The brook Cherith to which the LORD had supplied for Elijah was dried up due to the drought which Elijah had prayed for, received, and was supplied for by God. Could God have not kept the stream flowing, water coming just for Elijah, rather than moving him on somewhere else? He could have, but He chose not to do so. There was a widow woman, with a son who was about to come to terms with the possibility of starving to death; so the LORD sent the prophet to her.
Zarephath is the place where she lived, and to which Elijah went. According to Strong’s it means “Refinery”; so there may have been some sort of oil refining going on in that location. This widow woman, unnamed, has a young son she is providing for, and she is about to fix their last meal; and the LORD sends Elijah to her, and he presents her with a challenge,
“So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, ‘Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.’ And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, ‘Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.'” 1 Kings 17:10-11 (KJV)
Does Elijah know this woman is in dire straits? He probably knows she is needy, that this woman needs some hope, and God sent him to help her. Do you ever notice the circumstances God brings into our lives, good and bad, are often the means by which God shows Himself strong, and at work in His people’s lives? This woman tells Elijah,
“As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” verse 12
The economy stinks. It has not rained in months, maybe a year or two, and this woman has great need. Some would say; and I know they would because I have heard it; “How dare a man of God to ask a widow down to her last bit of food, feed him first”. Who does this man think he is? First of all he is a prophet of God. Not the first one, or the last one, but he is one who is faithful to the LORD. This widow was about to be blessed and provided for throughout the final months and days of the drought. The prophet believed God would provide.
The prophet uses two of the greatest words you will find in Scripture to speak to the woman,
“And Elijah said unto her, ‘Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, ‘The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth.’ And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah.” 17:13-16
We are not told how Elijah knew to speak these words to the woman. I think it could be possible that Elijah was walking with God, he knew the heart of God, and God knew Elijah’s heart, that anything Elijah would speak that glorified the LORD would come to pass. No man walking with God will speak contrary to the will or glory of God.
Would to God that had that walk. That is my prayer. How about you?
Walking with God is possible only through the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The Holy Spirit who comes to live within is always with you, and leads you in your walk with God, to glorify Him.
-Tim A. Blankenship