Bible Readings for October 14th
In 1 Kings 17, we meet the prophet Elijah, a prophet whose life and ministry is marked by a glaring contrast. On the one hand, Elijah is so important that he appears, along with Moses, on the mountain when Jesus is transfigured into his glory (Matt. 17:1–9; Mark 9:2–13; Luke 9:28–36) and he spends much of his life confronting the mighty King Ahab, the most wicked king Israel had ever seen (1 Kgs. 16:30). But on the other hand, most of the stories we will read about Elijah involve small, humble interactions, such as his prophetic ministry to the widow of Zarephath here in 1 Kings 17.
First, Yahweh sends Elijah to prophesy to Ahab that “there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word” (1 Kgs. 17:1), and then Yahweh tells Elijah to hide himself by the brook Cherith, east of the Jordan (1 Kgs. 17:3). There, Yahweh feeds Elijah through ravens, who bring him food in the morning and the evening (1 Kgs. 17:6), and Elijah drinks from the brook until it dries up in the drought (1 Kgs. 17:7).
When the brook dries up, though, Yahweh does not send Elijah into round two of his battle with Ahab. Instead, Yahweh sends Elijah to care for a poor, Gentile widow who could no longer provide for her sons (cf. Luke 4:25–26). When the woman, by faith, prepares food for Elijah first, Yahweh supernaturally maintains for her a limitless supply of flour and oil throughout the drought to provide for her needs (1 Kgs. 17:16). Then, when the woman’s son dies, Elijah prays and Yahweh miraculously brings the woman’s son back to life (1 Kgs. 17:22). The larger point of including these stories is to remind us that Yahweh loves and cares for even the humblest people in this world.
It should not surprise us, then, that Jesus spent very little of his time speaking to the people in power. Rather than seeking an audience with King Herod or with the Roman governor Pilate, Jesus spent his time restoring sight to blind beggars (Luke 18:35–43; John 9), healing the sick (Matt. 15:29–31), and raising children up from the dead (Mark 5:35–43; Luke 7:11–17). The ministry of Elijah—and later, the ministry of Elijah’s successor, Elisha—prefigure the work that Jesus would do as he came into this world to show his Father’s compassion to the poor, the sick, and even the dead.
But just as Jesus did not shrink from confronting powerful people who had led God’s people astray, Elijah is not finished delivering Yahweh’s message of judgment to the wicked King Ahab. We will read more about Elijah’s prophetic denunciation of Ahab tomorrow.
Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.