1 Kings 17:2-4
And the word of the LORD came to him, saying,…
The miracles associated with the ministry of Elijah and Elisha have led some to deny the historical credibility of the Books of Kings. It should be remembered that great miracles were rendered necessary by a great and general apostasy. It was essential to the survival of true faith that Jehovah should indicate His unseen sovereignty. In Israel such attestation was more required than in Judah, where the sanctuary and the priesthood, in the worst times, testified for God. This passage sets before us
I. Silent suffering.
II. Divine deliverance.
III. Restful retreat.
Each of which points we will consider.
I. SILENT SUFFERING is implied by all that we know of the prophet's circumstances. The famine he had foretold had come; and he shared the privations of the people. Others might have kindness shown them, but there was none for this man. Regarded as the cause of the calamity, he was an accursed outcast. Upon such a temperament the steady persistent pressure of hunger and hatred would tell severely. He would feel pity for others - for the poor dumb beasts, for the innocent children - and would be tempted to ask, "Was I right in praying for this, and bringing this woe on the people?" Meantime he was himself suffering the rigours of famine, and no chariot of fire came to bear him away from the desolated land. Like Samson, it seemed as if he had shaken the house, and was bringing destruction on himself as well as on the idolaters. Yet not a word of complaint. He was sustained by the conviction that he had done fright, and that God would see to the issues. Apply the teaching from this to occasions on which men are still called upon to do God's will, to utter God's truth, regardless of consequences. Sometimes we are able to "count the cost," and then we should do so. But often this is impossible. The love of Christ may constrain us to do, or to say, something which will place us in unexpected difficulties. Illustrate by Peter's zeal, which prompted him to step out of the boat upon the sea. He was terrified at a result he had not taken into calculation; but he was perfectly safe, for he was going towards Christ. Exemplify by instances from ordinary life - e.g., an assistant in business refuses to tell a lie, or to act one, and loses his situation. A daughter confesses her love to Christ, and finds her home a place of torment, etc. The one thing that can support us in such circumstances is the humble, yet confident, conviction that we have done what God willed, And often from those straits He delivers us in the most unexpected way, before we ask Him, as He delivered Elijah.
II. DIVER DELIVERANCE.
1. It was unexpected. No one would have imagined, and some cannot now credit the means adopted. The ravens have been a sore offence to critics. Discuss some of their theories - that they were merchants, Arabians, etc. The difficulties are not removed by the interpretations suggested, nor do they seem warranted by the text. Had men brought food to the hidden prophet, Ahab would soon have discovered his whereabouts; nor would they be likely to bring food twice daily, when a store might have been conveyed with only one risk. The supernatural is always startling, but to those who reject materialism it is not incredible. If God notices a sparrow fall, and if diseases obey Him, as soldiers obey their general (Matthew 8:8-10), this feeding by the ravens might well be. God often uses strange instruments to effect His purposes. Give examples from Scripture and history. Even the plans and the deeds of the wicked are under His control. All things work His will.
2. It was revealed. "The word of the Lord came to him." It comes to us. Sometimes the inward impulse after prayer impels us to take God's way; and sometimes all other paths are closed, and of the one left open Providence says, "This is the way, walk in it." Are we seeking to know God's will about ourselves? Are we concerned that our way should be His choice, and not our own? "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."
III. RESTFUL RETREAT. Describe the wild ravine of the Kelt, which Robinson and Stanley identify, with some probability, as the Cherith. The precipitous rocks, in places 500 feet high, the caverns in the limestone, in one of which the prophet hid, etc. Such a man needed quiet. He had it afforded to him again in Horeb. No great activity for God can be worthily sustained without much waiting on Him. In this retreat Elijah had two sorts of provision.
1. Daily bread. It is only that which we are taught to expect, and pray for. The daily reception of blessing teaches us our constant dependence. The manna fell every morning, and could not be hoarded for the future. Daily strength, too, is given for daily duties.
2. Quiet communion. All nature would speak to Elijah of his God. The brook would whisper of the water of life; the birds would celebrate the care of God, etc. In the world around him, in secret converse with his own heart, and in earnest prayer to the God of Israel, before whom he stood, Elijah would get refreshment and strength for coming conflict and conquest. Refer to the invalid, to the aged, to the little children, as those to whom God gives a time of quiet, to prepare them for the future service.
1. Expect God's deliverance whenever you are in the path of duty.
2. Be content that God should work in His own way.
3. Seek to have a spirit of contentment, and a heart that is "quiet from the fear of evil." - A.R.
Parallel VersesKJV: And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,