This Is Not a Story about Rain

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1 Kings 17:12-14 (NIV)

12 “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”

13 Elijah said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

CONSIDER THIS

ME: THIS IS THE WAY:
YOU: FROM GLORY TO GLORY!

This is not a story about rain. I know—the story opened with Elijah announcing a drought to King Ahab. We have already heard rain and the drought mentioned multiple times in the text so far, including today. But this is not a story about rain. This is not a story about Elijah either, or the widow, though both are deeply involved. This is a story about the gods and The God.

This is a story about the true and living God of Heaven and Earth and the so-called gods of Baal and Asherah. Notice the widow’s first words to Elijah:

“As surely as the Lord your God lives,”

Not “my God” or “our God”, but “your God”, Elijah. In other words, the God of Israel was not her God. The text doesn’t indicate, but she probably saluted Baal, Asherah, and perhaps a host of other regional/tribal deities. Today’s equivalent might be, “the Universe.” Then and now, the problem in the world is not making room for another “god.” The problem for the world is monotheism—the revelation that there is only one true and living God.

Like us, Elijah lived in a quite pluralistic culture; a place of many gods and different frameworks of “truth.” Isn’t it interesting how God chooses and uses this widow, who didn’t even believe in Him, to be the source of Elijah’s provision and sustenance? Even more interesting, however, is how God chose Elijah to become the vessel through which God would provide and sustain the widow and her son?

14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

The widow does not have to bow or pray to or even believe in Elijah’s God in order for this God to bless her. There was no religious transaction here; no quid-pro-quo this for that exchange, no bargaining or deal making or promises made—just pure blessing. Elijah would have known her belief system was false and part of the problem and demise of the land—that it had led her astray and was destroying her life. This is what idolatry, aka worshipping gods who are not gods always does. Idolatry, whether it be Baal or the almighty dollar, first divides or dis-integrates the heart. Then it breaks the heart. Then the heart becomes hardened. Finally the heart becomes darkened and dead. Multiply this times a community and a region and a nation and you have widows fending for themselves, picking up sticks to go home and prepare their family’s last meal before they die.

Elijah, in the midst of his great weakness and need, is full of the Word of God and the Spirit of God, which makes him a ready agent of the blessing, power and love of God. The God of Israel sees and cares about this broken and despairing widow and her only son, but how would she know but for Elijah’s obedience and availability to God. When the Word of God and the Spirit of God meet up in a man or woman of God who is available and obedient to God we will witness the glory of God.

14 For this is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land.’”

Did you catch it? God is now unfolding a story inside of the story inside of the story. Not only is it going to rain in due course, but this widow and her son will be provided for until that day. So it’s blessing on blessing here—glory to glory. One more bit. The God of Israel is decreeing by His Word a specific plan and a blessed future for a super vulnerable person who doesn’t even believe in Him. And one more bit: God actually involves her in his mission. She comes into the story, in the worst kind of poverty, by way of God’s hand to make her part of Elijah’s solution. She is not a charity. She is a participant in the mission of God. Look at all the intricate workings of God going on in the midst of this story inside of the story inside of the story. Just Wow!

Nope. This is not a story about rain.

This is the way—from glory to glory.

THE PRAYER

Abba Father, this is moving from confounding to mesmerizing. You involve a destitute, despairing, widow as a lynchpin part of your plan for the entire nation—and she doesn’t even believe in you. And she puts Elijah’s need ahead of her own. And you bless her extravagantly in miraculous fashion. This is glory, and it makes us want to shout glory. And it makes us want to get involved and immersed in this kind of glory for the rest of our days. Praying in Jesus’ name, Amen.

THE QUESTION

Are you as amazed and surprised as I am at all this glory unfolding and exploding in this story? What are you seeing and sensing?

For the Awakening,
J.D. Walt
Sower-in-Chief
seedbed.com

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Farmer. Poet. Theologian. Jurist. Publisher. Seedbed's Sower-in-Chief.

4 COMMENTS

  1. “When the Word of God and the Spirit of God meet up in a man or a woman of God who is available and obedient to God we will witness the glory of God.” The key to this is to be first available and then obedient, without either one the Glory of God would not be revealed.

  2. From my perspective I see several spiritual truths being displayed here: First of ,this event demonstrates how God initiates, chooses and calls people, here the widow, to faith. ( Romans 3:11; 8:28-30) Secondly, God’s ways are not our ways. I doubt that neither Isaiah nor the widow knew ahead of time how this would eventually all play out. The outcome was all predicated on faith and obedience. Thirdly, this story might well be the source of that much used cliche, that evangelism is “one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread.”

  3. Elijah doesn’t ask the non-believing woman to accept God or to believe in God. Instead, he gives her hopeless heart a challenging hope-filled word from God and asks her to go and obey it. Elijah is so filled with the Spirit of God that the woman is inspired to go and do the word of the living God, even though she doesn’t believe in Him and the results are miraculous. Perhaps instead (or in addition to) asking people to “accept Christ” we could give them a Word from Christ and ask them to go and obey it.

    I was the Chaplain in an 86-bed alcohol and drug rehab center for 5 years. The Spirit prompted me to challenge every new man to read the New Testament for at least 5 minutes a day for 21 days. Most agreed to do it. Many began but quit in a day or two. A few stayed with it for 21 days and every time their hopeless was turned into hope and the Bible came alive for them.

    One man told me that he was an atheist and would read exactly 5 minutes a day for exactly 21 days and prove to me that the process won’t do anything for him. He frequently came by my office telling me that nothing was happening and on the 20th night he was gloating about proving me wrong. I reminded him that he had one more time to read. Then I prayed for him frequently the next 24 hours. When I came into work the next afternoon, he met me at the door, thrilled about God. He told me that He had read and obeyed a Bible verse that morning and God had filled his heart. From that point on he read the everyday Bible with passion. He finished the program still excited about Jesus.

  4. This is “kingdom”……. trusting in God’s Presence, Goodness, Sovereignty, and Personal Love for each who chooses to enter into its construction and abide in it …… It transcends geography, gender, social or economic status, or political loyalty. The rain falls and the drought comes to the just and the unjust but those who walk humbly with God will find provision, fellowship and healing awaiting them, as Elijah did and as he brought the widow of Zarephath to understand, as well….. she who was preparing to die, but who learned to trust God’s kingdom and thrived even in drought. God’s kingdom is not of this world but it exists alongside it….. Those who know God, who will trust His instruction, and whose eyes can see and whose ears can hear know that its citizens, the children of the Father in heaven do, in fact, live in the Spirit of Acts 2:

    “42 And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

    43 And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

    44 And all that believed were together, and had all things common;

    45 And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

    46 And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

    47 Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved”

    Jesus told us we would continue living in the midst of our enemies, even as we draw together, apart from the world for the common good of the kingdom. We don’t live “taken out of the world” but we attend to the needs of the citizens of the kingdom of God and we self- identify as children of God in heaven by participating in the same way…. we find one another and are provided for as God directs by His Spirit…

    43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

    The key to kingdom life is in learning to love “perfectly” as God loves. It takes surrender to learn His ways and walk in them…… to keep a stewardship perspective on all one has and make it available for the building up of the kingdom as God directs day by day. Such availability and readiness makes us “living stones” that God can move into place and set in the building of His kingdom….. just as Nehemiah and faithful citizens set about rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem we are called to be stones in rebuilding walls where God’s people may dwell in safety, even in the midst of enemies…..

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