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.” Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.” So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook. – 1 Kings 17:1-6
Wow the last several chapters of 1 Kings has been a dry and dusty place spiritually. Each king is worse than the last…dragging the Israelites further and further from God. They have replaced God with idols and the worship of other gods. This is somewhat a legacy of the choice by Solomon to take wives…700 hundred of them….from the non-Israelite neighbors. In this passage we have a refreshing return to following God.
It is interesting that the water imagery used in the early books of the bible describing “Brooks of Water” and “dew from heaven” is used again here as the Israelites are trying to get a clue and return to following God unconditionally.
Ahab is the current king of Israel and is described in the previous chapter, “Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him”. This lack of following God has become a landslide of disrespect and disobedience. It is out of control and careening toward disaster. Elijah the prophet is sent to get the Israelites attention by informing them that God intends to bring a drought on the land. Spiritually this drought has been ongoing since the times of David and has become a dust bowl of desperation for the Israelites. Perhaps they are ready to listen now…
God provided for Elijah in a miraculous way with ravens delivering his meals and water from a brook. What God wants from the Israelites is not so different. He wants them to wholeheartedly trust Him with their lives and livelihood just like Elijah. I think God desires the same thing of us as followers of Christ. What does this look like today? How can we rely on ravens and brooks?
The ravens in this passage represent a miraculous provision that Elijah probably would not have predicted. We too should expect God to show up in miraculous ways that we do not expect. I suspect it will look different than ravens arriving with dinner from Applebee’s, but it may be just as unexpected and surprising. I believe God delights in surprising us, just like we like to give gifts to surprise our kids or friends.
Obtaining the water from “brooks” looks a little different. I think this is expecting that God will show up in a consistent and regular way just like the water flowing in a brook. Brooks or streams are classified as either perennial or ephemeral based on whether they have water flowing in them throughout the year. In the desert streams are often ephemeral and only flow in response to heavy rains. Perennial streams have a source of water that allows them to flow year-round. This water source can be from groundwater or from a watershed that is large enough to capture and slowly release water over a long period of time.
God provides living water in our lives in both modes, as a flash flood and perennially, however we do need to go where God needs us to be to find it.
Prayer: God thank You for providing brooks of water when and where we need it.