Summary: If God tells you to do something unusual or even illogical in order to meet a need you have...obey Him anyway!
Trusting God to Provide
Today’s sermon is called “Trusting God to Provide.”
Our reading tells a story about God’s provision, a poor widow and a prophet called Elijah.
Elijah, you will remember, is the one who appears at Jesus’ transfiguration
Elijah represented all the Prophets of the OT, while Moses appears to represent the Law.
You will find that story in Mark chapter 9.
Elijah lived in “interesting times.”
Being chased out of his own country into the desert of Sidon by the wicked idolater Ahab, and his devilish wife Jezebel, Elijah is in a dreadful position.
But God was providing for him. At the beginning of the chapter we are told how, in extreme conditions, God was caring for His prophet.
God protected him from death at the hands of the king and queen by sending him away.
God fed him by means of ravens and watered him at the brook Cherith.
Then when the drought took full effect, God told Elijah, I will have “a widow…to provide for you.” (9)
Hearing such a message in his distress may have put off a lesser man.
“I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”(9) What?
Elijah might have thought: “So you are sending me to a place where there is a famine and to the lowest person in the food chain there, and they are going to provide for me? Obviously, Lord, you know what you are doing, because I certainly don’t!”
If we are given directions from God that we cannot understand, or that seem strange, we must discern whether we are going to use our reason or faith in order to do what God wants. In other words, we may be asked to do something that is not logical or sensible to us, but is nevertheless God’s will for us.
It was not logical to go to a poor widow during a time of famine to get food and lodging, but it was God’s will for Elijah.
It was not logical for Abraham to offer up his only son Isaac as a sacrifice, yet it was God’s will for them both. (Gen 22:2)
It was not logical for Jesus to allow himself to be arrested in Gethsemane, as He could have called down twelve legions of angels to rescue Him. But then He would have missed the will of God for Him and our salvation would have been forfeited. (Mt 26:53)
It was not logical or reasonable for Jesus to submit to His death on the cross, yet it was by that means, and that means alone, that we have our full and complete salvation from sin and death.
I Cor 1:21 “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
1:22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;
1:23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
1:24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
1:25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
The Wisdom of the Widow:
So Elijah obeys God and goes to Zarephath to meet the widow.
Elijah meets her at the gate of the city.
Elijah has the directions (the word of God) and she has the means to begin the miracle. She has gathered the sticks for the fire and she has a little flour and a little oil. She has some means. Now she needs God’s help, for she has obviously run out of hope (see v. 12)…she said she was going to go home and bake their last meal and then die with her child; a heart rending position to be in, for sure.
She has little but we can learn from this that if we begin with what we have and offer it to God in faith He will provide what we lack.
So Elijah is in no better position than he was with the ravens to feed him. (v.1-7) He still has almost nothing and is totally dependant on the will, and word and provision of God.
The widow also is in no better position than Elijah unless God intervenes.
Why do you suppose that she did what Elijah told her to do?
What made her not just a needy widow but a wise widow?
He was a Jew; she was not; she was a Sidonian, unused to hearing such demands from someone who by all accounts was a stranger to her.
So why did she do what she was asked?
After all, he asked her to prepare a little cake for him FIRST, (v13) and only after that to prepare food for her child and herself.