Zarephath

A retelling of 1 Kings 17:8–16

“Have you something for me to eat, something to drink?” the unassuming stranger asked. “I’m weak from hunger and weary from my journey. Please, I beg you.”

My heart reached out to him. I felt the same hunger pains. Zarephath, where I lived, was like wherever this man had come from—in the grip of famine. I too was weak and weary. I too needed someone to rescue me before I perished.

I had almost nothing, and he was asking me to give him what little I had. If I had had only myself to look after, I would have given him my last morsel without a second thought. I had given God plenty of reasons to turn His back on me. I didn’t deserve to live, but what about my little boy, the light of my life, whom I adored?

“Come. … Of course, come in,” I answered haltingly. “But, you see, I have nothing to give you. I have only enough flour and oil to prepare one last meal for my son and myself before we die. We were gathering sticks for the fire when you came up the path.”

He was a handsome child, but gaunt now from having eaten very little for several weeks. A smile lightened his lips. He always had a smile. “Mother, I have found some sticks, too. The wind caused them to fall in the night. They will make a nice fire.”

The man looked deep into the child’s eyes. “Surely, the Lord has led me here,” he said.

I looked over at my boy, his curly brown hair tousled by the stiff breeze. His eyes were fixed on me, the way small children look at their mothers with expectancy and trust.

“Do not fear,” the man said. “Make me a small cake first, and then make some for yourself and your son. For thus says the Lord God, ‘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.’”

I went to the shelf and took down the oil jar. It was light in my hands, nearly empty. Why was I doing this for a stranger? It didn’t make sense.

“Light the fire, my son, while I make the bread.”

I took the sack of flour from its bin. It too was nearly gone. As I kneaded the dough, a strange thing happened. Energy returned to my hands. My feet felt light as I took it to the oven. There was something different about this bread.

I struggled to ignore my hunger pangs as the room began to smell of freshly baked bread, and I avoided my son’s attentive gaze.

The man reached for the bread as I offered it to him. He held it up to God and said, “Lord, bless this food You have provided, and bless these hands that have prepared it.” He turned to me and smiled. “Now make for yourself and your son.”

“But I have just used the last…” I hesitated. His eyes told me that I should just do as he said.

“Son, hand me the flour and the oil.”

The boy’s eyes were filled with wonder as he handed me the flour. The sack was heavier than it had been in days. Then he passed me the oil jar, and as he did, oil splashed on our hands. Our hearts, like the jar of oil, were full to overflowing.

And God was true to His word. What had once been only a handful of flour and a few drops of oil kept the three of us alive for nearly three years, until the famine had passed.

1 Kings 17:8-16 – 8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed 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, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” 12 And she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now 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.” 13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon the earth.’” 15 And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord that he spoke by Elijah.

4 Comments

  1. May 28, 2014, 7:42 pm   /  Reply

    Dear Sir
    I am new to this site, but found this site so interesting to join them and study the word of God from our scripture the bible . Hope to hear from you as reply.

    Regards :
    Steve Kinikanwo Atako

  2. james o' brien
    May 15, 2016, 10:54 pm   /  Reply

    Yes Jesus said asked in my name and I will give it to you just asked jlmmy o’ brien.

  3. Deanna Lynn
    May 16, 2016, 1:09 pm   /  Reply

    Lord this is a beautiful sight to come to to read your word to hear a story to hear about your word Lord. I and many others are in despair and need your strength and your love we have many luxuries of life and one of them is a phone what a beautiful app to bring before my eyes so that I may read your word beautiful story about oil and bread none to spare but the Lord says to share and trusting thank you so much to the editors the writers may you be blessed may your home be filled with oil and bread thank you so much. in Jesus precious name amen

  4. Maureen
    May 16, 2018, 12:16 am   /  Reply

    O, that I may trust him more with my little!
    O, that I will serve him wholeheartedly in plenty !
    O, that I will be faithful to bless a stranger in my lack !

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