How beautiful for us!
So the widow’s generosity brought forth the words from God spoken by Elijah, “The jar of meal shall not be spend, and the cruse of oil shall not fail, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.” 1Kings 17:15 Now she miraculously had plenty to feed all three till rain fell upon the land.
Few of us ever seems to discover that true sacrifice for another comes out of our very survival, never out of our surplus. We know nothing about genuine self-giving and self-sharing until our own self-survival is literally put on the line. Such a thought terrifies us
The principle at work here in this piece of history is one ordained of God for the benefit of His people. In our humanistic society – it is scoffed at and scorned by cynicism and skepticism. But we need to remember, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matt 6:33
We too--- can learn from this as times get tougher for us --- and they will!
I am covering the story of Elijah because this story truly relates to our times and Elijah is thought to come back in these end days with Enoch against the Anti-Christ which looks like it will be very soon. Reports are showing that famine is coming upon the world and it is also in Revelation to happen. Some of us have put away provisions – others have not or could not. We will all DEFINITELY be put to the test in our self-sacrifice of sharing. We need to know that virtue comes before staying alive. We must trust in God to provide and quite possibly our provisions will miraculously be replaced as we share them with others!
May we trust like Elijah trusted!
Our Lady of Mt. Carmel Pray for us!
St. Elijah, pray for us!
Bernadette Porter is a Traditional Catholic, a wife of 42 years with 6 adult home-schooled children and 6 grandchildren. A sincere devotion to Mary, the Mother of God leads me to want to share "The Church's best kept secret" - Mary!