INTERESTING FACTS : FACTS - "THE OBSERVANT MAN RECOGNIZES MANY MYSTERIES INTO WHICH HE CAN NOT PRETEND TO SEE, AND HE REMEMBERS THAT THE WORLD IS TOO WIDE FOR THE EYE OF ONE MAN. BUT THE MODERN SOPHISTS ARE SURE OF EVERYTHING, ESPECIALLY IF IT CONTRADICTS THE BIBLE." - -CHARLES HADDON SPURGEON
DAILY READING : 1 KINGS 15 - 17
TEXT : 1Ki 17:8 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, 1Ki 17:9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. 1Ki 17:10 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. 1Ki 17:11 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. 1Ki 17:12 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. 1Ki 17:13 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. 1Ki 17:14 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.
THEME : GOD'S PROVISION
As we continue through First Kings, we read of the reign of Israel and Judah's kings. Some are godly such as we read of Asa. However, the sad testimony of the Holy Scriptures is most of the kings of Israel and Judah are ungodly and unholy. One would think, with God in their midst, the children of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob would be the purest people on earth as they were commanded to be. However, the Bible and history record how the people of God - the Church and Israel, have a heartrending history of apostasy and disobedience. This has been the case from the beginning, and will continue until Jesus arrives.
We would not write a Book depicting the heroes as flawed and failures. Yet, God, the Author of the Bible, does not hide the truth about its characters. Therefore, we see the principle people of the Bible as human beings, thoroughly tainted by sin [like you and me] and we read of their triumphs and tragedies. However, not all the players on the stage of Holy Writ are equal. Some are godlier, others more wicked. Thus, God introduces us to two such people in the person of king Ahab - an exceptionally wicked king, and Elijah an exceptionally godly prophet.
"Ahab did evil above all that reigned before him, and did it with a particular enmity both against Jehovah and Israel. He was not satisfied with breaking the second commandment by image-worship, he broke the first by worshipping other gods: making light of lesser sins makes way for greater. Marriages with daring offenders also imbolden in wickedness, and hurry men on to the greatest excesses. One of Ahab's subjects, following the example of his presumption, ventured to build Jericho. Like Achan, he meddled with the accursed thing; turned that to his own use, which was devoted to God's honour: he began to build, in defiance of the curse well devoted to God's honour: he began to build, in defiance of the curse well known in Israel; but none ever hardened his heart against God, and prospered. Let the reading of this chapter cause us to mark the dreadful end of all the workers of iniquity. And what does the history of all ungodly men furnish, what ever rank or situation they move in, but sad examples of the same?" [Matthew Henry]
Elijah on the other hand, is a powerful prophet. Designated as a "non-writing" prophet for the obvious reason he did not pen any books as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel etc. yet, he walks so closely with the Lord that God will take him to heaven without his dying physically. Like Enoch, he will walk with God and then the Lord will take him from the earth - miraculously.
"The history of this great man is introduced very abruptly; his origin is enveloped in perfect obscurity. He is here said to be a Tishbite. Tishbeh, says Calmet, is a city beyond Jordan, in the tribe of Gad, and in the land of Gilead. Who was his father, or from what tribe he sprang, is not intimated; he seems to have been the prophet of Israel peculiarly, as we never find him prophesying in Judah. A number of apocryphal writers have trifled at large about his parentage, miraculous birth, of his continual celibacy, his academy of the prophets, etc., etc., all equally worthy of credit. One opinion, which at first view appears strange, bears more resemblance to truth than any of the above, viz., that he had no earthly parentage known to any man; that he was an angel of God, united for a time to a human body, in order to call men back to perfect purity, both in doctrine and manners, from which they had totally swerved. His Hebrew name, which we have corrupted into Elijah and Elias, is אליהו Alihu, or, according to the vowel points, Eliyahu; and signifies he is my God. Does this give countenance to the supposition that this great personage was a manifestation in the flesh of the Supreme Being? He could not be the Messiah; for we find him with Moses on the mount of transfiguration with Christ. The conjecture that he was an angel seems countenanced by the manner of his departure from this world; yet, in Jam_5:17, he is said to be a man ὁμοιοπαθης, of like passions, or rather with real human propensities: this, however, is irreconcilable with the conjecture." [Adam Clarke]
If you study the Bible and history, you will notice how good and evil run on parallel tracks. God is prepared to supply His people with help and hope, even in the worst of times. Certainly, the reign of Ahab and his equally wicked wife Jezebel is a period of great evil and sin in Israel. Yet, where we see Ahab and Jezebel, we also see Elijah. It is similar to the apostles. Where we see Judas, we see Jesus. Isaiah, who mourned the death of the godly Uzziah stated - "In the year that king Uzziah died I saw also the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple." [Isa_6:1 - Italics and underline mine] We must learn to see God in our troubled times so will maintain the joy of the Lord and our faith in Him.
TRUTH FOR TODAY : GOD WILL SUPPLY ALL OF OUR NEEDS!
During the horrible drought Elijah brought on Israel through prayer to God, he is kept by God from the privations suffered by others. He is told to go to the brook Cherith where God has commanded the ravens to supply his meat. While the river is still flowing, he has water. Therefore, for a season, before the river dries up, Elijah stays by the river where the birds bring him food and the river supplies his water. It is encouraging to read how God has "commanded" the ravens to feed him!
After the river dries up, God instructs Elijah to go to the widow of Zarephath. Here, God employs the use of the same term concerning Elijah's needs. That is, He has "commanded" the widow to take care of Elijah. It is interesting that God chooses someone who has nothing, to take care of someone who has nothing, so all will know God reigns and He will never suffer the righteous to be moved!
"Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, and some, it is likely, would have bidden him welcome to their houses; yet he is sent to honour and bless with his presence a city of Sidon, a Gentile city, and so becomes the first prophet of the Gentiles. Jezebel was Elijah's greatest enemy; yet, to show her how powerless was her malice, God will find a hiding-place for him even in her own country. The person appointed to entertain Elijah is not one of the rich or great men of Sidon; but a poor widow woman, in want, and desolate, is made both able and willing to sustain him. It is God's way, and it is his glory, to make use of, and put honour upon, the weak and foolish things of the world. O woman, great was thy faith; one has not found the like, no not in Israel. She took the prophet's word, that she should not lose by it. Those who can venture upon the promise of God, will make no difficulty to expose and empty themselves in his service, by giving him his part first. Surely the increase of this widow's faith, so as to enable her thus readily to deny herself, and to depend upon the Divine promise, was as great a miracle in the kingdom of grace, as the increase of her meal and oil in the kingdom of providence. Happy are all who can thus, against hope, believe and obey in hope. One poor meal's meat this poor widow gave the prophet; in recompence of it, she and her son did eat above two years, in a time of famine. To have food from God's special favour, and in such good company as Elijah, made it more than doubly sweet. It is promised to those who trust in God, that they shall not be ashamed in evil time; in days of famine they shall be satisfied." [Matthew Henry]
Still, Elijah's faith is tested as he announced the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil would not fail until the end of the drought that caused the famine. This cannot happen without the miraculous intervention of God. It is from this, we learn to take courage and believe the Word of the Lord. For, God cannot lie or change. He is the same always because He is God. With that in mind, we understand God will supply ALL of our needs, all of our lives. This is the principle and promise of God included in His book.
Php 4:12 I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Php 4:13 I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. Php 4:18 But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odour of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, wellpleasing to God. Php 4:19 But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
"But my God shall supply all your need - That is, "You have shown your regard for me as a friend of God, by sending to me in my distress, and I have confidence that, in return for all this, God will supply all your needs, when you are in circumstances of necessity." Paul's confidence in this seems not to have been founded on any express revelation; but on the general principle that God would regard their offering with favor. Nothing is lost, even in the present life, by doing good. In thousands of instances it is abundantly repaid. The benevolent are not usually poor; and if they are, God often raises up for them benefactions, and sends supplies in a manner as unexpected, and hearing proofs of divine interposition as decided, as when supplies were sent by the ravens to the prophet." [Albert Barnes]
The widow supplied Elijah, therefore God supplied the widow. She who had nothing was given much to keep herself, her son and the prophet alive. So will God so for all who place their trust in Him.
Job 5:15 But he saveth the poor from the sword, from their mouth, and from the hand of the mighty. Job 5:16 So the poor hath hope, and iniquity stoppeth her mouth. Job 5:17 Behold, happy is the man whom God correcteth: therefore despise not thou the chastening of the Almighty: Job 5:18 For he maketh sore, and bindeth up: he woundeth, and his hands make whole. Job 5:19 He shall deliver thee in six troubles: yea, in seven there shall no evil touch thee. Job 5:20 In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword. Job 5:21 Thou shalt be hid from the scourge of the tongue: neither shalt thou be afraid of destruction when it cometh. Job 5:22 At destruction and famine thou shalt laugh: neither shalt thou be afraid of the beasts of the earth. Job 5:23 For thou shalt be in league with the stones of the field: and the beasts of the field shall be at peace with thee. Job 5:24 And thou shalt know that thy tabernacle shall be in peace; and thou shalt visit thy habitation, and shalt not sin. Job 5:25 Thou shalt know also that thy seed shall be great, and thine offspring as the grass of the earth. Job 5:26 Thou shalt come to thy grave in a full age, like as a shock of corn cometh in in his season. Job 5:27 Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.
We must learn that good and evil run on parallel tracks. Good times have bad times, either immediately after or soon after. However, many times good and evil occur concurrently. Charles Dickens said it well - "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times; it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness; it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity; it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness; it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair; we had everything before us, we had nothing before us; we were all going directly to Heaven, we were all going the other way." [1
These words of Dickens express the times we live in. Yet, never let us forget God will supply all of our needs - all of the time!