1Kings 17

Sunday Morning Bible Study

June 23, 2002

I remember as a kid, one of the exciting things in town happened every summer as the Los Angeles Rams opened their Training Camp out at Cal State Fullerton.  You used to be able to go out to the field and stand behind the fence to catch a glimpse of Roman Gabriel and the Fearsome Foursome (Merlin Olson, David “Deacon” Jones, Lamar Lundy, and Roosevelt “Rosie” Grier).  They would practice at Cal State Fullerton and stay at the old dormitories on Yorba Linda Blvd.  My best friend had a job as a dishwasher at the dormitory, and he got to wash the guys trays after they ate dinner.  I used to think it was crazy that these grown men would come and endure such hard workouts in the middle of summer.  But they were a pretty good team, and we loved them.

Elijah’s Training Camp

The northern kingdom of Israel was in a bad place.  They had wandered farther from the Lord than they had ever gone.  God was going to use a man to get their attention.  God was going to use a man to call down fire from heaven. God was going to use a man to challenge the nation to come back to God. 

But before the fire falls from heaven, a man needs to be prepared.

The things we’re going to read about this morning take place over a period of three and a half years.  It’s about the same time that Jesus trained His twelve disciples. It is during this time that God is not only going to get the attention of the nation, but God is going to prepare a man for his mission.

:1-7 Elijah at Cherith

:1 And Elijah …said unto Ahab…there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.

Elijah ‘Eliyah – “my God is Yahweh”

TishbiteTishbiy – “captivity”; the home of Elijah; site unknown but maybe the town of Tishbe

Gilead – the land on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

Elijah declares that there will be a drought.  There will be no rain unless Elijah says there is going to be rain.  There is some divine irony here because Ahab has been worshipping the Phoenician god Baal, the god of thunderstorms.  God is trying to get Ahab’s attention.

(James 5:13-18 NLT)  Are any among you suffering? They should keep on praying about it. And those who have reason to be thankful should continually sing praises to the Lord. {14} Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. {15} And their prayer offered in faith will heal the sick, and the Lord will make them well. And anyone who has committed sins will be forgiven. {16} Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and wonderful results. {17} Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for the next three and a half years! {18} Then he prayed for rain, and down it poured. The grass turned green, and the crops began to grow again.


Just like me

God did some amazing things through Elijah.
But before you dismiss this whole message this morning and think, “God could never use me like that”, keep in mind that James is trying to tell you that Elijah was just an ordinary person, just like you and me.

:2 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

This phrase “the word of the LORD” seems to be a key element in this passage.

You see it either clearly or implied seven times (clearly in vs. 2, 5, 8, 16, 24; implied in vs. 1,14)

(1 Ki 17:1 KJV)  …but according to my word.
(1 Ki 17:2 KJV)  And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
(1 Ki 17:5 KJV)  So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD
(1 Ki 17:8 KJV)  And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
(1 Ki 17:14 KJV)  For thus saith the LORD God of Israel …
(1 Ki 17:16 KJV)  And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD
(1 Ki 17:24 KJV)  And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.


The person God uses is the person who knows God’s Word

We may not always have a specific word like Elijah received, but we do have God’s Word, the Bible.
If you want to be a person God uses, you MUST know His Word.

:3 hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.

Cherith[email protected] – “cutting”; a brook east of Jordan, near where the Jordan dumps into the Dead Sea. The name comes from the word karath, “to cut, cut down, cut off a body part, cut out, eliminate, kill”


Ministry requires cutting

Before Elijah will call down fire from heaven on Mount Carmel, he has to spend time at Cherith.  You might say to me, “Rich, you’re making too much out of a simple name”.  But look at the passage, Elijah is going to be cut back.  He’s going to be pruned.
Jesus called it “pruning”
(John 15:1-3 KJV)  I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. {2} Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth (prunes) it, that it may bring forth more fruit. {3} Now ye are clean (pruned) through the word which I have spoken unto you.

If you want to produce “fruit” in your life, you are going to need to be pruned.  There are going to be things that God is going to want to cut away from your life.

You might wince and say, “No, don’t touch that branch!”  But He knows it needs to go.

Brian Broderson shared at the Pastors’ Conference that he found out that the older a vine gets, the more it needs to be pruned.

:4 I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there.

ravens – ravens were considered an “unclean” animal (Lev. 11:15). They are also an animal that is so naturally selfish that they will neglect feeding their own young (Job 38:41), so this will be quite an interesting, supernatural thing.

ravens ‘oreb – raven


God provides

Even though Elijah will spend some time being “pruned”, God will provide for him.
Even though Elijah will be touched by the drought himself, God will still take care of him.
Sometimes we wonder if we will ever survive the hard times.
If you are in the place God wants you to be, He will provide. He will command the ravens to feed you if necessary.
(Phil 4:19 KJV)  But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.

:5 So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD



There are great blessings that come in our lives when we learn to simply obey what the Lord wants us to do.
When God begins to use you in the lives of others, you will find that before you can expect others to see the blessings of obedience, you need to be obedient.
Elijah is going to live with a widow woman and she’s going to need to trust that God is going to provide.  But before Elijah can go there, Elijah must learn to obey the word of the Lord himself.
If you are trying to help people who are struggling with disobedience, you need to be sure that you are setting the example.

:6 the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning …

Where did the ravens get the bread and the meat?  We used to have a children’s book of Bible stories that suggested that the ravens were part of God’s air force, and every day they would make a run through the kitchens of Ahab’s palace, snatching up the king’s goodies, and heading off for Elijah’s hiding place.

:7 And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up


You need to experience it too

Elijah doesn’t get a free pass on this drought thing.
He too must experience the drought.
He has a ministry to the nation, but in his ministry, he needs to know what the people are going through.
Jesus is a Great High Priest because He knows what we’re going through.
(Heb 2:18 KJV)  For in that he himself hath suffered being tempted, he is able to succour them that are tempted.
(Heb 4:15-16 KJV)  For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. {16} Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.

:8-16 Elijah at Zarephath

:8 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,

Elijah doesn’t move from Cherith until the Lord tells him to move.  He didn’t say, “Hey, it’s dry out here, it’s time to move on …”

:9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath

Zarephath[email protected] – “refinery”.  A city up north on the coast of Israel, belonging to the Phoenicians at Sidon, the city is located between the Phoenician cities of Tyre and Sidon.   see map . This isn’t a short journey.  Zarephath is at least 100 miles from Cherith (as the raven flies). The name comes from tsaraph, to smelt, refine, test


Ministry requires refining

Sometimes it seems that the tough times never end.  Elijah moved from “cutting” (Cherith) to “refining” (Zarephath).
(1 Pet 1:3-7 NLT)  All honor to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for it is by his boundless mercy that God has given us the privilege of being born again. Now we live with a wonderful expectation because Jesus Christ rose again from the dead. {4} For God has reserved a priceless inheritance for his children. It is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay. {5} And God, in his mighty power, will protect you until you receive this salvation, because you are trusting him. It will be revealed on the last day for all to see. {6} So be truly glad! There is wonderful joy ahead, even though it is necessary for you to endure many trials for a while. {7} These trials are only to test your faith, to show that it is strong and pure. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold--and your faith is far more precious to God than mere gold. So if your faith remains strong after being tried by fiery trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.
God refines our faith, our trust in Him, like a goldsmith refines gold.  He does it by allowing us to go through the fire, the tough times.

It’s my understanding that a goldsmith will heat the gold ore until it’s in a molten state.  As he keeps the heat on, the impurities all come to the surface.  The goldsmith will keep skimming off the impurities until the gold is pure.  He knows it’s pure when He can see His own reflection in the gold.

Elijah was definitely a man of faith, yet God would need to continue to refine Elijah’s ability to trust in God.  Even after Elijah’s great victory on Mount Carmel (1Ki. 18), we can see that Elijah’s faith still needed quite a bit of refining.
Charles Spurgeon said: “I bear willing witness that I owe more to the fire, and the hammer, and the file, than to anything else in my Lord's workshop.  I sometimes question whether I have ever learned anything except through the rod.  When my schoolroom is darkened, I see most.”

:12 And she said… I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.

This woman is at the end of her resources.  All she has left is a little flour and a little oil and after she and her son eat that, they plan to die. The woman was willing to go get Elijah a drink of water, but she was a bit reluctant to give him her last bit of food.

Her oath (“as the LORD thy God liveth”) indicates that she is a believer in the God of Israel.  Jesus talks about Elijah and this widow woman and tells us that this woman was a Gentile (Luke 4:24-26).

(Luke 4:24-26 NKJV)  Then He said, "Assuredly, I say to you, no prophet is accepted in his own country. {25} "But I tell you truly, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, and there was a great famine throughout all the land; {26} "but to none of them was Elijah sent except to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.

The only place where Elijah would find safe haven from Ahab was with a Gentile widow.  There was no place for him in Israel.

:13 but make me thereof a little cake first

At first, Elijah sounds kind of selfish to me. But this is really just a test for the widow woman. Will she put God’s priorities first?

:16 And the barrel of meal wasted not …


When you put God first, your needs are met

Sometimes, if we want to see the works of God being done, we have to learn to give up the things we might be clinging to.  We need to be willing to let go of the things we think are absolutely necessary for our existence.
Jesus feeding the five thousand –
(John 6:5-14 KJV)  When Jesus then lifted up his eyes, and saw a great company come unto him, he saith unto Philip, Whence shall we buy bread, that these may eat? {6} And this he said to prove him: for he himself knew what he would do. {7} Philip answered him, Two hundred pennyworth of bread is not sufficient for them, that every one of them may take a little. {8} One of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter's brother, saith unto him, {9} There is a lad here, which hath five barley loaves, and two small fishes: but what are they among so many?

The little boy had to give up his lunch for Jesus to feed the five thousand.

{10} And Jesus said, Make the men sit down. Now there was much grass in the place. So the men sat down, in number about five thousand. {11} And Jesus took the loaves; and when he had given thanks, he distributed to the disciples, and the disciples to them that were set down; and likewise of the fishes as much as they would. {12} When they were filled, he said unto his disciples, Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost. {13} Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten. {14} Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world.

Yet after having given up his own lunch, the little boy was one of the five thousand that were fed that day.

I’ve heard people put all kinds of preconditions on God.  I’ve heard others say that if God gets them a job, that they’ll serve Him. I’ve heard people say that if God heals them, they’ll serve Him.  I’ve heard people say that as long as God puts their marriage back together, they’ll serve Him. 
Put away your preconditions.  Just serve Him.

:17-24 Elijah raises the dead

:18 art thou come unto me …to slay my son?

This is how the woman is thinking:  After all she has done for Elijah, this is her reward, her son dying?

When you serve the Lord, you are not exempt from going through difficult, horrible times.

:20 O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?

It seems that Elijah has trouble with the boy’s death as well.  It doesn’t seem fair to him either.

:21 And he stretched himself upon the child three times

At this time in the Bible, no one has ever been raised from the dead. It seems that Elijah has the intention of raising this child from the dead, but it doesn’t happen the first time or the second time.  He has to repeat this three times.

:22 And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.


Raise the dead

Could God raise the dead today?  Why not?
I think it happens when we share the gospel.
God wants to give life to dead people.

The Bible says that without Jesus, every one of us is as good as dead because our sins have cut us off from God.

The Bible says that Jesus died on a cross to pay for our sins.

The Bible says that when we come to trust in Jesus, we are given new life, and God raises the dead.

Some of the people God wants to use us with are people we’ve given up on.  They are people we consider hopeless.  But God hasn’t given up on them.
I think God wants to use people who are willing to live in Cherith and Zarephath.

:24 And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know …


People will know by what we do

Are we people who just talk a lot, or are we people who have actions that match our mouth?