19. To Elijah

“God turned up” Meditations: 19 :  To Elijah

1 Kings 19:11-13 The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave.

We are not told when the Lord first ‘turned up’ for Elijah. The first we read of Elijah is, Now Elijah the Tishbite, from Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the LORD, the God of Israel, lives, whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word. (1 Kings 17:1) These are the words of a confident prophet, a man who knows God and who knows his calling. He’s a pretty powerful character!

After that we read, “Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan.” (v.2,3).  He clearly hears God’s directions – and follows them.  But it continues, “Some time later the brook dried up because there had been no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him: “Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there.” (v.7-9)  So he does that.  The story continues: “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: “Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.” So Elijah went to present himself to Ahab.” (1 Kings 18:1,2)  What followed was the amazing incident on Mount Carmel (see rest of chapter 18) where the Lord sent fire to burn up his sacrifice and shame the false prophets who were subsequently killed.  This was a most incredible encounter and conflict.

Now the upset this caused is quite obvious: “Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” (1 Kings 19:1,2) Now that’s an odd thing because surely it would have been easier for Jezebel to just send some soldiers and kill Elijah.  No, perhaps she is scared of him and this is just scare tactics to get rid of him.  It works: Elijah was afraid and ran for his life” (v.3)  Eventually he ends up in a cave at Mount Horeb.

There the Lord confronts him: “And the word of the LORD came to him: “What are you doing here, Elijah?” (v.9) Elijah explains and the Lord instructs him, “The LORD said, “Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the LORD, for the LORD is about to pass by.” (v.11) The Lord is about to turn up in a big way. “Stand…. in the presence of the Lord” simply means the Lord is going to come there in a very obvious way. The Lord confirms that by “for the Lord is about to pass by. i.e. I’m not staying but just turning up for a specific reason – you need help and encouragement (implied).

Now I think if we were Elijah we might not like the sound of that. The Lord has spoken to us and guided us and empowered us a number of times, but if He is using this sort of language He is saying I am about to ‘turn up’ in a significant way. For what reason we are not sure, but when He talks about making His presence known, He obviously intends to create a stir and impact on Elijah. Elijah, brace yourself, this is going to be something!

Then, “a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the LORD. Wow! This is awesome. The power of God is here, but hold on, “but the LORD was not in the wind.” So what was that about? The Lord just demonstrating His might? Next, “After the wind there was an earthquake.” Awesome!  The whole earth shakes. This is mighty power, “but the LORD was not in the earthquake.” What? Where is the Lord then? Why the earthquake?  Just showing a bit more of what He can do! Then, “After the earthquake came a fire.” Whoops, this is getting close and personal. The earthquake was shaking but the fire could burn me up! But where is the Lord? I’m seeing all these demonstrations of power but the Lord still isn’t making His presence known here. He’s still holding off. Then, “And after the fire came a gentle whisper.” He’s here! To be able to hear a whisper means that the person is close. Then comes the conversation between them.

Yet as we read on there is no manifestation of the Lord; Elijah simply hears a voice. Now I don’t know about you but I find this both awesome and encouraging.  I mean, if I suddenly heard this audible whisper coming from behind me as I am typing these words, it would scare the life out of me because I know there is no one else in the room beside me – or at least there hadn’t been until that moment, but someone is now there – and close! Scary! Awesome!

But then if this is the Lord turning up, especially after He’s given warning that He’s coming, it must mean that He is trying to convey something particular to me. To me it seems like He is trying to convey intimacy. He’s actually not here in a mind-blowing vision that would probably knock me over; He’s here quietly communicating His presence to me in a way that is not overwhelming. Suddenly I realise that this is how He does mostly turn up. So often when He’s spoken to me it’s been in a quiet whisper, so quiet I could have almost missed it. This is Almighty God who loves us and understands us and so often comes so quietly and gently we might almost miss Him. How amazing. He comes intimately and close and He’s there for us. Wonderful!

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18. To Jehoshaphat

“God turned up” Meditations: 18 :  To Jehoshaphat

2 Chron 20:14,15 Then the Spirit of the LORD came upon Jahaziel …Levite and descendant of Asaph, as he stood in the assembly. He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the LORD says to you: `Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.

Perhaps now that we have done a number of these mediations in God ‘turning up’, it is worth noting the different ways. In the earlier ones we found God coming personally to individuals and speaking directly into them. Sometimes He came in the form of an angel or some other divine figure. But then as Israel developed, more and more it came about that He ‘turned up’ when His Holy Spirit came upon someone and released a prophetic word in and through them.

Jehoshaphat was a rather mixed up king. We read of him: The LORD was with Jehoshaphat because in his early years he walked in the ways his father David had followed.” (2 Chron 17:3) The crucial words are ‘early years’ indicating that he started out well but became mixed up. In his early years he made sure the word of God was taught throughout Judah and the Lord blessed him, but therein came the stumbling block it seems. “Now Jehoshaphat had great wealth and honor, and he allied himself with Ahab by marriage.” (2 Chron 18:1)  Now that was a bad move because Ahab was an ungodly and unrighteous king. As a result of this Jehoshaphat was drawn in to fighting alongside Ahab. A young prophet by the name of Micaiah prophesied Ahab’s death in battle and Ahab tried to avoid it by making Jehoshaphat stand out and he himself would be in disguise. In desperation in the midst of the battle Jehoshaphat cried out and the Lord saved him (2 Chron 18:31) but a random arrow struck Ahab and he died. There are many lessons here to ponder upon.

When Jehoshaphat returned to Jerusalem he was rebuked by Jehu the seer. Jehoshaphat continued in turning Judah back to the Lord (2 Chron 19:4-11). When a large army came from Edom against Jehoshaphat he and all the people sought the Lord ( 2 Chron 20:3,4). It was after he had prayed for help publicly that the Lord turns up and the Spirit of the Lord came on Jahaziel and brings this word of strong encouragement. The word goes on to say that all they need do is turn up and the Lord will do the fighting. They respond with faith and worship and praise the Lord. In the event the enemy turned on themselves so that when Jehoshaphat’s army turned up they just found dead bodies.

What is sad is that in the latter part of his reign Jehoshaphat made another alliance with Israel, this time with Ahaziah, another bad king. As a result of this a fleet of Jehoshaphat’s ships were utterly destroyed. It was not a very glorious end to his reign. It seems, for whatever reason, Jehoshaphat had this tendency to make friends with bad people and incurred the displeasure of the Lord.

That perhaps, is what makes this incident that we have just considered all the more remarkable. In the middle of his reign and the end of his reign he aligned himself with bad kings of Israel. His heart had been to serve the Lord and lead Judah before the Lord, yet he seemed to have this weak point, this inability to discern wrong in the northern kings and to put his trust in them. But despite this – and the Lord knew it would happen again in the future – the Lord blessed him with His presence and His victory. This is the Lord who comes and gives us every chance to succeed. He only has to see glimmerings of a good heart in us, it seems, and He is there encouraging us.

We may feel weak and we may feel frail but all the Lord looks for is a heart that is inclined towards him. Yes, here is Jehoshaphat who has this tendency to lean upon other kings instead of the Lord, but the one time he does lean on the Lord, the Lord is there for him!   If it had been us, we’d probably have been sulky about his weak friendship and tendency to make friends with those who are our enemies, and so refuse to be there for him, but that’s not the Lord’s way. The Lord’s grace looks for any and every opportunity to draw the hearts of people to Himself. Even though we have been weak previously, and He sees we will be weak again later, as soon as He sees us turn even for a moment to Him, He’s there for us! That is grace! We can never say He didn’t give us every chance.

If He does give you another chance, don’t squander it. Be blessed by it, learn from it, and stick with Him. Don’t drift again into your old ways but instead hold fast to the Lord all the years of your remaining life. That is what the Lord longs for. Let’s not disappoint Him!

12. Eyes Off!

Lessons from the Law: No.12 : Eyes off!

Ex 20:17 You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbour.”

We have already seen the previous commandment about not stealing but this command now takes us beyond that. We have observed a number of times that each of these Ten Commandments is about relationships and how we relate to one another and to God. We have already observed that behind the command is attitude – what we think about one another. Jesus, in his Sermon on the Mount, made it very clear that the issues were in the mind before they were in actions. Stealing is the end product; coveting is the beginning motivation – I want, because I see and I haven’t got this but you have!

To covet means to yearn wrongly after something. First and foremost it is an indication of lack of contentment, failure to be satisfied with what you already have. In a day of mass production of goods, and high levels of advertising, we are encouraged to want more than we have, not to be content with our lot. This command is a restraint on constantly wanting more. But there is something else. There is a second aspect to this command. It is a restraint on wanting more wrongly, on wanting what someone else already has. It envisages someone looking over their fence, so to speak, and wanting their neighbour’s house, wife, servants or goods and possessions. Not only is this a sign of lack of contentment, it is providing the seeds of temptation to do something wrong. Coveting is first thinking this desire, which can then be followed by some action to bring about the fulfilment of that desire.

One classic illustration of this in Scripture is Ahab coveting Naboth’s vineyard (see 1 Kings 21).  Ahab had an apparently legitimate desire – to acquire a neighbouring vineyard to turn it into a kitchen garden for his palace. The only thing was that Naboth didn’t want to sell it. Ahab’s wrong reaction to this shows he had a covetous heart which, when expressed to his wife, ended in them having Naboth killed and the vineyard taken. Covetousness is essentially rampant greed that flourishes on discontentment.  Jesus’ antidote to wanting more and more possessions (Lk 12:15) and being able to be at peace, was to put seeking God’s will first and allowing the Lord to provide your needs (Lk 12:31). Note here the distinction between needs and wants.  Wants are the things that breed covetousness and all that goes with it!

The apostle Paul knew the significance of coveting when he used it as an illustration of sin working within us: For I would not have known what coveting really was if the law had not said, “Do not covet.” But sin, seizing the opportunity afforded by the commandment, produced in me every kind of covetous desire. For apart from law, sin is dead. Once I was alive apart from law; but when the commandment came, sin sprang to life and I died.” (Rom 7:7-9). I really hadn’t given it much thought, he was saying, until I saw this command in the law but, being aware of it, I became desirous of what I saw in a whole range of ways. It was there inherent in me, but the Law brought it alive. That is interesting: awareness of the Law makes us conscious of the wrong desire. Until then we probably had the desire but hadn’t been aware of it. As soon as we became aware of it, it intensified in us. That is what desire for things does. The more we think about it the more we want, and if it belongs to someone else – tough! At least that is how the old sinful nature sees it!

The apostle James knew the same thing: “What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don’t get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight.” (Jas 4:1,2) It is your inner desires that motivate you into wrong behaviour is what he is saying here.

The story of Achan is another classic example of this: “Achan replied, “It is true! I have sinned against the LORD, the God of Israel. This is what I have done: When I saw in the plunder a beautiful robe from Babylonia, two hundred shekels of silver and a wedge of gold weighing fifty shekels, I coveted them and took them.” (Josh 7:20,21). See the order: “I saw… a beautiful robe… I coveted…and took. The apostle John knew the same thing: “everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does….” (1 Jn 2:16) That is what coveting is all about – having inner desires that indicate a lack of contentment, and eyes that see and want. Hence the world’s advertising approaches by the use of pictures and images that make us want something because it looks good.

Does this ring any bells? Consider: “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it.” (Gen 3:6) Just a minute, all the fruit of all the other trees was good as well! Why was this fruit ‘pleasing to the eye’? Because it was forbidden and ‘self’ says, Why should I be denied that? Who says I should be denied that? Awareness brings desire and unrestrained desire brings covetousness and covetousness brings the temptation which, when given in to, means sin.  This is the working of covetousness, and inner desires and wrong rationalizing lead on to wrong actions! Beware!

Walk of Despair

WALKING WITH GOD. No.40

1 Kings 19:3,4 Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. When he came to Beersheba in Judah, he left his servant there, while he himself went a day’s journey into the desert. He came to a broom tree, sat down under it and prayed that he might die. “I have had enough, LORD ,” he said. “Take my life; I am no better than my ancestors.”

We have previously commented along these lines, but it bears repeating, that the idea that the Christian life is always smooth and easy is unreal. Christians have to live in this Fallen World and so things go wrong and people are nasty. To see the reason why Elijah was running for his life, we have to see the previous two verses: “Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” This was a very real threat from a very nasty person! There was a contract out on Elijah’s head! But, you might say, wasn’t Elijah this great prophet of the Lord so he could simply stand up to the Queen? Well actually, no, because that is the problem.

The problem is not only the Queen, it is that Elijah has just been through an amazing spiritual battle and would be feeling exhausted mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually. Please realize that this was all in the service of his Lord. Even Jesus took time out to rest after his busy schedule. The reality is that when you are giving out spiritually, it can leave you drained. Yes, the Lord will be your strength and yes, He will restore you, but for that moment you are empty, needing to be refilled, and it is often that at that moment the enemy attacks, when he sees you are vulnerable. The response? You feel weak and fearful and want to run, escape to a quiet place and fall asleep (v.5). Did the Lord chide him for this? No! Instead He sent an angel who provided supernatural provision for Elijah to enable him to get to the place of meeting with God again. This is a very real experience and we need to really take on board the elements of it.

First note that we live in a state of war with Satan and sometimes he seems to come like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8) and when he comes like that he seeks to create fear in us.

Second, note that he comes to attack like this when we are vulnerable and probably when we have just been giving out a great deal, and even when we have just had a great victory.

Third, the crucial thing here is to be aware of what is going on. When Peter in the verse just referred to warns about Satan coming as a roaring lion, he starts, “ Be alert…..” Very often Christians become casualties simply because they did not realize what was going on and did not take steps to counter it. Emotional responses when you are at this place of attack are fear, doubt, feeling down, worrying and so on. They are all things the enemy seeks to impose upon you. Realise what is happening.

The fourth thing is to get out of the firing line. It was sensible, in the absence of a word from the Lord, to get out of range of the Queen. When you are feeling weak and vulnerable step back from the front line until you can be restored. While you stay there you are simply a target for more blasting from the enemy, and that isn’t necessarily the big obvious things, it can be the subtle temptation that brings your downfall into sin.

The fifth thing is to get with God. Elijah made for Horeb, or Sinai, the known place of encounter with the Lord. Even to get there he needed supernatural help. It may be that you need help from the Lord and that ‘angelic’ help can actually be through others. If you have those who are close to you, ask them to pray and carry on praying for you. (If you don’t find them!) I have a small group of people I confide in who pray for me all the time, but they find it particularly helpful if I share with them what is happening to me. Perhaps we need a retreat – it can be a day or a week. We would like to say that the ‘walk of despair’ should only be temporary, but unless you do some of these things, it can extend. Prov 15:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” It is the same principle that applies here. If you stand alone you are vulnerable. If you have those who can be made aware of the battle and the subsequent weakness, you are on the way to recovery.

The ‘walk of despair’ is all about resources, or to be more precise, shortage of them. In your daily walk with God, when you are in the midst of the battle, those resources can run low. Listen to the apostle Paul: “We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers, about the hardships we suffered in the province of Asia. We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death.” (2 Cor 1:8,9). Did you see that? “pressure, far beyond our ability to endure” Why does the Lord allow that? Listen to Paul again, “But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead. He has delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will continue to deliver us, as you help us by your prayers.” (v.10,11). There it is, exactly as we were saying. This happens, share it, get prayer support to get to the Lord and “he will deliver.” Hallelujah!

Walk of Anticipation

WALKING WITH GOD. No.39

1 Kings 18:43 “Go and look toward the sea,” he told his servant. And he went up and looked. “There is nothing there,” he said. Seven times Elijah said, “Go back.”

Sometimes in the Christian life, in our walk with God, we seem to be waiting and waiting and nothing seems to change. At those times it is easy to give up, but that is something we must resist. The writer of the Proverbs understood this: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” (Prov 13:12). The Message version speaks of ‘unrelenting disappointment’. Hope that keeps on getting put off, disappointment that keeps on and on, these are things that wear us down and perhaps these are the things the apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.(Gal 6:9). Perhaps that was also in Jesus’ mind when we find, “Then Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give up” (Lk 18:1). No, the Bible writers clearly understood the human condition and they knew that when we expect something and it doesn’t happen, and keeps on not happening, there is a strong temptation to give up.

This makes the example of Elijah all the more helpful, so let’s see what is behind our verse above. Elijah has just been through the amazing tussle with the prophets of Baal where God turned up for him and brought fire down on his sacrifice to confirm His presence with Elijah. The Lord has stood up for His man, and that must have felt good to Elijah. After the prophets of Baal have been disposed of, Elijah turns to King Ahab, “Go, eat and drink, for there is the sound of a heavy rain.” (1 Kings 18:41). Now that is an amazing prophetic command because there has been no rain for three years and the sky is still perfectly clear. For there to be rain there needs to be clouds – and there are none! Elijah is saying to the king, it’s all right, you can go and celebrate now, the drought is over. Elijah has just stood in faith against the prophets of Baal and now he stands in faith against the drought. So what does he do? “So Ahab went off to eat and drink, but Elijah climbed to the top of Carmel, bent down to the ground and put his face between his knees” (v.42). He prays! There is an interesting example to follow here. It is all very well to know the will of God (the drought is ending) but we are still to be part of the process of bringing it about by praying for that will to come into being. Elijah knows rain is coming, but he now needs to pray it into being. It’s just how it works.

But Elijah needs to know how long to pray, so he sends his servant to go to look for the clouds. There are none. Now I wonder why Elijah did this? Why couldn’t he have just looked himself? There may be two answers. First he may have been too burdened and felt he needed to totally immerse himself in prayer and, second, he may have felt he wanted to involve his servant and teach him something about spiritual realities. This servant would remember what happened because he was involved in it. His part was to walk the walk of faith, or the walk of obedience, or the walk of anticipation; we can call it a number of things. This servant could have just sat round the corner and not bothered to go. He could have thought, “This is crazy, Elijah has finally flipped after all his exertions with the false prophets,” and not bothered to go. After all, where he was standing he could see around him that there were no clouds!

But this servant doesn’t do that. The man of God has spoken the word from God and so his role is to follow through as requested. He hadn’t had the word but he knew the man who had had it. That was enough. So he goes to the lookout point where he can see across the sea, but there is no cloud. He returns and tells his master. Seven times at his master’s bidding he goes to look and six times he sees nothing. Humanly speaking, with every additional time he would be thinking, “This is a waste of time!” but there is a spiritual dimension to all this – God has spoken, the man of God has spoken, and so ‘sometime’ it IS going to happen. Eventually the word IS fulfilled: “The seventh time the servant reported, “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” So Elijah said, “Go and tell Ahab, `Hitch up your chariot and go down before the rain stops you.’ Meanwhile, the sky grew black with clouds, the wind rose, a heavy rain came on and Ahab rode off to Jezreel.” (v.44,45)

Prophetic people are notorious for getting the timing wrong, but that need not put us off. For decades now we had heard prophetic words saying ‘revival is coming’, and it hasn’t. It’s all right, don’t be put off when dates were attached that didn’t work out, it will happen, in God’s time. Just keep walking the walk of anticipation. He’s said it, so it will come – eventually.

Listen to how Jesus finished off his parable in Luke 18 about persisting in prayer: “And the Lord said, “Listen to what the unjust judge says. And will not God bring about justice for his chosen ones, who cry out to him day and night? Will he keep putting them off? I tell you, he will see that they get justice, and quickly. However, when the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on the earth?(v.6-8). Keep on praying, he taught, because the answer will come, and by the way, when I come back and you’ve been waiting and waiting for me, will you still be faithful? Will you still be walking the walk of anticipation, knowing it’s just a matter of time? Hang on in there! Walk the walk!

Unusual Provision

WALKING WITH GOD. No.37

1 Kings 17:6 The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

The subject of the provision of God is both varied and exciting, and it takes us away from the gloom of the kings as we look in these next four days at the walk with God as it comes to us through incidents in Elijah’s life. Elijah was a prophet who had dealings with the very ungodly and unrighteous king, Ahab (1 Kings 17:1). He has just pronounced a three year drought for Israel and the Lord has told him to leave the area and go to a place east of the Jordan. This was not a day of social security and so the question of food or drink was a very real one, especially when you are in desert areas.

Now the first thing to note is that Elijah had clearly had a word from the Lord about the drought, and he had now clearly had a word from the Lord about where he should go. He is clearly, therefore, serving the Lord and being obedient to the Lord. He is in a good place with the Lord and so, even though the geographical location and climate are inhospitable, he can still trust the Lord to look after him. In this he is quite different from a number of other Biblical examples who ‘ran for the hills’ of a foreign country when a famine came, instead of seeking the Lord (e.g. Abram – Gen 12:10, Isaac – Gen 26:1, and Elimelech – Ruth 1:1,2).

The fact that he goes to this ravine, miles from anywhere in a time of famine, would appear humanly at least to be simply foolish. It will be the last place to get food, but it is the place where the Lord has said to go and therefore he trusts the Lord to provide for him there, especially as he has been told by the Lord that He will provide for him in that place. In our walk with the Lord we are called to walk by faith and not by sight (2 Cor 5:7) and so there will be times when the word of the Lord will come to us to lead us into circumstances that leave us wondering about how we will cope. Don’t worry, He will.

The second thing to consider is the way of God’s provision. There have been some who have suggested that ‘ravens’ is a nickname for a certain group of nomadic Arabs, but whether it is that or literally the birds of that name, it is still a strange and most unusual form of provision that you could not have planned or guaranteed beforehand. In that these scavenging birds dropped him food morning and evening on a regular basis, sufficient to keep him alive, is a small miracle. However we normally tend to use the word ‘miracle’ to apply to something that is completely contrary to nature. Ravens doing this is fairly common to them and so we would prefer here to refer to this as a remarkably unusual provision of food for Elijah, rather than a miracle that we will see tomorrow. Why are we making this distinction? Because God does use natural but unusual means of providing for His people. Let’s consider this question of provision more widely.

Why should we need God’s provision? Well usually it is when all other provision has run out. There is a sense that ALL our food and drink is God’s provision, but having accepted that normal daily life provision is part of God’s design, there are times when that provision seems lacking, for example when there is a famine. Now a famine, in Israel’s case (and possibly in a wider world sense), is an indication of the blessing of God being withheld because of the sin of the nation (see Deut 28:15-19), but although the nation will be suffering this story tells us that God can still provide for His faithful people even in the midst of a famine.

So famines come and God will provide for His faithful people, but if you try and think how that provision will come, you won’t be able to do it, because the Lord does it through a means that you will probably have never thought of. It happens in a variety of ways. One of the famous stories of provision is the story of the Schaeffer family who established L’Abri in Switzerland . They trusted the Lord and again and again and again, He prompted people to send them money, sufficient to meet the needs of the hour. The Lord obviously doesn’t do this for everyone, simply those He has called into a position where they will need such provision. Many Christians through the years have been able testify that as they came to the end of their resources as they served the Lord, suddenly there was unusual provision, provision that came through a natural source, but a very unusual and completely unexpected source. Miracles? Yes, in as far as they are things prompted by God so that where there were no resources there are now resources, but these are ways of provision that come through natural means.

This is a story and a concept that appears to be only for certain special people, but in our walk with God, I wonder if, in respect of our money, we have an attitude that means we are open to the Lord leading us to give money away to bless others? Are we open to be the ‘unusual resource’ that the Lord will use to provide for another person? This is as much a faith action as being on the end as the receiver of the unusual gift. Some of us might then worry, but I haven’t much money so what would happen if the Lord asked me to give to another? You suddenly move from the role of giver to receiver, you become an Elijah where you trust that if the Lord has prompted you to give, He will provide for you afterwards. Fun isn’t it, this life of faith!