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Elijah 3 – Elijah in the Crucible!

23/09/2012

Elijah 3 – Elijah in the Crucible!

Text: 1st Kings 17:8-16 

One day, in God’s providence, Elijah’s little brook dried up, and God spoke again to the prophet, and told him to get up from his peaceful idyll, and go somewhere else.  Another lesson must be learned!

1. God Moulds us According to His Purpose! And the word of the Lord came unto him, Arise, get thee to Zarephath

God is directly intervening in the life of this individual.  He is working and moulding Elijah to make him fit for purpose, and there is a little hint here as to how he does it.  The word Zarephath means “A Refiner’s Fire!”  The picture of God, given here is that of a Goldsmith, working his precious metal in a crucible, acting as a refiner, to make that metal into a beautiful, useful, suitable vessel.  We must be prepared to be in the crucible also, for God wants to prepare us to be people of pure Gold, made ready to walk those golden streets of heaven. Job 23:10  1 Peter 1:7   Now fire burns, and the blazing flame of the refinery burns to a very great degree indeed.  Let’s see what the crucible was like for Elijah:-

2. Elijah’s Crucible is Declared! Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee

What a place to sent Elijah to…  But then a crucible is not to be confused with a cushion!  There’s no comfort in the refiner’s fire!

a)       Zarephath’s District!  Now here the heat of the crucible becomes apparent right from the start.  Elijah is told by God to go to a place that is 100 miles from where he is in Israel!  100 miles to be walked in scorching heat – without water or food!

b)       Zarephath’s Danger!  Zarephath is in the nation of Sidon. Now this is very important indeed, for the King of Sidon is none other than Jezebel’s father!  But why did God send Elijah to a city of Sidon? Perhaps because the blasphemous worship of Baal, which was now the awful sin of Israel, came with Jezebel from Sidon,   1 Kings 16:31Jezebel was Elijah’s greatest enemy; yet, to show her the utter futility of her cruelty and nastiness in the face of the sovereign God, God found a hiding-place for him right in her own country. Cf Matthew 15:21

c)       Zarephath’s Duration!  Elijah was here for an uncertain time.  He is told by God to go and dwell there.  Not to stay for a week, or a few days in the crucible, but, for now, to make it his settled home!  Not be anxious to get out of it, or to shy away from God’s work in his life – but to dwell in the fires of the refiner’s furnace!  How we must welcome the chastening, refining work of the Lord in our lives.  We must learn to dwell in the furnace!  This is different than the teachings of modern, self-centred pop-Christianity, where God’s will for everybody is for us all to be happy and wealthy and prosperous and living victorious lives!  Elijah is to dwell in the crucible – in the place where the spiritual, refining heat is the greatest!

d)       Zarephath’s Deficiency!  Now when you think of Elijah’s great opening confrontation with Ahab, and the very direct message that he brought, you would think that he would be used by the Lord to minister to some great congregation somewhere.  Elijah was sent to Zarephath to minister to a congregation of 2, a wee widow woman and her son.  And without question he went, for he knew that God had a purpose in it.  So, God sent Elijah to minister to 2 people.  He must have wondered why, but he never questioned God.  We are told, he arose and went to Zarephath.

e)       Zarephath’s Dependent! Elijah was told to go and stay with a widow woman.  She would feed him and provide for him.  But why a widow?  In the OT a widow woman was someone to be the recipient of charity, not the provider of charity!  But God’s instructions are very clear.  Elijah is not going to Zarephath to provide for the woman, he is going to depend upon the widow!  behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.

Elijah does to the letter what God has commanded him to do!  He doesn’t try to change God’s instructions, or to make them a matter of personal interpretation, or to put a modern spin upon them, he does what God says!   We can’t expect God to bless us, as individuals or as a church, if we don’t make some effort to obey his Word.  Don’t be thinking that God is happy enough with us, just as long as we turn up to church once or twice on a Sunday, and sing a few hymns.  Samuel taught the Hebrews in 1 Samuel 15:22 And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

3. Elijah Arrives in the Melting PotAnd when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.   God brought the widow woman to meet Elijah at the gate of the city.  See:-

  • Her great need!  She was very poor, had only a handful of meal and a little oil, reduced to the last extremity of life.  Her plan is simple.  She has just given up on life, and is going to cook what she has, eat it and die.  She hasn’t any fuel, so she must gather sticks to make a pathetic fire to cook upon.
  • Her humble attitude!  She was not too proud to gather sticks, to work, and to bake.  When Elijah approached her she did not complain or grumble about her poor lot in life.  She was a generous woman, for she was quite prepared to help a stranger in need if she was able, and she didn’t complain about the fact that Elijah was a foreign refugee, fleeing from persecution.
  • Her confidence in God’s Word.  It was a great trial for her faith and obedience when, having told the prophet how low her stock of meal and oil was and that she had but just enough for herself and her son, he asked her to make a cake for him, and make his first, and then cook for herself and her son.
  • Her reward for faithful service!  The barrel of meal and the cruse of oil did not run out but as they took from them more was added to them by the Lord, 1Ki_17:16. The meal and the oil multiplied, not in hoarding it or saving it, but in spend it. Psa_37:19.

So, Elijah is in the Crucible, in the heat of the furnace, and God has him there, to make Elijah purer gold, an image of God himself!

From → 1st & 2nd Kings

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