Saturday, February 17, 2007

Storehouses: A Widow in Zarephath

For thus says the LORD God of Israel: “The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry.” (1 Kings 17:14)
Because of the wickedness of King Ahab, the prophet Elijah proclaimed a drought in the land: “As the LORD God or Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word” ((1 Kings 17:1). Then the Lord directed him to dwell by the Brook Cherith, where he would drink from the brook, and the ravens would bring him bread and meat in the morning and evening — God is a God of miraculous provision! So Elijah lived by the brook until it dried up because of the lack of rain. Then the LORD sent him to Zarephath, “See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you” (v. 9). When Elijah entered the gates of the city, he found a widow there who was gathering sticks.
And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink.” And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”

So she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD god of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.’

So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by Elijah. (1 Kings 17:10-16)
Sometimes storehouses were buildings and barns; sometimes they were dry cisterns used to keep and protect one’s goods; and sometimes they may have been nothing more than bins and jars.

Here was a woman of Zarephath, which was somewhere between Tyre and Sidon. She was not of Israel, but was a Canaanite woman, a widow who was nearly destitute, having no one but her son. Their provision was almost gone, but the Lord wanted to bless her. He also wanted to feed His servant Elijah.

Now, this widow woman had storehouses — a bin and a jar — but they were severely depleted, and just about empty. She had just enough flour and oil for one last, little meal for her and her son, then that would be all. But here came the prophet of God asking her for water and a handful of bread. Had the media been around in those days, the headlines might have read, “Traveling Evangelist Takes Last Meal From Destitute Family!”

“Go and do as you have planned,” Elijah told her, “But first, make a small cake for me.” That would have been a very hard request, but then he gave her this promise directly from the Lord: “The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.” And suddenly there was hope — if the woman had the faith to act on it.

Proverbs 3:9-10 says that if we honor the Lord with our possessions and with the firstfruits of all our increase, then our storehouses would be heaped up with plenty, and our vats would overflow with new wine.

That is what Elijah was asking this poor widow to do, to honor the Lord first with what she had. And this is what God promised to do for her, to heap up her storehouses — her bin and her jar — with provision enough to carry her through the rest of the drought.

And that is exactly what happened. The woman did what Elijah said, and she ended up with enough to feed him, herself and her household for many days. “The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which he spoke by Elijah.”

The storehouse principle begins by honoring the Lord with our possessions, and with the first and the best of all our increase. Then keep your bins and your jars handy, and watch as the Lord heaps up your provision. Faith in the promise of God sets it in motion — even in a time of drought.