1 Kings 17:2 And the word of the Lord came to him, saying, Go from here and turn east and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan. You shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.
So Elijah obeyed the Lord and went to the place the Lord had specified and sure enough, each morning and evening the ravens brought him bread and meat and he drank of the brook. Then the brook dried up because there was no rain. Here is a question. Why did the Lord not supernaturally keep the brook going? For the ravens to bring him food each day was supernatural. God could have supernaturally provided him with water but He did not. Yet the Lord had said “You shall drink of the brook.” Here was Elijah, at the place God had told him to go and it looked like God’s word was failing.
Have you ever felt like that? You obeyed God and it worked for a while but then things started to fail? The accuser of the brethren usually appears at this point and causes us to doubt whether we heard God right in the first place. Maybe we have done something wrong and God is angry and has withdrawn His support? Maybe God has spoken again and we missed it?
Here is where we need to trust. We do not have God’s favour and support because we have earned it. If we didn’t get it through obedience we can’t lose it by disobedience, either wilfully or in ignorance. We have God’s favour, period. Unchanging, eternal, passionate. God is for us 24/7. He is a speaking God and more than able to find a way to get through to us.
God knows that the brook is drying up. He knew that it would before He sent Elijah there because He sees the end from the beginning. If God is not bothered, neither should we be. We can rest assured that the Lord has everything in hand and that the last word we had from Him is THE word until we get another one. Waiting patiently is a hard lesson to learn but that’s what Elijah did. There is no record of him fretting or asking the Lord about the situation.
At the right time, God spoke again.
1 Kings 17:8 And the word of the Lord came to him: Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. So he arose and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her, Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand. And she said, As the Lord your God lives, I have not a loaf baked but only a handful of meal in the jar and a little oil in the bottle. See, 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. Elijah said to her, Fear not; go and do as you have said. But make me a little cake of [it] first and bring it to me, and afterward prepare some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel: The jar of meal shall not waste away or the bottle of oil fail until the day that the Lord sends rain on the earth.
I love this bit. God says “I have commanded a widow…” which is past tense, God has already done it. Yet when Elijah gets there the widow he meets knows nothing about it. It is not until Elijah speaks to the widow and commands her himself that what God had said comes to pass.
1 Kings 17:15 She did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of meal was not spent nor did the bottle of oil fail, according to the word which the Lord spoke through Elijah.
That final phrase is the crucial bit, “according to the word which the Lord spoke through Elijah.” This is the same principle demonstrated when the Lord brought His people out of Egypt and told them to go to Israel because He had already given it to them. When they got there the inhabitants of the land knew nothing about it. There is a phrase that the Lord uses there which is…
Jos 1:3 Every place that the sole of your foot shall tread upon, to you have I given it, as I spake unto Moses.
The words “shall tread” are future tense; the words “I have given” are past tense. This is another example of God seeing the end from the beginning and making a declaration from the end. As far as God is concerned He has done everything that needs to be done for His will to come to pass. Our part is yet to be executed at the time God speaks to us. Most significant for us is the fact that unless we do our part it will not come to pass. When we do our part and it comes to pass we can look back and say that God did it. Yet, He does it through us.
Despite the fact that God had said “I have given you the land” the Israelites had to fight for every inch of it. If only we understood this more. How often we wait passively for God to do something when He is waiting for us to act or speak in faith. Faith is the key component, faith that works, faith that acts in accordance with the revealed will of God. Faith without works is dead, fruitless. The faith that comes from hearing what God has said to us must be acted upon, it must find expression either in words or deeds. If it does not, then God’s will does not come to pass. Does that sound like heresy? If Elijah remains at the brook Cherith, he perishes. He could say, God told me to come, God said I would drink of the brook and here I stay.
Here is another thought. If Elijah stays at Cherith there is a family in Zarephath who will also perish despite the fact that it is God’s will for them to live.
The Lord has chosen us, we have his favour, his undeserved love and support. Let us trust, and obey.