I’ve been reading in the Old Testament. I was interested in David, so I started with 1st and 2nd Samuel. To set the stage, 1st and 2nd Samuel follows the books of Joshua and Judges. Joshua tells the story of the Israelites entering the promised land (Canaan) after their delivery from Egyptian slavery and 40-year sojourn through the desert. Judges describes leadership by several judges, including my personal favorite, Samson. 1st and 2nd Samuel marks a pivotal time in the nation’s history. This is when they moved from a God-king arrangement to a man-king scenario. The first king was Saul; David was the next.
1st and 2nd Kings follows 1st and 2nd Samuel and tells the story of the post-David kings, starting with his son Solomon and degenerating into a succession of kings who departed from God-worship and embraced idol-worship. It’s not a good time in the now divided nation: Judah in the south and Israel in the north. The evil Ahab is the current king of Israel in 1 Kings 16.
In 1 Kings 17, we are introduced to a new character, Elijah. Elijah was a prophet that God used to redirect Israel from idolatry back to God-worship. This chapter is simply amazing. Let’s camp there for a bit. Here’s the sequence of events from this single chapter.
- Elijah announces a drought. No rain, no dew for three years.
- God instructs him to hide east of the Jordan (that’s the “other” side from the promised land). The drought is not especially popular, especially with Ahab.
- God sends the ravens to feed Elijah meat and bread each morning and evening; Elijah drinks water from a brook.
- The brook dries up. God sends Elijah to a widow with a young son.
- God provides sufficient oil and flour for the widow to feed him, as well as herself and her son. There is always just enough oil and flour for the day. No more, no less.
- The woman’s son gets sick and dies. She blames Elijah.
- Elijah prays to bring him back to life and God answers with a miracle. Elijah does this alone, just God, the boy, and him.
What can we learn?
- Prayer matters to God. He answers.
- God provides. Always. Caveat: it may not be in the way we prefer or imagine. The ravens may bring your meat.
- When we help, do it just to help, not for recognition or praise.
What do you suppose happens next? Read 1 Kings 18. Spoiler alert: Elijah faces Ahab. Fire and rain ensues.