Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“And the angel answered and said unto the women, ‘Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus.’”
Matthew 28: 5
“Only Jesus can silence the fears of trembling hearts.”
Charles Haddon Spurgeon
Today’s Study Text:
“Elijah said to her, ‘Fear not: go and do as you have said. But make me a little cake of it first and bring it to me, and afterward prepare some for yourself and your son.”
1 Kings 17: 13
“Fear Not --
Do You Know Who You Are Dealing With?”
“Fear arises when we imagine that everything depends on us.”
What is going on in my life right now that makes me afraid?
Has God given me an instruction and I believe He has told me to “fear not” and go and do what His purpose is for my life?
Am I willing to be obedient to God’s voice?
“Confidence in God’s presence is our basic weapon against fear.”
“What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.”
Elisha A. Hoffman
He was a stranger entering Zarephath. Having called out to a widow collecting sticks necessary to build a fire, Elijah first asked for a drink and then for a morsel of food. However, Elijah was immediately informed there wasn’t just a little food left in the widow’s house, she was completely out of food!
At this point, we might expect Elijah to say, “Don’t worry. I’ll try someone else. I’ll see if I can find a home where there is plenty of food.” But he didn’t. Instead, Elijah instructed the widow to make him a cake first and then prepare something for herself and her son. Author Dale Ralph Davis examines this incident by explaining Elijah’s behavior in this manner: “To have a stranger ask a bit of water is one thing, to hear him claim first crack at your last meal is another.”
It is at this time we find the widow saying to Elijah, “As your Lord God lives.” She chose to call upon Elijah’s own God to assure the Israelite prophet that she was really down to the bottom of the barrel. As Dale Davis amplifies, Elijah “almost cruelly intensified her trouble.” He insisted that first the widow should make him a cake. Then she and her child could partake of the leftovers.
But here’s where Davis enlightens us for he notes “Elijah’s demand was not so harsh as it seemed.” This is because Elijah softened his request “with Yahweh’s favorite preface, which is both customary and fresh: ‘Don’t be afraid.’”
It is here where I found myself asking this question: “Did the widow woman know who she was dealing with? Why was it that she had nothing to fear?”
It is quite likely that the only acquaintance the widow of Sidon had with the God of heaven and earth was the besmirched view which was given by Ahab and Jezebel. We must not forget that Sidon was home of the Baal-worshipping family of Jezebel. Obviously, the famine that plagued Israel had also devastated the region where the widow lived. Left to forage for herself and her child, I can only imagine that the widow’s view of Yahweh was not a joyful one. Maybe she even compared Elijah’s God to the gods of Sidon who had, in her eyes, left her suffering and all alone.
But when Elijah arrived in Zarephath, he brought with him a new view of the God of heaven and earth. I appreciate the way Biblical scholar M. B. Van’t Veer describes the situation facing the widow: “The widow of Zarephath lived in extreme poverty. All that she owned had been used up. She and her son were at death’s door…It appeared that even the meager comfort of that meal would be taken from her. Elijah demanded that she give him a morsel of bread, and he persisted in this demand even after she explained her plight. We can say here without exaggerating that Elijah asked her to give him everything…however, Elijah had no choice in the matter for he was speaking at the command of the Word of the Lord.”
Elijah was asking for all, just as God comes to His children and “asks for everything,” states Van’t Veer. But as the author is quick to observe, “Yet (God) also promises to give us everything,” in return. And it is this lesson, from the life of the widow in Zarephath, which comes through clearly to you and me today. In the words of Ravi Zacharias, “When you finally meet the One who made you, and examine the lifelines He has sent along the way, you will at last understand how every detail makes sense in the swirling reality of life’s blessings and threats.” This is why with confidence, not only could Elijah request that the widow serve him all she had, but he could boldly declare. “Fear not!” Elijah had experienced for himself the result of serving a God he could count on. A God who would use ravens if necessary and a poverty-stricken widow when needed. This was the God Elijah wanted the widow to meet. A God she could always trust.
And so, with not one moment’s hesitation, Elijah said, “Fear not!” In the beautiful words of poet Anne Steele:
“This only can my fears control,
And bid my sorrows fly;
What harm can ever reach my soul
Beneath my Father’s eye?”
What kind of God are you and I dealing with when the creek is dry and the meal barrel empty? I like the way author William J. Peterson describes our heavenly Father. “Elijah was sent to the widow of Zarephath, not to degrade her but to honor her. It was a symbol of God coming to her house. And this is the way God works. We may feel insignificant and that God could easily pass us by. The widow of Zarephath must have felt that God had overlooked her and her problem.” But God did not forget her. Instead, He sent His servant Elijah to tell her she had nothing to fear. In the words of Phillip Keller, “God does not indulge in embarrassing those who put their confidence in Him. He honors those who honor Him. He vindicates the faith of any man or woman who invests their trust in His capacity to meet His commitments to them. He is pleased to find those who recognize His sterling character. It is to such people that Christ comes and fills their lives to overflowing not only with spiritual benefits, but also with moral and material resources beyond their fondest dreams. The prophet (Elijah) looked calmly and quietly at the distraught widow. His words were a soothing, healing ointment to her tempestuous fears, ‘Don’t be afraid. Don’t worry. Don’t panic. The Lord can and will supply.’”
“Imagine what your life will look like when you have broken the bondage of fear.”
“My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?
Why art Thou so far from helping me,
From the words of my groaning?
I am poured out like water,
and all my bones are out of joint;
My heart is like wax…
But Thou, O Lord, be not far off!
O Thou my help, hasten to my aid!”
Psalm 22: 1, 14, 19
KJV, Modern Language, RSV
“O God, You know we are often filled with fear and foreboding.
Give us courage, and deepen our trust.
You are a rock which nothing can shatter.
On You we place the whole weight of our lives.
(Translated from Russian)
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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