1 KINGS 17
[Melachim Alef 17 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]
1 And Elijah the Tishbite [ Eliyahu HaTishbi], who was of the inhabitants of Gilead [Tishbe-Gil`ad], said unto Ahab [Ach'av], As Yahweh Elohim of Israel [Yisroel] liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain [tal nor matar] these years [shanim], but [except] according to my word.
No rain...a punitive miracle.
Elijah - Yahweh is El.
Nothing is known of his family, tribe or background. He appears suddenly in the record for the first time in 1 Kings 17. His first utterance is of condemnation and judgment upon Israel...
...It was a great crisis in Israel's history.
Ahab was the most wicked king Israel had (1 Kgs. 21:25).
"There was none like unto Ahab, which did sell himself to work wickedness in the sight of the Lord, whom Jezebel his wife stirred up."....
The period of his ministry appears to have been about twenty years - from about 870 to 850 bc. This is during the reigns of Ahab and Ahaziah, kings of Israel.
Elijah was one of the greatest characters of the Bible. He appeared with Moses at the transfiguration as a representative of all the prophets, as Moses was of the Law.
He and Enoch alone did not die, but were taken into the heaven by God because of a special relationship to Him.
He is mentioned in the New Testament more frequently than any other prophet; and he is to come again at the last day to rouse Israel again to God.
He is the subject of the last prophecy of the Old Testament, Malachi 4. The Old Testament ends with the prophecy of the coming again of Elijah.
James cites Elijah as the great example of the power and prayer of the righteous. Jesus cites Elijah and Elisha as illustrating the call of the Gentiles (Lk. 4:26)-
"Many widows were in Israel in the days of Elijah, but unto none of them was he sent save unto Sarepta" - that is, to a Gentile...
...Elijah is very prominent in the New Testament, from the angel's announcement to Zecharias of John's birth, to James' reference to the power of prayer.
Elijah was the great arouser and reformer of Scripture - to turn the hearts of the children to the ways of their fathers.
John the Baptist, whom Jesus said was the greatest of the prophets, was another strange, wild man from the wilderness, clad in the same rough garments; and he came in the spirit and power of Elijah...
...Elijah's ruling passion was uncompromising jealousy for the Lord God. He would tolerate no blurring of the issues, and no compromise with evil.
His great mission was to call Israel back to God - a mighty defender of God's Truth in a time of persecution and danger and wickedness in high places.
It was essential to God's purpose that such a man be raised at such a time - so he was raised up. He had come to arouse, to teach, to call out. Jehu who followed him was sent to purge and destroy without mercy.
Elijah's first recorded words are especially significant in this connection -
"The Lord God - Yahweh Elohim - of Israel liveth."
(Note that in the A.V. "as" is in italics-not in the original)..
This was his great message, and the message of his name Elijah: his mission was to prove this. So is ours. There is a difference - a life and death difference - between Truth and Error.
"There shall not be dew nor rain these years."
The Old Testament record does not give the length of the drought, but Jesus and James both give it as three and one half years. This is clearly typical of the three and one half times, the 1,260 years, that occurs in various prophecies.
The Two Witnesses of Revelation 11, whose period was 1,260 years (three and one half times) had-
"Power to shut heaven that it rain not in the days of their prophecy."
Also in another application, from the Exodus of Israel to the return of Christ is three and one half thousand years. The Jews have been disobedient the whole time - there has been spiritual drought from the beginning.
At the end of the three and one half thousand years, Christ will come like Elijah, assemble Israel, force the issue, manifest the true God, and destroy all the false prophets of the flesh.
Bro Growcott - Yahweh Elohim of Israel Liveth
In Chronaikon Hebraikon Bro Thomas put the Exodus BC 1626. Bible scholars differ between the 15th and 13th Century BC. Bro Growcott's suggests from the Exodus to the Lord's advent is 3 500 years. This suggested type seems to hold merit...the date of the Exodus appears to be concealed so
"of that day and hour knoweth no man"
we are unable to predict a date for the Lord's return but watching the signs of the times means we will not be caught unawares as as the world - to whom he returns as a thief in the night
Elijah's earnest prayer for a suspension of the rain coincided with the intention expressed in Yahweh's covenant with Israel, to withhold the rain in the event of their disobedience, and therefore the rain was withheld, with distressing results to man and beast. Yahweh delights not in thus dispensing affliction. On the contrary, He taketh not pleasure even in the death of a sinner; but there is a time for chastisement; and chastisement in its season is good and beneficent, as we behold in the beautiful results of its infliction, and the ugly and offensive results of its absence. The child or man who escapes it is far from blessed.
The chastisement was not for Elijah, but for the rebellious Israel. Therefore Elijah was directed to a place where he could be free from its inconvenient effects. He was directed to hide himself by the brook Cherith-a tributary of the Jordan-where he would have the advantage of a free and pure water supply; there also his food requirements were provided.
"The ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening."
This was certainly a peculiar mode of supply. Some say it was not literal ravens, but those ravens of the desert, the Arabs, whose name in the Hebrew is identical with the name of the literal raven. It may have been so. There is no certainty, for the word is the same as Noah's raven sent forth at the flood. It is the modern habit to minimise the wonderfulness of Yahweh's works, and if they have a natural alternative in any case, to select that. There is no need for it in this case.
It would be quite as great a miracle to employ marauding Arabs as Elijah's providers, as to employ literal ravens. And if there was a miracle, we may as well understand that form of it which was most signal and most in harmony with the fitness of the case, which the raven form undoubtedly would be. A neutral creature would be more obviously and appropriately a divine instrument in such a case than evil men
The Visible Hand of God Ch 26
6 And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
Bread and flesh are symbols of God's provision through Christ. We must "eat his flesh" and "partake of the bread of life" (Jn. 6:48-56).
The ravens were unclean birds. In Peter's vision, the unclean birds and beasts symbolized the Gentiles, and the extension of God's mercy to them.
Elijah, sustained by unclean birds, was to be sustained through the famine of Israel's wickedness by a faithful Gentile, the widow of Zarephath. Zarephath is close to Zidon, the center of the dominion of Jezebel's father. It is outside of Israel. Christ said of this (Lk. 4:25-26)-
"There were many widows in Israel, but to none was Elijah sent, but to a Gentile."
Similarly, Jesus himself went to this same place and found a Gentile of great faith-the Syrophenician woman. She recognized that the Gentiles were dogs and unclean, but she sought in humility the crumbs of God's mercy that Israel so carelessly dropped.
The widow was in the bitterest extremity - about to prepare the last meal left for herself and her son, and then resignation to slow death by starvation. Elijah said to her (v. 13)-
"Make me a cake first."
It seems cruel and selfish - but it was a divine test of her faith, with undreamed of blessings in store if faith should prove true and strong, as it did on this occasion.
The woman showed great faith in serving Elijah first out of her last meal. But consider how much she received for so little! This is a picture of the salvation of God.
We must, in faith, freely lay our all on the line first. Then, and then alone, will faith be rewarded, and salvation extended.
The little that she gave in faith first was her all - and she gave it freely. That is the lesson. If we give all, freely, we shall receive a millionfold in return.
But we can't, in doubt or hesitancy, try it out just a little bit first, to see if it will work before we venture our all. Remember Ananias and Sapphira, who wanted to try it that way. *
8 And the word [Devar] of Yahweh came unto him, saying,
9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath [Tzarphat], which belongeth to Zidon [Tzidon], and dwell there: behold [hinei], I have commanded a widow woman [ isha almanah] there to sustain thee.
When a natural event is divinely used as the instrument of a divine purpose, the thing done is said to have been commanded of Yahweh, even when the doer of the work has received no known command. This peculiarity of divine language is signally illustrated in the case of Elijah. Famine had prevailed for a time, and the brook Cherith, by which the prophet had been sustained, having dried up, he was ordered to remove to another place, where he would be provided for.
Superficially read, we should conclude from this that a message had been sent to the widow woman on the subject of supporting Elijah. It transpires, however, that nothing of the sort had taken place. When Elijah went to Zarephath, he found the woman in the depth of want from famine, and arranging for a last meal with her son (1 Kings 17: 12).
How comes it then that Yahweh should say, "I have commanded a widow woman to sustain thee," when in the ordinary sense He had not done so? Because of another sense more powerful than the ordinary sense. The ordinary sense is to give orders by word of mouth, written or pronounced: this is the only mode in which one man can cause another to carry out his wishes. But with God there is another mode, which is as high above the human mode as heaven is high above the earth. Speaking of the creation, David says,
"He spake and it was done: He commanded, and it stood fast."
If we ask, how? we are informed, "By His Spirit." What He wills, He accomplishes by His Spirit. For this reason, the fiat of His will executing itself by the Spirit is described as His word-His command. What God wills or appoints, He can say, "I have commanded."
He had arranged that this widow of Zarephath should sustain Elijah. Therefore, in divine language, He commanded her, though she knew nothing about it. In the same way, the God-hating Assyrian had received a charge against Israel, though he knew nothing of it (Isaiah 10: 6-7; 13-16). In the same way Cyrus had been called, surnamed, and guided, and addressed by Yahweh, although it is expressly testified that Cyrus knew not Yahweh (Isaiah 45: 1-5). In the same sense, the Lord is said in special cases to command the sword (Amos 9: 4), the serpent (verse 3), the clouds, etc. (Isaiah 5: 6). Causation and command are equivalent ideas in relation to God.
The only drawback to the practical application of this in our own lives, lies in our ignorance of when a matter may be of divine causation or otherwise. But this is largely offset by the testimony that "all things work together for good to them that love God," and that if we commend our way to the Lord, He will direct our steps (Romans 8: 28; Proverbs 3: 6).
These two assurances of the word will enable us, if we make an enlightened use of them, to take our whole experience as from God, and to patiently wait the evolution of events for the discernment of the divine purpose, ever remembering that that purpose has reference more to our standing in the kingdom of God when it comes than to present results.
Ways of Providence Ch 19
18 And she said unto Elijah, What have I to do with thee, O thou man of Elohim? art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?
She was conscious of unworthiness and had a sense of sin in the presence of this holy man of God. She felt his presence made her more responsible, and brought her sins into remembrance with God-
"Where much is given, much is required" (Lk. 12:48).
But the presence of holiness is to bless and not to condemn. Elijah restored her son to life, and she was comforted, and more deeply convinced of his divine appointment, and the truth of his words.
Bro Growcott - Yahweh Elohim liveth
22 And Yahweh heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.
Methodist:-In the account of Elijah raising the widow's son, it says "the child's soul came back into him."
Christadelphian:-His breath came back; if not, he was alive without breath; his life came back; if not, he was alive without life. In verse 17, it says his breath went out of him, in verse 22, his soul came back; would it not be more logical, in this instance at least, to say breath and soul are interchangeable terms?
We learn from this narrative that the immortal soul -supposing it is immortal-is a very useless thing.
The widow wanted her son back; why not quietly bury the body and call the immortal soul back to live with its mother? who would then have her real son again; and her flour and oil would have lasted longer, for the immortal soul would not have required such earthly stuff. But no; the widow did not believe in the immortal soul; she wanted the mortal body restored to life.
Ambassador of the Coming Age, Oct 1868
23 And Elijah [Eliyahu] took the child [yeled], and brought him down out of the chamber [aliyyah] into the house [bais], and delivered him unto his mother [em]: and Elijah [Eliyahu] said, See, thy son liveth [Look! Thy ben liveth].
24 And the woman said to Elijah [isha said to Eliyahu], Now by this I know [have da'as] that thou art a man [Ish] of Elohim, and that the word [Devar] of Yahweh in thy mouth is truth [emes].
Elijah had no power to do any of the marvels that characterised his life; but he knew the reality and the power of the living God of Israel, from whom Israel had deeply revolted. And he knew that if it were according to His will, earnest prayer might bring that power into action.
He was there closeted with a helpless corpse, which was no more able than he to restore life. But Yahweh could restore life. And Elijah could and did ask. And having asked, he stretched himself three times on the dead lad. The spirit of Yahweh rested on Elijah, by which only, was he a prophet; and it might be Elijah's view that the spirit of Yahweh in him, thus brought into physical contact with the lifeless mechanism of the once living lad, might help the result desired if it should prove in harmony with Yahweh's will in the case.
It is the universal lesson of the word of truth-(as exhibited in The Ways of Providence)-that the children of God must work with God in the attainment of the objects of their desire. Doubtless in this spirit, Elijah stretched himself three times on the dead body; Elijah's endeavours would have been in vain had Yahweh's pleasure not concurred with his prayer.
VISIBLE HAND OF GOD - Ch 26