Today’s Passage – 1 Kings 15 – 17; Proverbs 22
(Second Milers also read – Mark 15 – 16; Memorize Philippians 3:8 – 11)
“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)
“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.” – (1 Kings 17:16)
The setting for our text this morning is the northern kingdom of Israel, which at this point is under the reign of wicked King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. You will remember that at this time the nation of Israel was divided into the northern kingdom (which retained the name Israel), and the southern kingdom of Judah. Now King Ahab of Israel was a very bad king, doing “…more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him”. (1 Kings 16:33) As judgment for the idolatry in the land, God brought forth a drought that lasted for three years. Though the people of Israel were suffering terribly from the shortage of water and also the shortage of food that resulted from the lack of water, God still took care of his own. Elijah was fed by the ravens at the brook Cherith; and then he was miraculously provided for through an unending supply of meal and oil, along with the widow woman from Zarephath and her son.
As I reflect on this passage, I am reminded of what David said through the inspiration of God:
“I have been young, and now am old; yet have I not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his seed begging bread.” – (Psalm 37:25)
In my lifetime, I have never experienced a famine such as the one that Israel faced here in our text; but I have lived through some tough economic times. However, during the worst of times, God has always taken care of me and my family. It is interesting that in this chapter of Scripture, God reminds us of two ways that He miraculously provides for our needs during these tough times. First, He supplies us from unlikely sources. The ravens were Elijah’s first source of provision, not unlike the manna that fell from heaven during the wilderness wanderings. I remember when I was in Bible college. Those were certainly some tough days financially. I believe that God was testing our resolve to finish school by allowing us to struggle. Yet, during those years, God provided miraculously more times than I can count. One time, He used a group of co-workers to graciously supply food and Christmas presents for my children. Another time, God used my brother Bill and his wife to graciously help us. Another time, God laid it upon some one’s heart to pay part of my school bill; my mortgage payment was anonymously paid on more than one occasion. We were awed and humbled by the miraculous provision of God during this period of our life.
The second way that God provided for Elijah, and in this case the woman and her son, was that He allowed what they already had (the oil and the meal) to last longer. You will remember also that as Israel wandered in the wilderness their shoes and clothes did not wear out for the entire forty years. This is just as much of a miracle as the provision through the ravens. God said through Malachi, that He would “rebuke the devourer” (Malachi 3:11) if the people would put God first. Haggai told the people that their bag of money was full of holes (Haggai 1:6), because they had not put God first. I know what it is like to have a wallet “full of holes”; but I also know what it is like to have things last long beyond their lifespan. When I first started tithing as a young Christian I thought that God would miraculously take care of all of my financial problems through some big gift of money; but instead, He provided by causing us to plug up some of the “holes” in our check book. The car didn’t break down, and the kids didn’t get sick as much. We were spending a lot less.
God has been good to my family through the years. I have no regret whatever about the decision Cindy and I made twenty years ago to tithe, and to give offerings above the tithe. God has always been faithful to us. If you are struggling in your finances, let me encourage you to trust God by putting Him first in your life.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” – (Matthew 6:33)
“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” – (Luke 6:38)
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.” – (Malachi 3:10)
Posted in Thoughts from 1 Kings by Phil Erickson with 2 comments.