1 Kings 17:2-7 – And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
I have often been fascinated by the story of Elijah at the brook Cherith. The prophet came out of nowhere, and in one verse, had told the evil king of Israel, Ahab, that there would be no rain for years, and according to his word no less! Furthermore, no sooner had he delivered his message, but God removed him from the situation completely. God brought him to Ahab, and then immediately sent him far away from Ahab to the brook Cherith. The first time brook is mentioned in the Bible is when Jacob was separated from his family before meeting Esau and he wrestled all night with God for God’s blessing. Brooks are a place of separation. They are also places of determination, where the wheat is sorted from the chaff in our lives, they are landmarks in our lives. It is a place of crossing over such as Jacob who would later cross over the brook at peace with God, or it is a place that determines that we won’t cross over, as ten of the twelve spies who came to the Brook Eschol found out. Brooks are necessary in our lives as God deals with us directly. We need our Cherith before we can go the Zarephath, before we can contest on Mount Carmel.
Cherith is a place where our pride is removed. It is a place of humbling before the mighty hand of God. It is a place where God provides and we receive his provision. Elijah was helpless. He was completely reliant of the word of God. I have commanded the ravens. He was fed by God. At Cherith, we realise that it is God that is strong and we who are weak. He is strong on our behalf. Elijah told Ahab that there would be no rain according to his word. Elijah realized at Cherith that it was God that holds back the rain, and sends the rain. We have no strength to do it ourselves. When Jesus walked the earth, he had the power to command the waves and the wind to be still. No man has that power. What manner of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him! To be used by God, as God was going to use Elijah, he had to realize that it was about God. It was not about himself, it was about God. 1 Timothy 3:6 says Not a novice, lest being lifted up with pride he fall into the condemnation of the devil. This is when Paul is talking to Timothy about the qualifications of being a leader in the house of God. It is so easy to become lifted up with pride. God must humble us both to be saved, and after we are saved. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble.
Cherith is a place of hiding. We are safe when we are in God’s will. When we are his. Even though the rest of the land suffered under extreme drought, Elijah was looked after and provided for. Even in times of judgement from God, God will keep us. David said, Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil! 1 John says perfect love casteth out fear. Regardless of what is happening, and especially in these perilous last days, God looks after his own. 2 Peter says God knows how to deliver his own. And it is God’s deliverance, not our own deliverance. He bears us up on eagle’s wings. God will deliver Israel in coming days in much the same way as he delivered Elijah. Satan’s persecution is intensifying, but as Revelation says, Israel has a place prepared of God. And because God prepares our hiding place, noone else can discover it. Noah was safe in the ark, we are safe in the Lord Jesus Christ.
Cherith is a place of prayer and the unseen power of God. Elijah’s prayer in accordance with the will of God held back the rain for three and a half years. Elijah had power with God, just like Jacob. Believers hold power with God. Jesus said, whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, I will do it. Revelation says that we are kings and priests to God. 1 Peter says we are a royal priesthood. Every believer is a priest to God. You don’t need to go to a human priest. You have access to the Father yourself through Jesus Christ, you are just cheating yourself by going to God through anyone other than Jesus Christ. Jesus said, Call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven – Matthew 23:9. You can go straight to your Father. The Father is your Father when you are saved. We are sons of God, because Jesus is in us. We are the children of God. And we are now the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is – 1 John! What a privilege. You can cheat yourself and deny yourself if you want to by going to your psychologist, your counselor, your priest just because this makes you feel more spiritual and religious. But this is contrary to the word of God, which says that Jesus is our High Priest, he has made a way into the Holy Place for us. Draw near to him. You have power with God when you are truly saved.
Cherith is important because it is a place where we experience God’s power in our own lives before we can have power in other peoples lives. How can we witness to others and be used by God unless we are saved ourselves? We have to know Jesus first before we can tell others about him. God was going to send Elijah to Zarephath, where the widow’s son would die. How much faith did Elijah have that God could raise the dead? His time at Cherith taught him complete dependence and trust in God. He believed in God’s power. I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. God was able to command the unclean ravens to feed him.
Cherith was about to send Elijah to Zarephath, a city of Zidon of all places. By being fed by unclean birds God was teaching Elijah that salvation is for all people. The gospel is for sinners. Ravens are scavenging, unclean, flesh eating creatures. They are solitary, independent. Contrary to their nature, they fed Elijah. Elijah would have gained a new appreciation for the ravens. They were a welcome sight. And they humbled him, he was receiving food from unclean creatures. When the gospel was sent to the Gentiles, Peter saw a vision where Jesus said, What God hath cleansed, that call thou not common. The gospel is for all. Ephesians chapter 2 says that Jesus has abolished the enmity, he has brought the Gentiles who were afar off nigh, we are no longer strangers, we have access by one Spirit unto the Father. Israel was God’s chosen nation, and all the other nations were without God. Paul refers to this time in Acts as the times of ignorance. This was not because Israel was better than everyone else, but God said he chose them because they were few in number. Israel became self righteous, they did not bring the gospel to the whole world, but instead snuffed at other nations. They disregarded the city of Zidon. They hated the Samaritans. Similarly, the law, which was given to expose our sin, rather became an instrument of self righteousness. But Jesus has finished all of this. Jew and Gentile alike can draw night to God now because of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, he died, was buried and rose for all. Whomsoever will, may come.
Cherith also shows us that God provides all our needs. You may never be rich, and most likely will not be, as the Bible says that God has chosen the poor of this world rich in faith. Although we want to be rich, being rich can be very dangerous, it can reduce our dependency on God to provide our needs. We can become independent and satisfied with what the world has to offer us. 1 Timothy 6:9 – But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. God proves for our physical and spiritual needs. And our spiritual needs are more important. Ye must be born again. My God shall supply all your needs. Luke 12:24 – Consider the ravens: for they neither sow nor reap; which neither have storehouse nor barn; and God feedeth them: how much more are ye better than the fowls? Jesus said, Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added you. He knows you need food and clothing, but as Solomon said in Proverbs, wisdom is infinitely better than physical gain. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom. God is more worried about dealing with who you are, as that is what is carried into eternity. What you physically have is temporal. Being poor will humble you, it will make you reliant on God, it is actually a blessing from God. The wisdom of God is different from the wisdom of man.
There are many more things to learn at the brook Cherith. Although we may want to go straight into glamorous work, we need to be humbled, we need to know God, we need to read his word and pray. We need to have victory over our flesh. It has be a reality in our lives before we can be used of God. God will humble us. God will try us. He will reveal us to ourselves. We will see our unworthiness. We will see how much it is about God and not about us.