“Make Me A Cake”!
How A Widow’s Giving Saved Her Life! (1Kings 17)
Our story takes place in Israel, around 900 B.C. It was a sad and difficult time for the nation, for she was suffering under the reign of the worst king she’d ever had, Ahab! Ahab was greatly influenced by his foreign-born wife, Jezebel, and he adopted her vile religion of Baalism, the worship of the pagan Devil-god, Baal. Under Ahab and Jezebel’s wicked rule, the prophets of the true God were systematically slaughtered, and Baalism became the official state religion.
To show His displeasure, God sent His prophet, Elijah, directly to King Ahab with an ominous message: “As the Lord lives, there shall be no dew nor rain these years, except at my word!” After delivering this warning, Elijah fled deep into the wilderness where he hid from the soldiers of Ahab. The Lord directed him to an isolated canyon where there was not only a small stream for him to drink from, but where he was miraculously fed by ravens whom God commanded to bring pieces of bread and meat to him every day.
Just as Elijah had prophesied, not a drop of rain fell and a severe drought began to grip the land. As the sweltering months slowly passed, the scorching sun took its toll on the parched earth of Israel: Crops failed, water supplies dried up and severe famine set in. Soon Elijah’s own water source, the Brook Cherith, dried up completely also. But God is faithful, and on the very day that the brook ran dry, “the Word of the Lord came to Elijah, saying, ‘Arise and go to the town of Zarephath and live there: For behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to take care of you!'”
Now Zarephath is over 100 miles north of the Brook Cherith, and Elijah had to make this dangerous journey by foot, through the parched and desolate drought-stricken land. After days of trudging through desert wastes, over rocky hillsides and steep mountain trails, he finally arrived at Zarephath, a coastal city in modern-day Lebanon. Weary, hot and caked in dust, as he approached the city gate he spotted a woman gathering sticks. “Water!” he cried out to her, “please bring me some water in a jar that I may drink!”
Taking pity on the weary stranger, the woman rose to bring him some water when he called out to her again, “And please, could you bring me something to eat also!” Turning to him, she exclaimed, “As the Lord lives, I don’t even have a piece of bread, but only a handful of flour in a jar and a few drops of oil in a jug.–Look, I’m out here gathering a few twigs to cook with, to take home and make a final meal for myself and my son, that we may eat, and then die.”
Elijah must have suddenly realised that this poor little impoverished woman was the widow that the Lord had promised would feed and care for him! He then boldly told her, “Fear not, but go and do as you said.–But make me a small cake of bread first, and then make something for yourself and your son!” He then prophesied, “For thus says the Lord God of Israel, ‘Your jar of flour will not be used up, nor shall your jug of oil run dry, until the day that the Lord sends rain upon this land!'”
How absolutely amazed this poor, poverty-stricken widow must have been at this extraordinary proclamation! She must have thought to herself, “I told him how poor I am, how I’m gathering twigs to cook a final tiny meal for my son and myself, and that afterwards we expect to starve to death.–Yet he is asking me to make a piece of bread for him first!”
But because Elijah spoke to her with such authority in the name of the Lord, she knew that he must be a man of God, a prophet, and she believed the Word of the Lord that he spoke. This dear little widow therefore decided to trust God and do as Elijah instructed her. She hurried home and scraped together the last tiny handful of flour from the bottom of the large clay jar that it was kept in. She took her oil jug, tipped it, and drained out the last few drops of precious oil.
It was probably after she had mixed the flour and oil together into a paste and baked the little piece of bread for Elijah, that she received the surprise of her life: Picture this lowly little widow, tidying things up while the bread-cake for Elijah was cooking. She goes to put the empty oil jug in its proper place, and suddenly she notices it’s much heavier than it was a moment ago. Barely tipping it, she can hardly believe her eyes when fresh oil flows out of it!–It is full!
Setting it down, she rushes over to the large earthen pot where the flour is kept, and gasps aloud in astonishment when she lifts its lid!–Instead of the empty, dusty jar she knows it was just a few minutes earlier, it is now filled to the brim with fresh flour!–A miracle has taken place! Her heart overflows with thankfulness to the Lord for such a wonderful manifestation of His blessing!–And just as Elijah had prophesied, “Her jar of flour was not used up, and her jug of oil did not run dry throughout the entire duration of the famine!”
This poor little widow-woman had been out trying to save herself, pitifully trying to gather a couple of sticks so she could make a fire to cook one last cake of bread for herself and her son before they died. But when God’s prophet suddenly showed up and told her, “Bake me a little cake first, and then afterwards, one for you and your son”, God was testing her to see if she’d be willing to put God and His messenger first.
And she did! And as a result, God mightily blessed her, and in the midst of three long years of famine, her jar of flour never ran out and her jug of oil never ran dry! She gave what little she could, and God repaid her beyond her wildest expectations!
This is the way God works: He loves to outgive you, and He will never let you outgive Him! He will always give you much more back than you could ever give to Him!–The more you give, the more He will give you back!
David Livingstone, the wealthy British missionary who pioneered the jungles of Africa and died there for the Lord, said, “I never made a sacrifice for God, because He always repaid me far more than I gave to Him!” He could never outgive God! And even though he ended up giving his life, he has surely reaped eternal rewards for all of the immortal souls he led to Jesus, thousands saved forever!
What many people don’t seem to understand is that the Lord’s finances work the opposite way of the World’s. Most Worldly people think, “Well, when I’ve got my millions, when I’m rich, then maybe I’ll start giving to others and helping the poor and helping support the Lord’s Work!” But the Lord says, “Start giving what you’ve got now, and then I’ll pay you back and give you more!” God’s way to plenty is to give it away! His Word says, “He that withholds unfairly shall come to poverty, but he that gives freely shall gain even more!” (Proverbs 11:24)
So even if you don’t have much, God will bless you if you will give to Him. And one of the ways to give to the Lord is to be good to the poor and His missionaries, to do what you can to help those who are accomplishing the job that Jesus gave to His disciples, to “Feed My sheep.” (John 21:15-17)
The Apostle Paul wrote to a group of believers whom he had personally led to the Lord, “If we have sown unto you spiritual things, is it too much if we shall reap your material things? If others receive support from you, shouldn’t we have this right all the more? The Lord has ordained that those who preach the Gospel should also receive their living from the Gospel.” (1Corinthians 9:11-14)
This is how God intends for His missionaries–those who have given up everything they owned to “go into all the World and preach the Gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15)–to receive their sustenance. And to those who have received God’s Word from such missionaries–just like the little Widow of Zarephath received the Word of the Lord from Elijah–if they will give what they can to help God’s messengers, the Lord Himself will give to them, and will even “pour out such a blessing upon them that there will not be room enough to hold it!” (Malachi 3:10)
Jesus promised, “Whoever will give even a cup of cold water unto one of these little ones because he is My disciple, I tell you truly, he will in no case lose his reward!” And, “Whatever you have done for one of the least of these, My brethren, you have done it unto Me!” (Matthew 10:42; 25:40) So even if you are unable to serve the Lord by sharing God’s Love and Truth with others, you can still be a very helpful and necessary part of the work for the Lord by giving what you can to help missionaries reach and win all they can!
“Give and it shall be given unto you!–Honour the Lord with your wealth, and with the best of all your crops; then your barns will be filled to overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine!” (Luke 6:38; Proverbs 3:9,10)
Copyright © The Family International. All Rights Reserved.