The Daybreak of Faith; Part 1

February 16, 2021
Dear Visionary Leader:
I have no doubt that the Hebrew writer was thinking of Elijah, when he wrote, “Women received back their dead by resurrection.” One of the most colorful characters of the Old Testament is Elijah. God used him in a mighty way in a time when spirituality was at an all-time low in the land of Israel. James tells us this about Elijah. James 5:17-18 “Elijah was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” Elijah was an ordinary man who knew how to get hold of the extraordinary God and answer prayers in his behalf.
In the opening of 1 Kings chapter 17 shows a dreadful condition existing in Israel. As a result of Elijah’s, a terrible drought has hit Israel. This drought is a punishment sent by God as result of the unlawful marriage of Ahab and Jezebel. Ahab was a Jewish king who married a gentile bride. Jezebel was no ordinary Gentile bride. She was wicked, idol worshipping woman. She had many of the priests of the living God put to death. She led the country in idol worship of Baal.
Elijah walked up to Ahab and gives the pronouncement of the drought. After he left, he went to the brook Cherith. He was feed twice a day by the ravens. He did this until the brook dried up. Then, God sent him to Zarephath. Here is a widow with one son. Think of this. Here we have a man of God who was fed by the ravens and then to live with Gentiles. While he is with the widow, the meal barrel never emptied, and the oil never dried up.
The death bells have been ringing for three thousand years from the first death of Abel until the death of this boy. No one had escaped death’s chilly waters. That is, until you come to 1 Kings 17:17-24.
(I Kings 17:17)
“Now it came about after these things that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became sick; and his sickness was so severe that there was not breath left in him.”
“After these things” refers to the oil and the meal. Here was a woman who had thought life was over. She had come out to get a few sticks to make a fire and prepare the final meal for her son and herself. Then, the man of God came into their lives and life was able to go on. Every time she opened the meal barrel, there was meal. Every time she used her oil, there was plenty of oil. She had seen the Lord provide for her needs! Her hopes for the future must have been brighter. I believe she believe that one day the man of God would go on and the crisis of the drought would pass. Her son would grow up and work in some field. However, her son fell sick and was so sick that he died. Can you imagine the pain she felt? The meal and oil strengthened her faith but now it goes through a severe trial with the death of her son. Sickness, suffering and death will and does come even to those who are doing who are doing right for God. We will never fully understand the fullness of God’s economy.
If God does not step down into your life and give you a good shake, with a problem, with a trial, with a disturbance, you can be sure you’re not going to make very fast progress in the Christian life. Do not think for one moment that prosperity is the only a sign of the blessing of God? Adversity is just as often the sign of the blessing of God.
In this story, we have the mysterious ways of God, and the woman is called upon now to pass the prosperity test. A tremendous calamity comes her way, for she was a widow. And now the only son, just a little lad apparently, because he was so small that he could be upon her bosom. It seems that this sickness came very suddenly, and in a matter of hours, the little boy was dead. Suddenly, the light of this home, the star of her firmament is gone.
In Psalm 30:7, we read, “And in my prosperity I said, ‘I shall never be moved.’ LORD, by Thy favor Thou hast made my mountain to stand strong. Thou didst hide Thy face, and I was troubled.”Yes, it’s true that sometimes our mountain seems to stand so strong that it cannot be troubled, or it cannot be disturbed or moved. But it is often at that point that God begins to speak. And so, when the meal was there in the morning and in the evening, and the cruse of oil did not fail, day by day, Elijah, the widow, and her son lapsed into contentment, and began to think that everything from now on was going to be alright.
As we experience God’s blessing and provision, especially after some kind of test or trial, there is always a subtle temptation for us to think we have passed the test, and everything is going to be easier from now on. The worst is past. The storm is over. From here on it’s going to be smooth sailing. But such an attitude ignores a basic truth: This world is not Eden nor the millennium. We should never expect from life in a fallen world what it simply cannot give and is not designed to give. We live in a fallen world where sin and Satan are ever active and where even nature, God’s own creation, groans under the curse of the fall.
(I Kings 17:18)
“So she said to Elijah, “What do I have to do with you, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance and to put my son to death!”
The death of her had touched the hidden spring that opened wide the door of her conscience. Her conscience reminded her of past sin. It is not known what the sin was. But this tragic event triggered awakened conscience in her and reminded her of her past.
People sometimes seem to have no conscience until some great tragedy comes by and then they want to call upon the man of God for answers. A good Bible illustration of this is found in the lives of Joseph’s brothers. It was not until they came to the place that they knew their father would die if their brother Benjamin would die in Egypt land. This awakened their conscience. In Genesis 42:21, we read, “We are verily guilty concerning our brother” It took hell itself before the rich man had awakened the door of the conscience (Luke 16:27-28). We read, “Then he said, I pray thee therefore, Father, that thou would send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.” He was only concerned then that he did not want his brothers to go to this place called Hell.
And so, when the woman spoke to him this way, he was moved, as good prophets should be. And he said to the woman, give me your son. And he took the little boy from the bosom of the woman, and he carried him up into the upper room where he abode, and he laid him upon his own bed.
We Are Not Immune From Our Problems
It appears she thought that with the prophet in her home she was immune to problems. Some people think if they do the right things, follow the right principles, listen to the Bible, live around other Christians—life will flow along smoothly. But such an attitude is usually void of developing any real relationship with God wherein God alone becomes the sole source of strength and joy.
Even though the Lord has richly blessed us in Christ, and though He may meet our needs in marvelous ways, it never means we are immune to trials down the road or around the next corner. He knows our hearts and the hearts of those around us. He certainly, therefore, knows what we all need. The fact and presence of trials never means God has removed His grace and love. It proves He is at work preparing us for heaven and using us in His plan even now (Rom. 8:28-29John 15:2Phil. 1:6Heb. 12:5f).
Well, she does what you and I so often do. She turned to Elijah. She wants to blame someone else. The prophet has come into her home. Her son was already at the point of death a year before this, and she was very resigned to the fact. She said she was going out to cook that little bit of meal and oil, and she and her son were going to eat their last meal, and they were going to die. Well now, you see, her hopes have been raised to a tremendous height and they’ve been dashed. So, she turns to Elijah and says, “What am I to do with thee, O thou man of God?” And what is amazing, is she says this right in the presence of the jar of meal and the jug of oil which God has supplied day by day for one more year!
So, making no reference to the barrel, making no reference to the cruse of oil, she reverts upon the character of Elijah, and insinuates against Elijah’s God: “Have you, with your God, come here to curse my home?” Now, I think this was a believer’s reaction, in spite of its lack of faith. The reason I do is because it seems to me that unbelievers, when something like this happens, they just cannot understand at all. They do not respond with, “What have I done wrong?,” as this woman did. In the middle of all her unbelief, she did have the kernel of faith. If perhaps something that I’ve done – she acknowledged the fact that there is a God in heaven, and that he does judge – and though it’s contradictory, this faith and unfaith mixed up together, it seems to me it’s the response of a believer who is out of step with God, and not the response of an unbeliever.
The mother’s bereavement is not necessarily a judgment for sin. Now this woman has said to Elijah, “art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance and to slay my son?” And we might immediately say, ‘oh, the woman is probably right.’ She is suffering now because of her sin. But actually, the account doesn’t say anything about that, and when we turn to the New Testament, we find that this woman is singled out as an example of faith. And furthermore, when the account closes, we read that this woman gives a tremendous testimony to the glory of God through the prophet Elijah. And so, I’m inclined to think that the purpose of this testing is not a judgment at all, but a deepening of her faith.
We Are Not Indicted From Our Past
Her reaction and words to Elijah suggest another aspect of her thinking which is so common. She felt guilt and thought perhaps she was to blame for the child’s death. Because she did not understand what the Scripture teaches about suffering, she may have thought all suffering was caused by sin. Perhaps there were some skeletons in her closet. Surely the question, “What do I have to do with you, O man of God?” followed by the statement, “You have come to me to bring my iniquity to remembrance, and to put my son to death!” most likely means something like: “What have I done to displease you or your God.” “What did I do to deserve this?” “Why has your God done this? Haven’t I given you shelter?”
Now Elijah’s response is the one I want you to notice. He didn’t say, I’d like to take the pulpit now and have five minutes in defense of myself. What do you think you would have done? Many Christians wouldn’t have had the mind of the prophet Elijah. They would have said something like, “Why you old witch! You haven’t got the brains of a bat! I’ve been here for one whole year, and it is because of me that you have lived to this point.” But Elijah doesn’t do that. He follows in the footsteps of the Great Prophet, who when he was reviled, reviled not again.
Until The Last Person Has Heard,
Dr. James. O. Davis
Global Church Network
Cochair / Global Networking
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