MD Joseph, Stewardship Director
Southern Asia Division
Summary: This is a sermon about how the Prophet Elijah was shown kindness by the widow of Zeraphath.
When sin entered the world human nature became very selfish and corrupted. Ever after, we only knew how to take and not necessarily how to give. As Giver, God is the source of all blessings. It is He who provides our food, clothing and shelter. Without Him and His providence, we cannot live for a long time.
The land of Samaria had been terribly stricken as the prophet Elijah had said to King Ahab, “As the Lord the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word” (1 Kings 17:1). Accordingly, there was no dew nor rain for three and a half years. A great famine ensued over the land of Samaria; men, women, children, young, as well as the beasts of the land were in a great distress and trouble without food and water. God then told his prophet to go towards the east and hide by the side of the brook of Cherith. While Elijah was hid there, the Lord provided him food by ravens, morning and evening. However, as the drought became severe, even the brook Cherith dried up. Elijah was left without water to drink. “Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, ‘Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon,and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” Elijah came to the border of Zeraphath and there he saw a widow gathering a couple of sticks for firewood. She also had never met him; however, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water to drink.”
Without any hesitation, the widow began to get water for him. Generally no one likes to share water in such a situation, please note, this is a drought season, and not only in Samaria but also all the surrounding nations were severely affected by this drought. Drought means, no dew, no rain and no water to drink which means only death for human beings and all the animals of the land. This woman could have easily refused to bring him water or a morsel of bread, because the famine was so severe. She said that there was no bread but a little water in a jar and a little flour in the barrel at home and further she said that she was gathering a couple of sticks to go home and make the last cake so that she and her son could eat their last meal and die! But Elijah said, “For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: the jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth” (v. 14). In a situation like this in order to get little water and a little food, anyone can tell a lie, bluff or deceive to get some food just to survive. But here this widow, not longing for any special favor or any gain from him, but from her natural character of benevolence, she was trusted by the God of Israel to care for his prophet and was ready to share the little water and cake. As a result of this noble act that she performed, the Lord blessed her abundantly so that the little water and the little oil lasted until the end of the drought. What a great blessing we see in this beautiful story of how God blessed her in times of trouble!
Let us presume this widow had refused to share the water and bread with the man of God, what could have happened? It is quite obvious that she and her son would have died very soon without food and water! God did not appear to this widow in a dream or a vision and command her to take care of his servant Elijah. Nor did she know that He would in turn bless her little water and the little oil until the end of the drought. Let us recall that she was not a woman of the chosen people of God, she was in fact from a heathen land. Nevertheless, she believed in the God of Israel through the prophet’s word. She demonstrated a noble nature, and the Lord blessed her and her son! It is not only so in the case of this widow of Zeraphath, but also it is so in the case of everyone whose heart is opened to His will! God wants us to destroy the selfishness that is in us. If not, that selfishness will destroy us eternally and forever! It is vital that we come to know and understand that there is a great blessing when we share and give unselfishly to the needy ones because God emptied all heaven and gave us the greatest gift in His son Jesus Christ. All those who believe Him should live a life of sacrifice and benevolence so that God can bless them abundantly that they will not lack anything in this world and the world to come!
When Elijah asked the widow for a drink of water and a morsel of bread, she did not hesitate to share the little that she had with him. She did not grumble when he asked, “make a small cake of bread for me first.” Willingly she risked her life and that of her son’s. What a sacrifice this ‘heathen’ woman with a limited knowledge of the true God of heaven made! How much then should you and I be willing to sacrifice and give as chosen people of God for whom He willingly and benevolently sacrificed everything in the bestowal of His Son?