“It’s crazy. It makes no sense at all.
Why would God want me to do something this ridiculous?
What purpose does this serve? No way…I must have heard Him wrong…
How many times have you said these words to yourself? Maybe it’s time to return tithe and you’re broke out of your mind! Or maybe your boss needs you to come in to work on a day when you really should be at church. Maybe you have that exam coming up and you just need a few more hours to study but the Sabbath hours are coming fast. You start to reason…you start to compromise with the devil…“Surely God will understand,” you say. “I’ve got bills to pay and children to feed. I can’t lose this job.” If this sounds familiar, let me introduce you to 2 friends. (1 Kings 16:29 – 1 Kings 17:1-24)
Let me just give you a quick outline of the story, then the lesson. In Elijah’s day, Ahab was king over Israel. Jezebel was his queen. Jezebel was the daughter of Ethbaal who was king of the Sidonians as well as one of the high priests of Baal so you can imagine the idolatry that was being practiced all across God’s land. Ahab had actually set up an altar and a temple for Baal in the land of God’s people. When God had enough, He sent Elijah to warn Ahab that there would be neither dew nor rain except at his word. Elijah obeyed God and went to speak to Ahab. After he delivered his message, God sent him to the brook Carmel, where he would have water to drink, and ravens would be sent to feed him every morning and evening. Again, Elijah obeyed. After a while, the Bible says, the brook dried up because of the drought that Elijah had predicted. God told him to go to Zarephath of Sidon, where he would find a widow that would give him food.
Elijah went to Zarephath as God commanded, and he found a widow there gathering sticks. He asked her for some water, and as she went to get it, he asked for some bread. She told him that she only had enough flour and oil to make a final meal for herself and her son. Elijah told her to go on and bake that bread, but to give him first. He told her that the God of Israel had promised that she’d never run out of oil and water until the drought had passed. She did as the prophet asked, and for sure, they never went without food.
Here’s my first point. I’ve been told that in those days, it was punishable by death to approach the king without an invitation. Elijah had no such invitation. He was sent by God and that was that. He did not come up with excuses why he couldn’t go and see the king, neither did he care about the consequences. He just obeyed the Lord’s order. For all he knew, he could’ve been executed as soon as he breathed the first word of God’s message. Also, there is no record of him asking God “Hey, how am I going to survive without water?” He went and did as he was told and only after that was he told to go to Carmel where he would have water and food. Also notice that God didn’t give him food for the week, or month. He gave him food for each meal. Elijah had no Plan B in case God forgot dinner. I mean, He does have a whole universe to run.
But that is the meaning of faith and trust.
No Plan B.
Go where God sends you, not where you think there might be more water.
The ravens will only go where God has sent them, and if you’re not there, well you might miss dinner…
I also loved that as the brook dried up, Elijah did not panic or start to question God. He stayed and watched the water turn into a little trickle, and then into mud, and not once are we told that he got worried. He waited patiently for the God who sees to tell him what to do next. And God was not silent. But the place that God sent him to…Zarephath of Sidon? Jezebel’s home town? Really? IT MAKES NO SENSE!
But God means what He says.
And if we want to see Step 2 of His plan, we need to be willing to obey Step 1 blindly.
And once He shows us Step 2, we need not ask what’s on Step 3.
Has He ever failed anyone yet?
Now we know that water was a problem. But when Elijah asked the widow for some water, she went to get him some. Think about it. Most people would be like, “You know what buddy? Times are tough. I’ve got my own problems. You’d better find your own water. Maybe try the house next door.” Right? And not only does he ask for water, he wants food as well? A little forward, one might say. Be careful…that weird “forward” stranger could have been sent to you by God, not only for his/her benefit, but for yours as well. Because this woman did as Elijah asked, believed in a God whose people were suffering in drought, a God she knew nothing of, and she never struggled to find flour and oil again. Not only that, but that woman’s son later got sick and died and was resurrected by God through the prayers of Elijah.
Imagine if she’d said to him, “I’m really sorry sir…I can’t help you.” Imagine if Elijah had said, “Hmmm Lord, I don’t know about this…I think the river on the other side of the land might have more water.”
How many miracles have we missed out on because we were too short-sighted to recognise that our dilemma was just an opening for God to do something outrageously miraculous in our lives? All we need to do is OBEY. Just do what He says right now! Don’t worry what might come later. Sometimes, we see more clearly when we have our eyes closed. Do step one, even when you can’t see what is on step two. He knows you need your job. He knows you need to study. He knows you need that 10% that He says is His. God’s got you! What more do you need? It might sound crazy. Maybe God loves a little crazy. There are so many more examples in the Bible of people who obeyed God with no guarantee that it would pay off in the future. Look at Moses. If you read Exodus, you’ll see that after he first tried to get the Israelites released from slavery, things took a turn for the worse! Sometimes things may get worse before they get better. But that’s another story…
It’s really scary, I know…but just try Him.
If He fails you, I’ll let it go. But I know that’s not going to happen.
Look at it this way. If you obey God, He gets to deal with the consequences!
Those are pretty good odds if you ask me!”