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Prophet Elijah and the widow’s faith in action

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By Pr Isaiah White

The Bible reports about tough times in the kingdom of Israel.

God provided for Prophet Elijah at the brook, where he got water and was fed by ravens with bread every day.
But eventually, the ravens stopped coming and the brook dried up (1Kings 17:7).

Elijah had to leave this place where he could not survive anymore. God directed him to a woman commonly known as the ‘Widow of Zarephath’.

Prophet Elijah exhibited his faith in action through obeying God’s command. (Illustration/JW.ORG)

Elijah’s faith in action
In 1kings 17, there are two interesting commands upon which faith in action is built.

The first one reads: “Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, ‘Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there.

‘See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.’ So he arose and went to Zarephath.

“And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks.

“And he called to her and said, ‘Please bring me a little water in a cup that I may drink” (1Kings 17:8-10).

Elijah placed his faith in God’s command and acted upon his belief in His word even though it was unbelievable.

Imagine living in a situation where famine has struck the entire world, including the rich people like Jezebel and the King, then God asks you to go to a widow for provision.

Of all people, why would God send his prophet to a widow? Elijah had all the right reasons not to believe God and not go to the widow.

In times of economic hardship, widows are not people to go to for solutions. In ancient Israel, the social strata of the widows was that of the destitute, helpless and hopeless of the society.

It is to such a class of people that God sent His prophet for survival.

The obedience of the prophet to this unreasonable divine command demonstrates faith in action.
Faith in action is divine, not human logic.

The provision of God to His prophet was not reasonable during the days of drought.

Believing the helpless endorsed by God is more powerful and provisional than the powerful and able of our communities.

This requires belief in God. To Elijah, it was not what the widow had or did not have, but who had endorsed her.
Elijah was not focused on the ability of the widow, but on the God who led him to her.

This can be related to what was revealed to Paul many years later: “But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty; and the base things of the world and the things which are despised God has chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are” (1Corinthains 1:27-28).

All this was common knowledge to Prophet Elijah.

We live in a world of “who do you know”, but the faith in action exhibited by prophet Elijah demonstrates that as long as the ‘who’ is God, it does not matter whether your associates are widows or orphans.

You will still make it in life. And no matter how strong and rich your associates are, as long as the ‘who’ is not God, you are bound to fail.

The widow’s faith
The widow was left with one final meal; which she was going to eat with her child and die.

And it was that only meal that the prophet asked for. The prophesy was: “For thus says the Lord God of Israel: `The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the Earth” (1Kings 17:14).

Neither you nor the widow would trust a prophet with such a request in such days, but we all know she believed and acted upon the ‘Thus says the Lord’ phrase.

She put her faith in action and gave the meal to the man of God. She and her child had to wait on the Lord they had trusted.

The results of this faith in action are summarised in 1King 17:15: “So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and her household ate for many days.”

In 2022, try putting your faith in action.

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