This is part 2 of a series on Elijah and his MAJOR significance in End Times prophecy/eschatology. Part 1 can be read here.
As previously stated, this series will reveal the importance of Elijah, who the Two Witnesses of Revelation 11 are, who the 144,000 likely are, and how this related to the End Times.
In part 1 we established that Elijah was a Torahkeeping Gentile who was grafted into Israel. We also compared and contrasted him with Moshe (Moses) and revealed part of the significance of his appearing on the Mount of Transfiguration with Yeshua.
As I promised, we will begin to tackle 1 Kings 17 in this part, however, it dawned on me late last night that we have one more piece of background to lay before we can look to Elijah.
Because we are looking at Elijah from an end times perspective, we need to briefly consider something.
James 5:17 tells us specifically that, “Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the earth for three years and six months.” See that? The showdown with Ahab, who is a type of antiMessiah, lasted 42 months, or 1260 days! Revelation 11:3 gives the identical timeframe for the Two Witnesses. “And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth.”
So, Elijah addressed Ahab, then it was 42 months before the Mt. Carmel showdown. This will be of great importance later on as we connect dots, but I put it here to give context as we consider Elijah’s actions during these 42 months. You will see how relevant this is as we move along.
There are three major sections to 1 Kings 17.
Now Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the settlers of Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely 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 away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 4 It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there.” 5 So he went and did according to the word of the Lord, for he went and lived by the brook 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 would drink from the brook. 7 It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. (vss 1-7)
Seemingly, immediately after Elijah addresses Ahab, he is told by Yahweh to ‘go hide yourself.’ Initially, he is commanded to hide himself in his home region. The Brook Cherith, east of the Jordan, is actually very close to Tishbe, the very region Elijah the Tishbite hailed from. I find this interesting for several reasons.
- This is an area he is likely very familiar with… and so will be to those who will begin to search for him.
- The temptation to make forays out into known territory for food might have been strong, but we will see that Elijah was totally dependent on the provision to Yah’s appointed ravens.
- Interestingly, ravens are unclean birds, yet we see Abba use them to minister to his prophet, twice a day, for an extended period of time. This reminds me of manna and quail in the wilderness, however, the is NO evidence that Eliyahu murmured or complained to get it….
In terms of end times, I see a couple lessons. First, and most importantly, Abba has to lead. We must rely on him completely! (You’ll see why I use the ‘we’ later in this study…. Hint.) I am not one to think that zero preparation should be made. We are to be wise and make preparation when we see a storm coming. However, we are not to rely on our own wisdom or provision. That was one of the errors of the children of Israel in the wilderness resulting in them complaining when things did not go their way. They relied on themselves and on Moshe. Not on Yahweh. Like Eliyahu, let us not make their mistake.
The second section of this chapter begins to reveal something very interesting!!
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.” 11 As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” 12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.” 13 Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.’” 15 So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah. (vss 8-16)
On the surface, this is a terrific story of Yahweh’s provision for Elijah, the widow and the son. The language however, reveals much deeper significance.
Typical christian (Greek) thought sees only two levels in Scripture. Literal and spiritual. Rarely does it see both in the same passage and generally, if it doesn’t understand the literal nature of a passage, it defaults to spiritualizing the passage.
Hebrew thought is significantly more sophisticated and sees multiple layers that are complimentary. Learning this way of looking at Scripture has been hugely rewarding. Here is an excellent video explaining and exampling the Hebrew hermeneutic by looking at the virgin birth of Yeshua as revealed in the Tanach. (I’ve watched it several times and get more out of it everytime I see it. I cannot recommend too highly.)
Simply, the Hebrew hermeneutic sees four main levels to Scripture with multiple facets and means of seeing those levels. The acronym PaRDeS is used to remember them:
- Peshat: Plain, simple, direct
- Remez: Hints or deeper meaning beyond literal such as allegorical, symbolic
- Drash: Inquire/comparative based on similar occurances, words, themes, etc
- Sod: secret or esoteric. The mysteries answered through revelation, inspiration.
This second section of 1 Kings 17 begins to reveal that something much deeper is going on. Let’s take it verse by verse.
8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.”
Even as the Brook Cherith dried up, Elijah waited on Yahweh. He did not move until Yahweh told him to move!! When he did move, Yahweh sends him to an interesting person and place.
I Kings 16:31 identifies Ahab’s wife, Jezebel, as being the daughter of the king of Sidon, and ally of Ahab. Further, the widow to whom Eliyahu is sent is definitely a Gentile, confirmed by Yeshua’s own mouth, to the consternation of His audience.
Eliyahu is sent to a particular place in Sidon: Zarephath. This name, or place is called, ‘refinery’ or ‘place of refinement.’ During the Great Tribulation, even in the protecting of His children, Abba will be refining them. Purifying the bride as it were.
Notice, too, that Abba had already made provisions for Eliyahu when He gave him his marching orders. “I have commanded…” Past tense. Abba provides for His people.
10 So he arose and went to Zarephath, and when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks; and he called to her and said, “Please get me a little water in a jar, that I may drink.”
I’m guessing that water was in limited supply. Apparently, as we will see in the next couple verses, the famine is affecting the nations around Israel as well. Surely, the king of Sidon is looking for Eliyahu. Even more certainly, the people will have less of a cultural or familial connection and be more desirous of ‘turning in the trouble maker.’
More than the water being in short supply, my speculation is that this phrase was given to Eliyahu as a password of recognition that the widow knew to listen for.
Here’s where the deeper meaning starts to get interesting.
11 As she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a piece of bread in your hand.” 12 But she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it and die.”
Elijah asks for the one thing she does not really have. Bread. Interestingly, it is the thing that he will provide. I am reminded of the woman at the well in John 4 who Yeshua responds to with, “If you knew the gift of God, and who it is who says to you, ‘Give Me a drink,’ you would have asked Him, and He would have given you living water.” She, too, was an ‘outcast of Israel.’
On a surface level, Elijah is asking for a Firstfruit offering. He is asking that she tithe the lump of dough. Because no leaven is mentioned, it is a possibility that this is the time of Unleavened Bread and the offering would indeed BE a Firstfruits type of offering. Further, adding to this little mystery as to timing, is the realization that it is roughly (okay, in some years almost exactly!) 1260 days from Firstfruits to Sukkot (42 months later, such is the case this year…) which might explain two things: The Mount of Transfiguration at Sukkot and the table set for Eliyahu each Pesach (Passover)!! (That puts the revealing of the antiMessiah, if revealed on the 10th of Abib/Nissan 1260 days before Rosh Hashanah/Feast of Trumpets…)
Even if those things are a bit esoteric in meaning, consider the obvious connector to MUCH deeper stuff in these verses. The woman says, “I am gathering two sticks...” Oh, the English says, ‘a few’ but that is not accurate. The Hebrew says, ‘TWO’, and in that phrase, ‘gathering two sticks,’ your jaw should hit the floor realizing that in the context of eschatology this is a direct reference to Ezekiel 37:15-23ff!! The Author is revealing who the woman and her son are who have given up hope and now expect to die!! Revelation 12 anybody?? This is Judah and Ephraim! (Yes, I know, the ‘Son’ in Revelation 12 is Yeshua, but in 12:17 we see who the antiMeshiach is wroth with: The woman and her children.)
Notice the woman’s attitude toward Yah. “The Lord YOUR God….” She is blaming Yahweh and Elijah for her condition, but she acts with the faith of a mustard seed.
To drive the point home, Eliyahu is being sent to protect and provide for Judah and Ephraim as he turns their hearts toward Torah and the Fathers.
13 Then Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go, do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first and bring it out to me, and afterward you may make one for yourself and for your son.
Eliyahu’s correct response, the mission of a prophet, is one of bringing Yahweh’s people to faith. “Do not fear. Go. Do.”
14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, nor shall the jar of oil be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.’”
Abba provides! The physical needs of the woman and her son will be taken care of, but on a spiritual level, Elijah promises the Bread of Heaven and the Oil of the Spirit until the Fullness of Messiah appears.
15 So she went and did according to the word of Elijah, and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bowl of flour was not exhausted nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah.
She went and did! Obedient trust in the one that The One sent her. Her response is similar to the children of Israel trusting Moshe, but absent the grumbling. (We’ll see a little of that later…) More significantly, and confirming some of the deeper understanding we have already gleaned, is the statement that she and her whole household ate ‘for many days.’ Like the manna in the wilderness, Abba provided daily.
A note here concerning Abba’s provision for us during the Great Tribulation: He will provide what we need when we need it. It will require a daily reliance. Like the Kings of Israel who were to never count their fighting men, I believe if we are placed in a position to be fully reliant on Him, then we need not count or ration beans. There will be more in the pot tomorrow. Scoop it out, thank Yah and move on. Let Him handle the details and give Him the glory!
I look forward to your thoughts and comments. Share any additional insights you may have.
We’ll pick up here as we dig deeply into Elijah and seek Abba’s face to reveal the significance for the great Tribulation. There are some amazing things ahead.