“For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.” – 1 Kings 17:14-16.
First Kings 18 includes a story that you have probably heard many times. It is the story of Elijah and the prophets of Baal. In this story, God reveals his divine power by engulfing Elijah’s water-soaked, burnt sacrifice with a pillar of fire. In this story, the prophets of Baal were comically and single-handedly shamed on Mount Carmel. But in chapter 17, there is a less famous story that demonstrates God’s provision and the principle of multiplication.
Let me set this up of you. Elijah approaches the king of Israel and exclaims that he is leaving and until he comes back there will be drought and famine. For over three years, the land is ravaged by lack of water and food. Things were drying up fast in Israel. The ground was cracked and the plants were withered. The storehouses of grain were becoming empty and there was no new grain to eat.
God tells Elijah to hide by the brook of Cherith, where God will supply him with the sustenance he needs to survive. No matter how many times I hear this story, I can’t get over how amazing this miracle is. God actually commands a raven to deliver Elijah bread and meat two times a day. As the drought continued, Elijah’s brook dried up. A message came to Elijah from the Lord. He said, “Go right away to Zarephath in the territory of Sidon. Stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.” And that begins the story found in 1 Kings 17:8-16.
So Elijah went to Zarephath. He came to the town gate. A widow was there gathering sticks. He called out to her. He asked, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” She went to get the water. Then he called out to her, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”
“As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son”
Elijah continues: “For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.”
God kept His promise. God promised to provide for Elijah, the widow, and her son. Every time, the widow went to her cupboard to get her flour and oil to make bread. No matter how many times the widow went to get oil and flour, it never ran out. The next day she went to make some more bread and it was full of oil and flour again. As often as she needed it, the oil and flour multiplied. She could never use up what God provided. Nor can we. Genesis 22: 14 tells us, “So Abraham called the name of that place, “The Lord will provide”; as it is said to this day, “On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” We can never use up what He provides when we offer God our firstfruits, and our talents and time.
- What lessons can be learned from this story?
- After the brook dried up, Elijah trusted God and moved on to Zarephath. Is there a “dry brook” in your life God is using to “motivate” you to move on to what He has next for you?
- What kind of faith is required for living with just enough for each day and no more?
- Describe a time in your life when things felt very desperate but you saw God meet your needs. What did you learn from the experience?
- Do you ever judge or measure God’s provision by what you can see? Why or why not?