8 June 2010

1 Kings 17:7-16

"Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you." (v.9)


At the beginning of today's passage, God's prophet Elijah finds himself without water and food because there was a drought in the land. The wadi, a ravine or channel that is dry except in the rainy season, which he had been led to by God, had saved him so far but now it had dried up. It looked like the end. But once again God intervened to save the prophet and directed Elijah to go to foreign territory. And so, Elijah was sent to the town of Zarephath in Sidon.

At the outskirts of the town, Elijah met a widow. She was collecting sticks to take home for a fire on which she planned to cook her last loaf of bread. She had no more food after this, and once she and her son had eaten the loaf they simply expected to wait to die.

Elijah arrived at Zarephath hungry and thirsty and he asked the widow to give him something to eat and drink. The widow explained to him how little she had for herself and her son. But Elijah told her not to be afraid. He assured her of God's promise that if she shared her food, her jar of meal and jug of oil would be constantly replenished until the drought in the land was over.

Now the widow of Zarephath was not an Israelite. She did not worship the god of Elijah, but nevertheless she followed Elijah's instructions and her trust was rewarded. She, her son, her whole household and Elijah were all saved.

Jesus referred to this story at the beginning of his ministry when he was first attacked by the people in his own hometown of Nazareth (Luke 4:25-26). His attackers were incensed when Jesus reminded them that their great prophet Elijah experienced the saving grace of the living God through the ministrations of a foreign woman - the widow of Zarephath.

To Ponder

In what ways does God continue to break down the artificial barriers of nationality?

Over the next few days, note how greatly our daily diet is enriched by food from other countries.

Bible notes author

The Revd Barbara Calvert

Revd Barbara Calvert is a Methodist minister and superintendent of the Bromley Circuit. Before becoming a minister she was an RE teacher, area coordinator for Christian Aid and chaplain to international students in the three universities in Glasgow.