The Mother who Fed 5000 and the Widow of Zarephath

In Study the Women of the Bible by revealadminLeave a Comment

We’ve all heard the phrase, “It’s like taking candy from a baby.” A chortle may escape our heart as we remember retorting those words to some hapless kid we shook down, but what if it was our baby? Our hapless kid who had nothing left, but one meal to eat. Would you be willing to give your child’s meal away to someone who asked for it?

I want to focus on a “step of faith.” Both of these women’s testimonies required faith to give of their “last” to God. “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality – faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this faith the men of old gained [divine] approval.” (Hebrews 11:1-2)

The widow of Zarephath lived in Sarepta which belonged to Zidon—a fact marking the striking providence of God. When the land of Israel was apostate and unsafe, Elijah found a welcome refuge in a heathen country. Although brought up among worshipers of strange gods, it would seem as if she had come to know about the faith of the Hebrews before Elijah the prophet came her way. She came to accept it more fully as the result of what she saw and heard due to Elijah’s sojourn in her poor home.

Of an alien race, she was likewise a widow with a child to keep. Half-way between Tyre and Sidon, she had the humble home her husband had left her, and from a few olive trees and a small barley field she was able to eke out a frugal living for herself and her growing boy. When seasons were favorable what she was able to gather sufficed for her modest needs, but when a terrible drought killed the growing harvest then her poverty was most acute. Little did the distressed widow realize that deliverance was at hand—that never again would she and her son suffer the pangs of hunger—that the rough-looking stranger who appeared at her door one day was to be her provider for many a day.

Elijah was a hunted man on the run, for the godless Queen Jezebel had set a price upon his head, and the sleuths of the wicked queen hunted in vain for the prophet who had pronounced the doom of Jezebel and her equally godless husband, Ahab. They never thought of looking for Elijah in the poor home of a starving widow. Yet she was the one whom God had singled out to shelter the prophet for some two years. She fed him, as a heaven-protected guest, with fearless faith.

When Elijah met the widow she was gathering sticks to make a final scanty meal out of the last cakes and oil she had. What pathos was in the woman’s reply to Elijah’s request for a drink of water and a morsel of bread. She said—As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake but an 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.

Famine in the land had emaciated the widow and her boy, now they have come to their last meal. Once this was eaten there would be nothing to do but throw their haggard, fleshless bodies on the bed and await their release from suffering—the terrible death of starvation. But she was to be the widow whom God would command to sustain Elijah. His commands were to be His enablings, as she was to daily prove. Hereafter she and her son were to live from hand to mouth, but it would be from God’s ever open hand to their mouths—and the prophet’s as well!

This woman of true hospitality who, in her willingness to share her only mouthful of food with a stranger whose face indicated a weariness born of fatigue and thirst, and exhaustion due to long travel, knew not that she was to entertain an angel unawares. She yet took the stranger in, and proved herself to be a noble type of Christian hospitality in that it was exercised out of the depth of her poverty.

She might have protested when the beggar asked for food by saying, “Have a heart, sir! Do not mock me, a destitute widow who, with a dying son, has only one scanty meal left.” Had this nameless woman met the request of Elijah with bitter scorn, asking him what he expected to find in a famine-stricken house, and also what kind of a man was he to take the last morsel of food out of her mouth, we would have understood her refusal. But no, she did none of these things. It may be that her kind heart said, “I’ll share these last cakes with him, for death will soon end our hunger.” Although she felt sharing the final meal would hurt both herself and her boy, she ventured out to give the hungry man who had come her way a portion of it, not realizing that her venture was to be one of faith, and would become the evidence of things not seen.” [1]

A some what similar scene takes place in a desolate, remote countryside, far away from nearby villages. Jesus has taught thousands of open hearts, hungry for the Word of God. Christ’s compassion toward those around Him was never ending. “They were like sheep without a Shepherd.” But, when the day was not far spent and night drew, the disciples suggest the spiritually well-fed find food of their own.

You give them something to eat” countered Jesus. Oh, to have seen the surprise and dismay on the disciples faces as Christ dug deep into their hearts for compassion and faith! Obedient to the command, the provision found was ordinary, five loaves of bread and two fish caught along the edge of the bank.

A young boy clenches a bag of mediocrity. He holds his mothers hand as they listen to the Man of God preach. His heart burned within him as Jesus taught in words he could even understand.   His attention was disrupted as his mother looked up toward the darkening sky. Yes, it was almost dinner time, stomach grumbling as a reminder his little body needed food. A voice walking through the crowds interrupted his thoughts, “Food! Does anyone have any food?!” The lad saw one of Jesus’ disciples combing the crowd for anything of sustenance. Unable to see further, the young boy asked his mother, “What are they looking for?” She looked down and smiled, “There looking for food. Jesus must be hungry.” Looking down at the small morsels the two would share, a smile spread across her face, “Come, let’s go share the little we have.”

Little did this youthful boy, the small ordinary dinner he carried would bring forth a miracle from heaven. Nothing is impossible with Jesus Christ! Taking a step of faith, willing to give the last of all he had, a faith-filled boy gives what he has to Jesus. If committed whole-heartedly to Him, God can take something so small and multiply it beyond anything we can imagine. A step of faith!

Woman, you are loved. God loves everything about you, including the circumstances you may view as mediocre. There is nothing impossible for God. He desires to draw close to us through every situation, so we may know Him better. Whatever you may have, whatever dream or seed has been planted in your spirit, or whatever goal you think you may never reach, give it Jesus. Remember the woman with two mites, Jesus praised her for giving all she had. Remember Mary of Bethany, she had a bottle of perfume to love Him with and what she did will be told to the ends of the Earth. Remember barren Hannah, all she had was an empty womb she dedicated to God. Remember the woman at the well, all she had was a bucket to draw water from, receiving living water from heaven. Stopping looking at your circumstances, but take a step of faith, giving God ALL you have.

I want to inspire you with the “Chapter of Faith” from Hebrews 11. My prayer is we all give God everything we have, from our hearts to our provisions, I believe God wants to move. We have to take the first step of faith!

“Now faith is the assurance (title deed, confirmation) of things hoped for (divinely guaranteed), and the evidence of things not seen [the conviction of their reality—faith comprehends as fact what cannot be experienced by the physical senses]. For by this [kind of] faith the [a]men of old gained [divine] approval.

By faith [that is, with an inherent trust and enduring confidence in the power, wisdom and goodness of God] we understand that the worlds (universe, ages) were framed and created [formed, put in order, and equipped for their intended purpose] by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things which are visible. By faith Abel offered to God a more acceptable sacrifice than Cain, through which it was testified of him that he was righteous (upright, in right standing with God), and God testified by accepting his gifts. And though he died, yet through [this act of] faith he still speaks. By faith [that pleased God] Enoch was caught up and taken to heaven so that he would not have a glimpse of death; and he was not found because God had taken him; for even before he was taken [to heaven], he received the testimony [still on record] that he had walked with God and pleased Him.

But without faith it is impossible to [walk with God and] please Him, for whoever comes [near] to God must [necessarily] believe that God exists and that He rewards those who [earnestly and diligently] seek Him.  By faith [with confidence in God and His word] Noah, being warned by God about events not yet seen, in reverence prepared an ark for the salvation of his family. By this [act of obedience] he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness which comes by faith.

By faith Abraham, when he was called [by God], obeyed by going to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went, not knowing where he was going.  By faith he lived as a foreigner in the promised land, as in a strange land, living in tents [as nomads] with Isaac and Jacob, who were fellow heirs of the same promise.  For he was [waiting expectantly and confidently] looking forward to the city which has foundations, [an eternal, heavenly city] whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah herself received the ability to conceive [a child], even [when she was long] past the normal age for it, because she considered Him who had given her the promise to be reliable and true [to His word].  So from one man, though he was [physically] as good as dead, were born as many descendants as the stars of heaven in number, and innumerable as the sand on the seashore.

All these died in faith [guided and sustained by it], without receiving the [tangible fulfillment of God’s] promises, only having seen (anticipated) them and having welcomed them from a distance, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.  Now those who say such things make it clear that they are looking for a country of their own.  And if they had been thinking of that country from which they departed [as their true home], they would have had [a continuing] opportunity to return.  But the truth is that they were longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one. For that reason God is not ashamed [of them or] to be called their God [even to be surnamed their God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob]; for He has prepared a city for them.         By faith Abraham, when he was tested [that is, as the testing of his faith was still in progress],  offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises [of God] was ready to sacrifice his only son [of promise];  to whom it was said, “Through Isaac your descendants shall be called.”  For he considered [it reasonable to believe] that God was able to raise Isaac even from among the dead. [Indeed, in the sense that he was prepared to sacrifice Isaac in obedience to God] Abraham did receive him back [from the dead] figuratively speaking.  By faith Isaac blessed Jacob and Esau [believing what God revealed to him], even regarding things to come.  By faith Jacob, as he was dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and bowed in worship, leaning on the top of his staff.  By faith Joseph, when he was dying, referred to [the promise of God for] the exodus of the sons of Israel [from Egypt], and gave instructions concerning [the burial of] his bones [in the land of the promise].

By faith Moses, after his birth, was hidden for three months by his parents, because they saw he was a beautiful and divinely favored child; and they were not afraid of the king’s (Pharaoh’s) decree.  By faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter,  because he preferred to endure the hardship of the people of God rather than to enjoy the passing pleasures of sin.  He considered the reproach of the  Christ [that is, the rebuke he would suffer for his faithful obedience to God] to be greater wealth than all the treasures of Egypt; for he looked ahead to the reward [promised by God].  By faith he left Egypt, being unafraid of the wrath of the king; for he endured [steadfastly], as seeing Him who is unseen.  By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of the blood [on the doorposts], so that the destroyer of the firstborn would not touch them (the firstborn of Israel). By faith the people [of Israel] crossed the Red Sea as though they were passing through dry land; but when the Egyptians attempted it they were drowned.

 By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they had been encircled for seven days [by Joshua and the sons of Israel]. By faith Rahab the prostitute was not destroyed along with those who were disobedient, because she had welcomed the spies [sent by the sons of Israel] in peace.

And what more shall I say? For time will fail me if I tell of Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, of David and Samuel and the prophets,  who by faith [that is, with an enduring trust in God and His promises] subdued kingdoms, administered justice, obtained promised blessings, closed the mouths of lions,  extinguished the power of [raging] fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, became mighty and unbeatable in battle, putting enemy forces to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection; and others were tortured [to death], refusing to accept release [offered on the condition of denying their faith], so that they would be resurrected to a better life;   and others experienced the trial of mocking and scourging [amid torture], and even chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned [to death], they were sawn in two, they were lured with tempting offers [to renounce their faith], they were put to death by the sword; they went about wrapped in the skins of sheep and goats, utterly destitute, oppressed, cruelly treated  (people of whom the world was not worthy), wandering in deserts and mountains and [living in] caves and holes in the ground.

And all of these, though they gained [divine] approval through their faith, did not receive [the fulfillment of] what was promised,  because God had us in mind and had something better for us, so that they [these men and women of authentic faith] would not be made perfect [that is, completed in Him] apart from us.” (Hebrews 11)

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