And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. — 1 Kings 17:8-9
Our pastor and his wife are very adventuresome. One evening soon after they moved to our town, they set out on an excursion and failed to return home in time for a planned birthday celebration. This caused their four teenaged children to become somewhat stressed. When late evening arrived and their parents still had not returned or phoned, the children called people in our small church family to pray. By midnight there was still no word, and concern had deepened, to say the least.
It turned out the couple had taken a drive into the mountains. When it began to get late, they decided to turn back. In the process of turning the car around, they ran into a snowdrift and got stuck. They did not think they had traveled very far, so they decided to head back toward the highway on foot and attempt to get a ride home. However, as they were walking, they realized they had indeed driven very far. When our pastor’s wife (who was wearing high heels) could walk no farther, they decided to sit down beside a tree and try to stay warm until morning. Just then, our pastor spotted a light ahead — it was a house! The two stumbled to the porch and knocked on the door.
An elderly woman, whose husband was in the hospital, answered the door. She had been unable to sleep, so she was making a cup of tea when she heard their knock. The woman wrapped our pastor’s wife in warm blankets and gave the two of them cups of hot tea and toast, and she offered her home for the night.
When we heard this wonderful story, we had no doubt that God had prepared that woman for our pastor and his wife, just as surely as He had prepared the widow woman who sustained Elijah in our focus verse. God knows our needs before we do, and He prepares ahead for His children, even before we pray!
Israel, the Northern Kingdom, had no faithful kings throughout its history. Elijah the Tishbite was one of the first in a long line of important prophets sent to Israel and Judah. Elijah’s name means “The Lord (Jehovah) is my God,” which is fitting for a man who called the people back to the worship of Jehovah.
The kings in this time were wicked, leading the people in worshiping the heathen gods, and the priests they appointed were corrupt and ineffective. Because of this, God called His prophets to try to rescue Israel from its moral and spiritual decline.
The people who worshiped Baal believed he was god over the rains and bountiful harvests. Elijah went to Baal-worshiping King Ahab and announced that the rains would cease for “these years.” King Ahab had built up a strong military, but there was no defense against the drought. He ordered his Baal priests to bring the rains back, but to no avail. This extended drought, announced by Elijah, a prophet of God, was intended to make it clear to the people that Baal was not a true god at all. (See “Pagan Gods” supplement.)
At the brook Cherith, Elijah had safety and sustenance. Ravens were considered “unclean” and “detestable” and were on the Mosaic list of forbidden foods (Leviticus 11:13-15; Deuteronomy 14:14). However, God used them to transport food to Elijah while he was in hiding. The prophet had a steady source of water in the brook until it dried up. Even then, Elijah waited on God to tell him where to go. Scholars believe Elijah remained at Cherith for one year.
Verses 17-24 record the first instance in Scripture of the resurrection of a dead person.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
II. The reigns of the kings of Judah and Israel
K. The reign of Ahab of Israel
2. The ministry of Elijah against Ahab’s Baal worship
a. The background for Mt. Carmel
(1) Elijah’s prediction of drought (17:1)
(2) Elijah’s provisions during the drought (17:2-24)
(a) At the brook Cherith (17:2-7)
(b) At Zarephath (17:8-24)
 Provision from the widow (17:8-16)
 Restoration of the widow’s son (17:17-24)
Just as surely as God prepared that widow woman who sustained Elijah in our focus verse, God knows our needs before we do, and He will prepare ahead for us.