If you have been wondering – Why did God send Elijah to a foreigner and not an Israelite at a time of need? Read with me what God has to answer.
At the prophetic utterance of Elijah, a famine struck the land of Israel like an anaconda it slowly strangled the life out of the inhabitants, and even animals were not spared, including nations around Israel.
During this period, Elijah was enjoying the presence and preserve of God at a God-ordained nature resort with refreshing spring water. He was the only occupant and ravens, as stingy as they were, were his waiters. They waited on him twice a day.
“And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.” [1 Kings 17:6 KJV]
Ravens are very stingy and never care for their young. Naturalists tell us that when the Raven has fed her young in the nest until they are well-fledged and able to fly abroad, then she pushes them out of the nest. She will not let them remain there but forces them to get their own living.
This Is what the Raven does to his young ones from the nest, due to lack of experience, they wander for lack of food. See Genesis 8:7; Job 38:41; Psalm 147:9.
Now when these young ones are on their first flight away from their nest, and are little acquainted with getting food for themselves, making life very tough for them, then the Lord provides food for them. The Heavenly Father feeds them (Matthew 6:26).
As mischievous as they can be, they dare not touch the food of Elijah nor eat it but obey their Creator and deliver the assignment like your FedEx couriers.
In the meantime, some people had been repentant and were crying out to God to deliver them from the famine. Most of them were priests. God answered their prayers by sending a government minister to provide for them secretly. But there were still others, too.
To answer their prayers, God needed his chosen servant to unlock the gates of rain because He had put the key of the kingdom in his utterances. So, He began to make the springs of Cherith dry up and the Ravens stopped waiting on Elijah.
This made Elijah’s prayer change directions, from asking God to keep the gates of heaven closed to “Lord, let me not suffer with the unGodly”. God therefore instructed him to go to a widow in Zarephath (Sarepta).
Elijah At The Gates of Zarephath
Sarepta (near modern Sarafand, Lebanon) was a Phoenician city on the Mediterranean coast between Sidon and Tyre. That name, Sarepta, is a Phoenician word, which means “smelting place”.
This was not a city of Israel near Elijah’s resort at Cherith. He had to trek some hundred miles to was able to locate the widow, and being thirsty and hungry, immediately made a demand on her resources. He said to her, “Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.”
“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.” [1 Kings 17:12 KJV]
While she was not going to hesitate to serve the stranger she had just met, she had to explain the dire situation to the stranger making a life-changing demand on the last source of living. She was looking for empathy in Elijah, expecting him to excuse her, particularly because of her son and change and downgrade his demands.
Elijah did not flinch. Instead, he made a pronouncement: “By God, the food won’t finish!”
Jesus said, “but unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.” [Luke 4:26 KJV]
Is anyone asking God why He didn’t send Elijah to an Israelite so he would be the ultimate recipient of the miraculous at a terrible time?
“And I sought for a man among them, that should make up the hedge, and stand in the gap before me for the land, that I should not destroy it: but I found none.” [Ezekiel 22:30]
In reality, God did make requests of the Israelites, but they were too selfish to be interested in responding to God. The requests came through the “ten young men” in the form of dreams, visions, impressions of the mind, gentle voice in the heart, circumstances, prayer requests, other believers, wise counsel, and direct approaches (as in the case of Elijah to this widow).
They behaved like Nabal each time they got the request. The requests were strategically dismissed.
“And Nabal answered David’s servants, and said, Who is David? and who is the son of Jesse? there be many servants now a days that break away every man from his master.” [1 Samuel 25:10 KJV]
“Why is this modern-day Elijah bothering me? He should go and get a job and work like the rest of us. In fact, this is my last savings for me and my child. My son’s school fees are ready, he needs a new Nike shoe like his peers.” The reasons not to release
It is the devil who forces his servants and the people in his kingdom to obey his wishes, whether they like it or not. In fact, if they don’t, disobedience could mean the end of their lives. But, God doesn’t operate like that.
In fact, many of them lie to God’s face and hide what He gave them to share with His people in need.
“But Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost, and to keep back part of the price of the land?” [Acts 5:3 KJV]
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” [Revelation 3:20 KJV]
This is where so many “Israelites” (believers) are failing today and hindering God from the miraculous. These believers think they are wiser than God and know better, so they engage in storing gold without thinking about Him.
“Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days.” [James 5:3 KJV]
No Man Was Available
After going through the whole land of Israel with no one ready to respond to Him positively, even among those who claimed to be righteous, He had to go to the Northern part of Israel, into the territory of idol-worshippers to find a humble soul who had turned away, in her little way, from worshipping Baal.
“For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.” [2 Chronicles 16:9]
Elijah must journey from east of the Jordan to Zarephath, by-passing so many villages, towns and cities of the poor and rich of Israel to meet this foreign woman appointed by God for the miraculous to happen.
People think that God just picked some random woman who happens to be a widow with a son. Of course not. There was a relationship between God and this widow. She had begun to reject the idols of her fathers and started asking questions.
“All these years that I have served Baal, I still don’t have peace and life is miserable. What about the God of the Israelites? Is He that evil that He could not prevent famine from His own people? Was it not the same God we heard stories of the plagues in Egypt, parting of the Red Sea and manna in the wilderness?”
Just the night before Elijah turned up, she had prayed a very simple prayer, “God of Isreal, if you are real, save me and my child from this famine.”
Like the Samaritan woman Jesus met by the well, she could only recognize Elijah as an Israelite, not a prophet. But, she knew there was a mighty God of the Israelites. She was willing to obey but did not know how. Deep in her heart, she wanted to serve God. Seeing an Israelite was an opportunity she would not miss.
Her response to Elijah’s request betrayed the deep thoughts of her heart. Listen to her words to Elijah:
“… As the LORD thy God liveth…” [1 Kings 17:12]
She wasn’t a random pick but a Godly choice simply because she opened her heart and hands to a stranger.
It was actually in response to a firm challenge from her to God as it is written, “And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call.” [Joel 2:13]
After Elijah’s prophecy, the rest is history. From that point onwards, she started enjoying what life means. It was like a dream. One moment, she was planning to die and the next she was living the life.
After an evangelistic outreach, Jesus made the same request as God did at the time of Elijah. He asked the disciples to give the crowd something to eat and they replied that there was nothing available. Just then a young man heard about that demand, and without any pressure, he willingly gave what he had.
At that point in time, Jesus did not have silver or gold, but he gave back to the young man such as He had on Him. He went home with more than he gave up to God. God never owes anyone. The silver, gold and all the resources of this world belong to Him (Psalm 24:1].
“Giving help to the poor is like loaning money to the LORD. He will pay you back for your kindness.” [Proverbs 19:17 English Revised Version]
Beloved saint, the cruse of oil and the bowl of meal you have in your hand were given to you by God for a purpose, when a demand is made on it by God you will have to decide. Stop trying to invest in self-defeating purposes.
You can either feast on your last meal and die afterwards or give it to God and experience the miraculous. God is making a demand on the talents, resources, time and all sorts of blessings He’s given His people at this time, are you going to be like Nabal or the widow?
The choice is yours. He says, “And the LORD said, My spirit shall not always strive with man, for that he also is flesh: yet his days shall be an hundred and twenty years.” [Genesis 6:3 KJV]
When you choose to trust God with what you have, you can never lose, not just because He is the King of kings but because He made everything. He sent Elijah to this humble soul not just to feed His servant, but to help her achieve what she couldn’t have achieved on her own.
The Church is like this widow and her son (Church born by the church) going through a famine, only those with the spirit of Elijah have been sent to her and the son. She must learn to serve Elijah before she can truly be blessed, otherwise, she will die.
Join me for the concluding part next week: Elijah in Zarephath.