What kind of faith do we have?

Published 9:00 am Sunday, November 5, 2023

“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.’” — 1 Kings 17:1 (NKJV)

These first words from the Prophet Elijah reveal the strength of his faith, and also his fearlessness in the presence of Ahab, the wicked king of Israel. His lack of fear is evident when he speaks so boldly to the king of the extraordinary miracle that is about to unfold; there will be a severe drought in Israel that will last some three and one half years, only ending at Elijah’s word.

It is a certainty that Ahab was determined to have Elijah killed (1 Kings 18:10), not only for this prophecy, but for his opposition against the king’s administration.

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What kind of faith, or what of measure, did Elijah possess that allowed him to speak such words to the king of Israel?

After Elijah prophecies the drought, God sends him to hide in the wilderness by the Brook Cherith, where he would be fed by the ravens, and drink water from the brook. Certainly it was for Elijah’s protection from king Ahab and from the others that would be affected by the drought, that God sent him away to hide. As the brook dries up from lack of rain, God sends Elijah to Zarephath, in Sidon, to a widow whom God has commanded to feed him. Upon entering the city, Elijah sees a woman gathering sticks to build a fire to prepare her last meal. Calling to her for a drink of water, and for a morsel of bread, she replies that she only has a tiny amount of flour and oil for her and her son’s last meal. Elijah calls to the widow as she turns to go, “For thus says the Lord God of Israel, The bin of flour shall not be used up, not shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth” (17:14).

What measure of faith could enable Elijah to prophecy such a thing; a handful of flour and a few tablespoons of oil will last as long as necessary? Likewise, what kind of faith could empower a widow to trust enough to share her very last bit of food? A faith that can’t be deterred, that can’t be denied, pure faith, faith as a grain of mustard seed.

The Rev. Bobby Thornhill is a retired pastor.