17 Now Elijah the Tishbite, from
Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord,
the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor
rain in the next few years except at my word.”
the word of the Lord came
to Elijah: 3 “Leave
here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. 4 You
will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you
he did what the Lord had
told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed
there. 6 The
ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in
the evening, and he drank from the brook.
Widow at Zarephath
time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the
land. 8 Then
the word of the Lord came
to him: 9 “Go
at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow
in that place to supply you with food.” 10 So
he went to Zarephath. When he came to the town gate, a widow was there
gathering sticks. He called to her and asked, “Would you bring me a
little water in a jar so I may have a drink?” 11 As
she was going to get it, he called, “And bring me, please, a piece of
surely as the Lord your
God lives,” she replied, “I don’t have any bread—only a handful of flour
in a jar and a little oil in a jug. I am gathering a few sticks to take
home and make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it—and die.”
said to her, “Don’t be afraid. Go home and do as you have said. But
first make a small cake of bread for me from what you have and bring it
to me, and then make something for yourself and your son. 14 For
this is what the Lord,
the God of Israel, says: ‘The jar of flour will not be used up and the
jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives
rain on the land.’ ”
went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day
for Elijah and for the woman and her family. 16 For
the jar of flour was not used up and the jug of oil did not run dry, in
keeping with the word of the Lord spoken
time later the son of the woman who owned the house became ill. He grew
worse and worse, and finally stopped breathing. 18 She
said to Elijah, “What do you have against me, man of God? Did you come
to remind me of my sin and kill my son?”
me your son,” Elijah replied. He took him from her arms, carried him to
the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his bed. 20 Then
he cried out to the Lord,
“O Lord my
God, have you brought tragedy also upon this widow I am staying with, by
causing her son to die?” 21 Then
he stretched himself out on the boy three times and cried to the Lord,
“O Lord my
God, let this boy’s life return to him!”
22 The Lord heard
Elijah’s cry, and the boy’s life returned to him, and he lived. 23 Elijah
picked up the child and carried him down from the room into the house.
He gave him to his mother and said, “Look, your son is alive!”
the woman said to Elijah, “Now I know that you are a man of God and that
the word of the Lord from
your mouth is the truth.”
evening, as we look at the first recorded resurrection in the
scriptures, we want to pay particular attention to the context and the
behind the scenes dynamics, the spiritual conflict as it comes out in
the narrative of I Kings 17.
was Ahab's time, - his reign, his chance to do the will of God as God's
ruling representative - but he did more evil in the sight of the Lord
than any of the kings before him - he loved and approved of evil, he
married evil personified in the person of Jezebel
- the daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Sidonians, the people
among whom Baal made his home. Ahab’s marriage to Jezebel was spiritual
Israel and Ahab were committing spiritual adultery with Baal. Baal
claimed control over the rain, and with the fertility goddess Asteroth,
they claimed power over life itself. Sidon
was Baal's throne, there his power ruled supreme, he was
worshiped without question. People's lives were his. Sidon was his
territory. But when the demons behind Baal and Asherah started spreading
their power to the land of Israel through Ahab, they stepped on
different territory, sacred territory, God's land, God's people. God
tested the faithfulness of his people, but they found the tyranny of the
devil more attractive than the covenant relationship that he had with
them. The nation turned wholesale to the demon Baal, and their memory of
God quickly diminished.
the heart of Ahab's power came Elijah - the desert prophet, faithful to
YWH. To those who acted as though they could sin with impunity, could
betray their faithfulness to God without it having consequences because
he was a s good as dead - Elijah said "As the Lord, the God of Isreal, lives!"
That was a spiritual
battle cry - the one
true living God against those who set themselves up to be gods, the
Baals and the Asheroths, the demons of Sidon.
claimed they were the power behind the rain and fertility in the land.
God said "NO!" "There
will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except
at MY Word!" This was a contest of power, and Baal was powerless
when god would not permit rain. The priest and the priestess of Baal -
Ahab and Jezebel seethed with anger like the demon behind them - yet
they could do nothing.
Elijah went and hid in the Kerith Ravine, we don't know exactly
where that is - but there the Lord provided for him for a time (est 6
months) with a creek that slowly became more moss filled and slimy, and
the garbage birds of the land, the Ravens, brought him bread and meat, maybe
we don't want to know where from. Elijah - though he was
provided for had to suffer with the people of Israel.
as the land was dried for 1 month, then two, four and six, this brook
became nothing - the power of the Lord dried up the land - and exposed
Baal as powerless to Israel. But that was not enough - God
told Elijah to go to Zarephath - in
Sidon, in the land of Ethbaal
the king, father of Jezebel, in the land of the chief high priest
of Baal. In
short, God told Elijah to go to hell, to descend to hell where
the powers of evil ruled!
there, Elijah discovered that the power of God was not only in the land
of Israel - it was also in the land of Sidon, in the home of Baal and
Asheroth. Baal was in chains even in his home. Hell had be dry, withou
water - the worshippers of Baal without blessing or food - they were
starving. Elijah was told to ask a starving widow and her son for
provision. In that culture, in that time for a holy man to ask a women
for any help was an unspeakable humiliation - but God who sees no
distinction between male and female for he created them both expected
his prophet to depend on this women for help.
women’s faith in Baal had been broken, she was going to make her last
meal for herself and her son that they might die - Baal could no longer
come to their rescue. But when this prophet from a foreign country came
- and spoke with such authority - she had the insight to see the
spiritual battle - and she trusted Elijah - she made the meal - gave to
him and as she did - she found the blessing that follows those who obey
the word of the Lord - the oil and the flour continued coming from these
near empty jars.
was a contest of principalities and powers. But even more so, this is a
story of God in control. The God who miraculously provided for their
food was the one who also controlled all the rain - even in the Land
where there was a demon named Baal who claimed to own the rain.
then came the intense battle - in Satan’s territory call Sidon - the
battle was the challenge for a life - the challenge between God and the
evil one - in Baal's territory. Suddenly - the young boy - son of the
women who owned the house took a fever - became very ill and stopped
breathing in his mothers arms. God gave them life through the miracle of
the flour and oil, now Baal - the evil one, the murderer from the
beginning, did all within his power to discredit the God who blesses,
the God who is gracious and loving and kind, the Lord of all creation.
Baal took the life of the young child. And his program to discredit the
God of all was at first effective in the life of the women.
have you against me, man of God?"
you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?"
one is out to steal worship for himself - and the best way that he does
that is by defaming the name of God. In one fell swop, he turned the
women from faith to distrust of God's prophet, In one killing spree, he
turned the God of love into a God of judgement and the curse.
battle was on - in the hell of Satan's territory. Almighty God would
display himself even in the land of evil.
took the son - in his arms - a holy man should have never done that in
that culture - it would have made him so very unclean, unworthy of God -
but Elijah took him in his arms, became ceremonially dirty for the sake
of the women, for the sake of the battle for the sake of the child - he
carried the child to his upper room - and cried out to God - not
understanding all the dynamics in the spiritual battle - he cried out to
God WHY? Even Elijah did not see all the dynamics going on.
then he did something wonderful - he laid out his body on top of the
dead child - some commentators suggest that this was to communicate his
warmth to the child - maybe even breath in him the breath of life - but
scripture gives us just the picture - he became like the child on the
bed in its death - he identified with the child in its death and in
identifying with the child, like a Priest he interceded to God on his
behalf that his life might return to him.
Elijah prayed. The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and
effective. A miracle happened! The child came back to life. The power of
Baal was defeated. A child arose from death.
this resurrection Satan was defeated powerfully in his own territory.
The dead son was raised in Zarephath of Sidon. A powerful blow was given
to defeat the evil power in the land of Isreal. Later when it came to
mount Carmel - Baal's defeat would be demonstrated to the entire nation
of Israel - God had the power to give fire - Baal did not - for all the
nation of Israel to see. But the real battle was won in intercession -
when the dead son was raised in the land of Zarapheth.
confess with the words of the Apostle creed that Jesus like Elijah
descended into hell. Jesus did that in his ministry and his enduring
time till he cried out, it is finished on the cross. But our confession
is a cry of victory because it boasts that even hell itself, even
Satan’s territory must now bend the knee to the Lordship of Christ.
Jesus has secured power even over death it self in death’s territory.
Jesus has secured power over all evils themselves in hell’s territory.
When we make the claim that Jesus descended into hell and then rose
again, he arose from the very bowels of the enemies nest, he arose a
victor from the dark domain, He arose to disarm and defeat our greatest
enemy forever and ever.
in the grave He lay,
Jesus my Savior,
Waiting the coming day,
Jesus my Lord!
Up from the grave He arose,
With a mighty triumph o’er His foes,
He arose a Victor from the dark domain,
And He lives forever, with His saints to reign.
He arose! He arose!
Hallelujah! Christ arose!
Vainly they watch His bed,
Jesus my Savior;
Vainly they seal the dead,
Jesus my Lord!
Death cannot keep its Prey,
Jesus my Savior;
tore the bars away,
Jesus my Lord!