1 Kings 17: ‘Big Solutions to Big Problems’
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Big problems call for big solutions.
God’s people have had a big fall since the heights of David and Solomon, and now they need a big solution.
In 1 Kings chapter 17, we meet that solution… a man called ‘Elijah’.
His name means, ‘My God is Yahweh’, and that’s also his message to the messy world of God’s kingdom.
In verse one, Elijah speaks to bad king Ahab and tells him that, “there will be no dew or rain during the next few years until I give the word!”
A punishing drought has begun from the hand of the true and living God.
As he hands down the judgement, God tells him to run away and hide near the Jordan River, verse 2, where the Lord says he will provide food and water, verse 4, and so Elijah obeys him.
But the punishing drought leads the water in that river to dry up.
So the Lord tells Elijah to leave that place, and verse 9, “Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. I have instructed a widow there to feed you.”
So Elijah needs to leave his safe hiding place and walk 200 kilometres through drought-stricken Israel to go to a place in modern Lebanon, just south of Beirut.
He’s told to leave Israel for Baal-land… which is where King Ahab’s Baal-worshipping wife Jezebel came from.
So, he does as he’s told, verse 10 and 11, and he asks a widow for water and bread, but verse 12, she said, “I swear by the LORD your God that I don’t have a single piece of bread in the house. And I have only a handful of flour left in the jar and a little cooking oil in the bottom of the jug. I was just gathering a few sticks to cook this last meal, and then my son and I will die.”
Using the name of Yahweh, not Baal, this widow from outside of Israel swears she has nothing… and tells the prophet that her son is about to die.
In her grief, Elijah brings her a word of comfort, verse 13,“Don’t be afraid!”
It’s what Jesus often said to people he met.
It’s a word that Jesus still says to us, today, as we confront our fears.
Jesus is the true Lord, and he gives us true hope if we trust in him.
So, Elijah tells the woman to make him some bread with the last of her groceries, so that in doing so, she would show genuine faith in God’s word, which had said to her that he would provide her needs.
She had to show her faith in what she could not see.
And the Lord did, verse 16, for, "There was always enough flour and olive oil left in the containers, just as the LORD had promised through Elijah.”
But later the woman’s son became sick, and he died, verse 17, and her response is to blame Elijah, and his god.
So, Elijah lay the dead boy on a bed, and he passionately prayed, “why?”, verse 20.
Then, verse 22: “The LORD heard Elijah’s prayer, and the life of the child returned, and he revived!”
What seemed impossible was possible to God.
Then the woman told Elijah, verse 24, “Now I know for sure that you are a man of God, and that the LORD truly speaks through you.”
It was a miracle beyond our imagination… then centuries later, Jesus came and did the same thing for another widow, in Luke chapter 7.
But unlike Elijah, he didn’t ask God to perform that miracle… Jesus did it himself, for he is God.
And it showed the power of Jesus over death, which was displayed in his own resurrection, bringing us hope beyond our grave because Jesus conquered death, for us who believe in him.
Almighty God, Father of all mercies and giver of all comfort; deal graciously, we pray, with those who mourn, that, casting all their care on you, they may know the consolation of your love; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. (AAPB, p.591).
Pray with us today's prayer request:
In June we prayed for 4 portable Bible schools taking place in Goma Diocese. Two of these have finished, having trained 63 evangelists. There were also successful evangelistic meetings. At one church in Bwito Mulimbi there was a congregation of 45 at the beginning of the training and 248 by the end. Thank God for His provision for this training and for many who turned to Christ.
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