1 Kings 17:14 – For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
Hello readers, new blog today. 1 Kings 17 is an amazing chapter in the Bible, it is the first time we read of Elijah. He pops up out of nowhere, just this man of faith who God used mightily. The strength of our life depends on our obedience to God’s word, and to obey it first of all we have to know it… you will be a strong person like Elijah if you know God’s word and obey it. And God uses nobodies, Elijah was a nobody but because he had faith in the Lord God of Israel, God used him. Whatever happened in Elijah’s life beforehand, the result was an man who knew God’s word and who could stand before king Ahab and declare it. That took guts. Be faithful in little and God will give you more. In the blog I’d recommend reading 1 Kings 17 first, as there are a whole heap of thoughts I’d like to talk about from this chapter and will assume familiarity with the passage.
In this story we see the gospel of Jesus Christ. The widow woman was gathering sticks when Elijah showed up, for herself and her son. With it, she would kindle a fire and cook their last meal. Things were dire, there had been a severe drought in the land. And that’s the state of this world and of humanity, a world that needs the gospel, a world ruined by sin and evil. But there is a way to survive the drought, and to make it to the rain, to make it to the life, blessing and purpose God has for your life. God knew this woman, and God knew you before you ever got saved, while you were battling away in life. This woman was a widow, she knew what death was all about having lost her husband, but she had faith in God, she obeyed God’s word.
The sticks she was gathering represents the cross of Jesus Christ. He was crucified on a cross, and that is why he came to earth, to die for the sins of the world. It doesn’t seem like much, especially to an unbeliever, but this is what starts the fire, and what cooks the meal, which is what will sustain us for the journey through life. We have to “gather” what Jesus has done for ourselves, nobody is going to make us get saved, we ourselves have to take ownership of what God has done for us. Things start to happen when we get to the cross of Jesus Christ. She gathered both for herself and her son… and that’s the gospel… caring about other people, a godly parent making sure her son was saved also. Remember Noah didn’t just get saved, his family also, because of his faith in God’s word.
It is worth noting that this woman was suffering because of Israel’s disobedience, and often people suffer because the Christians, those supposedly following God are not actually obeying him, but rather living in apostasy and rebellion. The solution to any revival always starts at home. Before God would use Gideon, Gideon first had to throw down the altar to Baal which was in his backyard. Judgement begins first at the house of God. Jesus referenced this story at the start of his ministry, saying that there were many widows in Israel during the famine, but that Elijah wasn’t sent unto any of them… instead he was sent to a Gentile city to a Gentile woman. How true this also is, that the gospel was rejected by the Jews, God’s chosen people, but received by Gentiles around the world. How often even at church is where most lost people are, it was the religious people that rejected Jesus, Jesus said the harlots went into the kingdom of heaven before the priests and elders!
God has given us what we need to make it through the drought. This woman had a barrel of meal and a cruse of oil. The barrel of meal represents God’s word, the cruse of oil represents the Holy Spirit. Both work perfectly together, and both which combined will make the “cake” of your life. It is interesting how all elements of the sticks (which make the fire), the meal, the oil is what combined to make her last meal. And what a last meal, because it would last and last and last. Salvation may not look like much, but it lasts forever. Eternal life, is eternal. When Jesus has forgiven you, you are forgiven forever. When Jesus has saved you, he’s saved you forever. If your life is built upon the cross of Jesus Christ, God’s word, the Holy Spirit… these ingredients will never waste, will never fail. They might not seem much, but they are MORE than enough.
Elijah did require that she make food for him first. Was it him being selfish? No, it was another picture, that we must put God first in our lives. We must obey him first, then things will be right. Jesus said seek the kingdom of God first and his righteousness and all other things would be added to us. God knows what we need, and he knows we have need, and he will meet those needs, but we must first obey him and trust him, and put him first in our lives. This woman was obedient to God’s word which was spoken her by the mouth of Elijah, and God honored that, because he honors his word. That’s why obeying God does pay off in the end, because his word doesn’t fail… investing your future in his word will pay off. In fact, the widow woman was foregoing her last meal and surrendering it to Elijah, but in so doing she got many meals. If we lose our life to Jesus Christ, only then do we truly find it.
It’s interesting that God took the barrel and the cruse to its limit. Because God want’s to try our faith, to purify us, to make us more like his son. God will let the barrel run low, he will let the cruse run low… but it is then that we have to hold on, hold the faith, hold to truth. It can often appear not to pay to obey God and serve him. Everyone else prospers, and we get nothing, and in fact our barrel gets lower and lower as we look around us, as it seems that God is nowhere in our lives. God is a God of division, wisdom is being able to divide like God did, like Solomon would’ve to determine which mother was the true mother of the baby… wisdom is being able to divide between truth and lie, sheep and goats, right and wrong. God lets the barrel and cruse run low, God lets things happen to test us, to try us, and for those who are saved to purify us, to make us more like Jesus Christ, to bring us through better as a result, to deal with sin in our life. It was in because of this dire situation that her son would survive a devastating sickness and experience God’s resurrection power. Life can be full of trials and tribulations, but we also have the grace of God to overcome it. Jesus has overcome the world, and thus we can by faith in him, and firstly because of his faith to us.
What happened was a miracle, and salvation is a miracle. God took the widow woman to miracle stage, and we look at the end of the chapter and we see a woman whose faith was strengthened and whose life was sustained even against all odds. It is God’s duty to perform his word, and perhaps this little episode was what Elijah needed preceding Mount Carmel. Because Elijah would rely on God performing his word, and thus proving who was the real God versus the fake God. Which God is the Lord? The one that answers, and the one that answers by fire. God has proven who is the real God throughout history, look at the flood (why do you think so many people dispute the flood? because it convicts them of who is the real God), look at how God’s word has been and is always right. God’s word alone has power, God’s word proves its own self who is the true God, because God’s word is with POWER.
Elijah said the barrel of meal wouldn’t waste, neither would the cruse of oil fail. And both didn’t waste or fail. They lasted. Build your life upon the foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ, and it’ll hold up. Look at the wise man who built his house upon the rock… that’s a life as Jesus said that is someone who has heard and obeys the word of God. God preserves what he has provided for us. He has preserved his word… we also see the doctrine of preservation in this passage. God’s word will never waste, it will never fail… it lasted through the drought. God preserved the barrel of meal, the cruse of oil… and he also preserved the life of the woman and her son, just as he had preserved the life of Elijah. God knows how to keep his word, and his own. If he can’t keep his word, how can he keep you?
The story doesn’t end with the barrel not wasting, neither the oil failing… because in this story we see resurrection. Because the gospel and a life built upon the rock of Jesus Christ has in it power over death, and victory over sin. All the first part of the chapter set the precursor because in building a life upon the cross of Jesus, on God’s word through the power of the Holy Spirit… death will have no hold on you. And it takes the power of God. It was when God raised her son from the dead through Elijah that the widow woman said… now i know… that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.What makes God’s word true is that it has power and authority, over sin and death even. It’s where all false religion falls away. The Bible says that Jesus was … declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead… who can resurrect from the dead but God alone? The gospel can deal with sin, the gospel can deal with death, as we see here sin and death also dealt with. It was when the widow woman’s son died that she brought up her sins, but her sins had been dealt with, and thus death, the consequence of sin, had no hold on her life, her prosperity, her future, her purpose.
The sticks are the cross, the barrel of meal is God’s word, the cruse of oil is the Holy Spirit… all working in perfect agreement, unison, and harmony to make the “cake” of our life. They’re great ingredients for a life that will survive the famine and death, and make it through when noone else does. His word doesn’t waste, his Holy Spirit doesn’t fail. God lets them run low, God tries us, proves us in life, whether we will keep his word or no. Whether we will, having done all, stand. But thus saith the Lord… despite all the impossibilities, the widow woman and her son made it to the rain. It doesn’t matter how the circumstances and situation appear, what matters is truth, what matters is what God said. And God was right on time.
To finish, we will look at the theme of the cake. Because the cake in this story is our life, and elsewhere in the Bible we see another cake that was victorious against all odds. There was a man who dreamed a dream in the camp of Midian, whose dream Gideon heard as he was looking for proof God would indeed deliver the host of Midian into his hands. Impossible odds! But the man dreamed a dream that a cake tumbled in the host of Midian… and your life can roll right through the enemy, even when the number is vast. Gideon life was a cake that would prove too much, a cake too strong even, for the whole host of Midian… and so your life can be. Gideon when he was called had offered unleavened cakes to the angel of the Lord that had visited him… you see your life offered to God and place underneath his word and authority… is a cake, a life that will last. And that cake is made through the ingredients of the cross of Jesus Christ, faith in his word, and through the enabling power of the Holy Spirit… a life that wont fail. Gideon experienced this, so did the widow woman… but will you?