1 Kings 17 records the story of the prophet, Elijah, when the Lord sent him into hiding after prophesying a drought on the land. God had a plan to sustain Elijah in his hiding place:
v.4 “It shall be that you shall drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.
v.5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord….
v.6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning….and the evening, and he drank of the brook.
v.7 And it came to pass, after a while, that the brook dried up.
v.8-9 And the word of the Lord came to him saying, “Arise and go to Zaraphath and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you.”
My finite little mind is always seeking to understand the ways of God, to neatly put Him into the “pigeon holes” of my understanding, instead of bowing to His infinite wisdom. Isaiah 55:9 declares, “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Elijah had to yield his understanding and bow to His God who provided an “unclean” bird to bring his food to his hiding place. Later on, in the same chapter, 17, we read that, eventually, the brook dried up, but the word of the Lord did not! God was moving Elijah on with a new command now, to move on to Zaraphath for sustenance.
Again, in obedience, Elijah had to bypass his understanding at the choice of God’s direction. The Lord did not send him to one of his own people, but to a despised race and a poor widow woman, gathering sticks to make a fire in preparation for a last meal for herself and her son before they died in the drought. The audacity of the prophet who requested her to bake him a cake first, before she did so for herself and her son! But the prophet, Elijah, saw with the eyes of faith and the word of the Lord was spoken through him. GOD’S WORD IS CREATIVE. It calls forth the things that “are not” into being, and creates!
God’s miraculous provision to the widow woman in her obedience can be read in verses 10 – 16 and is a great encouragement for our faith in God.
Elijah was sent to Zaraphath, which means “refining.” Do we recognise the “Zaraphaths” the Lord permits in our lives to refine us into vessels of honour to glorify Him, or do we “kick against the pricks” in rebellion and self-pity? He takes us out of our “comfort zones” to refine us.
The altar of the Lord awaits the sacrifice of my understanding. His holy fire burns the dross and produces His gold. As I yield to Him in my circumstances, by-pass my understanding, I discover that (in the words of the hymn) “Faith has better eye-sight than all nature gave.”
Our flesh reels at the thought of removing all our props of dependency. It rebels at moving out of our “comfort zones” and insurances. In the “Zaraphath ” of God’s choosing, our refining place, I bow my understanding as He seeks to bring me to reckless abandon to Him alone.
Who and what am I trusting in? As I yield to the searching light of the Holy Spirit, He will scan the hidden depths of my being and reveal the truth of the answer.
Life has many challenges for us:- health, finance, relationships etc. In our “Zaraphaths” the Lord reveals the wrong believing in our hearts that He seeks to change and refine.
Daniel 3 records the story of the three Hebrew children, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego. They refused King Nebuchadnezzar’s decree to bow down and worship the golden image he had set up. They knew their refusal would result in being cast into the fiery furnace, but they declared, “…O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer you in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve, is able to deliver us from the fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto you, O king, that we will not serve your gods, nor worship the golden image which you have set up.” Daniel 3:16 -18.
The three men knew God was able to deliver them, but if the Almighty in His divine purpose chose not to, they had it settled, they were either going to live, or die, to the glory of God. They recklessly abandoned themselves to the providence of God – whatever the result was! They refused to bow down to the image!
What image do I bow down to? What security other than God? Do I bow to a worldly image of false security or do I bow to the Living God? Only the supreme sacrifice of abandon will bring help from above, as He brings His fire to burn up everything I am trusting in, other than Him.
Let me see my “Zaraphath” as a holy place, ordained of God to discover a new level of faith and trust in Him, producing the sweetness of His Presence amidst the sourness of my circumstance, that the Lord will remove at His appointed time.
The master Craftsman finishes to perfection every work He begins. Philippians 1:6 “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.”