As I was doing my Bible study on Elijah just yesterday, the story of the ravens was the focus. When Elijah was in Cherith during a time of separation and preparation, God fed him by ravens. The mystery of the ways in which our Lord works is eye-opening in this biblical account. We can look at Elijah’s provisions and be reminded of the unique ways in which God always cares for our needs.
What Happens in the Story of Elijah Being Fed by Ravens?
In 1 Kings 17, Elijah told King Ahab that the Lord was sending a drought. God led Elijah to a dry land called Cherith east of the Jordan (1 Kings 17:3). He tells Elijah that he will drink from the brook and ravens will give him food (1 Kings 17:4).
The amazing obedience and trust that Elijah shows come quickly after in verses 5-6. Kristi Wood from Crosswalk shares, “Time and time again, Elijah set the example of loyal obedience to God our Father.” Elijah does what God said to do and goes to Cherith. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and in the evening and he got water from the brook.
What Is the Context of 1 Kings 17 and Elijah Being Fed by Ravens?
This might seem like a strange story to you. Why would God provide for Elijah in this way? Why would the Lord even make him go live in an obscure dry place? The context of 1 Kings 17 is during the rule of King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. They were absolutely evil and disobedient to the ways of the Lord. What we learn in 1 Kings 18 is that Jezebel was killing the prophets and Obadiah was hiding them to rescue them while Elijah was in Cherith. They wanted Elijah dead and looked in all of the other cities. This may have seemed like an odd location to Elijah, but God in His sovereignty was saving his life.
Why Does God Feed Elijah Via Ravens?
Our great God could have used any means to feed Elijah, but He intentionally chose ravens. If you know anything about birds, the raven is not a dependable animal. We see in the story of Noah how the raven does not return. Genesis 8:7 says, “And sent out a raven, and it kept flying back and forth until the water had dried up from the earth.”
Priscilla Shirer says it well in her Faith and Fire Elijah study, “Perhaps if God had chosen doves or robins to perform this twice-daily, turn-down service, some kind of brilliant, brainiac ornithologist could come up with a scientific hypothesis, describing how birds of that type might be capable of pinpointing a singular location day after day. God, however, chose a bunch of ravens for the job, thereby dispelling rational theories.”
Many times, our God does not choose to work in rational ways so that without a shadow of a doubt we can know that it had to be Him. Maybe you are in a season of your life where you do not know what the Lord is doing? You could be questioning His provision and His ways. All the while He could be protecting you and caring for you in a unique manner just like He did for Elijah.
What I love even more is that we see a similar message in the New Testament in Luke 12:24, “Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds!”
God was having Elijah consider the ravens. Elijah had to have known that in order for him to survive, the ravens also had to survive. In order for them not to eat his breakfast, God would also have to take care of the birds. The Lord values the ravens, but how much more did He value Elijah? God values us just the same. We are His image-bearers, His adopted children, and His chosen ones.
How Can We Glean Hope from This Story?
Every time that I see or think of a raven now, I will never be the same. These birds that I once considered pretty ugly, I now delight in the thought of how the Lord takes care of them and of me.
Many times, it can be frustrating to have desires to do “great things” for God that we miss out on the joy of the still moments. It is in those places where we gain greater intimacy with the Lord. It is there that our prayer lives increase and our faith in our Jehovah Jireh is strengthen.
Dena Johnson Martin from Crosswalk says, “He had the opportunity to be ministered to by God himself, to sit quietly by the brook absorbing God’s love. He had the time to see God’s faithfulness, to learn to trust his heart.”
I was a single woman for most of my 20s. It was a challenge for me when my friends were getting married and I felt behind. I wondered why the Lord would not bring me a husband. I had been faithful to Him and loved Him, but I was in a Cherith. However, it was in that season of isolation that I grew tremendously in my intimacy with Christ, and my trust in Him increased significantly. I learned to use that season for good and His glory. I knew that He could handle the tears and the frustrations. I learned my identity was not in a relationship status with anyone but Him. I know that God was not only preparing me for my husband Drew, but He was protecting me from marrying the wrong kind of man. He had an amazing man of the Lord for me at His perfect timing. However, my Cherith was also equally as significant as my time now as a married woman.
I look back and smile remembering how the Lord was with me and loved me. I reflect on the closeness and the kindness in my season as a single woman. Perhaps you had a time in life that appeared to be a dry place, but God provided for you in an amazing way? Maybe you are in the middle of your desert, wondering why you are there? Take some time to reflect on what your ravens were or are in this moment. If you cannot think of a way in which the Lord has or is providing for you, I challenge you to begin to implement thankfulness daily. Gratitude opens our eyes to the goodness of God. When we are aware of the blessings that seem mundane and insignificant to us, we can see a clearer picture of the Father’s love for us.
Is there someone who you can radically bless? Maybe you are the one to be a special provision and be used by the Lord like the ravens? If God has gifted you with finances, a good listening ear, cooking skills, strength, etc. Ask the Lord how you can step into the hardships of someone else’s life who needs it. Scriptures help us to see the love of Christ and then learn how we can reach out to the world who is in great need of the Savior. I challenge each of us to ponder our giftings and learn how to share God’s love through them to another in their Cherith.
I love how Elijah boldly and confidently obeyed the voice of God in an unknown circumstance. So many times, I find myself anxious about the unknowns of this earth. However, the story of the ravens feeding Elijah gives me a great hope that my God is omniscient, and He is in control. My God sees things that I do not see from my narrow point of view. My God loves me more than I may ever know this side of Heaven. He loves you too. May we have the courage like Elijah to follow the Lord’s leading and trust His purposes.
Photo credit: ©GettyImages/Piotr Krzeslak
Emma Danzey’s mission in life is to inspire young women to embrace the extraordinary. One of her greatest joys is to journey with the Lord in His Scriptures. Emma is a North Carolina resident and green tea enthusiast! She is married to her husband Drew and they serve international college students. She enjoys singing, dancing, trying new recipes, and watching home makeover shows. During her ministry career, Emma recorded two worship EP albums, founded and led Polished Conference Ministries, ran the Refined Magazine, and served in music education for early childhood. Currently, she is in the editing stages of her first two writing projects: a Bible study on womanhood and a non-fiction book on singleness. You can visit her blog at emmadanzey.wordpress.com