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Encounter of Prophet Elijah the Tishbite and the Widow of Zarephath
The word of the LORD came unto Elijah, the Tishbite from Gilead, that he should go and hide by the brook Cherith, (please read 1 Kings 17). God instructed Elijah this way to protect the prophet from the wrath of King Ahab. God also told him that he would drink of the brook and that ravens had been commanded to feed him there. Prophet Elijah went and did according to the word of the LORD. There at the brook, the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening and he drank of the brook. After a while, the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land according to the word of the prophet before King Ahab. Elijah had said unto King Ahab, “As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word”.
Then the word of the LORD came unto Elijah again to go to Zarephath a region of Sidon. Sidon was an ancient and wealthy city of Phoenicia, on the eastern coast of the Mediterranean Sea, about twenty English miles to the north of Tyre in Lebanon and some fifty equal miles from Nazareth. This time God had provided a widow there to sustain Prophet Elijah with water and food. This was the woman we will refer to as “the Widow of Zarephath”. Elijah obeyed; he arose and went to Zarephath. When he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow was there gathering sticks. Elijah called to her, and said, “Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink”. As she was going to fetch it, Elijah called to her, and said, “Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thy hand”.
At this point, the woman confessed her circumstance and limitations saying, “As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die”. She wasn’t a wealthy widow but her first miracle had just begun when Elijah said unto her, “Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me and after make for thee and thy son. For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth”. She went and did according to the saying of Elijah. Then this widow, her house, and Prophet Elijah were sustained for many days because “the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah”. This encounter signalled the beginning of many more miracles to come her way, revealing the Almighty God’s awesome power and love for everyone who would obey Him.
A tragic event happened to this widow over time, “that the son of the woman, the mistress of the house, fell sick; and his sickness was so sore, that there was no breath left in him”. Her son died. She said unto Elijah, “What have I to do with thee, O thou man of God? Art thou come unto me to call my sin to remembrance, and to slay my son?”
This widow recognized that sin would kill families sin would kill communities. She might not have known that we could turn away at any time from our sin and that Jesus would die to give us freedom. Now we know that God always provides us with a way to escape. Prophet Elijah said unto her, “Give me thy son”. Elijah took her son, carried him up into a loft where he abode, and laid him upon his bed, and cried unto the LORD. Elijah said, “O LORD my God, hast thou also brought evil upon the widow with whom I sojourn, by slaying her son?” Elijah stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, “O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again”. The Sovereign and Mighty LORD heard the voice of Elijah and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah took the child, and brought him down out of the chamber into the house, and delivered him unto his mother. Elijah said, “See, thy son liveth”. The joyful widow also said to Elijah, “Now by this, I know that thou art a man of God and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is Truth”.
Some Bible commentaries suggested that the woman’s use of sarcasm was designed to shame the prophet as being the cause of her son’s death. Wrongly too, many go to SCOAN with problems but praying in the mind, “If he is a man of God he should locate me”, or telling Jesus on the cross “If You are the Son of God, jump down”. Nevertheless, Elijah did not try and rationalise with the grieving woman but took the son up and prayed to God asking for His help. The Lord heard the voice of Elijah and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived. Elijah, therefore, regained his honour and his status. Other commentators related that the son raised by Elijah was none other than the Prophet Jonah, most notably associated with the incident involving a giant fish. Similarly, the one raised by Elisha became Prophet Habakkuk.
Prophet Elijah walked with God in obedience and he didn’t let the different or the difficult circumstances he was passing through affect his faith or his relationship with God. Prophet Elijah had a mark of God visible to a widow from a distant land which she saw and confessed with her mouth. Beyond the sustained food that prophetically came her way, after her son was revived she said, “Now by this, I know that thou art a man of God and that the word of the LORD in thy mouth is Truth”. Jesus told His disciples in (Mark 16:17-18) that “These signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues. They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover”. By this, the men of the world would know that we have the mark of Christ, even by the outcomes of our prayers, by our unconditional love and compassion. The disciples were called Christians first in Antioch, (Acts 11:26) because the people saw Jesus Christ in the spoken words of His disciples, in their deeds and acts. The disciples taught and did exactly like their Master Jesus. The widow of Zarephath was similarly able to recognize Prophet Elijah because of the excellent spirit of God living in him.
Jesus referred to the story in (Luke 4:23-28) when His native people wouldn’t believe Him. Jesus said unto them, “Ye will surely say unto me this proverb, Physician, heal thyself: whatsoever we have heard done in Capernaum, do also here in thy country”. Jesus also said, “Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias (Elijah), when the heaven was shut up three years and six months when great famine was throughout all the land; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow”.
There are a lot of similarities between Prophets Elijah and TB Joshua on one hand, and also between this widow and Prophet TB Joshua in another level. The widow opened her door for the man of God just as Prophet TB Joshua of SCOAN keeps opening his door receiving and sustaining many people under his roof. In another way today many Nigerians are filled with wrath, envy, jealousy, doubt, unbelief about the works of Prophet TB Joshua, the Bishop of the Synagogue Church of All Nations, SCOAN, in Lagos Nigeria because he is one of them in Nigeria. Elijah has remained a major Bible Prophet and we assure the public that after Prophet TB Joshua has completed his mission and is gone, Nigerians will know that TB Joshua has been a major Prophet of God and SCOAN will become a Christian Pilgrim Centre for Nigeria, where all nations will be coming to worship and to receive healing. Nevertheless, Prophet TB Joshua shall accomplish the task he is ordained and appointed by God to do because Jesus said He will be with His disciples to the very end.
The general message is that whether it be a TB Joshua of SCOAN, or any other persons professing to be men or women of God, Gamaliel’s counsel in Acts chapter 5 seems most appropriate for cases where any group is in any doubt. Gamaliel, a Pharisees and a doctor of the law, who had a good reputation among his people said, “Refrain from these men, and let them alone: for if this counsel, or this work, be of men, it will come to nought. But if it is of God, ye cannot overthrow it; lest haply ye be found even to fight against God”. We advise that it is better to be found praying for the entire Church of Christ and all classes of God’s Apostles, Prophets, Pastors, this end-time, rather than wrongly fighting against God thinking that you are fighting for God. The anti-Christ might have been around but carnal minds wouldn’t recognize him or her. We should be vigilant and watchful. In any case, how could a Zarephath widow have accepted Elijah into her house and fed the Prophet but King Ahab of Israel, or Queen Jezebel the wife of King Ahab, would not believe? How could God have chosen a poor widow from a distant land to sustain His anointed servants and billionaires in the land would not even be recorded in history books at the end of life? Unless an individual has a personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world, the end may be very sad indeed. Emmanuel