1 Kings
Introduction 1 Elijah Appears Before Ahab 2-6 Elijah by the Brook Cherith 7-9 Elijah Must Go to a Widow in Zarephath 10-16 A Handful Flour and a Little Oil 17-18 The Widow’s Son Dies 19-24 The Son Becomes Alive
Introduction

Now that we have reached the absolute low point of the history of God’s people, the Holy Spirit places the prophet Elijah before our attention. The person and service of Elijah are exceptional. He is one of the greatest personalities in the Old Testament. He is the first man to raise a dead person, he is the only one to go to heaven with fiery chariots and horses. He is “a man with a nature like ours” (Jam 5:17a17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.), but with a tremendous faith. He is also a man of prayer.

He lives in a time of the greatest apostacy, a time in which the Word of God was totally rejected by people of God. In that time he stands as a true man of God for the rights of God and bears witness of Him as the living God. He is a man with whom anyone who cares about the welfare of God’s people would like to identify. After all, we too live in a time in which the Word of God has largely been rejected. Not so much in the world, but in Christianity.

Elijah is a prophet. Prophets are sent by God when His people have deviated from Him. God wants to speak through them to the hearts and conscience of the people. Prophets represent God’s power and bring God’s people into the light of God. They put their finger on the deviation, the sin (Jn 4:16-1916He *said to her, “Go, call your husband and come here.”17The woman answered and said, “I have no husband.” Jesus *said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’;18for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.”19The woman *said to Him, “Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet.). Elijah does not do this gently, for he announces drought. He does so because the whole people serve the Baal. He comes from Gilead. We could say that in view of the deviation of the people he is a “balm from Gilead” (Jer 8:2222Is there no balm in Gilead?
Is there no physician there?
Why then has not the health of the daughter of my people been restored?
). He denounces their sick condition and offers them a medicine. That medicine is repentance and return to the LORD.

Of Elijah – and also of Elisha – we have no Bible book in God’s Word. This we have of many prophets who prophesied to the two tribes, such as Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and so on. We have the prophetic service of the prophets in the two tribes realm in written form in God’s Word because their service also relates to what is still future today. In the two tribes realm there is still a certain interest in God’s Word, and the prophets can refer to that Word in their exhortations. They speak for edification and exhortation and consolation, as still happens today in the church (1Cor 14:33But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation.). This is only possible if there are hearts to absorb the Word.

Nor do the prophets of the two tribes realm signs and wonders: for they are for the unbelievers. Therefore Elijah and Elisha do miracles, for they have a message for an unbelieving people.

The word Elijah and Elisha speak as prophets does not refer to the near or distant future, as is the case with the writing prophets. Their word is addressed to the heart and conscience of the people in the present circumstances, here and now. It is a word supported by miraculous signs.

Elijah’s signs are extremely powerful. They are connected to heaven. Once he has closed heaven and four times he has opened heaven. He closes and opens heaven in relation to rain (Jam 5:17-1817Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.18Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.). He also opens heaven to let fire descend from it, once over the offering (1Kgs 18:36-3836At the time of the offering of the [evening] sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, “O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word.37Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and [that] You have turned their heart back again.”38Then the fire of the LORD fell and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench.) and twice over his enemies (2Kgs 1:8-148They answered him, “[He was] a hairy man with a leather girdle bound about his loins.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”9Then [the king] sent to him a captain of fifty with his fifty. And he went up to him, and behold, he was sitting on the top of the hill. And he said to him, “O man of God, the king says, ‘Come down.’”10Elijah replied to the captain of fifty, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then fire came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.11So he again sent to him another captain of fifty with his fifty. And he said to him, “O man of God, thus says the king, ‘Come down quickly.’”12Elijah replied to them, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” Then the fire of God came down from heaven and consumed him and his fifty.13So he again sent the captain of a third fifty with his fifty. When the third captain of fifty went up, he came and bowed down on his knees before Elijah, and begged him and said to him, “O man of God, please let my life and the lives of these fifty servants of yours be precious in your sight.14Behold fire came down from heaven and consumed the first two captains of fifty with their fifties; but now let my life be precious in your sight.”). As has already been said, he raised up a dead person (1Kgs 17:21-2221Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.”22The LORD heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived.).

He alone has as a prophet a direct successor in Elisha (2Kgs 2:1,11-141And it came about when the LORD was about to take up Elijah by a whirlwind to heaven, that Elijah went with Elisha from Gilgal.11As they were going along and talking, behold, [there appeared] a chariot of fire and horses of fire which separated the two of them. And Elijah went up by a whirlwind to heaven.12Elisha saw [it] and cried out, “My father, my father, the chariots of Israel and its horsemen!” And he saw Elijah no more. Then he took hold of his own clothes and tore them in two pieces.13He also took up the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and returned and stood by the bank of the Jordan.14He took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him and struck the waters and said, “Where is the LORD, the God of Elijah?” And when he also had struck the waters, they were divided here and there; and Elisha crossed over.) and he has a successor in his spirit in John the baptist (Lk 1:1717It is he who will go [as a forerunner] before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”). The Old Testament closes with its name (Mal 4:5-65“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.6He will restore the hearts of the fathers to [their] children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”). He is there, together with Moses, when the Lord Jesus appears on the mountain of glorification (Mt 17:33And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.). Finally, we recognize him in one of the two witnesses in the end time (Rev 11:66These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.).

Elijah is called “man of God” (1Kgs 17:18,2418So she said to Elijah, “What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!”24Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.”). In the New Testament we meet a ‘man of God’ in letters to persons. There that person is called “man of God” (1Tim 6:1111But flee from these things, you man of God, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, perseverance [and] gentleness.; 2Tim 3:1717so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.). It can be a man, it can also be a woman. The first letter to Timothy refers to the “later times” (1Tim 4:11But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,). Its characteristics are “forbid to marry” and the “abstaining from foods” (1Tim 4:33[men] who forbid marriage [and advocate] abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.). Under the influence of deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, these characteristics have arisen. Medieval Christianity, as it began and continues in roman-catholicism, is its breeding ground.

In the second letter to Timothy, the decay has gone even further. There it is about the “last days” (2Tim 3:11But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.). The characteristic of this is that in Christianity there are people who appear to be God-fearing, but who lie, for they deny the power thereof (2Tim 3:55holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.).

Prophetically, these characteristics are described in the book of Revelation, in the letter to the church in Thyatira (Rev 2:18-2918“And to the angel of the church in Thyatira write: The Son of God, who has eyes like a flame of fire, and His feet are like burnished bronze, says this:19‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.20But I have [this] against you, that you tolerate the woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess, and she teaches and leads My bond-servants astray so that they commit [acts of] immorality and eat things sacrificed to idols.21I gave her time to repent, and she does not want to repent of her immorality.22Behold, I will throw her on a bed [of sickness], and those who commit adultery with her into great tribulation, unless they repent of her deeds.23And I will kill her children with pestilence, and all the churches will know that I am He who searches the minds and hearts; and I will give to each one of you according to your deeds.24But I say to you, the rest who are in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not known the deep things of Satan, as they call them—I place no other burden on you.25Nevertheless what you have, hold fast until I come.26He who overcomes, and he who keeps My deeds until the end, to him I will give authority over the nations;27and he shall rule them with a rod of iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also have received [authority] from My Father;28and I will give him the morning star.29He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’). This letter is part of seven letters in which church history is reflected through the centuries. In that letter reference is made to “the woman Jezebel”, so that the parallel with the time of Elijah is beyond doubt. In this way we can say that the history of Elijah teaches us lessons in connection with the history of the church in the dark Middle Ages, a history that remains relevant because it continues until the coming of the Lord Jesus.

During that time, testimonies of faith are appreciated in a special way, as we hear from the mouth of the Lord Jesus regarding a faithful remnant in Thyatira (Rev 2:1919‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and service and perseverance, and that your deeds of late are greater than at first.). In such times, where truths are so covered, each testimony about Him is of great significance to Him. For Him it is not about great knowledge of the truth, but to live faithfully according to what is known of the truth. We see this in Elijah, in Obadiah, and the one hundred prophets that Obadiah has hidden, and the seven thousand that are only seen by God.

Yet not every believer in such times is a ‘man of God’. This can only be said of Elijah at that time, and it can only be said now of someone who openly defends God’s rights, while the mass of the confessing Christianity does not take them into account and many who do so in secret without openly admitting it. Not every believing Israelite is a man of God. Obadiah is not that, nor are the seven thousand. The same it is today, that not every believer is a man of God.

People who dare to raise their voices in public are few. It is the people who, for example, hold on to the literal, literal inspiration of the Scriptures against everything. This characterizes the man of God in the last days. In the “last days” (2Tim 3:1-51But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come.2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy,3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good,4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God,5holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power; Avoid such men as these.) we see an increase of the evil that characterizes the “later times” (1Tim 4:1-51But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons,2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron,3[men] who forbid marriage [and advocate] abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth.4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude;5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.).

Last days” require complete dedication to the Word as a hallmark of a man of God (2Tim 3:16-1716All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;17so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.). Holding on to the inspiration of God’s Word is above all important in such dark times. Then it comes down to holding on to the word of the Lord Jesus’ perseverance (Rev 3:10-1110Because you have kept the word of My perseverance, I also will keep you from the hour of testing, that [hour] which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth.11I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.), which is only possible if one lives in an intimate personal relationship with God. Such people get to hear that the Lord Jesus will write “the name of My God” on them (Rev 3:1212He who overcomes, I will make him a pillar in the temple of My God, and he will not go out from it anymore; and I will write on him the name of My God, and the name of the city of My God, the new Jerusalem, which comes down out of heaven from My God, and My new name.).

The period when the Lord Jesus was on earth is also called “these last days” (Heb 1:22in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world.). This underlines the connection that exists between Elijah and John the baptist, the predecessor of the Lord Jesus. This connection is also evident from their actions. Thus, Elijah testifies in the palace of Ahab and John in the palace of Herod. Both have experienced the hatred of the wives of these rulers. Both had a breakdown at the end of their service. Therefore it is also said that Elijah and John spiritually spoken are the same person (Lk 1:17a17It is he who will go [as a forerunner] before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, TO TURN THE HEARTS OF THE FATHERS BACK TO THE CHILDREN, and the disobedient to the attitude of the righteous, so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”; Mt 11:13-1413For all the prophets and the Law prophesied until John.14And if you are willing to accept [it], John himself is Elijah who was to come.).

In addition, Elijah is a picture of the Lord Jesus, the Great One sent of God. Christ is the great Witness of God. He has raised up dead ones on earth. He has blessings for poor Gentiles, just like Elijah, as we see later, when Elijah is in Sidon. He, like Elijah, has brought a sacrifice on a mountain, whereby He Himself is the sacrifice.

We see the picture of the Lord Jesus when Elijah stands on Mount Carmel, alone against the power of the enemy, only with his sacrifice. The sacrifice has shown God’s faithfulness to His people. The sacrifice is consumed by the fire of God’s judgment. By this the people are spared and blessings for the people come again. This performance of Elijah, the culmination of his service, is a striking picture of the work of the Lord Jesus on the cross, where He has born the judgment of the sins of those who are His people.

We also see that the Lord Jesus, just like Elijah, spent forty days in the desert. He also called His followers, as Elijah called Elisha. He went to heaven, which also happened to Elijah.

If I were allowed to have a favorite in the Old Testament, it would be Elijah. I have great admiration for this man. He is in Himself no different from other people (Jam 5:17a17Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.). It is even so, that of him as the only Old Testament believer something negative is said in the New Testament. Of all the believers in the Old Testament who are mentioned in the New Testament, only what they have done in faith is mentioned. However, there is also something about Elijah that is not good. He has once accused the people to God. Paul refers to this to show that God will always have a remnant according to God’s gracious choice (Rom 11:2-52God has not rejected His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says in [the passage about] Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel?3“Lord, they have killed Your prophets, they have torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they are seeking my life.”4But what is the divine response to him? “I have kept for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.”5In the same way then, there has also come to be at the present time a remnant according to [God’s] gracious choice.).

What makes him special is that he is a man of prayer and a man of God. He is the one who stands up for God’s rights and asserts them in an environment where they are denied and trampled underfoot. This character and these features make him the appropriate instrument for God to be His prophet. We may learn from him what God is capable of if we are intercessors who recognize him in the full right of his Word.


Elijah Appears Before Ahab

1Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.”

Suddenly he appears on stage, Elijah, the man from Tishbe. It is described without the usual “and the word of the LORD came to …”. We know nothing of his origin, his family, his education. Only the place of origin is given. He will not have appeared here headstrong, but by a command from God. It is clear that he lives in fellowship with God.

For we know that, before he goes to Ahab, he prayed that God would intervene supernaturally in His people. He did not pray only once, but fervently and persistently, until he is convinced that God will give him what he prayed for. With this he reveals God’s holiness and righteousness. With this conviction he appears before Ahab.

He enters the palace of Ahab and courageously speaks his message there. His message is short. His first words are a testimony to God as “the LORD, the God of Israel”. The God of Israel is the LORD, Yahweh, and not Baal. The LORD is also the God who lives. This testimony is necessary in an environment where the living God is excluded. Elijah also says: “Before whom I stand.” This is a beautiful expression. We also hear something similar from the mouths of Abraham, Elisha and Gabriel (Gen 24:4040He said to me, ‘The LORD, before whom I have walked, will send His angel with you to make your journey successful, and you will take a wife for my son from my relatives and from my father’s house;; 2Kgs 3:1414Elisha said, “As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you.; Lk 1:1919The angel answered and said to him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.).

Elijah is aware that he is in the presence of God, that he is with God. Whoever is there can fearlessly speak His Word to a mighty man like Ahab, for this great king shrivels in God’s presence to a tiny creature. There is no embarrassment or hesitation in Elijah’s actions or words. He is convinced of the One on behalf of Whom he stands for Ahab here and on behalf of Whom he speaks to Ahab.

Elijah then states that God will reveal Himself as the Living by withholding rain from the people. He does not say “thus saith the LORD”, but he speaks with the authority of God Himself when he says that there will be no rain but only on his word, that is the word of Elijah. This is not moderation, but faith confidence. Nothing more and nothing less than that power, that conviction of standing in God’s will and passing on His words, is demanded in times of worst decay.

God works through this man for the benefit of His people. Is it therefore a grace to make such an announcement of drought and thereby of famine? Yes. Elijah knows God’s Word and so he knows God’s thoughts. He has read in God’s Word that there will be drought when the people are unfaithful (Lev 26:18-1918If also after these things you do not obey Me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins.19I will also break down your pride of power; I will also make your sky like iron and your earth like bronze.; Deu 11:16-1716Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them.17Or the anger of the LORD will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the LORD is giving you.; 28:23-2423The heaven which is over your head shall be bronze, and the earth which is under you, iron.24The LORD will make the rain of your land powder and dust; from heaven it shall come down on you until you are destroyed.). In his prayer he asked God to live up to this word. He has acted both to withheld rain and to give it (Jam 5:17b-1817Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.18Then he prayed again, and the sky poured rain and the earth produced its fruit.).

He prayed for it because he is so concerned about the people and so upset about the dishonor done to God. God has made it clear to him to pray on the basis of this word, and he trusts God in His word. For him God is the living God Who only has authority over the rain (Jer 14:2222Are there any among the idols of the nations who give rain?
Or can the heavens grant showers?
Is it not You, O LORD our God?
Therefore we hope in You,
For You are the one who has done all these things.
) and not Baal to whom this authority is attributed by unbelief. He speaks this word so that the people may repent and return to God and His Word.


Elijah by the Brook Cherith

2The word of the LORD came to him, saying, 3“Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.” 5So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 6The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook.

Elijah disappears from the stage as suddenly as he appeared on it. After the bringing of his message the word of the LORD comes to him. He must hide in a place where God will take care of him. It doesn’t seem that he hides from Ahab right away. It is conceivable that Ahab will not look for him until later, when the effect of his prayer becomes clear. Elijah obeys and goes to the place God has told him. In the retreat God forms His servant.

Public performance exposes the servant to the danger of self-elevation. With God in secret he has none but God. Here he learns to see himself in God’s presence and he learns Who God is to him. There is “a time to be silent and a time to speak” (Ecc 3:7b7A time to tear apart and a time to sew together;
A time to be silent and a time to speak.
). For Elijah, the time to be silent is now come, until the next designation from God comes to speak again. It is a time of further preparation for his service in public which we see in the next chapter, when he stands before the whole people. Other servants have also known such a period. We see it with Moses, David, John the baptist, Paul and also with the Lord Jesus.

The LORD provides Elijah with bread and meat by means of unclean birds, ravens, and water from the brook. The prophet Obadiah, so we see in the next chapter, provides a hundred prophets of the LORD with bread and water (1Kgs 18:44for when Jezebel destroyed the prophets of the LORD, Obadiah took a hundred prophets and hid them by fifties in a cave, and provided them with bread and water.)). Raven does not take care of their young, but God maintains them (Psa 147:99He gives to the beast its food,
[And] to the young ravens which cry.
; Job 39:33“They kneel down, they bring forth their young,
They get rid of their labor pains.
). In His sovereignty, however, He uses the ravens for others (cf. Psa 50:1111“I know every bird of the mountains,
And everything that moves in the field is Mine.
). Thus He always has means at His disposal to provide His own with what they need, even if those means act against their nature. The way in which God takes care of Elijah is also a disgrace to Israel. Apparently there is no one in Israel who wants to take care of the prophet.

The bread and meat that the ravens bring him speaks of the Lord Jesus. He is “the bread of life” (Jn 6:3535Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst.). The Lord Jesus also says of the “bread” the following: “And the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh” (Jn 6:51b51I am the living bread that came down out of heaven; if anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever; and the bread also which I will give for the life of the world is My flesh.”). In John 6 He presents Himself as the food that is the means to deliver us from all that is under death. If we live out of Him, we become free from it. We can learn that from what Elijah is experiencing here.

Three times Elijah has experienced the special provisions of God’s care for his sustenance: here at the brook Cherith through the ravens, further on in this chapter at the widow through the flour and oil that do not run out and in 1 Kings 19 where the Angel of the LORD gives him a bread cake and water (1Kgs 19:5-85He lay down and slept under a juniper tree; and behold, there was an angel touching him, and he said to him, “Arise, eat.”6Then he looked and behold, there was at his head a bread cake [baked on] hot stones, and a jar of water. So he ate and drank and lay down again.7The angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise, eat, because the journey is too great for you.”8So he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mountain of God.).


Elijah Must Go to a Widow in Zarephath

7It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. 8Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 9“Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”

Elijah learns how faithful God is in His care for him. Yet the brook dries up. The general judgment he has given on Israel also affects him. He is also part of the people. He is also a picture of the faithful remnant of Israel in the end time, and the three and a half years of drought is a picture of the great tribulation that will also last three and a half years. The believing remnant will flee for a period of three and a half years to the wilderness and be fed there (Rev 12:1414But the two wings of the great eagle were given to the woman, so that she could fly into the wilderness to her place, where she *was nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent.), as Elijah during that time is fed by the LORD.

We also learn here the lesson that God can give us something, but that this does not mean that it will always stay that way. We can never content ourselves with what we have received from Him and claim it forever. The danger is always present that we attach ourselves to the blessings, while God wants us to attach ourselves to Him. The lesson is that we will not rely on the gifts, but on the Giver. Elijah must learn to trust in something that never ends: God’s caring faithfulness, as is evident from the flour and oil, as we shall see in a moment.

The brook dries up, but the sources present in God Himself never dry up. He has already arranged a new home for Elijah, in Zarephath, about one hundred and thirty kilometers from the brook. Elijah entered a family where he is placed, as it were, in the next class of his formation by God. In this family we can see a picture of a local church. In order to be able to enter the public domain and do a service, training in the local church is of great importance. The service for the Lord is not about theological training, but about the practical formation of being a church, in which each member is important for the formation of each other member.

Where Elijah ends up, it does not seem to be a place where his problems are solved immediately. It is indeed a place where God can prove His power and love all the more. He always does that where there is nothing. God uses a widow in Zarephath in Sidon. Sidon is the place where Jezebel comes from and where the effects of drought are also noticeable. A servant himself would not think of such a place.

This command must have been miraculous for Elijah. But unlike Jonah, who has to go to a place where he does not want to go and therefore flees from the LORD (Jn 1:33All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.), Elijah goes. In that place of extreme wickedness God wants to further form His servant. At the same time, the woman is also formed. There is an interaction.


A Handful Flour and a Little Oil

10So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.” 11As she was going to get [it], he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” 12But she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring [it] out to me, and afterward you may make [one] for yourself and for your son. 14For thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth.’” 15So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for [many] days. 16The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke through Elijah.

At the gate of the city Elijah meets the widow and asks her a question to know if she is the woman the LORD intended (cf. Gen 24:1414now may it be that the girl to whom I say, ‘Please let down your jar so that I may drink,’ and who answers, ‘Drink, and I will water your camels also’—[may] she [be the one] whom You have appointed for Your servant Isaac; and by this I will know that You have shown lovingkindness to my master.”). The woman in turn recognizes him. The test makes it clear that this woman has faith, in contrast to the many widows in Israel to whom Elijah could not be sent (Lk 4:25-2625But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land;26and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Zarephath, [in the land] of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.). That she believes, we hear from what she says about the LORD. She speaks of Him as the One Who lives.

It seems that she can meet Elijah’s demand for some water. In any case, she leaves to fetch water. When Elijah also asks for bread, however, the widow has to answer that she has nothing but a handful of flour and a little oil. This acknowledgment of reality is exactly what God can use.

She does not refuse to use it for Elijah, but says that this is the last thing she has for her son and herself and that both of them will have to die after using it. There is nothing in her of the spirit of Nabal who, at David’s request to give him some of his wealth, answers: “Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat …, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?” (1Sam 25:1111Shall I then take my bread and my water and my meat that I have slaughtered for my shearers, and give it to men whose origin I do not know?”).

Elijah says to her to use it for him, after he has reassured her with the words “do not fear”. He promises her in the Name of the LORD God of Israel, that flour and oil will not run out. He calls the Name of the God of Israel in the through and through pagan Sidon. God’s Name sounds brightest from the mouth of a man of God who is in an environment where the greatest darkness reigns.

The widow accepts the word of the prophet and believes that she will not lose. Those who trust God will make available to Him the little bit they have without objecting. Those who deal with God will first seek His kingdom. They will do so in the faith that the other things will then be given to them (Mt 6:3333But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.). Happy are those who, in hope against hope, continue to believe and who obey in confidence in God’s provisions.

This is what God wants: that we go to the Lord Jesus with the little we have. It is, as someone once said, “Little becomes much if God stands behind it.” We see that also with the miraculous feeding. What do a few loaves and a few fish mean to so many thousands of people (Jn 6:99“There is a lad here who has five barley loaves and two fish, but what are these for so many people?”)? Give it to the Lord. He distributes it so that everyone may be satisfied and there even remain for others (Mt 14:2020and they all ate and were satisfied. They picked up what was left over of the broken pieces, twelve full baskets.).

If we can see the widow’s house as a local church of believers full of weakness, this scene gives us encouragement. We see that God wants to work there by means of the little there is. It is “the day of small things” (Zec 4:1010For who has despised the day of small things? But these seven will be glad when they see the plumb line in the hand of Zerubbabel—[these are] the eyes of the LORD which range to and fro throughout the earth.”) and of “little power” (Rev 3:88‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.).

The full power of the Holy Spirit from the beginning, when He was poured out (Acts 2:1-41When the day of Pentecost had come, they were all together in one place.2And suddenly there came from heaven a noise like a violent rushing wind, and it filled the whole house where they were sitting.3And there appeared to them tongues as of fire distributing themselves, and they rested on each one of them.4And they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit was giving them utterance.), is still there today (1Cor 2:1212Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may know the things freely given to us by God,; Gal 5:16,2516But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh.25If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.), but is no longer fully realized by the unfaithfulness of the church. Yet there is still “a handful”, “a little”. This will never disappear as long as the church is on earth and there are local believers who believe in the Lord Jesus and His work and in the power of the Spirit.

The flour and oil are multiplied. This multiplication takes place by using the flour and the oil. The woman experiences the truth of the word: “There is one who scatters, and [yet] increases all the more” (Pro 11:24a24There is one who scatters, and [yet] increases all the more;
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, [and yet it results] only in want.
). The opposite is also true. There may be plenty, but when used for one’s own benefit, God will blow in it and it becomes little (Pro 11:24b24There is one who scatters, and [yet] increases all the more;
And there is one who withholds what is justly due, [and yet it results] only in want.
; Hag 1:99“[You] look for much, but behold, [it comes] to little; when you bring [it] home, I blow it [away]. Why?” declares the LORD of hosts, “Because of My house which [lies] desolate, while each of you runs to his own house.; 2:1717I smote you [and] every work of your hands with blasting wind, mildew and hail; yet you [did] not [come back] to Me,’ declares the LORD.).

The widow receives a prophet in the name of a prophet and receives the reward of a prophet (Mt 10:4141He who receives a prophet in [the] name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.). She will not have complained that there is so little, because day after day she experiences its presence and she lives from it. She must have been surprised every day that it is still there.

We can apply the flour and the oil spiritually. The flour can be seen as a picture of the Lord Jesus as Man. Flour is used for the grain offering (Lev 2:11‘Now when anyone presents a grain offering as an offering to the LORD, his offering shall be of fine flour, and he shall pour oil on it and put frankincense on it.). Oil is a picture of the Holy Spirit (1Jn 2:20,2720But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you all know.27As for you, the anointing which you received from Him abides in you, and you have no need for anyone to teach you; but as His anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you abide in Him.). The Man Christ Jesus, Who is God revealed in the flesh, was completely guided by the Spirit on earth. The Lord Jesus was begotten by the Holy Spirit (Lk 1:3535The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; and for that reason the holy Child shall be called the Son of God.) and anointed with Him (Acts 10:3838[You know of] Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and [how] He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him.). The grain offering is also exposed to fire (Lev 2:2,9,142He shall then bring it to Aaron’s sons the priests; and shall take from it his handful of its fine flour and of its oil with all of its frankincense. And the priest shall offer [it] up in smoke [as] its memorial portion on the altar, an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.9The priest then shall take up from the grain offering its memorial portion, and shall offer [it] up in smoke on the altar [as] an offering by fire of a soothing aroma to the LORD.14‘Also if you bring a grain offering of early ripened things to the LORD, you shall bring fresh heads of grain roasted in the fire, grits of new growth, for the grain offering of your early ripened things.). In it we see the picture that He, the true Man devoted to God, has undergone on the cross the fire of God’s judgment.

Even if there is only a little awareness of the perfection of the Lord Jesus and even if there is only a little awareness of the power of the Holy Spirit, when we go with this awareness to the Man of God, the Lord Jesus, He will work with it. The awareness of little power and the holding to the Name of the Lord Jesus are characteristics of the church in Philadelphia (Rev 3:88‘I know your deeds. Behold, I have put before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and have kept My word, and have not denied My name.).

In the midst of the general decay in Christianity, it is still possible to put God’s thoughts into practice, even if only with a few who are so weak in themselves. As encouragement the Lord says: “I am coming quickly” and calls: “Hold fast what you have” (Rev 3:1111I am coming quickly; hold fast what you have, so that no one will take your crown.).


The Widow’s Son Dies

17Now it came about after these things that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18So she said to Elijah, “What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!”

It is a small, but happy company, there in that house in Zarephath. In this time of scarcity, they always have to eat, because the man of God has his moved in there. Then comes the trial in that house. It is the next class in the school of God. If we can assume that Elijah was by Cherith for one year and with the widow for two years, we can see these three years as teaching years in the school of God.

The first year, the first class, is by Cherith. The second year, the second class, is with the widow to learn that the handful of flour and the little oil are sufficient in days of the greatest weakness. Now comes the third year, the third class, with the lesson of death and resurrection. After the exercise in the mystery with Cherith and the formation in the family, the church, we now learn that the foundation of blessing and life lies in death and resurrection.

The only son of the widow becomes ill and dies. That empties the house. It is not only a trial for woman, but also for Elijah. This profoundly dramatic event brings the woman to a renewed awareness of God’s hand in her life. She is reminded of a sin, the burden of which she apparently had not yet lost.

That may happen to us. There are things that happen in which we suddenly find ourselves in God’s presence. Through a sudden incident, God can bring us to a standstill and immediately brings us to mind a sin that we have committed, but which we have hidden or forgotten and which we have not yet confessed. God works this out to give the opportunity to confess that sin.

The woman addresses Elijah with “man of God”. She knows he is. Through him she has come to know God as a Sustainer, Someone Who takes care of her. But now through him she will get to know God in a special way: as the God of resurrection. Elijah is in this house a picture of the Lord Jesus through whom we learn to know God as the God of resurrection and new life.


The Son Becomes Alive

19He said to her, “Give me your son.” Then he took him from her bosom and carried him up to the upper room where he was living, and laid him on his own bed. 20He called to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, have You also brought calamity to the widow with whom I am staying, by causing her son to die?” 21Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and called to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, I pray You, let this child’s life return to him.” 22The LORD heard the voice of Elijah, and the life of the child returned to him and he revived. 23Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house and gave him to his mother; and Elijah said, “See, your son is alive.” 24Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth.”

Elijah listens to her need and says to her: “Give me your son.” Thus the Lord Jesus says to us “give me your problem”, just as He once said to a desperate father that he should bring his son to Him (Mk 9:19b19And He *answered them and *said, “O unbelieving generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you? Bring him to Me!”). At the same time, Elijah takes the son from her bosom. He disconnects the boy from the natural connection that exists between the boy and his mother. His mother can’t help him anymore. All the natural things on which a person can rely must first be taken away if God is to do His work through His life-giving power.

Elijah brings the boy to his upper room. Later the woman in Shunem also brought her son to an upper room (2Kgs 4:2121She went up and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut [the door] behind him and went out.); there the believers also laid Dorkas (Acts 9:3737And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room.); there Eutychus was also brought back after he fell out of the window of the upper room (Acts 20:8-128There were many lamps in the upper room where we were gathered together.9And there was a young man named Eutychus sitting on the window sill, sinking into a deep sleep; and as Paul kept on talking, he was overcome by sleep and fell down from the third floor and was picked up dead.10But Paul went down and fell upon him, and after embracing him, he said, “Do not be troubled, for his life is in him.”11When he had gone [back] up and had broken the bread and eaten, he talked with them a long while until daybreak, and then left.12They took away the boy alive, and were greatly comforted.). An upper room is a place above the earth, where those who are there are with God as it were. Elijah puts him on his bed, his deathbed, so to speak. Then he stretches himself upon him, making himself one with him symbolically. He does that up to three times.

Every new life is based on the fact that the Lord Jesus made our problem of sin His on the cross. All subsequent problems that may arise in our lives are also made His in His service in heaven as High Priest and Advocate. As Elijah calls to God, so does Christ pray for us.

Elijah prays fervently to God to let life return to the child. Before this fall we do not read of anyone who has been brought back to life from the dead. This makes Elijah’s faith in God as the God of the resurrection all the more remarkable. He is an example to us in His faith in the power of God over death. However, he is not an example for us to pray for the revival of a dead person. Thus David did not expect to bring his child back to life through prayer and fasting (2Sam 12:2323But now he has died; why should I fast? Can I bring him back again? I will go to him, but he will not return to me.”). Elijah has a power to work miracles that David did not have.

When Elijah calls to God as his personal God, God listens to the voice of Elijah and brings outcome. He restores life and thus confirms Elijah as the man who restores things. Elijah gives the child back to its mother. He is the prophet who restores the relationship between the generations and makes the hearts of parents go to the children and the hearts of children to the parents (Mal 4:5a,6a5“Behold, I am going to send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and terrible day of the LORD.6He will restore the hearts of the fathers to [their] children and the hearts of the children to their fathers, so that I will not come and smite the land with a curse.”). God also wants to do this with us if we can no longer live to His honor because of a problem of any kind.

Elijah’s prayer is clear: “let this child’s life return to him.” In this we clearly see the existence of the soul in a state separate of the body, which is also a proof that the soul does not die after death. The LORD hears the prayer. As a result, the woman acknowledges that Elijah is a man of God. We will also give all honor to the Lord Jesus when we have experienced His power to give life. Thus the death of this child, as well as later that of Lazarus (Jn 11:44But when Jesus heard [this], He said, “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified by it.”), becomes a reason to glorify God and to honor His prophet.


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