Welcome to the first bible study in my series “Ordinary Parents with Extraordinary Faith “. In this series, we are going to look at four mothers and four fathers in celebration of Mothers Day and Fathers Day. We are going to unpack their lives to find hidden treasures and lessons that we can begin to apply in our daily lives. Without further delay here’s the Zarephath Widow:
Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” So he set out and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks [for firewood]. He called out to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a jar, so that I may drink.” As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar. See, I am gathering a few sticks so that I may go in and bake it for me and my son, that we may eat it [as our last meal] and die.” Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. Just make me a little bread from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For this is what the Lord God of Israel says: ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted nor shall the jar of oil be empty until the day that the Lord sends rain [again] on the face of the earth.’” She went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, in accordance the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah. 1 Kings 17:8-16 (AMP)
In some ways Zarephath is a suburb of Sidon since it falls under its jurisdiction. Both Zarephath and Sidon are located on the Phoenician coastline thus they are not in Israel but are considered Gentile. These areas are also experiencing the supernatural drought that God had sent over Israel because of their idolatry. This made me think of the below Scripture:
so that you may [show yourselves to] be the children of your Father who is in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on those who are evil and on those who are good, and makes the rain fall on the righteous [those who are morally upright] and the unrighteous [the unrepentant, those who oppose Him]. Matthew 5:45 (AMP)
God has no favorites and he was about to reveal himself to a widow and her son.
Although she was Gentile, God knew (his heart was turned towards her) the Zarephath widow and he wanted to show mercy towards her. God’s grace and mercy was not limited to the Israelites. Mercy is kindness in excess of what may be expected. This mother wasn’t expecting God to save her.
Zarephath Widow Bible Study – Surrender
Thus, Elijah (out of obedience to God) goes to the city gates of Zarephath and meets the widow. I love this and it made me think of how in our own lives we have sections of our heart which are consecrated to God and other places which we have stamped a big NO ENTRY sign. God wants all of us. He is not intimidated by our stuff. He knows that his love, kindness and grace will demonstrate his power in such a way that our idols are uprooted. God uses kindness to draw people to him. Even though our sin separates us from God, he is always wooing us to him, like the Zarephath widow, so we can surrender to him.
Besides this, we all long to impact the world around us yet often stay within our comfort zones for various reasons:
- it’s comfortable
- we don’t know where to start
- we want it to be easy
God wants not just all of our heart; he also wants to use us to bring kindness to people who are desperate and need saving. The Zarephath widow was going to have her last meal with her son before they died of starvation. God wanted to rescue her. Interestingly, she was extraordinarily obedient to Elijah’s requests:
Zarephath Widow Bible Study – Multiplication
When Elijah asked her for water and some bread, the Zarephath widow was pushed to her limits. She could give him water but asking her to sacrifice her last meal was a huge stretch. In the midst of her protest and worry, Elijah reassured her that God would not let her and her son starve. This was all she needed to hear to obey. How incredible! A “Gentile” with faith to take a prophet of God at his word – to take God at his word.
The little that you have refreshes others. It comes from your heart and honors God. This incredible mother honored God and Elijah through her obedience. She could choose to look after herself (which no one would fault her on) and her son or she could trust God. This was huge trust and faith because life and death hung in the balance!
Yet God showed himself faithful. Her flour and oil did not run out. Often, we fear that the cost of obeying God is greater than we can bear. Yet, God always meets our surrendered hearts. When you give what you have to God, he multiplies it. What you have makes an impact as you use it in obedience to God.
Put it in practice
To help you take these lessons from the Zarephath widow’s testimony, I have created a FREE worksheet in the resource library. Sign up today for the password.