“And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land” (1 Kgs. 17:7, NKJV).
Whether we are able to identify the providence of God for our lives or not, it is factual to say that our source of living and life itself is God. Without His providence, no one can survive in this world.
For example, both human beings and all other living organisms in this world need rains to survive. We need air to breathe and natural resources to live on. Acknowledging this fact implies that every person would have to submit his life to the sovereignty of God.
Elijah’s Encounter with Ahab
When the prophet Elijah encountered King Ahab of Israel he realized that the king had failed to acknowledge the providence of God which was the cause of his ungodly behaviour that displeased God. Ahab was indeed a wicked king and could pursue his evil plans against other people (for example, his wickedness towards Naboth). He was also arrogant towards God.
When Elijah realized that Ahab was not ready to repent, he came onto the scene. This time he was to prove to him the supremacy of God over His creation. It was also to tell Ahab that God is the source of survival of Israel and the world at large and what He was going to do through Elijah would reveal the vulnerability of the world in the hands of the Creator – God.
Elijah then declared that it was not going to rain for three-and-a-half years, except by his word and it really came to pass (1 Kg. 17:1 cf. Jas 5:17). As characteristic of every stubborn sinner, Ahab received the message very clearly but he never showed remorse, let alone repentance. He was rather arrogant and had a false sense of security in his wealth and achievement. Perhaps, he thought a king of his calibre should not bow to a ‘mere’ prophet.
God honoured Elijah’s prayer but He spared his life from the starvation that people on the land suffered. This is a clear evidence that anytime God brings judgment upon the wicked, He shows mercy towards His faithful children. His sparing of the lives of Noah and his family during the Genesis Flood as well as Lot and his children from the judgment against Sodom and Gomorrah are typical examples of this claim.
This assures us that as ungodliness is becoming pervasive in our society today, God still knows His own (Jn. 10:14) and would grant the righteous in Christ mercy on the judgment day (Rom. 8:1, 2). He will never make a mistake to condemn the wicked together with the righteous. He knows His sheep and His sheep hear His voice (Jn. 10:27).
Elijah Sent to Brook Cherith
While the ungodly were suffering in Israel, God directed Elijah to Brook Cherith (near the Jordan River) to stay there for a raven to feed him (1 Kg 17:3). Throughout the period that Elijah remained there, God prepared ‘special food’ for him as He used the raven as a courier for that supernatural assignment (1 Kg 17:4).
Although we do not have so many details about the menu and the mode of preparation of that food, we can infer that it was part of God’s provisions for His children in times of hardship. This is a source of great assurance to us that if we continue to submit to the will of God, He will intervene in our situation during defining moments in our lives. His intervention will be at the right time and with the perfect solutions.
The Cutting out of Elijah’s ‘Supply Chain’
Suddenly, the circumstances under which Elijah was able to survive by the Brook Cherith changed without his prior notice. One day, Elijah realized that the raven failed to bring his food to him while the brook too was dried up. The implication was that he was struck with both water and food shortage at a time that the whole nation was lacking these two basic necessities.
At that moment, everything that Elijah was relying on for his survival by the brook was gone. His ‘supply chain’ had broken. The famine too was still persisting in the country. To the ordinary mind, this could have been a very frustrating issue or even the end of his life, but what followed next indicates that there is a divine alternative to every situation (Gen.18:14; Jer.32:27).
While we as humans see life as full of uncertainties, but God’s purpose for our lives is always certain and it is not determined by current situations that confront our society. It was against this backdrop that Elijah neither devised any personal strategy by digging a well into the brook for water nor going out to search for the raven. He did not run ahead of God and neither was he ‘smart’ before God. Instead, he depended on Him, knowing very well that God would never leave nor forsake him.
Dear reader, when your brook dries up as the case of Elijah what becomes your reaction? Do you attempt to dig a well in the desert without the will of God or you look up to Him for solution? Do you resort to complaining and murmuring or you look up to God in prayer? This is a food-for-thought!
On the Journey to Zarephath: an “Upgrade” of Elijah’s Status
“God came to Elijah’s rescue again at the dried brook and directed him to go to Zarephath. This time round, Elijah was to be fed by a widow who was also at the verge of dying with her family as a result of the famine” (1 Kgs 17:8-13).
Elijah was now being served by a human being and not a raven. His status in the crisis has been upgraded by God, although the crisis was not yet over. This implies that whenever the world is desperate and confused about dealing with some apparently insurmountable situations, God would still have His neat provision for His children. Even while the problem persists, God still has provisions that can upgrade the status of His children.
It is obvious from this lesson that God is the source of our living and not the material things that we have hoarded for ourselves. Jesus says, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions” (Lk 12:15, NIV cf. Ps. 62:10).
It would be a grievous mistake for anybody to think that his life is secured by the material things that he has acquired for himself. No matter how ‘stuffed’ your bank account is or how abundant your resources, there may be a situation in your life that can cause your “brook” to dry up and when that happens, depending on God would be best solution.
If the abundant and ever-flowing water in the Brook Cherith could dry up suddenly and the source of supply of food to Elijah could also cease without notice, then it can rightly be asserted that no condition is permanent. What happened to the prophet Elijah can also happen to any of us today. There could be dryness in everyone’s life, which would need divine intervention.
Your ‘raven’ too may stop providing you with your needs at a time that you are really in need but that must not disrupt your success story. Even as you think you are alone, that is where you would see God standing by you and directing you to a specific person in a specific city known as ‘Zarephath.’ A problem may persist around you but God can upgrade your status from that situation.
Perhaps the dried brook symbolizes sickness, loss of property or a bread-winner, a friend or business partner, whose activities were really impacting positively your life. It could also be the loss of a much paid job or even disappointment from someone you trusted.
In such circumstances we are asked to “Call upon Me [GOD] in the day of trouble; I [He] will deliver you, and you shall glorify Me [Him]” (Ps. 50:15, NKJV). (Bracket mine!).
The prophet Jeremiah has also re-echoed this point: “Call to Me [GOD], and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3). These are all assurances from the Lord Almighty.
Bear in mind that, what the world considers as good times may not last forever. As humans living in this depraved world the dark side of life, unpleasant situations, or the days of sorrow are inevitable in our lifetime.
However, having Jesus in your life in advance before ‘evil days’ set in (Eccl. 12:1-3) is the best decision that you can take for yourself. God would shore us up whenever He knows that our lives are at stake. Thus when your brook dries up, remain calm and follow the will of God because He alone can provide for His children the best and perfect gift (Jas. 1:17) in accordance with the glorious riches in Christ (Phil. 4:19).
Another vital lesson is that life in this transient world would one day dry up. Regardless of how we try to secure it or what we have acquired because it cannot not be everlasting. Our properties will tear and wear out while our own lives will grow old and become faint.
A new glorious day created by the Lord will come to replace what we have now. The Bible says, “And the world is passing away with all its desires, but the person who does the will of God remains forever” (1 Jn. 2:17, NET).
Securing your life in Christ so that you can have everlasting life is the best decision to make now. It is through Christ that all the promises of God in your life find their ‘YES’ and Christ in your life, you bear the hope of glory.