1 Kings 17:2-3 – And the word of the Lord came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan…”
For the prophets, the Word of God was the highest authority and allegiance. This explains why Elijah immediately obeyed the word of the Lord, awaiting further instructions from the Lord. This time in solitude was a blessing from God. This time of separation was for Elijah’s protection and preparation, much like Jesus’ 40 days in the wilderness (Matthew 4:1-2) and Paul’s three years in the wilderness (Galatians 1:17-18).
Curiously, we are told that God sent Elijah to “Cherith”. That name can mean either to “cut off” or to “cut down”. Both happened to Elijah at Cherith.
First, Elijah was cut off from the rest of society in solitude. There is a major difference between isolation and solitude. Isolation is bad for us, as we are avoiding the people and circumstances God has called us to, which causes us to be unwell because it is not good to be alone, as God said (Genesis 2:18). Solitude, however, is where we separated from people for a period so that we can be present with God in a more-focused and less-distracted way. This is precisely what Elijah was doing – he was not alone, he was alone with God which is clarifying, healing, and strengthening. Jesus, we are told numerous times in the four gospels “withdrew”, often from crowds. Luke 5:16 (NIV) says, “Jesus often withdrew to lonely places and prayed.”
Second, Elijah was cut down. In the military, the best way to build a soldier is to first break a person down then rebuild them prepared for battle. This process starts in bootcamp. Cherith was Elijah’s spiritual boot camp. God both cut him off and would cut him down before building him back up for increasingly intense spiritual battles.
God supernaturally sustained Elijah. Like the Israelites who wandered in the wilderness for forty years, God provided him bread. Apparently, a raven (curiously an unclean bird in the Old Covenant according to Leviticus 11:13-15) was the first at-home food delivery company bringing bread and meat daily.
Eventually, the lack of rain caused even the brook Elijah drank from to dry up as crisis had hit the nation under God’s judgment. We are simply told, “the brook dried up” (1 Kings 17:7). This is a complete crisis, as the entire nation is under the judgment for sin as a reminder of the universal curse everyone is under because of sin. A person can go a few weeks without food, but only a few days without water, especially in a desert climate. Everything from crops to animals and people would be dying slowly and painfully. God is patient, but His judgment is certain. During this entire time, Ahab did not repent and so it did not rain.
At points in our life, we all have our brook dry up. The business that paid us goes broke, the church that we loved falls apart, the marriage we committed to comes to an end, the city we’ve lived in is no longer our home, etc.
What is perhaps most surprising about Elijah is that he was an ordinary person that God used in an extraordinary way. Elijah was not a superhero with special powers, but a mere mortal like the rest of us. James 5:17 (NLT) says, “Elijah was as human as we are, and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall, none fell for three and a half years!” In this study, we will soon see this very miracle occur.
What do you learn about God’s sovereign power and control in this account?
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