Where were we? Oh yes, the young son of the widow woman Elijah has been living with has suddenly died. This was very unfortunate, and probably quite shocking to the two of them. It almost seems absurd to our minds that God would let something like this happen after supernaturally providing for them for such a long time? Why? Why? Why? Well, before we move in, I want to restate a great comment that was made about this previously, Ben over at Another Red Letter Day had the following to say:
Sometimes we ask why things happened, rather than looking at what God can do in our circumstances. Our Lord who makes all things work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes told the disciples they were asking the wrong question in John 9. I love how the Message Bible puts it:
Jesus said, “You’re asking the wrong question. You’re looking for someone to blame. There is no such cause-effect here. Look instead for what God can do. John 9:3-4
Jesus ignores the cause and works the work of God to bring Glory to Him. Perhaps the same principal is at work here. It may not have been anything the woman did, or needed, that brought this tragedy into her life, but the circumstance created a place for God to bring glory to Himself, through a man willing to pray. Elijah was a man, made of the same stuff we’re made of, but he knew the power of prayer (according to James.)
Not only do I think that is a great statement and very true, but I think we are about so see the principle in action as we move forward. So, what happened next?
1 Kings 17:19-24
And he said unto her, Give me thy son. And he took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode, and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again. And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See, thy son liveth. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
Here, we have the first recorded instance in The Bible of a person being raised from the dead. As we have covered, this event must have been quite unexpected and surprising to both Elijah and the widow woman; after all, God had been meeting all of their daily needs physically for some period of time during the drought Elijah had prophesied.
I think we can agree that this event may have simply been a way in which God could display His great glory and bring that glory and honor to Himself. There may be other reasons, and we will come to them later. What matters here is the reaction. Not the reaction of the mother of the boy, but the reaction of Elijah. It was instant and it was definitive. Elijah immediately said give me thy son, took the boy upstairs to his room, and launched into prayer.
Note some things here about Elijah’s prayer; note especially what the Prophet did NOT pray for. He did not pray for himself or his personal reputation. He could have prayed for that, as this event really made Elijah look pretty bad if one considers it. Here he is, having made promises to this woman, and now her son is dead! Note, that Elijah’s thoughts and needs never even got mentioned.
Elijah prayed for God’s reputation, and for God’s will to be accomplished in this matter. He first acknowledged that God, in His sovereignty had allowed or caused this thing to happen, and he acknowledged that God, in His sovereignty, could undo it.
Do we want revival in our own lives, in our families, and in our churches? Prayer is the starting place for all of that. And not just any prayer, but prayer which meets certain requirements.
We need to pray as a first option, not a last resort.
We need to pray not just for relief from what besets us, but for God’s will.
We need to be willing to prostrate ourselves and pray in submission, and like we actually believe that God will do it.
Let’s just add a couple of more things, then move on.
1 Kings 17:24
And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is truth.
This is interesting. What just happened here? We have talked very briefly about the status of this woman’s heart. Was she a believer when Elijah first showed up? When did she come to a saving belief in The Lord? Well, really, it simply doesn’t matter that much in the grand scheme of things. One can look at this and say that, whatever the case may be, this widow woman was certainly a believer in the one true God at this point in time.
What’s really happening here besides this woman being brought to a saving relationship with God? Lots, really. We all know that God had a big plan for Elijah in the near future, and God may have a big plan for each and every one of us as well.
Matthew 25:21 His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.
Maybe that is what is happening here. We have talked some about how God was doing a work in Elijah prior to doing a work through Elijah. Warren Wiersbe had the following to say about this episode:
“The servant who won’t hide himself and minister to a few people isn’t really ready to stand on Mount Carmel and call down fire and rain from heaven. People who have proved themselves faithful with a few things in small places can be trusted by the Lord with many things before many people in the bigger places. “
Things are racing to a finish, towards the great showdown, and towards the climatic moment in the ministry of Elijah. Elijah is almost fully trained and ready to perform his greatest task, and will be seen doing that shortly.
What about us? Are we focused on God’s will in the tough times, or are we just focused on relief for ourselves? Are we willing to do the small things God asks us to do? What if there is never a big thing? Are we willing to plod along, doing the small things if that is God’s will for us?
Things are about to change again for Elijah
1 Kings 18:1,2
And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth. And Elijah went to shew himself unto Ahab. And there was a sore famine in Samaria.
Many days. Three years to be precise! For approaching three long years, Elijah had been faithfully hiding himself away doing what the Lord desired him to be doing, Now, it is time for action! We won’t tarry long today, as the real meat of this part of the story begins later on. There are some things to ponder, though as we launch into our next section.
We have to be willing to simply go. We have to be willing to take the tough stands even when they may not be popular and may even land us in hot water.
We have to be teachable and mold-able. We may not be ready for the ultimate mission that God has in store for us. He will teach us, but often in a way we don’t understand or even agree with.
We have to learn God will provide for us and protect us. If He gives us the job, He will take care of providing what we need to accomplish.
We have to learn that often, it simply is not about us, but God’s honor and glory. The situation may seem to us the wrong way to go, but God’s got this, so to speak.
Finally, we have to be ready to go again. We cannot allow the fact that God seems to be going slow to lull us into a place where we won’t hear Him say, “Go!” when it is actually time to go.