1 Kings chapter 17

Elijah announces a devastating drought. He becomes homeless. He lives with a widow in Zarephath. He raises the dead.

 


 

ELIJAH ANNOUNCES A DEVASTATING DROUGHT

 

VERSE 1. Elijah the Tishbite, who was one of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”

Elijah. The word “Elijah” means “YHWH is my God.”

the Tishbite. Elijah lived in Gilead, east of the Jordan River, near a community called Tishbe.

there shall not be dew nor rain these years. This is more than a a prophecy. It is more than an ultimatum. It is an announcement.

Elijah’s announcement strikes at the heart of Baal-worship. That is because Baal-worshipers believe Baal is the god of rain!

The coming drought will demonstrate that the LORD God, not Baal, controls the weather.

 

ELIJAH BECOMES HOMELESS

 

VERSE 2. Then the LORD’s word came to him, saying,

 

VERSE 3. “Go away from here, turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, that is before the Jordan.

Go away from here. Elijah has to hide. He will soon be hunted by the king:

1 Kings 18:10. As the LORD your God lives, there is no nation or kingdom where my lord has not sent to seek you. When they said, ‘He is not here,’ he took an oath of the kingdom and nation that they didn’t find you.

the brook Cherith. The exact location of this brook is not known.

 

VERSE 4. You shall drink from the brook. I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

 

VERSE 5. So he went and did according to the LORD’s word, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith that is before the Jordan.

he went and lived by the brook Cherith. Elijah is now homeless.

In our day, very few Christians are willing to become homeless for the LORD God.

 

VERSE 6. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

The prophet Elijah performed seven known miracles. And his disciple Elisha performed 15. Read more »

 

ELIJAH LIVES WITH A WIDOW IN ZAREPHATH

 

VERSE 7. After a while, the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.

After a while. Some translations say “Some time later.”

In any case, the text doesn’t tell us how long “a while” is.

 

VERSE 8. The LORD’s word came to him, saying,

 

VERSE 9. “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to sustain you.”

Arise, go. The LORD God changed the plan for Elijah.

The LORD God is free to change his plans for us, too.

Our job as disciple-lovers of the LORD God is to stay faithful and obedient.

Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon. Zarephath was 80 to 90 miles from Kerith. Elijah had to walk 80 or 90 miles.

In our day, very few Christians are willing to walk 80 or 90 miles for the LORD God.

 

VERSE 10. So he arose and went to Zarephath; and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.”

Zarephath. This is a town on the Mediterranean coast. It is between Tyre and Sidon in Phoenicia.

Zarephath is the homeland of queen Jezebel, and the center of Baal-Melqart worship.

For a prophet of the LORD God, Zarephath is the most dangerous place on earth.

 

VERSE 11. As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”

Please bring me a morsel of bread. Elijah asks a stranger for food. In essence, he begs.

In our day, very few Christians are willing to beg, in obedience to the LORD God.

 

VERSE 12. She said, “As the LORD your God lives, I don’t have anything baked, but only a handful of meal in a jar and a little oil in a jar. Behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

the LORD your God. The widow recognizes Elijah is Jewish.

 

VERSE 13. Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go and do as you have said; but make me a little cake from it first, and bring it out to me, and afterward make some for you and for your son.

make me a little cake from it first. This seems quite selfish. Elijah asks the widow to feed him first.

afterward make some for you and for your son. Again, this seems quite selfish. Elijah asks the widow to feed herself last.

 

VERSE 14. For the LORD, the God of Israel, says, ‘The jar of meal will not run out, and the jar of oil will not fail, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth.’ ”

The prophet Elijah performed seven known miracles. And his disciple Elisha performed 15. Read more »

The jar of meal will not run out. This is a great promise!

the jar of oil will not fail. This too is a great promise!

 

VERSE 15. She went and did according to the saying of Elijah; and she, he, and her household ate many days.

She … did according to the saying of Elijah. The widow bets her life on the promise of the LORD God.

In our day, very few Christians are willing to bet their lives on a promise from the LORD God.

 

VERSE 16. The jar of meal didn’t run out and the jar of oil didn’t fail, according to the LORD’s word, which he spoke by Elijah.

 

ELIJAH RAISES THE DEAD

 

VERSE 17. After these things, 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.

After these things. Some translations say “Some time later.” The exact amount of time is not given.

there was no breath left in him. The widow’s child stops breathing.

Some people claim the child was not dead, but only unconscious. And therefore no miracle takes place.

However, verses 18 to 23 below make it clear the child had truly died.

 

VERSE 18. She said to Elijah, “What have I to do with you, you man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to memory, and to kill my son!”

bring my sin to memory. When tragedy occurs, many people naively assume it is because of their own sin.

That is the case even for many Christians.

However, they make such an assumption because they are not familiar with the ways of the LORD God.

 

VERSE 19. He said to her, “Give me your son.” He took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into the room where he stayed, and laid him on his own bed.

 

VERSE 20. He cried to the LORD and said, “LORD my God, have you also brought evil on the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?”

brought evil. Elijah portrays the LORD God as the source of evil.

on the widow. Elijah expresses compassion for the widow.

killing her son. Elijah portrays the LORD God as killing the widow’s child.

The child is dead.

 

VERSE 21. He stretched himself on the child three times, and cried to the LORD and said, “LORD my God, please let this child’s soul come into him again.”

He stretched himself on the child. This is not a resuscitation technique.

three times. Even for Elijah, persistence in prayer is needed.

 

VERSE 22. The LORD listened to the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.

The prophet Elijah performed seven known miracles. And his disciple Elisha performed 15. Read more »

he revived. In the biblical narrative, this is the first instance of raising the dead.

 

VERSE 23. Elijah took the child and brought him down out of the room into the house, and delivered him to his mother; and Elijah said, “Behold, your son lives.”

Behold, your son lives. The LORD God has done a great miracle.

But Baal was powerless to do any such thing.

 

VERSE 24. The woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the LORD’s word in your mouth is truth.”

 


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1 KINGS

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