Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will act; He will bring forth your vindication as the light, and your night as noonday.”
Psalm 37: 5, 6
“A Christian must understand that darkness may invade (their) personal life. We are given no guarantee by God that all our days on earth will be nothing but brightness…for all of us there are going to be some tears and sighs, some sorrow and sadness, some dark periods of disappointment and despair.
Often these are times and events over which we have no control whatever…How am I going to respond to the apparent oppression? How will I react to these seeming reverses?
Will I accept them (trials) calmly as coming from the hand of my Heavenly Father for my own well-being? After all, it is perfectly possible to walk in the dark unafraid, undisturbed, and undismayed -- ‘for Thou art with me’” (Psalm 23: 4, K.J.V.).
W. Phillip Keller
Today’s Study Text:
“So he (Elijah) arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, ‘Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.’ And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, ‘Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.’”
1 Kings 17: 10,11
“A Home In Zarephath – Part 4
Go And Fetch”
“Hospitality is one form of worship.”
Definition of Hospitality: Cordial and generous to guests.
Definition in Hebrew of “Fetch”: To bring or draw.
If a stranger came to my home and asked me to, “Go and fetch food and water,” how do I think I would respond?
“Hospitality is a test for godliness because those who are selfish do not like strangers (especially needy ones) to intrude upon their private lives. They prefer their own friends who share their life-style. Only the humble have the necessary resources to give of themselves to those who could never give of themselves in return.”
Erwin W. Lutzer
“And do not forget kindness to strangers, for by this, some who, while they were unaware, were worthy to receive angels.”
Hebrews 13: 2
1st Century Aramaic Bible in Plain English
I have read the text above, found in Hebrews 13: 2, where the writer exhorts us to extend ourselves in a spirit of “kindness,” especially to “strangers.”
As I reread this passage in the Aramaic Bible, I love the clarity I found in this translation for it certainly applies directly to the widow of Zarephath.
What we quickly uncover in the first verbal exchange between Elijah and his new “landlady,” a poor, foreign widow, is that somebody in this situation had a gracious heart and a spirit of hospitality flowing through her. It was the poor widow.
We must not forget, the Bible tells us that God commanded this lady to accept a guest He was sending her way. When reading this passage, I wondered if possibly this woman could have been an Israelite living in a foreign country or maybe she had married a man from Sidon and moved there. But nowhere in Scripture or in any of the many resources I read, is this thought even considered.
This leads me to believe that the most likely consideration about this woman and her acceptance of a request from the God of heaven and earth is that she was like the harlot Rahab, who lived in Jericho, but who “heard” about the Creator, Jehovah. And it was by “hearing,” that she was led to take a close look at Israel’s God and in her inner most being, she became what I’ll call a “quiet believer.”
While we don’t know the exact state of mind regarding the widow woman, her actions speak loud and clear for she accepted God’s call to act and when Elijah arrived in Zarephath and said, “Go and fetch.” As we continue our study, we will learn that she didn’t ignore him or walk away in disgust without one word.
Interestingly enough, she was the “one” we would expect to be getting help because she needed help. God laid out complete instructions to Israel on the kind care which He told them should be given to widows. But it was the judgments against those who in any way abused widows that shows the lengths to which God wanted His children to go to, on His behalf, extending generous love to those who were suffering.
In doing some research on the care of widows, I found that in the book of Job, when describing the wicked, they are portrayed as individuals who, “doeth not good to the widow” (Job 24: 21, K.J.V.). In Psalm 94: 6, again the wicked are described as those who slay the widow.” And when, further along in the Old Testament, the prophets “indict their people for injustice,” a part of this rebuke has to do with the way widows were mistreated. The prophet Isaiah made the point that widows had so little standing in society, that their “cause” never even was taken into consideration (Isaiah 1: 23, K.J.V.). It’s enough to make you think these words could have been written today when money holds so much sway in society that a poor widow woman’s voice would never be heard. And this brings me to one of the most interesting points I found when looking for the Hebrew meaning of the word “widow” -- and there are several. One definition is “silent one.” Another is “desolate place.”
I’d like to address the first description, “silent one.” In a patriarchal society, when the head of household or husband died, the wife in many cases had little standing. Think back to what we learned about the situation with Naomi, Ruth, and Orpah who found themselves facing a future as three widows. One an Israelite in Moab and two Moabite girls with dead Israelite husbands -- not a great situation to find yourself in. Indeed, “silent voice” is an appropriate way to describe a woman who had lost her husband. And from personal experience, as I watched what happened to my mother the first few months after my dad died, I have to tell you, there were those at my father’s job who treated my mother as a “silent voice.” They acted as if she had no standing -- nothing to say at all. For the many of you, who have lost a spouse, you may not only understand the heartache of being silenced -- you may feel as if you haven’t gotten your voice back yet. Praise God, the widow of Zarephath, as we will see, is just God’s catalyst to assist you in speaking up and out.
It is the second definition which seems to be such a contradiction in meeting Elijah’s need, especially when you consider how God told His children to care for widows. Now in a time of drought and despair, God sent His servant Elijah to a “desolate place.” At first, to be honest, I just didn’t get it, that is until I went back and read Hebrews 13: 2, in the Aramaic Bible.
It is in this text where the heart and soul, the true miracle of Zarephath is revealed. This is a story about what happens in God’s world when things aren’t what they appear to be.
Let me explain. From all outward appearance, Elijah was going to a “desolate place” for assistance. That’s just absurd! A poor widow was to be God’s supply line. That’s crazy! What was her last meal became a never-ending food line. That’s nuts! And if your heart is prepared and your ears are listening -- you’ll be eating with angels as your companions! What kind of an upside-down-world is this?
Well, I’ll let you in on a little secret -- it is God’s world. Ravens. A widow. A hunted man. A desolate place. Sounds to me like something that has God’s fingerprints all over it. It took only Elijah’s trust. When God called him to walk 100 miles out of his “comfort zone” he obeyed. And when a widow agreed to become a hostess, outside her “comfort zone,” she found out God was an unbelievable food supplier.
This is also the very same reason the author of Hebrews tells us that when we are listening for God’s instruction and are open to sharing kindness when He asks, we had better be prepared to welcome angels into our midst. You may never know, when you open your heart, aching though it may be like the widow of Zarephath, you may have just opened the door to the miracle God has prepared to bring you healing.
Several days ago, one of God’s precious daughters, whose husband Bob passed away six years ago, was kind enough to let me know how God has helped her through some of the darkest times.
I asked her if she would be willing to share what has happened in her life so I could pass it on. Here is what Stephanie told me:
“After my husband died, I gave over the rest of my life to the Lord in a new way. I asked Him to strip away anything that stood between me and Him.
Over the past six years, God has used my home as a place of refuge for wandering strangers, some I knew and some I did not know. I housed a young woman from France who was here on a ministry internship. Another woman and her daughter, who were homeless at the time, came to live with me, as well as others who were seeking the Lord and His guidance.
My home has become an open door for women in need and God has brought many for prayer, shelter, and food -- all free. And my Bible Study members have given dinners in my home.
There was a time in the beginning when I thought I might take in a boarder for extra income. But I felt God say, “No. I’m your provider1” And God has been faithful!”
What a testimony -- thank you, Stephanie! And what a reminder to us that open doors and open hearts are the places through which angels tread! “Be ready with a meal or a bed when it’s needed. Why, some have extended hospitality to angels without ever knowing it!” (Hebrews 13: 2, The Message Bible).
“Who practices hospitality entertains God Himself.”
“O God, make the door of this house wide enough to receive all who need human love and fellowship, and a heavenly Father’s care; and narrow enough to shut out all envy, pride, and hate.
Make it’s threshold smooth enough to be no stumbling block to children or to straying feet, but rugged enough to turn back the tempter’s power;
Make it a gateway to Thine eternal kingdom.”
Written at the door of a Christian hospital.
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author|
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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