Transforming Ordinary People into Extraordinary Followers of Christ

Elijah and the Widow


1 Kings 17:8-24

We closed our time together last week with Elijah sitting beside a brook, waiting out the drought. But soon, even that brook dried up. If that is your plight today, you may be wondering, “Where is God is all of this?” He is closer than you think. And he is not finished with you. Let’s see what we can learn by observing how God dealt with his prophet Elijah (1 Kings 17:8-24). We see this by looking at three of Elijah’s relationships

[1] Elijah and God (v. 8-9). The word of God came to Elijah at the point of his greatest need—when the brook had dried up. Up until this point, God had called Elijah mostly to a ministry of solitude; now he is catapulted to public ministry. Now Elijah is being called to minister to others who are in need. Times of reflection and meditation are desperately needed—but there is an inherent danger: we can become comfortable and self-focused. There is something about getting involved in the messy details of other people’s lives that we recoil against. It’s much less threatening to remain in seclusion than to become enmeshed in the thorny needs of people. It was a dangerous trip—over 100 miles, across a desert, during a time of drought, directly into enemy territory (there even was a bounty on his head; 1 Kings 18:10)! A couple of other things made this trip particularly distasteful: Zarephath was in wicked Queen Jezebel’s home country, the source of idolatrous Baal worship—which involved even child sacrifice (essentially infanticide for religious purposes)! God sent Elijah there, and without protesting, he went. Additionally, he was to ask an impoverished widow there to provide for him. How humiliating! 

[2] Elijah and the widow (v. 10-16). When Elijah arrived, he met a thread-bare widow who was gathering a few sticks to build a fire to cook a final meal for herself and her son—and then they would die of starvation! After walking 100 miles, Elijah politely asked her for a drink (v. 10). Remember—they’re in a drought; water is scarce, but she obliged him. Then he asked her for a piece of bread (v. 11). She replied that she only had enough for her and her son to eat one meal before they died (v. 12). This poor woman is hopeless! But Elijah instructed her: “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.’ “ (v. 13-14). In one sense, she had little to lose. She complied—and so did God! Her one handful of flour and oil lasted until the drought was over! Elijah arrived just in time to meet this woman’s needs, but it was God’s providence, not good fortune, that saved her. 

[3] Elijah and the widow’s son (v. 17-24). Elijah stayed perhaps two years with this widow and her son. I suspect he spent a lot of time instructing then in the things of the Lord. It’s not hard to imagine that Elijah became quite attached to this young boy who had no father; no doubt Elijah became a father figure to him. And then, the boy suddenly died (v. 17)! This widow must have wondered how the miracle of the oil and flour jived with the death of her only son (v. 18). Even though she accused Elijah for her trouble, Elijah simply took the boy, prayed, and God brought him back to life (v. 19-22)! What a reunion that must have been (v. 23). But don’t miss v. 24. The miracle of the oil and flour hadn’t convinced her, but when she saw the miracle of life, she got the message! 

Elijah was a man who listened to God—and God listened to his prayers! What is there in your life that you cannot explain on any other basis other than the supernatural? Are you ready to say, “God, here I am. Use me. I’m ready, willing, and able. Whatever you ask me to do, I will do.”


  • Choose to be a modern day Elijah by being willing to go where God
    leads you to go, and by being willing to do what God leads you to do.
  • Allow the Spirit of God to express his supernatural life and love through you. It is this supernatural mark which will attract people to our Savior.


Each week, write down one doable concrete step of obedience, small or large, that you will put into practice this week. (James 1:22: “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”)

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