Friday, September 7, 2012

Have you come to call my sin to remembrance?

Elijah was a man who God spoke to directly, what they called a "prophet" back in the Old Testament days.

1Kings 17:1-7 NKJV - [1] And Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead, said to Ahab, "As the LORD God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, except at my word." [2] Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, [3] "Get away from here and turn eastward, and hide by the Brook Cherith, which flows into the Jordan. [4] "And it will be that you shall drink from the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there." [5] So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and stayed by the Brook Cherith, which flows into 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 brook. [7] And it happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land. 

God had Elijah speak to the wicked king Ahab, and pronounce a curse on the land. Afterwards, God sent Elijah into the wilderness to live by a brook. Ravens, of all creatures, provided food for Elijah. And then God does something interesting

1Kings 17:8-9 NKJV - [8] Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, [9] "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you."

Elijah went where God sent him, without question.

1Kings 17:10-12 NKJV - [10] So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, "Please bring me a little water in a cup, that I may drink." [11] And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, "Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand." [12] So she said, "As the LORD your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die."
This woman was desperately poor. She was different, though. Even in her desperate poverty, she was going to fetch Elijah some water as he had asked. She had not yet mentioned her situation, and only did so when Elijah asked her for food. After hearing of her situation, Elijah makes a pretty shocking request of her:

1Kings 17:13 NKJV - [13] And Elijah said to her, "Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son.

Why would he ask that of her? I am sure she was thinking that very thing. She had indicated there was only a handful of flour anyway, probably enough to make a small tortilla or flatbread, and that was it. Or was it?

1Kings 17:14-16 NKJV - [14] "For thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the LORD sends rain on the earth.' " [15] So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. [16] The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the LORD which He spoke by Elijah.
So God came through and did a huge miracle. The woman obeyed and made that little cake for Elijah, and that jar of flour and bottle of oil never ran out. Every day they fished some out, God refilled it through His creative miracle power. They were living a miracle. But you know what, the woman had something weighing heavy on her heart.

1Kings 17:17-18 NKJV - [17] Now it happened after these things that the son of the woman who owned the house became sick. And his sickness was so serious that there was no breath left in him. [18] So she said to Elijah, "What have I to do with you, O man of God? Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?"

We don't know how long the "...after these things..." was, it could have been weeks or years. But every day she got out another handful of miracle flour from that jar, she might have been thinking "Is today the day?" "Does God really love me, or is He just waiting for the right moment?". Well, in her eyes, that day finally came when God took her son. In a fit of pain she cried out the burden of her heart which had been weighing her down. "Have you come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to kill my son?"

What was her sin? Did it involve her son? Was the son from a secret relationship, a child of adultery? We don't know. Did her sin even have anything to do at all with the child? We don't know. We really don't know anything about her sin other than she mentions it now. It might not even be one particular skeleton in her closet, but rather, just her sins in general, the sort of sins everybody racks up against their account.

Whatever it was, though, it haunted her. She was seeing God as the mousetrap and herself as the mouse. She dared to believe that God was providing for her family through this miracle of the flour and oil, but suspected it was just to lure her into a trap.

Perhaps she was feeling what the Psalmist wrote in Psalm 89:

Psalm 89:46-47 NKJV - [46] How long, LORD? Will You hide Yourself forever? Will Your wrath burn like fire? [47] Remember how short my time is; For what futility have You created all the children of men?

Back when she had nothing left but a handful of flower and some oil, it certainly must have looked like God was hiding Himself from her, or perhaps watching her suffer like we would watch a movie. She thought on that day that she would just go along with it. Get two sticks, eat her last meal with her son, and die.

But God wasn't waiting to spring a trap on the woman and her son. No, he loved them. He was using Elijah to meet this woman's need through ways she would never understand. God is going to provide for this woman again through Elijah.

1Kings 17:19-24 NKJV - [19] And he said to her, "Give me your son." So he took him out of her arms and carried him to the upper room where he was staying, and laid him on his own bed. [20] Then he cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, have You also brought tragedy on the widow with whom I lodge, by killing her son?" [21] And he stretched himself out on the child three times, and cried out to the LORD and said, "O LORD my God, I pray, let this child's soul come back to him." [22] Then the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came back to him, and he revived. [23] And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper room into the house, and gave him to his mother. And Elijah said, "See, your son lives!" [24] Then the woman said to Elijah, "Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is the truth."

God met her at her moment of crisis. She had her sin, and she knew it. But God had more in mind for her other than simply collecting on a debt she owed. He loved her. He loved her son. This woman was given the privilege of being part of a demonstration of a master plan, a plan which would pave the way for anybody who asks to have their sins covered freely, and yet at an extravagant cost.

John 3:16 NKJV - [16] "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

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