Last week we watched as the story that supplied water for the prophet Elijah dried up, and the ravens which brought him bread and meat ceased to appear. It did not take Elijah long to realize that this phase of his life, the training phase, was now over. And as he stood there gazing along the great Wadi Hareet, the voice of God spoke to him again, and this is what God said:
"Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."
Without question, this was not the message that Elijah had expected. In fact, it appears that these instructions from the Lord left the prophet shocked and speechless.
Now, Elijah would not have been shocked if God had said to him, "Go to the desert wastes of Paran," or "Go to Mount Sinai, the mountain of my glory." The truth is this: both of these locations were places where God was known to dwell. His holy presence, His KAVOD, His SHEKINAH, was found in those places.
However God did not tell Elijah to go to either the Desert of Paran or to Mount Sinai. Instead God said, “Go to the village of Zarephath.” Why would Elijah be so shocked by that divine directive? There was a reason! Zaraphath was a village in the region known as Phoenicia, which was Gentile territory. In fact, it was as Gentile as it gets.
This village was located in the very heart of the land from which the evil queen Jezebel of Tyre came. It was a demonized land, a land where the god Ba’al was worshiped; a place where Israel’s God was scorned, so this message made no sense to Elijah. He was at war with this Phoenician god and the very last place he thought a man of God should be seen was in the heart of the enemy’s stronghold.
But this much can be said for Elijah; he may not have understood what God had said and what God did at times, but he was usually willing to obey what God told him to do, no matter how difficult it seemed. Pastor Harris will focus on this tendency this morning.
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