Summary: In the midst of scarcity, God provides for our needs...
Text: I Kings 17:8-16 (17-24)
Thesis: In the midst of scarcity, God provides for our needs. (God will provide all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19)
In the 1930s, Jay Hormel noticed that there was some perfectly good, though not necessarily desirable, pork-shoulder meat going to waste in his meat-packing plant. So he, being the entrepreneur that he was, came up with the idea of processing that meat with a little ham and squeezing it into a can and selling it as an affordable meat product under the Hormel brand as Spam.
It was very popular. During WW II Spam became a fixture in the canned K-rations for GIs. By the end of the war the military and purchased had shipped 150 million pounds of Spam. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, recalling the Nazi bombing blitz of England, spoke of Spam as a “wartime delicacy.”
You would think that Spam was the food of last resort. Something you ate because you had nothing else to eat… but I remember my mother frying it up and serving it as breakfast meat or for sandwiches. And in all honesty, I liked it. I suspect there are many in this room who remember eating Spam and being grateful for it. Apparently there are several people who still love a good can of Spam because Hormel claims they sell 100 million cans a year.
I guess, despite liking it, I always thought it was poor-folk-food… if you couldn’t afford ham, you ate Spam.
The U.S.D.A has eight grades of beef: USDA Prime; Choice; Select; Standard; Commercial; Utility; Cutter; and Canner. The grades of cutter and canned are what is left that us used to make ground-beef, processed and canned meats. If pork were graded like beef, Spam would be made from the Cutter and Canner meat grades.
No, Spam is not spiral-cut, Honey-Baked Ham. However, if you are hungry, Spam is good and maybe a god-send.
Our story today may be thought of as something of a Spam story. It is a story about a time when a can of Spam would have been a mouth-watering, culinary delight. But first a bit about that time:
I. Difficult times are good times for self-examination
Ahab did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam but he also married Jezebel… and began to serve Baal and worship him. [So] Elijah said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” I Kings 16:31 and 17:1
The setting for our story is a time in the history of Israel when the nation was ruled by evil and godless leaders. The King of the hour was named Ahab. As stated in our text, Ahab did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him and as a consequence, he and the people he ruled were to suffer the consequences for his behavior. Judgment came in the form of an extended drought.
We may think of it as an extended dry-spell, perhaps akin to what this part of the country experienced during the financial down-turn of Great Depression and the drought of the Dust Bowl days in the 1930s.
Perhaps you are familiar with this stock photo from the Depression Era.
(Project Image from Dust Bowl/Depression era… those were desperate times.)
There were reasons for the financial collapse that resulted in the Great Depression and there were reasons for the devastation that took place during the Dust Bowl days. And consequently there are mechanisms in place today to avert another Great Depression and agriculture has learned that the land must be carefully managed and cared for if it is to be productive.
We live in a rather ironic time in our country. For several decades we have been chafing at the growth of government and extolling the benefits of small government. As one of the pundits put it recently, it would be nice if all that was required was Social Security, Medicare and a powerful military to protect us.
Unfortunately while we talk about small government and the benefits of deregulation… we are experiencing first-hand what happens when we trust people to do the right thing.
• When we trust people to do the right thing, greed will inevitably get the best of them and the result will be a widespread collapse of the banking and investment businesses.
• When you trust people to do the right thing they cut corners on safety measures and take short-cuts that spill millions of gallons of crude into the ocean.