Study Notes

1Kings 17:1-24


When we left off at the end of chapter 16, we saw that King Ahab was the latest in a series of bad kings over the northern kingdom of Israel.

1Kgs. 16:30-33 ...Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD more than all who were before him. And it came about, as though it had been a trivial thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he married Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and went to serve Baal and worshiped him. So he erected an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he built in Samaria. And Ahab also made the Asherah. Thus Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel than all the kings of Israel who were before him.

Ahab was the worst, the most ungodly, king that Israel had rule over them to date.

17:1 Elijah Prophesies No Rain

The prophet Elijah, who is mentioned frequently in the New Testament, is introduced to us here for the first time.

We will find that he is a man who hears from God, and a man of prayer. He is a man who could be incredibly bold, but also could be fearful and short-sighted.

Elijah told wicked King Ahab that a drought was coming. A complete lack of rain - even dew - would afflict the land. Only the word of Elijah would change that, and he had no intention of speaking that word.

What we find out about this in the New Testament is that this was the result of prayer.

James 5:17 Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain; and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.

Prayer is powerful when it is in accordance with the will of God. The heavens were shut up, and no rain fell for 3 1/2 years.

This is, by the way, one of several reasons that nearly every Bible prophecy student believes that Elijah will be one of the two witnesses mentioned in Revelation 11.

Rev. 11:3-6 "And I will grant {authority} to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth. And if anyone desires to harm them, fire proceeds out of their mouth and devours their enemies; and if anyone would desire to harm them, in this manner he must be killed. These have the power to shut up the sky, in order that rain may not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to smite the earth with every plague, as often as they desire.

One of the signs that these witnesses show is a complete lack of rain for 3 1/2 years.

17:2-4 Hide By The Brook

Now, as evil as Ahab and Jezebel were, you wouldn't expect them to take this prophecy against them lying down. They will certainly seek to kill Elijah. But God warned Elijah to go hide out, to lay low for awhile.

He told Elijah to go to the brook Ker-EETH. There, he would have water to drink, and the ravens would bring him food.

17:5-6 Fed By Ravens

Elijah obeyed, and went to the brook Ker-EETH. He had water from the brook, and the ravens brought him food twice a day.

I'd like us to notice something about the ravens' delivery service. Ravens are shiny black birds belonging to the crow family. In the Law of God, they were declared an unclean animal.

Lev. 11:13-15 ‘These, moreover, you shall detest among the birds; they are abhorrent, not to be eaten: the eagle and the vulture and the buzzard, and the kite and the falcon in its kind, every raven in its kind

They were not to be eaten, but on the other hand, God made sure that they were always eating. They are three times used as illustrations of God's provision. The Lord asked Job,

Job 38:41 "Who prepares for the raven its nourishment, when its young cry to God, and wander about without food?

And the Psalmist wrote that the Lord...

Ps. 147:9 to the beast its food, and to the young ravens which cry.

Jesus also taught,

Luke 12:24 "Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap; and they have no storeroom nor barn; and {yet} God feeds them..."

God is the one who feeds the ravens. He consistently provides for them.

Now He is using the ravens to feed Elijah. Think about that for a moment. God provides for them, and they provided for Elijah. This is a picture of how the kingdom of God is supposed to work. When God supplies you with provision, whether it is money, food, etc., it is not only for your use. It is not just an exclusive blessing for you. When God supplies you, it is also so that you will obey the command of the Lord to supply others.

James wrote,

James 2:15-16 If a brother or sister is without clothing and in need of daily food, and one of you says to them, "Go in peace, be warmed and be filled," and yet you do not give them what is necessary for {their} body, what use is that?

John the Baptist taught,

Luke 3:11 ..."Let the man who has two tunics share with him who has none; and let him who has food do likewise."

And Paul told the Corinthians regarding the collection of their offering for the poor churches in Jerusalem,

2Cor. 8:13-15 For {this} is not for the ease of others {and} for your affliction, but by way of equality — at this present time your abundance {being a} {supply} for their want, that their abundance also may become {a supply} for your want, that there may be equality; as it is written, "HE WHO {gathered} MUCH DID NOT HAVE TOO MUCH, AND HE WHO {gathered} LITTLE HAD NO LACK."

In other words, God gives much to some and little to others, not to exalt the one with much, but so that the one with more will give to the one with less, that there would be an equalization of provision.

17:7 The Brook Dries Up

After a period of time, the brook dried up because there was no rain. This must have been difficult for Elijah to bear. After all, it was the Lord who directed him to the brook in the first place. God told him that he was being provided for, but now that water was gone.

This is a picture of another one of life's strange difficulties. God directed for provision, but then eventually that provision dries up. And we absolutely need to learn this lesson if we are going to walk in faith: God's provision is forever, but His method of provision is temporary.

Philippians 4 says,

Phil. 4:19 God shall supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus.

We have a promise that God will supply everything that we need in this life. However, the way He supplies will continually change. God gives you a great job, one that you prayed for, one that you felt confirmation in taking. And the Lord provides for you with that paycheck. But after a short while, you're laid off, you're fired, or the company goes out of business. God did lead you there. God did provide for you there. But that doesn't mean that God is going to continue to provide for you in that specific setting.

Sometimes he will provide the finances for food, and sometimes He will provide the food itself. Sometimes it is by providing the job for you, other times it is providing for you when there is no job.

The Lord doesn't like to be predictable in His provision. He wants us to continue to pray and seek Him for His provision.

17:8-9 Provided For By A Widow

The Lord told Elijah that his provision would come from a widow in Tsaq-ref-ATH. Now, this must have been humiliating for Elijah. To go to Tsee-DONE, a Canaanite city. To be provided for by a Gentile - a Gentile woman, no less.

Now, Elijah had a choice - to obey or disobey. It would require a lot of humility to go to Tsaq-ref-ATH and be provided for by a gentile woman. Many of us aren't good at humbling ourselves and asking for help. But we need one another's help. The people who try to go it alone in this Christian life never get very far. Solomon wrote,

Eccl. 4:9-10 Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.

Don't fall into the trap of believing you can do it on your own. That is a deception. And it's pride.

Besides, there is always more going on behind the scenes that God is doing. Elijah was being sent to this widow for a purpose, unbeknownst to either of them.

Jesus later used this as a sermon illustration. As He taught in the synagogue at Nazareth, He said,

Luke 4:25-30 "But I say to you in truth, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the sky was shut up for three years and six months, when a great famine came over all the land; and yet Elijah was sent to none of them, but only to Tsaq-ref-ATH, {in the land} of Tsee-DONE, to a woman who was a widow. And there were many lepers in Israel in the time of Elisha the prophet; and none of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian." And all in the synagogue were filled with rage as they heard these things; and they rose up and cast Him out of the city, and led Him to the brow of the hill on which their city had been built, in order to throw Him down the cliff. But passing through their midst, He went His way.

Why did they get so angry at Jesus' teaching? Listen again to what He was saying: there were many Jewish widows, but God used Elijah to bless a Gentile widow. There were many Jewish lepers, but God used Elisha to bless a Gentile leper. No wonder they were so angry.

And so even though at the outset it looks like the widow is going to be blessing Elijah, it turns out to be the other way around. What a good thing that Elijah was obedient to the command of the Lord!

17:10-12 The Widow's Concern

When Elijah showed up, the woman was getting ready to prepare her and her son's last meal. They were on the brink of starvation, and only had enough flour and oil to eat a final morsel.

17:13-16 The Flour And Oil Multiplied

Long before the five thousand sat on the green grass and witnessed the multiplication of the loaves and fishes, God multiplied flour and oil for three people in Tsaq-ref-ATH. But before it was multiplied, the widow had to be obedient. She had to make a bread cake for Elijah first.

So many things of faith are like that - In Joshua 3, the priests had to first walk into the Jordan river before the waters were cut off. In Matthew 14, Simon Peter had to first step out of the boat before he could walk on the water. That is what faith is all about. If you can see the deliverance in advance, it's not faith, it's sight. We are exhorted,

2Cor. 5:7 ...walk by faith, not by sight

The widow gave all she had, believing that God would somehow provide. There is another woman who did the same thing. One day, Jesus...

Mark 12:41-44 ...sat down opposite the treasury, and {began} observing how the multitude were putting money into the treasury; and many rich people were putting in large sums. And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which amount to a cent. And calling His disciples to Him, He said to them, "Truly I say to you, this poor widow put in more than all the contributors to the treasury; for they all put in out of their surplus, but she, out of her poverty, put in all she owned, all she had to live on."

The poor widow gave all she had, believing that God would provide.

Saints, giving is not something that we are to work out in the budget. It is to be a sacrifice. Whether it is our tithes and offerings to the church or providing for the poor and needy, it is a lack of faith that says, "I can't afford to give." These two widows gave all they had, and God provided. You cannot possibly outgive God.

17:17-18 The Son Dies

The son of this widow woman became so sick that he died. The widow assumed that this was judgment for her sin. How many today believe that bad times equals God's judgment! But that is not the case at all. Bad health or other difficulties are not always judgment from God. Often, it is the opposite.

When Jesus saw a man who had been born blind,

John 9:2-3 ...His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?" Jesus answered, " {It was} neither {that} this man sinned, nor his parents; but {it was} in order that the works of God might be displayed in him.

It is possible that your difficulty has been allowed not because God wants to punish you, but to be glorified in you.

17:19-22 The Son Is Raised

Elijah prayed that the son would be raised from the dead, and he was.

17:23-24 Now I Know

Although the widow had been obedient, she had not completely believed. When did she finally believe? When she saw the resurrection of the only begotten son. When she saw the son alive, she said,

1Kgs. 17:24 ..."Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth."

There may be people in your life that don't yet believe. Show them the only begotten Son, resurrected from the dead. Be as Paul, who said to the Corinthians,

1Cor. 2:1-2 And when I came to you, brethren, I did not come with superiority of speech or of wisdom, proclaiming to you the testimony of God. For I determined to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified.

They also believed when they saw the only begotten Son die and raise from the dead.

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