“But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.” Luke 4:25-26
Yesterday my blog post was on Luke 4:16-30… Jesus is our Jubilee. When He begins talking to them in verses 23-27 He was addressing their neglect of being a people of The Blessing….Gen 12:3 “I have blessed you to be a blessing to ALL families of the earth” It’s important when we read Scripture that we really read it with the heartbeat of our Father.… a heart that beats with restoration and love.
In Luke 4 the people expected God to judge their enemies… to have vengeance on them. Truth be told, sometimes we all feel that way…. so angry with someone or tired of their treatment of us that we cry out like David “slay the wicked Lord!” or like the disciples “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”. We tend to like the scriptures like the one in Romans 12:19 that says “vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay”…. of course the next part of that scripture is if your enemy is hungry, feed him and if he is thirsty, give him a drink. And Jesus rebuked His disciples telling them they didn’t know what kind of spirit they belong to because He didn’t come to destroy men’s lives but to save them….. sozo – to heal, deliver, rescue, make whole… nothing missing, nothing broken in their lives. Remembering Romans 5:10 that we were once enemies of God and yet Jesus laid down His life for us. Our hearts need to beat for our enemies the way God’s does… with love, restoration, being ministers of reconciliation. Overcoming evil with love – not judgement.
God’s heart has always been for ALL people, every nation… Jews (believers) AND Gentiles (unbelievers). Rahab, Ruth and the people of Ninevah are examples of God’s saving grace in the Old Testament. Psalm 2:8 says ask of Me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance.
In Luke chapter 4 Jesus was giving them examples of the Gentiles that Elijah and Elisha had done miracles among… and this widow woman in 1 King 17:8-16 is one of them. We don’t know the widow’s name, but we know where she is from, her circumstances and the circumstances of the nation at that time.
The land was in a middle of a drought and the brook that Elijah was at was dry. The drought had been for 3.5 years.. meaning the people of Israel could not grow crops and in turn they could not feed and take care of their own widows. The verses before that tell us that Ahab was Israel’s king and he had married Jezebel. And Ahab built altars and groves for her god Baal. And in doing so angered God more than any of the Israelite kings before him. And during this time Ahab commissioned the rebuilding of Jericho through Hiel, the Bethelite…. although God had ordered through Joshua that it never be rebuilt (Joshua 6:26). This is where the widow resided… a place that was full of idolatry and rebellion… and yet it was just the place where God was going to pour out His grace and extend His love to this Gentile woman. Luke 4:26 says there were many widows in Israel at the time but Elijah was sent to none of them…. he was sent to this widow only.. a gentile widow.
But God tells Elijah to go to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there because He has commanded a widow there to supply him with food. God chose her… she didn’t choose Him (John 15:16). She had no idea that God had commanded her to feed Elijah. Ephesians 2:8-10 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them. God prepared her good works in advance… long before she had the opportunity to do them.
Even though there were 7000 in Israel who were still faithful to the Lord… and many would’ve considered it a great honor to help Elijah. Instead God chose a widow in Zaraphath… a foreigner outside of Israel’s borders. God chose a Gentile to take care of Elijah…. she didn’t have the priviledges that Paul talked about in Romans 9:4-5….. the people of Israel, chosen to be adopted to sonship, God revealed his glory to them, He made covenants with them and gave them his law, He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned. Not only did she not have that great heritage…. she had a distinctly ignoble one.
But she did have one thing going for her… in 1 Kings 17:12 she acknowledges the “Lord, God of Israel lives”. She is a pagan Gentile widow in the midst of a pagan godless area but acknowledges the true and living God. And then she did what the prophet… the man of God asked her to do. She added faith to her acknowledgement. She believed the word of the prophet and gave ALL that she had. She gave everything… the last little bit to God. God also later raises this woman’s child back to life. Faith pleases God. The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.. healing, deliverance, rescue, making whole… to ALL who believe (Romans 1:16).
Next blog post we’ll look at Jesus’ other example, Naaman the Syrian…..