Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“We have known and believed the love that God hath to us.”
1 John 4: 16
“The secret of walking closely with Christ, and working successfully for Him is to fully realize that we are His beloved. Let us but feel that He has set His heart upon us, that He is watching us from those heavens with tender interest, that He is working out the mystery of our lives with solicitude and fondness, that He is following us day by day as a mother follows her babe in their first attempt to walk alone, that He has set His love upon us, and, in spite of ourselves, is working out for us His highest will and blessing, as far as we will let Him, and then nothing can discourage us.”
A. B. Simpson
Today’s Study Text:
1. “You shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”
1 Kings 17: 4
2. “And he (Elijah) stretched himself upon the child three times and cried to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord my God, I pray You, let this child’s soul come back into him.”
1 Kings 17: 21
“Don’t Ever Forget The Ravens”
“There is nothing in our lives that is accidental. Every day’s happenings are measured by the Lord.”
Not I But Christ
Has there been a time in my life when I felt called to do something for God that from all outward appearances seemed “strange,” like being fed by ravens?
Have I so committed my will to God that each day I am living and walking in the pathway He has personally carved out for me?
“As we journey on the adventure of life, God leads us. He walks ahead…He’s the point man out there blazing the trail.”
Steven Curtis Chapman
“When God asks us to do something, He prepares us to be able to do it (that doesn’t necessarily mean we will feel prepared!).
Author and Pastor Jentezen Franklin, in his book, Believe That You Can, makes this very interesting and truthful statement. “Just when you think you have your whole life figured out; God will come along and change everything.”
I think if you had talked to Elijah, somewhere between the time in Gilead when the Bible tells us he was praying that there would be no rain as a way of signaling God’s displeasure with the rebellious ways of Israel, and the moment he was led into Ahab’s palace to deliver the news that indeed, God had answered his prayer and there was a major halt to rain and dew in the land -- Elijah would have thought to himself that his work for God had, up to that point in time, been accomplished. And quite successfully, I might add.
Even when God’s direction led Elijah to the Brook Cherith, a man like Elijah, accustomed to rugged, mountain living would not be put-off. But upon his arrival at the seasonal “brooklet,” Elijah might have had a few second thoughts as God informed him that the chosen food service throughout his stay at Cherith would be big, unclean scavengers -- ravens to be exact. Birds whose survival is obtained from gleaning off what is leftover after death. These birds are roadkill specialists. They clean-up the messy remains after everybody else is done having their turn at the buffet. “Welcome to Cherith, Elijah. How do you like God’s catering truck? Still feel like you have God’s plans for your life all worked out? Or have things run off the track a little?”
I don’t know about you, but I have a real hang-up with the “raven-thing.” I bet at first Elijah did, too. But as we found out, following God’s direction and walking in His will and way was more important to Elijah than feeling comfy with the source of his meals. What’s more, little did Elijah know that God was not only using the ravens to get him fed every day, He was also using the ravens to prepare Elijah for a greater ministry -- one that would again call for him to stretch the limits of what he thought was “unclean” and how he thought he should conduct himself in his work for God.
You see, I believe that without the “raven” experience, Elijah might never have been prepared for the “upper room” experience in Zarephath. If ever there was something which would call into question God’s guidance, it would be when Elijah was led to lay his body on top of a dead body. This practical example of some form of resuscitation, from one human to another, meant Elijah, according to certain Levitical laws, was “defiling” himself. But rather than stand back and let this child die, Elijah, through God’s power, not only gave earthly life to the child, but he brought God’s everlasting life into the foreign town of Zarephath.
It is with this story, of the “result” of Elijah’s stay in Sidon, that I want to conclude our time in Zarephath. When I first began to pull back the many layers of Elijah’s “Zarephath experience,” I figured that he went there to “hide out” until it was safe to go back to Israel. How wrong I was! And this is usually the way it is with our heavenly Father’s picture of all that is going on here on earth. His view is so much bigger than ours.
There are three specific examples of “God’s Big Picture” effect which we find in the Bible regarding the foreign soil we call Phoenicia, where the town of Zarephath was located. If we took a look at a map of this narrow strip of land along the east coast of the Mediterranean, which stretched almost 120 miles north of Mount Carmel, we would see that there are three cities in the northern half of the country. At the top is Sidon, below is Zarephath and further south is the port city of Tyre. I liken Zarephath to the sandwich filling between two slices of bread called Tyre and Sidon.
What we find is that God specifically sent Elijah to Zarephath as what I call, the sandwich filling. While there for nearly three years, Elijah had the opportunity to do what juicy, delicious sandwich filling does when it is placed between slices of bread -- it oozes into the porous pieces of bread. Take for example the story of the boy who died and was restored to life by the prophet Elijah. Do you think for a minute that story stayed in Zarephath? I don’t think so. And I’d like to offer a little proof to back up my thought. Call it a story, a tale, a legend -- but from generation to generation just imagine a word-of-mouth example being told about the boy who died and lived again. And then one day, many years later, we find there was a desperate mother, whom Matthew describes this way:
“Leaving that place, Jesus withdrew to the region of Tyre and Sidon. A Canaanite woman from that vicinity came to Him, crying out, ‘Lord, Son of David, have mercy on me! My daughter is suffering terribly’” (Matthew 15: 21,11). I ask you, “How did she know Jesus was Lord and further was the Son of David?” What’s more, “Who gave her the idea that Jesus had healing power that included the needs of children?” Don’t you think maybe if Elijah’s God raised a dead boy, this Canaanite mother thought and hoped that God’s Son could do something for her child, too?
But this isn’t where the message of God’s Son stops in the “vicinity” of Tyre and Sidon. Further over in the New Testament, in the book of Acts, the Apostle Paul shares the details of his visit to Tyre. Here’s his account of this particular journey:
“After we had sighted Cyprus, leaving it on our left we sailed on to Syria and put in at Tyre, for there the ship was to unload her cargo. And having looked up the disciples there, we remained with them for seven days…But when our time there was ended, we left and proceeded on our journey. And all of them with their wives and children accompanied us on our way till we were outside the city. There we knelt down on the beach and prayed.”
Acts 21: 3-5
I just have to wonder if hundreds of years earlier, when Elijah went to the city of Zarephath, if he ever imagined that a “sojourn” in a widow’s home and new life being brought into that humble dwelling, would result in not only the ministry of Jesus coming to the same foreign country but that later on the Apostle Paul would come to bring the gospel message to Tyre and Sidon as well.
What a tremendous lesson for us. God’s ability to surprise us, when we follow His will, by sending our meals with ravens or bringing life back into the dead body of a Phoenician widow’s son is a constant reminder that God’s call and his longing for us to obey and walk within His will can make it possible for us to reach everyone -- everywhere. Even in the crevices and canyons of places we may have deemed unclean. And that’s why we must never forget the ravens!
“The life-saving strategy of Jesus is based on ordinary people showing and telling about Him in ordinary places.”
“Lord, here I am.
There is no friction between my will and Yours. Whatever You have for me, I know that You will give me enough strength, enough grace. I know You will give me all that I need, so Lord, here I am, ready to do Your will.”
“Lord, here I am, do with me as seems best in Your own eyes.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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