Updated: Jul 12, 2020
God made many pronouncements in the Bible (where from our human understanding, it does not seem like it is what God says it is, when in fact it is, because God had said it is). Here is one such example:
“Go at once to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there. I have directed a widow there to supply you with food.”
(1 King 17:9): God told Elijah that He had commanded a woman in Zarephath to supply Elijah with food; yet when Elijah met the woman, we found out that she was getting the woods she needed to prepare her last meal—eat it and wait for death to come and overcome her and take her into eternal darkness.
We did not recognize her as someone who has been prepared by God ahead of time to provide for God’s great prophet in the middle of a famine, since she could not even provide for herself and her son. In our human experience, one has to meet his needs before he can meet the needs of someone else. Meeting one’s needs is a matter of having the material resources to do so. And since this widow did not have the material resource, we immediately became convinced that she could not sustain the prophet.
The widow had the spiritual resource she needed to sustain herself, her son and the prophet, according to the following Scriptures: 18 The LORD is near to all who call on him, to all who call on him in truth. 19 He fulfills the desires of those who fear him; he hears their cry and saves them.20 The LORD watches over all who love him, but all the wicked he will destroy. (Psalm 145:18-20).
She did not know that what she had could easily translate into physical materials to sustain her life. Her spiritual resource came alive when the prophet asked her to make the food and bring it to him first before feeding her son and herself.
“When he came to the town gate, a widow was there gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a little water in a jar so I may have a drink?”
The woman immediately went off to fetch water for the prophet. This is a woman that was down on her luck and had just enough food for ‘one last meal and then wait for her death’ A woman who have come to the conclusion that death was next in her destiny! She had scraped for a while and had finally arrived at her very last meal and had had so much time thinking about losing her son to hunger.
She had spent huge amount of time thinking about what that little boy was going to suffer before breathing his last if she succumbed first to death before the boy did. Yet when a stranger walked up to her and asked her for water, despite her engrossment, she did not hesitate to drop what she was doing and go get him that water so, as the stranger told her, he could ‘have a drink.
She momentarily forgot about her woes and immediately went off to help a stranger quench his thirst. Going home and feeding her hungry child became secondary to helping a total stranger quench his thirst. It was not until she started going to get the water that the prophet added: “And bring me, please, a piece of bread.”
And for the first time since the stranger showed up, the woman allowed the stranger into her misery by replying: “As surely as the LORD your God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour in a jar and a little olive oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.” It is evident that the woman recognized Elijah as a man of God, hence her response “the Lord your God”.
The prophet knew the widow was the one whom God has “directed’ to supply him with food and had seen that the widow was worthy of God’s mercy because she was loyal to God. So to reassure the woman to continue in her obedience of God, “ Elijah said to her.
“Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But first make a small loaf of bread for me from what you have and bring it to me, and then make something for yourself and your son.14 For this is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the LORD sends rain on the land.'”