Summary: How God uses the natural, as well as the supernatural.
“And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. . . . And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath which belongeth to Sidon, and dwell there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to sustain thee. ”
(I Kings 17:4, 8-9 KJV)
The Devastation Of DROUGHT!
Losing EVERYTHING is too often what finally gets a man’s attention!
Over the centuries, droughts have plagued various places around the world. In a feature article on the renowned Mexican drought, which hit the northern cattle farms from 1994 to 1995, the journalist reported that the cattle herds had dropped from 6.3 million to 3.2 million. The only reason that cattle deaths were not even higher was because many cattle were exported before they died and many cows had already died the year before. Still, even with those factors, 300,000 cattle perished that year - 1995. The lack of grass, high grain costs, cattle having stopped calving, mature trees drying up from the roots and falling over, and wide rivers reduced to a trickle were all some of the devastating results of this extended drought.
The article’s description could pictured what it was like in Elijah’s day:
“Vultures are the only animals putting on weight . . . where a four-year drought is turning millions of acres of prime farmland to dust. . . . Circling in rainless skies, their eerie vigils over slowly starving cattle are a daily reality for farmers across five . . . . states. Cows drop dead so often that feeding frenzies on carcasses are a commonplace sight.”
While pointing to a battalion of birds perched on a telegraph pole at the border of his ranch, Rodolfo Torres stated, “The vultures are fattening up like Christmas turkeys.” Torres, a Mexican rancher, not only personally watched his own herd shrink from 950 cows down to 150, but the 150 remaining creatures that were alive, were so emaciated that they were hardly worth considering as a profitable livestock.
This small example of a localized drought in Mexico helps us picture what it must have been like in these Old Testament days. The vultures of Elijah’s day were likewise “fattening up like Hanukah lambs” and all across Israel, the flocks were being radically devastated and emaciated, as the dry sands and hot winds relentlessly drew out every drop of moisture they touched! God’s people came into this land when it was called a land of milk and honey. What a contrast to the report of the spies who searched out the land in Joshua’s day. Now it would best described as the land of the dead and dying! The Lord turned Israel into an Old Testament dust bowl, where animal and human deaths were beginning to liter the land. Such were all visible tokens of God’s judgement under the leadership of the apostate King Ahab!
There are far more “Dust Bowls” than those found in the world of nature. Personal “Dust Bowls” have been experienced in the lives of individuals, groups, families, and even churches. Sadly, far too often, it is only when some people face the real possibility of losing everything that the Lord finally gets his or her attention! Worse yet, some people have to experience serious and actual loss before he/she changed. It is because some lean on a deceptive hope, the hope that they can somehow survive without making the change that is so obviously necessary!
Aerosmith band member, Stephen Tyler, is a modern-day reminder of this delusionary hope. It was this deceptive hope that they would not lose everything, even though they were on the road which ended exactly there. It was willful delusion that kept them on that road. That denial of reality so hypnotized all the band members, that they were unable to grasp that they could, and ultimately would, lose everything.
“That's what drugs did. . . . it took my children away, it took my life away, it took my band away, took my marriages away, and I was on my knees,” (May 3, 2011 - MSNBC)
Not even the progressive loss of some of the most important and meaningful parts of life, was able to push them off the road they were on, both corporately and/or individually. Such accounts reveal how deceptive sin is. Sin and Satan has the persuasive ability to offer delusional explanations which are able to deny what is really happening, and where the road is really headed.
Perhaps what is more shocking, is that this same story is repeated over and over in the lives of popular icons of our culture. It is known and even personally witnessed, over and over, yet with little impact on that next individual who is walking on the same road of emotional, social, financial, and/or relational drought. It was not until Tyler, and then ALL the other members of the band, lost EVERYTHING, that they individually and finally had to face the reality that they had to get off of this destructive road!