Sermon 2596. Where Is the God of Elijah?
DELIVERED BY C. H. SPURGEON,
AT THE METROPOLITAN TABERNACLE, NEWINGTON, ON LORD'S-DAY EVENING, JUNE 24, 1883.
"And he took the mantle of Elijah that fell from him, and struck the water and said, Where is the LORD God of Elijah? Andwhen he also had struck the water, it was divided this way and that, and Elisha crossed over." 2 Kings 2:14.
THE great objective for our souls is to seek after our God. We love His House, the place where prayer is apt to be made isvery dear to us. But the courts of the Lord's House are dull and dreary if the Lord, Himself, is not there! Our question isnot so much, "Where are His courts?" as, "Where is Jehovah, Himself?" Brothers and Sisters, we love beyond expression theministry of God's Word-it has been unspeakably precious to our spirits! By it we were called into spiritual life and by itour life is fed and nourished. But still, if God, Himself, is not in the Word and with the Word, what does it avail us? Ourspirits must be sustained by the Holy Spirit or else they faint and die.
In reading a gracious book, or in engaging in private devotion, or in coming into the great assemblies of God's House, ourchief question is, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?"-for if we do not find God in all these things, what have we found? Nothing.Or we have mere husks, whereas the precious, priceless kernel is lost to us! Oh, I wish that we always felt in prayer thatwe would never leave off praying till we found the God of prayer! I wish that, in our singing, we would always feel that wehad not truly praised God at all unless our song had found Him, and every note in it had had some one of His attributes tosing. Oh, what an effort it is, sometimes, to really get at God! We are ready to cry with the poet-
"I will approach You-I will force My way through obstacles to You."
"I will break through gates of brass, I will leap over the highest wall, but I must get to my God, the living God! Oh, whenshall I come and appear before God?" I wish that we were always in this state of mind, that our continual cry might be, "TheLord God of Elijah-we must have Him! We cannot live without Him, we cannot be strong without Him, we cannot rejoice withoutHim. We would not wish even to be in Heaven without Him-it would be no Heaven to us if the Lord were gone from it! "Whom haveI in Heaven but You? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside You."
Now, this great Truth of God, that our first and last objective should be to seek our God, is peculiarly true when we arecalled upon to undertake some new office or work unknown to us. Elisha, for instance, has poured water upon the hands of Elijahand been his personal attendant. But Elijah has been taken away by a whirlwind into Heaven and, now, Elisha has to be theProphet of Israel in Elijah's place. A great weight of responsibility has fallen upon him. He has to do what scarcely anyother man of woman born had ever done before-he has to follow one who seems well-nigh inimitable! He has to be successor ofthe Prophet of Fire-the man of God, Elijah. "Well," you say, "he has Elijah's mantle." Yes, he has his mantle and there issomething in that. If ever I could feel any great reverence for relics, I would like to have Elijah's mantle. Elisha had it,but what was the use of having the mantle of Elijah unless he could also have his God? Though he is called to take the mantleand with it to strike the waters, yet he knows where his strength must lie, and his prayer, his cry, is, "Here is the Prophet'smantle; but where is Jehovah, God of Elijah?" If he can get Elijah's God, then the mantle will mean something! But, if not,it may even be like a garment of fire to him when he puts it on-and he will not be able to wear it becomingly. Men will seethat he has Elijah's mantle, but they will ask, "Where is Elijah's power?"
Now, dear Brother, you are about to succeed a man of God. You have his mantle. The people have chosen you, so you are enteringin by the door. You have not intruded into the office uncalled. You are a fit man, no doubt, to be a successor of the onewho has fallen asleep, but do not be satisfied with your succession to the office. Whatever it is that has been bequeathedto you by your predecessor, be not satisfied with that, alone! Above everything else, you need his God. If you have his God,you will do very well, even if you do not have his mantle. If you should turn out to be a very different man from him whowent before you-as different as Elisha was from Elijah-you will do very well if your confidence is where your holy predecessorplaced his confidence. And you, good Sister, have undertaken the charge of a class, or some special work for Christ, and thedear Sister who went before you was a woman of renown. Her death has made a great gap in the Church and you do not feel fitto fill it. Well, never mind about that-if you can get her God, if you can rest in Him with a simple faith-you may go on withoutthe slightest fear! If you have the same God as she had and have the same faith in Him, even if you do not work exactly inthe same way, yet you shall bring glory to God and you shall be a blessing to those round about you! I exhort all young peoplewho are entering upon an untried path to say to themselves, "Where is my father's God? The dear old man has fallen asleepand I am apt to cry, 'My father, my father, the chariot of Israel and the horsemen thereof,' but I have now to follow him.Oh, that I may have the same Spirit resting upon me! The same God to come to my succor! Then I shall do well enough." Yousee, then, dear Friends, this question of Elisha is an important one, but most of all, when you are entering upon some untriedwork-"Where is the Lord God of Elijah?"
This question also comes in most appropriately when some great difficulty lies in your way. Before Elisha, the Jordan is flowing,a deep and rapid stream-how is he to cross it? He takes the mantle which those waters knew before, when Elijah passed thatway, and striking them with it, he cries, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" And the waters at once divide and the Prophetwalks through! Have you come to a great difficulty, my dear Friend? Can you not get over it? Are you in trouble about it?Now, if this is a difficulty that ought to be removed, the shortest way to have it removed is to go to God about it! If itis one that ought not to be removed, then you also have done rightly in going to God, for He who will notremove it will atleast give you Grace to glorify Him in some other way! The best thing we can do, in all times of trouble and trial, is tolay the matter before the Lord.
Here is a Church in difficulty. It does not know what to do, or which way to look. This is the question for its members toask, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" Here is a Christian man in great difficulties. He has not brought himself into them,but the pressure of the times has brought him into a very sad condition-what is he to do? Why, look to his God and see whatGod will do! Let him also cry, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" I do not think that we shall ever find that any man whotruly trusted in God was yet confounded. No difficulty which was ever propounded to the Most High and left in His hands everremained very long a difficulty. He has the solution of all our problems, the answer to all our riddles. He can work out toa blessed result all our difficulties. There is nothing which can possibly be beyond the power of Him whose name is Jehovah,the I AM, God All-Sufficient!
So, then, we learn from Elisha's question that we must ask after God when we are beginning any new work, or when there issome great difficulty in our way.
Thus have I introduced the text. Now there are two things I wish to speak upon. The first is, this question turned into aprayer. ' 'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" Though it reads like an enquiry, yet there is no doubt that, properly construed,it is a prayer, an invocation. "Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah?" Secondly, if we have time, we will have a few wordstogether upon this question answered. "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?"
I. First, then, let us think of THIS QUESTION TURNED INTO A PRAYER and let us, ourselves, pray it as we meditate upon it-"Whereis the Lord God of Elijah?"
That means, first, the Lord that kept Elijah faithful when all the rest of the nation turned aside. Elijah could say, withsome little exaggeration, "I, only, am left, and they seek my life to take it away." Jezebel, that imperious Sidonian queen,held Ahab entirely under her power, and she had set up the worship of the goddess Ashtaroth, which had straightway becomepopular all over the land, though it was accompanied by foul and filthy rites. And side by side with that was the worshipof Baal. The worship of the Most High God was carried on by the faithful few, but they generally consisted of the very poorestof the land. And they were molested, persecuted and hunted to the death by the cruel and idolatrous zeal of Jezebel. But therewas one man, at least, whom Ahab and Jezebel could not touch-one man who was Ahab's master, who spoke out for Jehovah evento the king's face, and who stood alone, and cried, "The God that answers by fire, let Him be God." When the fire-answer hadcome, he cried to the people, "Take the prophets of Baal, let not one of them escape." That man, when all the waters ragedaround him, stood like a rock, unmoved and unmovable! For the most part of his life he was steadfast and firm.
This is the kind of men that we need today. Look how the whole world seems to be rocking and reeling, and men are continuallyasking for one novelty after another! This cry for something fresh has led to the casting off of the worship of God. "No!"you say. "Yes!" I say. They worship, today, many gods and many lords-gods newly come up, which our fathers knew not! But Jehovah,the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, is scarcely known among us! Men, so far as they could, have dethroned Him. Theyhave set up an effeminate being whom they call their god-a god without justice, a god whose name has no terror in it, as thename Jehovah has-as we read the story of it in the Old Testament. We need, nowadays, to have men who will say, "We worshipno new god. The God of the Old Testament, who is also the God of the New-this God is our God forever and ever! He shall beour Guide even unto death." You know how they cry down Jehovah. They will not have Him! At least they will not have Him onHis throne. His sovereignty is a thing that is scoffed at and made a by-word almost everywhere. And yet, Beloved, Jehovahreigns! He sits upon the floods. He rules as King forever and ever and unto His blessed name we will give praise, whateverothers may do!
In these days, too, we need men who can stand steadfast for all kinds of truth-not only as doctrines, but in practice. Weneed you, young men, to be upright and honest in your trade, when so many tradesmen all around you do all sorts of evil thingsin order to get gain. We need you, young men, to confess Christ in the workshop and to stand up for Him amidst the mass ofyour associates who keep not the Sabbath, neither regard the worship of God at all! Do you ask, "How can we be kept steadfast?"The answer is, "Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah?"-for He that held him up can hold us up! I would that we had ten thousandmen like John Knox was in Scotland-men that could not be turned aside from the Truth of God-men that knew the power of itin their hearts and that knew the practice of it by being sanctified of the Spirit of God and who, therefore, were "steadfast,unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord." We shall never have such men unless they find the Lord God of Elijah!So let us all seek for Him.
Next, this question," Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" reminds me of Elijah's mighty power in prayer A man of like passionswith ourselves was this Elijah, yet God gave to him the key of prayer and he locked up Heaven with a turn of his hand! Andwhen the time came, he went up to the top of Mount Carmel and put his head between his knees-and there cried to the Lord until,once again, the heavens were covered with clouds and down came a deluge of rain! This was the man who, in his chamber, prayedback the spirit of a child. This was he who could have anything of God that he wished, like Luther of old! Do not some ofyou say, "Would God I had his power in prayer! How am I to get it?" Why, where he got it-from his God! The Lord God of Elijahcan help you to pray prayers like his-and if He does, He will give you answers like his! It may be that you will have nothingto do with bringing or withholding rain, but you may have something to do with things quite as important that shall touchthe inward lives of men and shall bring them food from Heaven, and the benediction and bedewing of the Holy Spirit. Get toyour God! Lay hold upon Him by a brave and daring faith! Fall flat upon the promises and then pray straight up to the Godwho gave them! And so shall you get the blessing that you desire. You and I are going about after this and after that tillwe compass sea and land, and miss the blessing! Straightforward makes the best running. Let us go straight to God in prayer,with simple confidence in Him, and we shall not have long to ask, "Where is Jehovah, the God of Elijah?" for we shall provethat He still answers prayer even as He did in the Prophet's day.
The third rendering of the text is this-As God provided for Elijah at the brook Cherith and at Zarephath, so can He providefor us. I think I hear you say, "My store of meal is running very short. My flask of oil is almost empty. 'Where is the LordGod of Elijah?'" Why, He is still with His Elijah and He is still with such widows as the widow of Zarephath. Do you thinkthat He is dead? Has it crossed your mind that Divine Providence is a failure and that God will no more provide for His own?Oh, think not so! If you do, your unbelief will prove a scourge to you-it will break that meal barrel, it will dash in piecesthat oil flask! You will get nothing of the Lord if you waver! But if you keep strong in faith, you shall find that JehovahJireh is still His name-"The Lord Will Provide." "No good thing will He withhold from them that walk uprightly." God can helpus to put such confidence in Him that we shall find the Lord God of Elijah supplying our daily needs and feeding us untilwe need no more! Sing this song, O you tried ones! Sing it at this moment-
"The Lord my Shepherd is! I shall be well supplied Since He is mine, and I am His, What can Ineet beside?"
I see also in this great text, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" that the God that raised the dead by Elijah is the God Ineed. Oh, I have had to try to raise the dead in this place many a time and it has been done, too! Man has spoken God's mandateand as the command has been uttered, "Lazarus, come forth," full many a Lazarus has left his tomb and you, my Brothers andSisters, by your gentle, kindly teaching, have loosed them and let them go about their daily occupation, or upon holy service,as those who have been raised from the dead! But there are still some dead ones for whom I have prayed full often and others,too, who love them, have pleaded for them. We never cease to make them the subject of our earnest supplication, but they arestill as dead as they were several years ago. Shall they remain so? Shall they lie there till, at last, they become utterlycorrupt? Shall it ever be said of them, "Bury the dead out of My sight"? God will say that concerning all dead souls, forHe will have no dead ones in Heaven. They must be put out of sight! They must be driven from the Presence of Christ and fromthe glory of His power-far from His glorious abode of peace and love! O Brothers and Sisters, pray mightily for these deadones, for still, the Lord God of Elijah can raise them! Never despair of anybody and remember how, even when Lazarus had beenso long dead that his body stank, he was nevertheless made to live! And if men go so far into evil that their sins turn tocorruption and their lives become foul and loathsome, yet even then the quickening Spirit can make them live! Oh, let us beimportunate for these dead souls! Let us still plead for them! Let us urge our suit with earnestness and perseverance-andlet us never cease crying unto God for them until the dead in sin become the living in Zion! Here is the great hope for them,and here alone-that the God who raises the dead is still in the midst of His Church!
Further, we still need "the Lord God of Elijah" as "the God that answers by fire." Today, in this country, we are undergoingvery much the same sort of ordeal as Elijah had to endure. The priests of the modern Baal and of the groves swarm on everyside. The "mass" and all the other idols of Rome are set up again in this land-they may be seen as objects of adoration evenin our parish churches! The candle that Latimer lit, which never can be quite put out, seems as if it burns but very dimlyin this land-and the old and glorious Gospel of the blessed God, which was preached by Luther and by Calvin, and by our Lordand His Apostles, has come to be regarded as an old worn-out thing, to be thrown away and cast aside. Oh, for the God of Elijahonce again to answer by fire! We need a Baptism of the Holy Spirit for all such as are spiritually alive, and an outpouringof the Holy Spirit upon such as know not the Lord and obey not His Truth. Oh, that we could see the Lord making bare His arm,again, in the midst of the land! When I think of how God visited Pharaoh and magnified His might by smiting that stout-heartedrebel by plague after plague, my soul cries, "O Lord, will You not split the heavens and come down, even if it is with a rodof iron, to dash in pieces, like a potter's vessel, those who have so long resisted Your Grace? Your longsuffering seems tohave been displayed long enough and men grow bolder and yet bolder in their iniquity."
I can understand the spirit of Jonah-though I do not wish to fall into it-when he seemed to feel that Nineveh ought to beslaughtered for its enormous sin. At this day the world still lies in the Wicked One-and Christ Crucified is disowned andderided. Perhaps London is more heathenish than ever it was since first the feet of savages walked among its woods-the peoplegrow worse and worse in many respects-and there is less and less of vital godliness and of seeking after the Most High. OLord, how long? "Pluck Your right hand out of Your bosom" and, once again, as on Carmel the fire descended, so let the sacredflame fall upon Your true Church, that we may no longer need to ask, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" We need Him, we needHIM beyond everything in these dead days!
Now look yet again at our text-"Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" I should like to meet Him and to know Him as the God whogave Elijah such wondrous food. In the strength of that meat, he went for forty days! I should like to feed on that kind offare! One grain of meal to a gallon of water is the sort of food served out by some preachers, nowadays- there is nothingin it to satisfy or to sustain the soul. But God gave Elijah forty days' meat at one meal! Do you, dear Friends, ever getmeals such as that? I do, when I read certain books-not modern thought books-they give me no such meat as that, but let mehave one of the good solid Puritan volumes that are so little prized, nowadays, and my soul can feed upon that! You do thesame and see whether you do not find food that will last not merely for forty days, but that will make you strong to walkbefore the Lord, even unto the Mount of God, there to bless and adore Him forever and ever! But, oh, the milk-and-water dietthat is too often given in these times! Well may we cry, "Where is the Lord God of Elijah?" Oh, to be fed once more upon thedoctrines of discriminating Grace! Oh, to be told continually of the love without a beginning, love without a change, lovewithout an end! Oh, to hear of an atonement that is an atonement, and that does, indeed, put away sin-not the kind of atonementof which many talk today, which is all mist and cloud, and which accomplishes something or nothing according as men are pleasedto let it!
We need, again, to have meat unto life eternal, to know the great Truth of union to Christ, of being in Him, and so safe beforethe Lord, and made well-pleasing unto the Most High! God send us back this food! Brothers and Sisters, do not be satisfieduntil you get it! Turn from all other tables and say, "'Where is the Lord God of Elijah?' Where is that flesh that is meat,indeed, and that blood which is drink, indeed?" Be content with none but Christ! Have no Gospel but Jesus Christ and Him Crucified.May God so satisfy the souls of His saints that they shall be able either to serve well or to suffer well! We are only strongeither in patience or in zeal as the Lord God of Elijah feeds us with the Bread which came down from Heaven, the Bread ofLife, Christ Jesus, Himself! "Lord, evermore give us this Bread!"
Once more, we need the God who took Elijah away in a chariot of fire. I shall close with that. I daresay many of you do notexpect to go to Heaven in that way. If I had my choice between that form of translation and death, I think I would preferto die. I never could sympathize with the great delight which some Brethren have in expecting that they shall never die. Whynot? You will be a loser throughout eternity if you do not, for you will not have fellowship with Christ in His death so fullyas those who fall asleep and so have fellowship with Him in the grave. It will be a great joy to meet with Christ whateverwe may miss in any other way. To behold Him and to be with Him is the utmost hope of our spirits. But, still, I would notwish to miss fellowship with Him in death. What is there to be afraid of in death? "The pain," says one. What pain? "The painin dying." There is no pain in dying! There can be none-the only pain is in living! Death is the great quietus. There shallbe no sorrow or sighing when death has passed upon the Believer.
What, then, are you afraid of? Of death? But has not Christ told you that you shall never die? You shall depart out of thisworld unto the Father and, very likely you will not know when you are going. I have personally known several friends who werealways afraid of dying, but I am morally certain that they never knew anything about death, for they went to bed, one night,apparently in good health, and when they were called in the morning, it was discovered that the Lord had called them-and theyhad gone up to be "forever with the Lord." The placid countenance showed that there had not been any struggle, probably noteven a sigh or a gasp! They shut their eyes and dreamed of Heaven-and when they awoke, they found that they were there! Theyhad passed through no iron gates, nor struggled through any cold stream-and they were in Heaven!
"Oh," says someone, "but I am still afraid to die!" Let me tell you of one who said the same. Some years ago I was away inthe South of France. I had been very ill, there, and was sitting in my room alone, for my friends had all gone down to themidday meal. All at once it struck me that I had something to do out of doors. I did not know what it was, but I walked outand sat down on a seat. There came and sat on the seat next to me a poor, pale, emaciated woman in the last stage of consumption.And looking at me, she said, "O Mr. Spurgeon, I have read your sermons for years and I have learned to trust the Savior! Iknow I cannot live long, but I am very sad as I think of it, for I am so afraid to die." Then I knew why I had gone out thereand I began to try to cheer her. I found that it was very difficult work. After a little conversation, I said to her, "Thenyou would like to go to Heaven, but not to die? "Yes, just so," she answered. "Well, how do you wish to go there? Would youlike to ascend in a chariot of fire?" That method had not occurred to her, but she answered, "Yes, oh, yes!" "Well," I said,"suppose there should be, just round this corner, homes all on fire, and a blazing chariot waiting there to take you up toHeaven-do you feel ready to step into such a chariot?"
She looked at me, and she said, "No, I would be afraid to do that." "Ah," I said, "and so would I. I would tremble a greatdeal more at getting into a chariot of fire than I would at dying! I am not fond of being behind fiery homes, I would ratherbe excused from taking such a ride as that." Then I said to her, "Let me tell you what will probably happen to you. You willmost likely go to bed some night and you will wake up in Heaven." That is just what did happen to her not long after. Herhusband wrote to tell me that after our conversation she had never had any more trouble about dying- she felt that it wasthe easiest way into Heaven, after all-and far better than going there in a whirlwind with horses of fire and chariots offire! And by His Grace she gave herself up for her Heavenly Father to take her home in His own way. And so she passed away,as I expected, in her sleep.
Now I want you, dear Friends, to feel that your great need in dying is to have "the Lord God of Elijah" with you. If you haveHim, then you may cry, "Come, horses of fire, and chariots of fire, we are not afraid to ride behind these fiery steeds if'the Lord God of Elijah' is with us!" Oh, no! Or it may be, "Come, silent chamber. Come, bed made hard with weary weeks ofpain. Come, at last, the message that the wheel is broken at the cistern and that we must depart. Come Death and come celestialband, to bear my soul away." Thus you will have such a sweet realization of the Presence of "the Lord God of Elijah" withyou that you will not be at all afraid! You timid ones are sure to "play the man" when you come to die. Often, the most tremblingsaints are the boldest at the last. I have known some who dared hardly call their souls their own, they were so full of doubtsand fears, but when they have come to the river, they have been the bravest of the brave! You remember how Mr. Bunyan saysof poor Miss Much-Afraid, Mr. Despondency's daughter, that she went through the river singing! Some of God's Great-Hearts,when they have died, have found the water up to their chin and it is a glorious thing for them to be able to stand there-tofeel the bottom beneath their feet and to know that it is good to let Death do his worst and, all the while to be shouting,"Victory, victory, victory, I am more than conqueror through Him that loved me!" But if you are weak, feeble and timid, youwill very likely die in a different way-you will probably have a sweet, calm, happy, blessed passage. "The Lord God of Elijah"will be with you and you shall triumph at the last, even as He did!
You see, dear Friends, that the time has gone, though I have only been able to speak upon the first part of my subject. Soyou must come another time for the second part, if the Lord wills.
EXPOSITION BY C. H. SPURGEON: 1 KINGS 17.
Verse 1. And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Load God of Israel lives, beforewhom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. How abruptly this man breaks in uponthe scene! He leaps like a lion from the thicket. There is no previous announcement of his coming, but here he stands, God'sown man ordained to bear witness in evil times-to stand like a bronze pillar when everything around him seems to be movingfrom its place! Ahab had not been accustomed to be spoken to in this fashion. Mark how personal is Elijah's message. He doesnot begin even by saying, as the Prophets usually did, "Thus says the Lord." There is something that at first seems almostaudacious about his expression-"There shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word." A man may sometimesseem sell-assertive when, really, he has so completely lost himself in God that he does not care what people think about him,whether they regard him as an egotist or not. Some men appear to be modest because they are proud, while others seem to beproud because they have sunk themselves and only speak so boldly because they have their Master's authority at the back oftheir words. Bravely did Elijah say, "There shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word."
2, 3. And the Word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Get you hence, and turn you eastward, and hide yourself by the brookCherith, that is before Jordan. Of course the Prophet would have had to share in the general need unless God had providedfor him and, therefore, the Lord took care that His servant should be hidden away where a brook would continue to run afterthe moisture had departed from other places.
4. And it shall be that you shall drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there. Perhaps someone says,"Ravens were more likely to rob the Prophet than to feed him!" And so they were. Some have objected that these ravens wereunclean. What if they were? Things are not made unclean because they are carried by unclean creatures. Did not Abigail bringto David food upon animals which were unclean? There is no sense in that objection! "Oh, but," somebody else asks, "how shouldravens bring food?" How should they not, if God commanded them? All creatures are under His control. Granted a God-and a miracleis simple enough. If God does not feed His people by any other means, He will command ravenous beasts and unclean birds tofeed them!
5. So he went and did according to the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.It is the glory of Elijah that he does whatever God bids him, asking no questions. He simply, like a child, goes to the brookjust as, like a hero, he had previously stood before the king.
6. 7. And the ravens brought him bread andflesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; andhe drank of the brookAnd it came to pass, after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. Brooks will dry up,even if godly men are being sustained by them. Is there anyone here whose brook is drying up? Has it quite dried up? Stilltrust in God, for, if the ravens are put out of commission, God will employ some other agency.
8, 9. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, Arise, get you to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there:behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain you. It was a time of famine, yet God sent him to a widow woman! Sheis sure to need sustaining, herself. Yes, and she shall get it, too, through sustaining the Prophet! He that could commandthe ravens to feed His servant, could command a widow woman to do the same thing-and He did. This woman does not appear tohave been originally a worshipper of Jehovah. She lived in a heathen country and probably was, herself, a heathen, but shereverenced the servant of Jehovah and she did his bidding and, no doubt, became a true follower of the living God.
10. So he arose and went to Zarephath. There is the same unreasoning faith-"So he arose"-just as, in the 5th verse, it iswritten, "So he went," that is, with all alacrity, as a matter of course, he did his Lord's bidding without any question.
10. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there. There she was, the woman who was to sustainhim! She had come, no doubt, with a carriage and pair, to take him home, to her mansion. Oh, no! "The widow woman was there."
10. Gathering sticks. She was a poor woman to sustain him, but there she was, "gathering sticks."
10. Andhe called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray you, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink Water was scarce then-everydrop was very precious-it was, therefore, a large request that Elijah made of her.
11. And as she was going to fetch it For she saw, by his garment, and by his majestic bearing, that he was a messenger ofGod. "As she was going to fetch it"-
11, 12. He called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray you, a morsel of bread in your hand. And she said, As the LORD your Godlives, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering twosticks, that Imaygo in and dress it for me andmy son, that we may eat it, and die. It was such a little quantity, that twosticks would be quite enough. Yet this is the woman who is to sustain Elijah! Poor creature, she needs someone to sustainher and her son! How often does God use very strange means for the accomplishment of His blessed purposes!
13. And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as you have said: but make me thereof a little cake, first, and bring itunto me, and afterwards make for you and for your son. What a trial for her faith! This stranger must have the first portionof her last meal-yet she had faith enough to obey his word.
14, 15. For thus says the LORD God ofIsrael, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse ofoil fail, untilthe day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth. And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah. Faith is blessedlycontagious! God, by His Spirit, can make the faith of one to beget faith in others. This woman learns, from the very boldnessof Elijah, from the very strength of his countenance, to believe in God! And she does as he tells her.
15-18. And she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse ofoil fail,according to the Word of the LORD, which He spoke by Elijah. And it came to pass after these things, that the son of the woman,the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him. And she said untoElijah, What have I to do with you, O you man of God? Have you come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay myson?Poor creature, having lost her husband, her heart was wrapped up in her son! Under this sharp trial, she condemned herselfand she also began to have hard thoughts of the man of God. We, none of us, know what we may say when we are overwhelmed witha great trouble. It is easy to find fault with the utterance of a poor distracted spirit and to say, "That is improper language."Have you never spoken so in the hour of your grief? Blessed is that man from whose lips there has never escaped a wrong wordin the time of his anguish! This widow woman was a mother with a dead child in the house-do not find fault with her, but tenderlypity her-and all who are in a like case.
19, 20. Andhe said unto her, Give me your son. Andhe took him out of her bosom, and carried him up into a loft, where he abode,and laid him upon his own bed. And he cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, have You also brought evil upon the widowwith whom I sojourn, by slaying her son? The words of the woman had touched his heart and, perhaps, he also spoke unadvisedly.But who are we that we should judge? He seemed to feel that wherever he went, he was bringing trouble upon people. All Israelwas afflicted with drought because of his prophecy and now this poor woman had lost her darling child. Yet even in this desperatecase he did not give up hope, and prayer, and effort.
21. And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray You, letthis child's soul come into him, again. This was splendid faith on the part of the Prophet. Nobody had ever prayed, before,for the restoration of one who was dead. No one had ever attempted to work such a miracle as this, but Elijah's faith wasstrung up to a wonderful pitch! Here was faith ready to receive the blessing, so the blessing would surely come. Here wasthe faith that could move mountains and stir the very gates of death! Elijah treads an unaccustomed road and asks for whathad never been given before.
22, 23. And the LORD heard the voice ofElijah; and the soul ofthe child came into him, again, andhe revived. And Elijah tookthe child and brought him down out ofthe chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother: and Elijah said, See,your son lives. Elijah was never a man of many words. He was a Prophet mighty in deeds. He said little, but what he did, spokeloudly.
24. And the woman said to Elijah, Now by this Iknow that you are a man of God, and that the Word ofthe LORD in your mouthis truth. Did she not know this before? Yes, or else she would not have given him the first portion of her meal. She musthave known it, for she had been living for a long time upon the meal and the oil which he had multiplied. But now she saidthat she knew it, as if she had never known it before. God has a way of bringing His Truth home to the heart with such vividnessthat, though we have been perfectly acquainted with it for years, yet we are compelled to cry, "Now I know it! Now I haveit as I never had it before! Now I grasp it and embrace it with my very soul!" May we all know the Truth of God in this grandfashion! Amen.