Stories Jesus told with women in them
The widow of Zarephath (Luke 4:25-26)
God gave Elijah three commands which outlined Elijah’s training and conditioning for some of the most magnificent works ever done to the glory of God:
1) Conditioning in courage: sending Elijah to King Ahab, putting his life at great risk to deliver God’s judgement of drought.
2) Conditioning in loneliness: God commanded Elijah to go to the Kerith Ravine, the desert, completely cut off from society, for some time
I talked about God's conditioning of Elijah in courage and loneliness in the last post. But God had more for Elijah in his sojourn with the widow of Zarephath
3) Conditioning in humility and compassion: God commanded Elijah to go to Sidon to be cared for by an impoverished widow.
Conditioning in humility and compassion: Then Elijah had to leave this quiet place, and go to Sidon, Jezebel's country. Elijah was reduced to asking a person even poorer than himself, the lowest of the low, a pagan widow, for help. Yet her response, "As surely as the Lord your God lives" was a genuine expression of knowing and being committed to the God of Israel.
The widow took a big risk, but faith must always take a risk, there must be enough room for God alone to fill, or it isn't really faith. Then she saw how God provided for her needs. She didn't see God work until she took the step of faith. \
God always makes us go first. God fed a Phoenician pagan widow even as He was withholding food from His unfaithful people in the promised land. The warning of Deuteronomy 32:21 was being fulfilled, "They have made me jealous with what is no god; they have provoked me to anger with their idols. So I will make them jealous with those who are no people"
- What is God asking you to do right now that you just can't see how it will work out?
Jesus referred to this woman's great faith when He said, "Isn't it a fact that there were many widows in Israel at the time of Elijah during that three and a half years of drought when famine devastated the land, but the only widow to whom Elijah was sent was in Zarephath in Sidon?"
- God's idea of a great work, a worthy and worthwhile work, is not always our idea of a great work. Are you doing something that really doesn't explore your talents at all? Are you way over qualified for what God has called you to?
- And yet to God it was worth it to move Elijah to a widow living in Jezebel's home town.
When I feel that nothing good for God is coming out of my life, then I need to seek out those whom He has placed near me to care for.
Good deeds don't spare us from heart ache. Next came God's training of Elijah in compassion and prayer with the widow's son. The widow thought that Elijah had come to her house was to call God's attention to her sin, because now her son had died--her only hope, her only love. Why did God, Who had blessed them so they could live, now bring death instead?
God intended to use this experience to convince the Phoenician widow that His word was complete and reliable, and to train His prophet Elijah in faith and fervent prayer for an even greater work down the road. Jesus’ brother James wrote about this story in his letter to Jewish believers, explaining that “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently.”
The nature James was referring to was not the nature you were born with, but the new nature God had put into the believers reading his letter. That was Elijah's nature, he was filled with God's life, His Holy Spirit, so that when he prayed, he prayed fervently, and his prayer had the same potential, the same power as God Himself, because it was coming from God Himself. The effectiveness of Elijah's prayer was later to provide the courage and fervency he needed to pray first for God's fire, and then for God's rain.
Elijah was the holy connection between God and the widow's son. When those in right standing with God, filled with His Spirit, His life, filled with faith, belief, trusting in God, pray "fervent" prayer, it has great power and effectiveness.
The life in Elijah, God's life, went into the child, the very first resurrection recorded in Scripture. As the widow witness her son’s life returning to him, she exclaimed to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth.” Her confession was one that the Lord's own people in Israel had failed to make.