Elijah and the Women of Zarephath – Part 2
Read time: 7:12
“Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him.” 1Kings 17:17
Read 1 Kings 17:17-24
In the first story of Elijah and the woman of Zarephath God demonstrated His care for His prophet and his compassion for the woman and her son. For the duration of the draught they and her household were all provided for supernaturally by God continual replenishing of the oil and the flour. But now in this second story things take a very serious turn. In the midst of their joy and daily lives of peace and provision death came suddenly to her son. What happened?
In her grief and the shock of her son’s sudden death the woman cries out to the prophet in anger and accusation. No longer was she resigned as she was to their death from the drought as she gathered sticks to make a final meal for them and die. Now she is indignant and deeply wounded by the idea that the man of God whom she has served and shown the hospitality of her house would now judge her as he had judged the prophets of Baal. Was it her past sins that brought this on, knowing that the sins of the fathers would be upon the children for generations? So, she complains to Elijah in no uncertain terms.
”And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son? 1 Kings 17:18
What had she done? How had she so offended the prophet that he would allow her son to die? He was her beloved and only son and the security for her old age that she would not die alone and uncared for. It seems as though she believed Elijah himself was responsible for her son’s death. Forgetting the kindness, compassion and provision God had shown her through him.
Surely in being a caregiver to the prophet of God she would be protected and favored by God. But instead of gratitude for the good she had experienced, she now only felt judgment, guilt, discouragement and despair.
Hearing her, Elijah does not respond to her complaint verbally but takes the dead child up to the room where he was living, and laid his body on his bed. He begins to echo the complaints of the mother as he inquired of God.
“Then he cried out to the LORD and said, “O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?” 1Kings 17:20
It is clear this has caught the prophet by surprise as much as it did the child’s mother. He doesn’t know what to make of it. It does not seem consistent with the nature of God or the manner in which He has dealt with those who serve Him faithfully. ‘Have you also brought tragedy…?”
We all know the oft’ quoted words of Job, “The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.” But was that a revelation to Job from God or was that Job’s conjecture in an attempt to explain the overwhelming nature of his circumstances?
Elijah was faced with the question, but it seemed unbelievable to him, so he asks of God in an attitude of incredulity, not resignation. “Have you brought tragedy…” along with the supernatural provision you have given all those in this house? And have you forgotten that you sent me here for this woman to provide a place for me during this drought? And has she not been faithful to care for me all this time? Will You now, with the great blessing You provided and the great joy that attended it, also bring great tragedy and sorrow to this house?
So he stretched himself over the child three times and…
“…cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.”
He did not wallow in grief or collapse under the weight of doubt and despair. He interceded for the life of the child by surrendering himself with his own body as though he could by breathing into the child and engulfing him in the life of his body that his death would not be suffered alone but life would be transferred to him.
As Elijah prayed for the child’s soul to come into him again he also affirmed that the soul is eternal and life only abides in the body to the extent that the soul abides there also.
”And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.” 1 Kings 17: 22
As with Lazarus…
“When Jesus heard that, he said, This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.” John 11:4
And with the man blind from birth…
“And his disciples asked him, saying, Master, who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus answered, Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” John 9:2-3
God did not bring death to Lazarus or deny sight to the blind man at birth but He chose in both instances when and where to demonstrate His Spirit and His power. For the widow and for Elijah this was a once and for all time affirmation that God is good and He does only good. God is not only the God of super natural provision, but also the God of life, Who gives life and gives it more abundantly through Jesus Christ our Lord.
“The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it.” Proverbs 10:22
Next: The two stories of Elisha