I Kings 17:7-10 "Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the Lord came to him: 'Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.' ”
Once again Elijah received a word from the Lord that required complete obedience and selfless faith. The prophet was asked to leave the brook where he had been fed and taken care of for about a year and head to the land of the Gentiles. He was asked to trust that this woman that the Lord had chosen to take care of him would respond to the Lord’s call and obey with her own selfless faith.
I wonder if the ravens, being, as we mentioned, an unclean animal, prepared Elijah to leave the land of the chosen people and go to Sidon to live with a Gentile woman. As an Israelite, Elijah had been taught not to go into her house, much less to live in her house. And yet, the Lord called Elijah to obey despite what the culture thought was acceptable.I Kings 17:10-14 "So he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, 'Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?' As she was going to get it, he called, 'And bring me, please, a piece of bread.''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.'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. 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.’”
As I read these words, I find myself imagining what I would do if I were in this widow’s place. I cannot even fathom what it must have been like to realize that she and her child were going to starve to death, and there was nothing that she could do about it. Then along came a man who insists on eating her last meal. What assurance did she have that she would have flour and oil to make food for her son after she fed this man of God?
Yet, she must have had some sort of hope - some expectation, because the Lord has told her to expect Elijah’s arrival. And despite the fact that she was not an Israelite, she had faith in the God of the Israelites, reminiscent of Rahab, Ruth, and many other faithful Gentile women who trusted the Lord and were grafted into HIs family. God called her, she responded with selfless faith, and she and her family were saved.I Kings 17:15-16 "She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family. For the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah."
Both Elijah and this faithful woman reacted to the Word of the Lord with obedience and selflessness, and the Lord saved them. We would do well to follow their example.