“Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: ‘Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.’” 1 Kgs. 17:2-4 Elijah had just completed an intense ministry assignment, announcing to the evil king of Israel, Ahab, that there was going to be a drought for a few years. “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.” 1 Kgs. 17:1
Before we move on, let’s acknowledge that Elijah is specifically noted in the Bible as being a normal person, just like you and I. “The heartfelt and persistent prayer of a righteous man (believer) can accomplish much [when put into action and made effective by God—it is dynamic and can have tremendous power]. Elijah was a man with a nature like ours [with the same physical, mental, and spiritual limitations and shortcomings], and he prayed intensely for it not to rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months. Then he prayed again, and the sky gave rain and the land produced its crops [as usual].” Jas. 5:16-18 (AMP)The Lord told Elijah to seclude himself in the Kerith Ravine. “Kerith” means “cutting” or “separation.” Perhaps there are multiple layers to this scenario. Hiding away from the wrath of the evil king would insure that Elijah remained in a place of safety. It could also be a pruning of sorts for the prophet, causing him to rely upon a very unlikely source for his nourishment and survival. Anyone besides me ever feel like you’ve been in a similar place? The method of transport aside, you are in the ravine, and the atmosphere feels very tentative. The conjecture on your well being is unsettling. Yes, God is supplying, but it seems like it’s out of my control and I don’t have solid guarantees of continuation. “It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land.” 1 Kgs. 17:7 Wait a minute! Did I get myself into this mess? Is the enclosure in which I find myself, the result of my own actions?
No worries. The Lord has it under control. “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 Kgs. 17:9 I suppose this sounds more promising that ravens, but if there were any doubts, they are confirmed. After Elijah requests water and bread, the widow responds: “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.” 1 Kgs. 17:12 Elijah’s response: “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. 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.’ ” 1 Kgs. 17:13-14
For a period of time this new source ran steady until another variable entered in. “Some time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing.” 1 Kgs. 17:17 Mom was not seeing the logic here: “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?” 1 Kgs. 17:18 We all know the ending, right? Elijah goes into intense intercession; stretches himself out over the dead child, and brings him back to life.
It’s time for the drought to end and Elijah returns to meet King Ahab. What follows is the epic confrontation between Elijah and the prophets of Baal and Asherah. 1 Kgs. 18:19 God demonstrates his power and Elijah orders that the evil prophets be killed. He then discerns that the years of drought have come to an end, and says to Ahab: “’Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.’ So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees.” 1 Kgs. 18:41-42 Elijah asked his servant seven times, to check for those rain clouds. We don’t know exactly how much time elapsed. This is a critical element. I.E. We need to stay in the posture of prayer, trusting that the sound we heard will manifest in a tangible way.
Not one for taking a rest between battles, the enemy of our soul is unrelenting. “So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ‘May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.’ Elijah was afraid and ran for his life.” 1 Kgs. 19:2-3 What a study in contrasts. The first place of seclusion was a directive from the Lord. This time, it’s an overwhelming fear for his life. Elijah prays for God to take his life and then falls asleep. Of course God doesn’t answer the prophet’s prayer; instead he supplies again, from an unexpected source.
“All at once an angel touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat.’ He looked around, and there by his head was some bread baked over hot coals, and a jar of water. He ate and drank and then lay down again. The angel of the Lord came back a second time and touched him and said, ‘Get up and eat, for the journey is too much for you.’ So he got up and ate and drank. Strengthened by that food, he traveled forty days and forty nights until he reached Horeb, the mountain of God. There he went into a cave and spent the night.” Just when you think you’ve reached the end of your endurance, God comes through with provision, as only he can. Two meals, served by angels, sustained Elijah for a forty day journey.
Ravens, widows, angels, interspersed with mighty acts of God and death threats! What more exciting life can one ask for?