1Ki 17: "Without introduction, harsh and uncompromisingly,
Elijah appears in the sacred record. His parentage is not known; he leaves no
posterity. He suddenly appears and is as suddenly gone, like a slave doing his
master's bidding -- his constant expression is that he stands before Yahweh
Elohim of Israel (1Ki 17:1; 18:15, etc). Elijah stood opposed to Ahab and his
apostate wife Jezebel, daughter of the Phoenician king Ethbaal. Ahab's worldly
marriage led to his compromise with the Truth, and brought disaster to his
people. But the prophet discovered a widow woman in that same area, whose son
was stricken with a fatal disease. To their house Elijah is sent to recover the
child of his illness. In a parable, the prophet finds the house of the widow
(parabolically the ecclesia), and brings life to those who dwell therein (the
believers). Thus in 1Ki 17 is represented the sudden first advent of the Lord,
ministering to the house of those sick with sin's flesh, and brings healing to
those in need. Then the prophet disappears for a period (1Ki 18:1), until he
returns with the message of judgment against the evil house of Ahab -- typical
of the imminent return of the Lord Jesus, when judgment begins at the house of
God. In Judah, Jehoshaphat reigns, and though he originally opposed Ahab (2Ch
17:1), he later married his son to Ahab's daughter (2Ch 18:1). It was a union of
disaster, for though amity thus reigned between the north and south, Ahab's
wickedness increased, and the unity proved disastrous for Judah. The
circumstances are being reflected in our times (GEM).
ELIJAH: Elijah was a prophet of the LORD; a man sent
from God. He appeared out of Gilead to Ahab, the apostate king of Israel, who
ruled the ten rebellious tribes that worshipped at Bethel and Dan. Evils covered
the Land like a flood. For three and a half years Elijah prayed for no rain; the
LORD answered with drought and famine. The Land literally burned during that
judgment, for its natural life and livelihood depends on the water from
Elijah hated Queen Jezebel's promotion of Astarte, the goddess
named for the planet Venus. He hated the whoredom of the people who worshipped
the goddess of "love" and "queen of heaven" through the religious cult that
included sodomy and prostitution. Elijah hated the robbery and oppression
condoned by King Ahab. He hated the people's disobedience to the Law given to
Israel at Sinai. Ahab also worshiped the calves, the pagan imagery of the
worship of the "host of heaven," which dates from even before the time of the
exodus from Egypt.
Elijah was one individual among 7,000 who remained faithful to
God during Israel's apostasy of the ten tribes. He was very zealous for the one
true God, who created the heavens and the earth. A righteous man, Elijah was
also a passionate man. Simple, child-like, trusting; at times not fully
understanding why, he nevertheless did the bidding of his God. That's all.
Because he was hot and not cold to do His work, God will send him [or someone
very like him!] to Israel again, before Christ returns to rule from Zion's
The eight miracles of Elijah [Elijah did 16: 2Ki 2:9]: (1)
shut up heaven (here; Jam 5:17; Luk 4:25); (2) multiplied widow's meal (vv
14-16); (3) raised widow's son (vv 17-23); (4) fire from heaven (1Ki 18:37,38);
(5) rain from heaven (1Ki 18:41-45); (6) fire again (2Ki 1:10); (7) fire again
(2Ki 1:12); and (8) divided waters of Jordan (2Ki 2:8).
Political situation in Ahab's day: Ahab has uncertain support
from his subjects. A 4-year civil war ending only 8 years earlier (1Ki
16:21-23,29). Dominance of Syria in north: Ben-Hadad I occupied parts of Dan,
Naphtali, and Gad in north (1Ki 15:20-22). Antagonism of a strong Judah to south
(2Ch 14:6-8; 16:1-6; 17:1,2).
ELIJAH... SAID TO AHAB: This is obviously not their
THERE WILL BE NEITHER DEW NOR RAIN...: As Elijah had
prayed for: Jam 5:16,17: "The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and
effective. Elijah was a man just like us. He prayed earnestly that it would not
rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years."
WHOM I SERVE: "Before whom I stand" (AV). "Blessed is
the man who listens to me, watching daily at my doors, waiting at my doorway"
(Pro 8:34). So "stand" implies to pray also.
Reason: the great persecution of 1Ki 18:4.
I HAVE ORDERED THE RAVENS TO FEED YOU THERE: Ravens
were unclean, symbolizing the Gentiles. This prepares Elijah for acceptance of a
Gentile woman (v 9). Cp Act 10: Peter and vision of animals.
ZAREPHATH: Heb "a place of refining". Between Tyre and
Zidon on the Mediterranean coast; within scope of Gentile dominions. Elijah was
sent to the very heart of "Jezebel" country (1Ki 16:31), while Ahab was combing
Israel for him!
I HAVE COMMANDED A WIDOW IN THAT PLACE TO SUPPLY YOU WITH
FOOD: "Superficially read, we should conclude from this that a message had
been sent to the widow woman on the subject of supporting Elijah. It transpires,
however, that nothing of the sort had taken place. When Elijah went to
Zarephath, he found the woman in the depth of want from the famine, and
arranging for a last meal with her son (1Ki 17:12). How comes it then that
Jehovah (Yahweh) should say, 'I have commanded a widow woman to sustain thee,'
when in the ordinary sense He had not done so? Because of another sense, more
powerful than the ordinary sense. The ordinary sense is to give orders by word
of mouth... But with God there is another mode, which is as high above the human
mode as heaven is high above the earth. Speaking of the creation, David says,
'He spake and it was done: He commanded, and it stood fast.' If we ask, how? we
are informed, 'By His Spirit.' What He wills, He accomplishes by His Spirit. For
this reason, the fiat of His will executing itself by the Spirit is described as
His word -- His command. What God wills or appoints, He can say, 'I have
commanded.' He had arranged that this widow of Zarephath should sustain Elijah.
Therefore, in divine language, He commanded her" (WP 226,227).
Elijah (sig "the word of God") comes to a Gentile woman, who
is making a final effort to extend a feeble life.
The "word of God" (ie Elijah) makes a demand on her very life.
A HANDFUL OF FLOUR IN A JAR: Earthen jar -- cp pitchers
of Gideon (Jdg 7:16). "But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that
this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us" (2Co 4:7).
"Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all
your crops" (Pro 3:9).
"While Baal was overcome by death [the 'god' Mott] and unable
to function like a king, Israel's God demonstrated his sovereignty and
superiority to death by providing food for a widow and restoring life to her
son. And he did it all in Sidonian territory, Baal's backyard, as it were. The
episode demonstrates that Israel's God, not Baal, is the true king who provides
food and controls life and death" (NET notes).
God will sustain our meager resources until the Kingdom
Yet the barrel and the jar were never full, only enough to
sustain life for a day or two at a time. Cp Gentile ecclesias, fed during times
of Jewish "famine".
How much the Gentile widow received for so little output (v
WHAT DO YOU HAVE AGAINST ME...?: For a moment, she
forgets that her son would have died long ago if not for Elijah (v
MY SIN: Some great secret sin, real or imagined, buried
in her past?
HE STRETCHED HIMSELF OUT ON THE BOY: As though to give
the child his own breath and warmth. Like the Holy Spirit which hovered over the
waters in the beginning, to bring forth new life (Gen 1:2; cp Deu
// Resurrection of son of widow of Nain: cp Luk