A retelling of 1 Kings 17
See “Fire from Heaven” for another story on the prophet Elijah’s life.
This story takes place in Israel, around 850 BC. It was a sad and difficult time for a nation that was suffering under the worst king it had ever had, King Ahab. His wicked wife, Jezebel, greatly influenced King Ahab and he had adopted her religion of Baalism, the worship of the pagan devil-god, Baal. Under King Ahab and Jezebel’s rule, the prophets of the true God were systematically slaughtered and Baalism became the official state religion.
To show His displeasure, God sent His prophet Elijah to King Ahab with an ominous message: “As the Lord God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there will be neither dew nor rain these years, except at my word.”
After delivering this strong warning, God told Elijah to go eastward and hide near a brook from which he could drink, called Cherith, that was on the way to Jordan. God also commanded ravens to daily bring Elijah pieces of bread and meat.
Just as Elijah had prophesied, not a drop of rain fell and drought began to grip the land. As the sweltering months passed, the sun took its scorching toll on Israel’s parched earth. Crops failed, water supplies dried up, and famine set in. Eventually Elijah’s own water source, the brook Cherith, also dried up. But God was faithful, and on the very day that the brook ran dry, He told Elijah to go and dwell in Zarephath.
“See,” He said, “I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”
Zarephath was over 100 miles north of the brook Cherith, and Elijah had to make this dangerous journey by foot. After days of trudging through desert wastes, over rocky hillsides and mountain trails, he finally arrived at Zarephath, a coastal city of what is now Lebanon. Weary, hot, and caked in dust, as he approached the city gate he spotted a woman gathering sticks.
“Water!” he cried out to her. “Please fetch me a little water in a vessel that I may drink!”
Taking pity on the weary stranger, the woman rose to bring him some water.
“And please, could you also bring me a morsel of bread,” he called out to her again.
“As the Lord lives,” the woman said, “I have but only a handful of flour in the barrel and a little oil in a cruse. Look, I am out here gathering two sticks to cook with, to take home and prepare a final meal for myself and my son that we may eat and then die.”
“Do not fear,” Elijah told the woman, realizing that she was the widow that God had promised would feed and care for him. “Go and do as you have said, but make me a little cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.
“The Lord God of Israel promises that your barrel of flour will not be used up, nor will the cruse of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.”
The woman was amazed at this extraordinary proclamation, but because Elijah spoke to her with authority in the name of the Lord, she knew that he was a man of God, a prophet, and she believed him. She decided to trust God and to do as Elijah had instructed her, so she hurried home and scraped together the last handful of flour from the bottom of the barrel. Then she drained the last few drops from her cruse of oil.
After she had mixed the flour and oil together into dough and put it in her clay oven to bake for Elijah, she began to tidy the kitchen while the cake baked. Picking up the empty oil jug to put it back in its place, the widow gasped in surprise. “How can this be heavier than it was only moments ago?” As she barely tipped it, fresh oil dripped onto the kitchen floor. Rushing over to her flour barrel, she gave a cry of wonderment. Instead of the empty vessel it was just a few minutes earlier, it was now brimming with fresh flour. A miracle had taken place!
The widow’s heart overflowed with gratitude to God for such a wonderful manifestation of His blessing. And just as Elijah had prophesied, the barrel of flour did not empty and the cruse of oil did not run dry for the duration of the famine.
She had given what she could, and God repaid her beyond her wildest expectations.
See “Hero of the Month: Elijah” for more on this fascinating Bible character.
Excerpts from Activated Vol.7, Issue 7, © 2006. Used by permission. Read by Jeremy.
A My Wonder Studio Production. Copyright © 2013 by The Family International.