Summary: Good people suffer to when a land is being judged for its sin. Paul says in Romans 14:7, “none of us live to himself.”
The widow and the prophet.
First King’s 17: 8 -- 16. 05/19/04
The scene opens with the Brook Cherith, the only water supply for Elijah had dried up. It had dried up because of the lack of rain. The lack of rain was the result of Israel worshiping Baal a false god. So, it is safe to say that the great prophet was not exempt from the suffering that the drought brought to the land. Good people suffer to when a land is being judged for its sin. Paul says in Romans 14:7, “none of us live to himself.” When we sin, it causes others, even though innocent to suffer.
The next scene we find ourselves in the little town of Zarephath. This little town was also suffering from the drought. But in this town there lived a widow who was almost out of food and facing a life and death situation. She and Elijah both needed help and help was on the way. But it meant also that both the widow and Elijah were going to have to be obedient to the command of God. Of course, obedience to one’s duty to God is always the best way to obtain help from God. As a matter of fact, it is our duties, our obedience to God is what we want to consider in our texts.
In this, we see THE PERCEPTION OF DUTY. If you are a Christian, then you know how important it is to seek and know the will of God.
Elijah watched the Brook dry up but he waited there, until the word of the Lord came unto him, saying arise, get thee to Zarephath. I want you to see that God wasn’t sending Elijah to Zarephath without working in that little town. Look at verse 9, “I have commanded a widow there to sustain thee.”
If we want to discover the will of God for our life and to check our life to see if it is in accordance with God’s will, then we must go to the Word of God. What we call the will of God in our life must conform to the Word of God.
Would you believe it if I told you that a man told me one time that he felt the closest to God when he was high on drugs? Another man said he moved a pillow on his couch and found a bottle of liquor and felt it must be God’s will that he drank it. Now comparing both these instances to the Word of God I have to conclude that they were not seeking the will of God.
I want you to notice something else in perceiving duty: and that is God did it step-by-step. When Elijah was ordered to go to the Brook Cherith God never told him the next step would be Zarephath. It wasn’t till the Brook dried up that Elijah got the second step. What I want you to see is that he would never have gotten step 2 had you not followed step 1. The will of God is like the headlights of a car: they give enough light so we can drive safely ahead but they do not show the entire trip. God reveals to us His plan step-by-step.
We see not only the perception of duty but also THE PRIORITIES OF DUTY.
Our duty to God must be top priority and unless it is it will frequently be left undone. Did you notice that both Elijah and the widow put duty ahead of their situation? They did not allow the circumstances surrounding then deter them from their duty.
I want to name about three things right off that duty has priority over. Duty has priority over self. A self-centered person wrapped up in himself makes a very small package. W. Philip Keller said, “we know nothing about genuine self giving and self sharing until self survival is put on the line.” This was especially true with the widow. Elijah asked her if she would bake him the last of her mill for him some bread. To add to the test, she had a son.
Duty also has priority over sense. Human reasoning is to never have priority over God’s commands. God’s commands may not always make sense at the time but still the most logical because he is God. So, failure to understand the reason wholly doesn’t diminish the responsibility for doing it.
We see not only the perception of duty and the priorities of duty but also THE PREMIUMS OF DUTY.
I want to tell you something; giving priorities to divine duty does not shortchange anyone. To the eye, it may not seem encouraging to do the duty of command. But I want to inform you there are some wonderful blessings we can anticipate when doing our duty.