Lesson 11

The Widow of Zarephath: The Leap of Faith

(1 Kings 17)
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Introduction: This week my righteous wife told me that she did not want me to buy her anything for Christmas. Instead, she wanted me to give the money for her gift to a charity. My immediate thought was "I need to do that, too." Then I began to struggle with the decision. How about you? Do you struggle with selfishness? I'll bet right now you are asking, is it selfishness to accept gifts at Christmas? Good question! Perhaps the answer has to do with whether your needs are already met. What about helping others when your needs are not met? Let's dive into our study of the Bible and see what we can learn about real selflessness!

  1. The Drought


    1. Read 1 Kings 17:1-4. If God can stop the rain from falling, can He provide for those who follow Him?


      1. The answer is obviously, "yes." So, why should we have to provide for God's followers?


    2. Read 1 Kings 17:7-9. Should Elijah have thought that God failed him when the brook dried up?


      1. Why did God let it dry up?


      2. From where will Elijah's next meal come? (He is to move outside the country. There he will be fed by a widow.)


    3. Read 1 Kings 17:10-12. Put yourself in the place of this widow. Would you put the needs of an alien and stranger before those of your son or yourself?


      1. Does the widow have a moral obligation to give her son food before she gives it to an adult who is a stranger?


      2. I called Elijah a "stranger." What does the fact that the widow recognizes Elijah as a follower of "your God" suggest?


        1. Do you recall that God told Elijah (v. 9)that He had already worked out the feeding arrangement with a widow? Do you think that the widow had advance knowledge of Elijah?


          1. If God had worked out a "feeding arrangement" with the widow, how do you account for her statement that she thought her family would die?


      3. What do you think of God's plan - to have a starving widow and her son be the means by which God's prophet is fed?


        1. Let's assume that you are the last person in the church qualified to do a certain task. When the church asks you to do this task, should you turn it down?


  1. The Test


    1. Read 1 Kings 17:13-14. What is being asked of this widow? (To give up a certain meal for the promise of sufficient food in the future.)


      1. How would you have reacted? Would you say that a widow and her child should eat before the prophet?


      2. Would you say that seeking food from a starving widow and child is illogical - Elijah should go to someone who is in a better position to help?


      3. Would you say that a servant leader should logically eat last?


      4. Would you have noted (from last week's lesson) that prophets sometimes lie, and this one has a powerful reason to lie to you?


      5. Does God ask us to give up what is certain in exchange for a promise of something greater?


    2. Read 1 Kings 17:15-16. What is the result of this widow's faith? (She and her son have life!)


    3. I once got myself into a terrible mess when a two members of the church were involved in divorce and child custody proceedings. One member-spouse showed me some legal documents (interrogatories) from the other member-spouse which asked whether the one believed in paying tithe before paying the electric bill. How would you answer this interrogatory? (Answering that you would pay tithe first would (presumably) show that you were an unfit parent. I agreed to be a witness for the parent who would pay tithe first.)


    4. Read Luke 4:23-26. If your local pastor came to you with the proposal made by Elijah, would you accept it?


      1. Or, would you tell your pastor to pray for more meal and oil first? (Jesus suggests that sometimes His followers are more reluctant to walk by faith when it comes to people they know.)


        1. Do we sometimes discount the ways and practices of our own church simply because we are used to them?


  2. The Reward of Faith


    1. Read 1 Kings 17:17. God saved this boy from starvation because of the faith of his mother. Why, after all that, would God now let the boy die?


    2. Read 1 Kings 17:18. Who does the widow blame for the death of her son? (First, herself. Then Elijah and then God.)


      1. "Did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son?" Is that how we react when something bad happens to us?


      2. Is God is in the business of reminding us of our sins and punishing our children? (Compare Exodus 20:5-6 with Revelation 12:10 with John 16:7-11 and with Ezekiel 18:20. While these texts show that God does convict us of our sins, it is the work of Satan to remind and accuse us of forgiven sin. Apparently God in some way punishes the children of those who hate Him, but He promises that we only die for our own sins. Thus, the widow was accusing God of things He does not do.)


    3. Read 1 Kings 17:19-20. What accusation does God's prophet bring against God?


      1. Step back for a moment and put yourself in God's place. How would you like all of these terrible accusations flying your way?


        1. Are they true?


    4. Read 1 Kings 17:21. Does Elijah think that he is more just and loving than God? (Yes. That is exactly what his statement and his words suggest. We need to remember in times of distress that God gave His life for us. He died in a very painful way to take the punishment that we deserve. If we sometimes think that we are more loving or more fair than God - we are wrong and we are defaming Him!)


    5. Read 1 Kings 17:22-23. Put yourself in God's place again. The mother has accused you of killing her son. Your prophet has said essentially the same thing. How would you react to the request to heal the boy given the charges made against you?


      1. Shouldn't God get tired of proving Himself to His wretched creation?


      2. I titled this section "The Reward of Faith." Is that anywhere close to the truth? (I think that God is less troubled than we would be about name-calling. Reason being that name-calling reflects the faith that God is in charge. What God hates is when we ignore Him or believe that He has no authority or power on earth.)


    6. Read 1 Kings 17:24. What do you think about this statement?


      1. Recall that this is a woman who, with her son, was saved from starvation by her act of faith and a miracle of God!


    7. Friend, our study reminds us of our human condition. Sometimes we are capable of great acts of faith. Then after God has shown His power to us so clearly, at the next crisis we doubt Him and accuse Him of the worst things. Will you take a moment right now, and think about the times when God clearly led and blessed you? Will you pledge, right now, to never forget what God has done and never doubt Him in the future?


  3. Next week: Gehazi: Missing the Mark.

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