Then the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.” (1 Kings 17:24 NIV)
One of the characters in scripture that I love is Elijah. He is arguably the first guy in scripture whose story fascinated me even before Jesus.
Reflective of the spiritual drought ushered in by the Baal worship of King Ahab and his wife, Elijah by the word of the Lord called a physical drought throughout the land of Israel. That is a great act to pronounce and even greater that it was reinforced by action.
It’s great seeing God provide for His prophet and even once the dried up, God would still make a way for Elijah even if it took him outside Israel. That initial encounter with the widow at Zarephath is so intriguing. Elijah has the nerve to hear the widow point out that she has just enough for one final meal with her son before they due, and hearing that still says ‘yeah, feed me first’. What’s remarkable is how he says that if she sorts him out first, God will sort out her and her son. The remarkable bit isn’t so much his claim, it’s more that this widow actually takes him at his word. Once more, however, Elijah makes a great pronouncement and it is reinforced by action as throughout the time of the drought this widow was never lacking in the essentials. It takes great faith from the woman even as it took an assurance from Elijah to state the promise to the widow.
What I found moving and profound was the degree of compassion Elijah had when the widow’s son was taken fatally ill. The woman knows to complain to Elijah – though how it was his fault is anyone’s guess. Yet Elijah is moved to cry out to God on her behalf. His relationship with God gives him confidence to appeal for the life of the boy. The means of the appeal may seem somewhat unorthodox, but it certainly made the desire and connection clear in his cry to God to restore life to the dead. That God heard and responded so amazingly left an imprint on the widow not only of God, but of this man who followed Him.
What underpins this and makes Elijah such a fascinating character is his divine interactions. Where God instructs, he follows. Where God sends, he goes. He has the leading of God for every situation. He can petition and intercede with God as the time calls for it.
Elijah is not perfect, he has his issues, but our introduction to him highlights a man with the capacity and desire to be used by God even as it leads him to intriguing and unorthodox scenarios. It’s that degree of interaction and guidance that God invites us to when we choose to follow Him from spiritual drought to ongoing spiritual provision.
For His Name’s Sake
C. L. J. Dryden