Faithlife Sermons

Changing seasons

Sermon  •  Submitted
0 ratings
· 1 view
Notes & Transcripts
Sermon Tone Analysis
A
D
F
J
S
Emotion
A
C
T
Language
O
C
E
A
E
Social
View more →

Changing Seasons

Read
1 Kings 17:1–6 NKJV
1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” 2 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 3 “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 4 And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.
1 Kings 17:1–16 NKJV
1 And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word.” 2 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 3 “Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 4 And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. 6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook. 7 And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ ” 15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.
Background:
Israel was being ruled by Ahab (arguably one of their worst kings) and his wife Jezebel. Under Ahab’s rule worship of the pagan idols increased and particularly the worship Baal. Baal was a fertility god though sometimes you will hear of him being the god of rain or the god of wealth. This is because all three are linked as far as ancient life was concerned. A person became wealthy when their crops or herds were increased, this means that they needed fertile land and in the middle east fertile land means abundant rain. Ancient images of Baal often depict him with a lightning bolt in his hand, accrediting rain to him.
The Lord God through the prophet Elijah wanted to show the people that it is the Lord that dictates the weather and not Baal and reason that it was important for Israel to know this was so that they would turn back to Him. That they would see that it is the Lord that brings health and prosperity to the land and not the false gods of the surrounding nations.
The best way for the Lord to do this was to bring a great shortage to the thing that Baal was allegedly responsible for, by doing this He can show that Baal worship is one big fraud.
So Elijah commands that the heavens be shut up for three and a half years, this lack of rain brings great famine and causes rivers to dry up.
Elijah was not winning any popularity contests by proclaiming this drought, it is logical to think that surely if the problem was here because God was unhappy with the worship of Baal that the people should just stop worshiping Baal but the people felt happier to just continue in sin and kill the prophets, as if that would then resolve the issue.
Elijah goes into hiding at the brook Cherith where God sends ravens morning and evening to feed him, and for water he able to drink from the brook.
1 Kings 17:7–9 NKJV
7 And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”
1 Kings 17:7–8 NKJV
7 And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying,
It is interesting that the Lord should have moved him on, because in all reality the Lord could have easily had He wanted let Elijah stay at the brook until the drought had passed. The Lord could have so easily kept that brook flowing.
Elijah was right to be residing at the the Brook Cherith but just because the Lord had sent him there for a time, does not mean to say that the Lord willed for him to remain there.
slide
Watchman Nee; “Because of our proneness to look at the bucket and forget the fountain,… God has frequently to change His means of supply to keep our eyes fixed on the source.”
It was a act of great faith in the first place that Elijah should be at the brook for his ability to live depended upon trusting the Lord for his daily provision. There must not have been food there naturally for the Lord had it brought in by airfreight (the ravens). But the Lord increases our faith in Him by changing our supply, allowing us to see how our provision comes from Him and not from the means that He has used.
When
The Lord tells Elijah to go to Zarephath in the region of Sidon which must have seemed like a very odd place for Elijah to find refuge. Firstly it is outside of Israel, which must have seemed an odd thing to Elijah that God would move him outside of Gods own land. Especially since the drought and famine had hit there also, so it is not even as though he can reason to himself that the Lord is moving him there to escape the drought.
For Elijah it was the water brook that dried up that made his move necessary but for us it may be the drying brook of money that causes us to ask ‘where next Lord’, it may be a drying brook
Secondly, the region of Sidon is the home-country of queen Jezebel. What an odd thing to do, to give Elijah sanctuary in the country of his greatest adversary.
But as Paul says in
Romans 8:31 NKJV
31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?
slide
and indeed as John Knox the Scottish Reformer famously said
“One man and God is always a majority”
For the Lord to give Elijah protection at Zarephath just reminds us all the more how there is no circumstance too difficult for God, He can hide His people right under the noses of his enemies and yet keep them utterly safe.
This reminds me of when Paul sends greetings to the church of Philippi
Philippians 4:21–23 NKJV
21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, but especially those who are of Caesar’s household. 23 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.
Paul tells the Philippians that the Christians in Caesar’s household also send their greetings. This is remarkable because the Roman Emperor at this time was none other than Nero. One history’s greatest villains and one of the biggest persecutors of the church, and yet little did he know that he had a congregation of believers even within his own house. No where is off-limits to the Lord!
Paul
1 Kings 17:10–12 NKJV
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”
So Elijah leaves the place that until now has sustained him so well and was no doubt a place of great contentment for him since at that place he has peace, safety and twice daily experienced the Lord’s provision through the bringing of food. He is going to Zarephath somewhat blindly and just not fully knowing what to expect for though the Lord had said “go, and a widow will provide for you”, this is a big town and there must have been hundreds of widows there in that place. But Elijah had to just go and trust that the Lord would provide along the way.
As soon as Elijah comes through the city gates he sees a widow collecting sticks and while this could have been any widow Elijah be assured of the Lords direction knows that this is the one from whom he will receive food and drink.
When we look at this scripture we see plainly the message of the Lord’s ability to provide but one thing that we so quickly rush over but is critically important is the matter of the Lord’s timing.
We as people often feel more secure getting things done ahead of time, it gives us a feeling of control knowing that matters are sorted in advance of when they are needed. But the Lord likes to do things in the moment that they are needed. The Lord needs no time in reserve like we do.
Had Elijah arrived in Zarephath even just a day too soon he would have been lost with nowhere to go. Had he arrived just a day later, the widow whom he was due to meet would likely not have been out among the people collecting. In fact it is entirely likely that had Elijah arrived just minutes too soon or too late that he would have missed this divine appointment. But the Lords timing is perfect to the second, and as he walked through into the city he was right on time.
Seeing the widow Elijah calls out and asks her for some water, an odd thing to do considering that Elijah had never met her before . I am sure that it was not customary for outsiders to just come wandering into the city and demanding of people a cup of their precious water during a time of drought.
But nevertheless the woman obliges, I wonder whether Elijah was testing the ground here, if the woman turned out to be compassionate and obliging then he would know that this is the one that the Lord has been leading him to. No soon as she graciously obliges to fetch him some water, Elijah calls out to her “while you’re at it can you fetch me some food”.
A cheeky request at the best of times but considering that widows at this point in time were usually very poor and this is a time when all the people were struggling on account of the drought then this request by Elijah is really cheeky to the point of outright embarrassing. But the lady still replies in humility and grace.
Her reply is an interesting one because she says “as the Lord your God lives”, she could obviously tell where Elijah was from and knew that he was an Israelite. And she must have heard about the Lord God and what he had done over the years for His people. I think that even before Elijah arrived the Lord had begun a work in her heart. Why did she say to Elijah “as the Lord YOUR God lives”, why did she not say “as my God lives”? I think that in her desperate situation she could see very well that Baal was utterly powerless in bringing rain, and that there was indeed no life in Baal. On the other hand though, I think she could see how Yahweh had sustained His people and that unlike the stone and wooden idols, there was real life in the Israelite God.
So she says to Elijah, “as the Lord your God lives I have no bread, only small amount of flour, a tiny portion of oil and I am just on my way to cook it up for my son and I and then all we have is gone and we shall just wait to die”
1 kings 17:
1 Kings 17:13–16 NKJV
13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’ ” 15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.
So Elijah says to her “don’t worry, the Lord is going to do a miracle here, He is going to make it so that your flour and oil never run out at all through the whole duration of the drought, and your whole household will have plenty enough to eat”, “but… before you can see this miracle I need you to take that precious little flour and oil and make me a small cake from it first, even before giving any to your son”.
Now this could seem like quite a heartless thing to ask, especially if we put ourselves into this woman’s place. How would we feel, hearing this from a stranger with no proof that he could follow through on his claim. But Elijah makes this bold request knowing that actually taking the little she has is really for her great benefit.
Notice how for the miracle to happen in this widows life she had to first put her faith to work. Elijah did not say to her “look into the jar of oil and see that it is now full, and look into the bin of flour, see how it is right to the top, then go make me a cake from your excess”. No! the widow was told to have faith and put it to the test, make a cake first and give it to the Lord’s prophet and then you will see the miracle fulfilled.
James says in “Faith without works is dead”, this poor woman showed though her faith in the God of Israel by entrusting the little she had into His hands.
It was not faith misplaced for we read in verses 15-16
1 Kings 17:15–16 NKJV
15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah.
Even though far wealthier people in the land were struggling to get by, this poorest of women went through the remaining years of the famine with plenty.
I am sure that in times past she would have eaten much fancier food than this. Notice that Elijah does not tell her to pull out rib-eye steaks and lobster tails from the jar, all it was was flour and oil. But in all her life she had never the security as she had here. The Lord Himself had said through His prophet that the oil and flour would not be used up, this is as secure as she could ever hope to be. There is more chance of the oceans drying out than that oil jar!
When the Lord gives us an instruction He does promise wealth and luxury but He does give us the assurance of being securely in His hand.
Related Media
Related Sermons