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.”
We have been dwelling on what Jesus told the father of a sick, demon possessed boy in Mark 9. This father had enough faith to come to Jesus, but disappointment and discouragement took the edge from his faith. By the time he actually encountered Jesus, all he could muster was to ask if Jesus could do anything for him. Jesus answered him, “If you can believe, all things are possible to him who believes. I believe my assignment for myself and those to whom I minister is to stir up that thought, all things are possible, until it once again becomes our automatic response to every challenge we face.
In our last post we looked at how God provided for the Prophet Elijah in an impossible way. Elijah declared that it would not rain until he said it would. This caused a drought in Israel. The word of the Lord to Elijah was to go to a particular brook and there he would be sustained. He would drink from the brook. That was obvious but what about food? The Lord promised that the birds would bring him food. This is an impossible way to get sustenance but that is what God did.
What do we learn from this? First, that we must hear the word of the Lord. This is primarily the written Word. The limits to what is possible are set in the Bible. Whatever God did or says he will do in the Word; he could do for us. It is possible. Second, we can put on our list of definite possibilities that God could lead us to a brook if we need water and feed us by the birds if we need food. That does not mean he will do those things but they are possible.
In today’s scripture we see that the brook has dried up. I have often been in the situation described here. One channel of blessing that has been providing for me dries up and I do not see another. We must remember that the first channel came from God and so can another. Elijah, once again, hears the word of the Lord. This time God tells him to go to another country and there the Lord has prepared a widow to feed him.
I can imagine that Elijah thought, “Great. The Lord is sending we to a rich old widow who is going to take care of me!” That is how I would probably think anyway. The truth is far different.
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.”
Elijah finds the widow just as God promised. This woman is to feed him through the rest of the drought. There is a slight problem. She has no food herself. She is willing to get him some water but she has only enough flour and oil to make a little cake for her and her son and then they will starve to death. This is probably not what Elijah had in mind.
She is not an old woman but a young one who had lost her husband. She still has a child to take care of. In those days there would not be much a woman in her situation could do. She is out of options just as Elijah is. I do not believe she is faithless. She is going to continue doing what she can to the very end, but that end seems to have come for her and her child.
What the prophet does next would be cruel if God was not behind it. He tells her to make him a cake first. She has only enough for two cakes. If she makes one for the prophet, either her or her son will go hungry. On the other had she is going to die anyway. I believe one of the keys to walking in God’s possibility is to have the courage to take that step of faith that involves risk. Many times we have few options anyway. We might as well go out believing God as not believing him.
The prophet includes a promise in his request.
1 Kings 17:13-14 (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.’ ”
If she gives to the man of God first, she will have supernatural provision through the rest of the drought. There are many preachers today who tell people to give to them first and then God will meet their need. Most of them are either dishonest or deceived. Elijah was a prophet of God. The drought came because he spoke the Word of the Lord to the King. The same channel is going to provide for this widow, her son and the prophet himself.
We read this story knowing the end. However, this woman did not know who Elijah was. She had no reason to trust him. Jesus words to the father of the boy in Mark 9 make one qualifier for walking in God’s possibility. Can you believe? She must choose to believe the prophet or reject his words as nonsense. Everyone knows that flour cannot multiply and oil cannot flow from nowhere. That is impossible!
If we want to walk in God’s possibility and not be limited to what is possible in the natural, we must choose to look in the face of natural impossibility and choose to believe what the Word of the Lord says anyway. This woman chose to believe. She made the prophet a cake first. Then something impossible happened.
When she went to make her son’s cake there was still enough flour and oil. That was not surprising as she knew she had enough for two. What was surprising is that when she dipped into the tin of flour for the third time there was enough for another cake. When she tipped the cruse of oil, more came out. This repeated itself every time she went to the tin and the jar for the rest of the drought! That is impossible but I believe it happened just as the bible said it did.
Many of us face the limitations of leaning on our own abilities and the solutions of the world. Increasingly those things are more and more ineffective. It is time for us to realize that with God all things are possible. We simply must believe. And let me remind you what Jesus said we must believe. We must believe first of all that anything is possible with God.
We have found that if we have no food birds can feed us. We also know that God can cause what we have to go supernaturally far if that is how he chooses to work for us. It was possible for Elijah and the widow and it is possible for you.
Let me make one more observation. Our believing that all things are possible does not just include us personally. In the case of Elijah and the widow, God used Elijah’s faith for the impossible to not only inspire the widow to believe but he actually became the channel for her impossible solution.
God wants you to believe that all things are possible because he wants to meet your need. It does not end there. The world needs a people who know that anything is possible with God. The prophet’s need became the widow’s solution. God wants us to be the channel for the impossible possibilities of God to the world.