Elijah: The Prophet of Selfless Faith Part 3

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I Kings 17:2-6 “Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.’ So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.” (NIV)

    We ended our last discussion by examining how important it is for us to recognize that we are not God, and therefore we need to stop worshipping at the altar of selfishness and self-reliance, and return to worship of the One True God and reliance solely upon Him. 

    In these verses, we see Elijah’s complete obedience to the Lord and acknowledgement of His authority when he leaves Ahab’s presence to spend about a year hiding at a brook and trusting  the Lord for His provision.

    Some teachers and commentators imagine that the Lord sent Elijah to the brook to protect him. It is very likely that Ahab and Jezebel wanted to kill him. I mean, the prophet declared a drought which would last three years before it was over. Think about what this would do for the economy of Israel during that time. The United States has experienced drought before, including  a drought in the southern U.S. in the 1920’s that contributed greatly to our Great Depression in the 1930’s. If there had been a man who had declared that it would not rain until he gave the word in the 20’s, you had better believe that our government would’ve tracked him down to force his hand.

    Elijah was not the only prophet of the day who was hiding from Ahab and Jezebel. We learn in I Kings 18 that one hundred prophets were hiding for their lives and were being aided by Obadiah, a servant of the Lord. 

    I Kings 18:4 “While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.)”

    This begs the question, why didn’t Elijah hide with the other prophets? He could’ve stayed in the caves with the one hundred and had his food and water from Obadiah instead of hiding all by himself by the brook and relying on the ravens for help.

    Well, there are lots of opinions regarding why the Lord led Elijah to the brook at Cherith. One idea is that Ahab would not have been the only person to put pressure on Elijah to relent. Remember, Elijah has said that it would only rain when HE gave the word. It is a definite possibility that even his friends and neighbors would push and even threaten Elijah to give the word and stop the drought. They were suffering with the lack of rain. Some of those suffering did not even deserve it. Yet God wanted to bring about His purposes, and this required that Elijah wait for three years. Consequently, God sent him away from all others so he could not be influenced to recant. 

    Another idea is that the Lord called Elijah away from distractions to a place where he would commune with God and learn to hear from him. Jesus did this often, didn’t He? He would go where no one else was so that He could spend time with His Father away from distractions. If the Lord called Jesus, His Son, away to spend time alone with Him to be rested and refreshed and receive a word, it is very likely that He called Elijah for the same reason.

    A third thought is that Elijah needed to learn reliance on the Lord in a manner that he could not any other way. If he had gone to the caves, it would have been Obadiah and others who would have met his needs. If he had gone home or established a dwelling elsewhere, he could meet his own needs. By going to a brook to be fed by the ravens, he learned to completely rely on the Lord. In the same way that the Israelites had to trust the Lord for their daily supply of manna as they wandered in the wilderness, Elijah needed to trust that God would send him his food every morning and every night. His faith was not without reward! While the prophets in the caves were eating bread, Elijah had a steady supply of not just bread, but also meat. 

    It is worth noting that the Lord commanded ravens to bring Elijah his daily food. We have all seen ravens…they are greedy, never satisfied birds who would likely eat the food they were to deliver to Elijah as give it to him. In addition, these birds were unclean under the Mosaic Law. Consequently, it might have been difficult for Elijah to trust that they were truly God’s messengers, or that they would actually deliver to him the promised sustenance. It was a step of faith for Elijah to head to the brook as the Lord commanded him.

    Some of you have been given a word from the Lord. It might be a hard word, one that will make you feel that you are suffering. There will be those who who will try to influence you - even pressure you into giving up on the Lord’s word. In these times the remedy is to dedicate yourself to spending time alone with the Lord, listening to His word, and obeying what He tells you to do.