One skill we need to develop as Jesus followers is to ask good questions of the Biblical text(s). “How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth” by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart is a great reference book I suggest you add to your library to help you in this life-long task. One thing this book will supply are the ground rules for reading and interpreting various genres (i.e., historical, prophetic, gospels, etc.) of the Old and New Testaments.
Here are some questions for our text today: When have you felt like you were at the end of your rope, facing circumstances you thought were insurmountable? Have you ever felt that the Lord let you down? If so, what would He need to do to show you that He cares?
Read 1 Kings 17:1-24.
The nation of Israel is led by Ahab, the most evil king they have ever had. That is quite a historical marker, since Israel suffered through the ungodly leadership of eighteen almost equally as bad kings.
In such a time, the prophet Elijah appears on the scene. Before much happens, God instructs Elijah to go first to the Kerith Ravine, and then to Zarephath, which is the heart of the land from which the idolatrous worship of Baal has come.
Let’s see what we can learn from the text by asking some observational questions:
- Why did Elijah announce the coming of a drought to King Ahab?
- Why did God send Elijah out of country to a Gentile in neighboring Zarephath?
- What is noteworthy about how Elijah responded?
- How would Elijah be feeling about being cared for by birds and an older widow?
- If you were the widow, what would you have thought about Elijah’s words in verses 13-14?
- Why did God perform a miracle with the flour and the oil?
- What do you think the widow was feeling when her son stopped breathing?
- What do you think why Elijah was feeling when her son stopped breathing?
- How was the widow changed after God gave her son back to her?
Now let’s shift our questions to what we might learn from the text:
- How has God showed Himself strong to you when you were weak?
- What “jars and jugs” of yours are running dry? What can you learn from the widow and her son that will help you hold steady in difficult times?
- How has God asked you to trust and obey Him, even without much clarity about what He is asking you to do?
- What qualities does Elijah model that are attractive to you? How risky is it to obey the Lord?
Think theologically. If your faith is weak, if you don’t have an Elijah around, if you lack confidence in the Lord, and if you have not seen any miracles lately, how can this Old Testament story of Elijah and the widow still build your faith?
Love is a verb,
©2018 by Mike Olejarz