From the time He first called Abraham, God has established Himself as our Provider. From our daily bread to our jobs to our eternal salvation through the sacrifice and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we lean upon the Lord and His promise to provide for all of our needs. We look to Him for wisdom and guidance as we seek to obey His will in our lives.
14 And Abraham called the name of the place, The-Lord-Will-Provide; as it is said to this day, “In the Mount of the Lord it shall be provided.” Genesis 22:14 NKJV
Many centuries later, near the end of Moses’ life, he reminded the people that they were still dependent upon the blessings God had promised to Abraham and to his descendants:
2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God:
3 “Blessed shall you be in the city, and blessed shall you be in the country.
4 “Blessed shall be the fruit of your body, the produce of your ground and the increase of your herds, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flocks.
5 “Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
6 “Blessed shall you be when you come in, and blessed shall you be when you go out. Deuteronomy 28:2-6 NKJV
Today, Christ-followers are also eligible to receive these promised Abrahamic blessings of food and security:
13 Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us (for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree”), 14 that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith. Galatians 3:13 NKJV
So, what does God ask in return for these never-ending blessings He provides? He wants us to have faith in Him as the One True God, to worship no other gods, and to seek Him and obey Him in our daily lives.
God does not expect perfection from us. Only Christ was able to walk the earth without sin. But He does expect us to recognize our sin, to do our best to turn from it, and to follow Him closely as we seek to learn His will for us.
Under King Ahab and Queen Jezebel, the Northern Kingdom of Israel was not doing any of this. Thus, God sent them a severe warning through the prophet Elijah – His blessings would not continue if they continued to walk away from Him to worship and serve other gods. To make matters worse, they were misleading and corrupting many of God’s other followers in the nation.
The Lord’s first warning shot was to take away the “basket and the kneading bowl”. A severe drought would fall upon the land lasting three and half years, drastically cutting into their food and water supply. Call as they might upon Baal and the other false gods they worshiped, this judgement could not be withdrawn until God chose to remove it.
Rather than inflict this severe consequence all on His own, God chose to use a human being to help implement it. He called on the prophet Elijah, a man of deep faith and prayer, and instructed him to earnestly pray for the event to make it happen. Elijah complied, and God heard his prayer. A severe drought and its resulting famine fell upon the whole land.
Word of Elijah’s role in the matter reached the palace. He became a public enemy in the eyes of Ahab and Jezebel, and as she had already killed many of the Lord’s prophets for lesser reasons, the Lord instructed Elijah to flee to a remote brook. Under God’s provision, ravens would bring him bread and meat to eat each morning and evening.
Elijah rested there and watched as the water level in the brook continued to drop, and the seriousness of the drought began to grip the land. Yet even with this hard judgement, the people did not turn back to God, but continued to follow after Baal, who they regarded as their key provider for bountiful harvests and security.
Baal was unable to free them from God’s judgement, and the water level in the brook continued to drop.
Times of trouble come into all of our lives. Most of the time, these bad things happen as a consequence of living in a fallen world. These trials will continue on the earth until all is restored at the time of Christ’s return.
But from time to time, God will let us know that a particular trial is a warning from the Lord. He is not doing it to punish us or reject us, but to help us turn away from some false god or idol that we are chasing after, and to encourage us to turn back to Him. It is being done because He loves us, and not in vengeance. May we hear His message clearly, and give up the stubborn rebellion that so easily comes to all of us.
Lord, help us to recognize the times when you are trying to get our attention through a trial, and help us to give up the false god or behavior that we are chasing after, and to turn back to You in humility and repentance. We ask this in Jesus’ name, Amen.