Monday, September 23, 2013

Trusting our Creator

1Kings 17:1  Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word." 2  The word of the LORD came to him, saying, 3  "Go from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4  You shall drink from the wadi, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." 5  So he went and did according to the word of the LORD; he went and lived by the Wadi Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 6  The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the wadi. 7  But after a while the wadi dried up, because there was no rain in the land. 8  Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, 9  "Go now to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and live there; for I have commanded a widow there to feed you." 10  So he set out and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the town, a widow was there gathering sticks; he called to her and said, "Bring me a little water in a vessel, so that I may drink." 11  As she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, "Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." 12  But she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of meal in a jar, and a little oil in a jug; I am now gathering a couple of sticks, so that I may go home and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die." 13  Elijah said to her, "Do not be afraid; go and do as you have said; but first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterwards make something for yourself and your son. 14  For thus says the LORD the God of Israel: The jar of meal will not be emptied and the jug of oil will not fail until the day that the LORD sends rain on the earth." 15  She went and did as Elijah said, so that she as well as he and her household ate for many days. 16  The jar of meal was not emptied, neither did the jug of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah. 17  After this the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, became ill; his illness was so severe that there was no breath left in him. 18  She then said to Elijah, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!" 19  But he said to her, "Give me your son." He took him from her bosom, carried him up into the upper chamber where he was lodging, and laid him on his own bed. 20  He cried out to the LORD, "O LORD my God, have you brought calamity even upon the widow with whom I am staying, by killing her son?" 21  Then he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried out to the LORD, "O LORD my God, let this child's life come into him again." 22  The LORD listened to the voice of Elijah; the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. 23  Elijah took the child, brought him down from the upper chamber into the house, and gave him to his mother; then Elijah said, "See, your son is alive." 24  So the woman said to Elijah, "Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth."

We are told that Elijah the Tishbite fled for his life from King Ahab and his wife Jezebel. The royal couple were riding the crest of popularity: their marriage, which has been described by historian Israel Finkelstein as a "brilliant stroke of international diplomacy",[1]  had secured the peace between the Northern Kingdom of Israel and the powerful Phoenician empire – leaving the people satisfied that they were safe. Then Elijah delivers a rebuke from God to the effect that their security did not reside in the treaty, but in trusting the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It is often tempting to think that our security needs are to be found in good planning: we put our trust in a police force that has orders to eliminate criminals; or in a military that is better armed than our neighbours; or in trade agreements that will ensure our domination of our economic footprint; or in politicians who can out-think the opposition. The fact is that all of these are fragile arrangements that can unexpectedly fail. The one enduring truth is that life is unstable, and change is inevitable.  When the systems we trust begin to fail us, our only security is that God will carry us though the storms of life.  The challenge of life is to shift our trust away from thinking that we have everything under control, to choosing to trust the One who gives us life each day: “he went and did according to the word of the LORD” (1 Kings 17:5).

Ordinary 26 / Pentecost +19
48 God Supplies Our Every Need
The Scripture passage for the day is drawn from Reuben Job and Norman Shawchuck, A Guide to Prayer for Ministers and other Servants, (Nashville, The Upper Room 1983), 292.
This reflection is from my own devotional exercises for the day

[1]  Finkelstein, Israel; Silberman, Neil Asher (2001). The Bible Unearthed: Archaeology's New Vision of Ancient Israel and the Origin of Its Sacred Texts. Simon and Schuster. pp. 169–195. ISBN 978-0-684-86912-4.

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