By Henry Mahan
1 Kings 17:8-16; 1 Kings 18:29-39; 1 Kings 20:31-32
Long ago, when the Roman Empire flourished, someone said, 'All roads lead to Rome.' Those who study the Scriptures with a desire to know the only true God and Jesus Christ, whom he hath sent (John 17:1-3), will do well to learn this first: in the Scriptures all roads lead to Christ--his person, glory, and redemptive work (Acts 10:43; John 5:39). From Genesis to Malachi the Old Testament Scriptures declare, 'Someone is coming;' the four gospels declare, 'He has come, behold, the Lamb of God;' and the epistles declare, 'He is coming again.' I want you to consider three examples of faith (recorded in 1 Kings) and how they relate to us; the faith of the elect, the faith of the evangelist, and the faith of the enemy.
1. The faith of the elect
1 Kings 17:8-16. Our Lord Jesus referred to this widow in Luke 4:25-26, when he preached in Nazareth and set forth his sovereign power and mercy as the Messiah (Rom. 9: 14-18).
God sent a famine upon the land for many years. The word of the Lord came to Elijah, God's prophet, to go eastward and hide by the brook Cherith, and there he would be fed by the ravens and drink of the brook (1 Kings 17:1-4). After a time, because there was no rain, the brook dried up (1 Kings 17:7); and the Lord commanded the prophet to go to Sarepta, to a city of Sidon. 'Behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee' (1 Kings 17:9). Elijah found the woman gathering sticks to build a fire. The prophet told her to fetch him a little water in a vessel, and as she went to get the water, he said, 'And bring me a morsel of bread.' The woman replied, 'All I have left is a handful of meal in a barrel and a little oil in a cruse. I am gathering those sticks to build a fire and cook one last cake for me and my son. It will be our last meal, and then we die.' Elijah answered, 'Don't be afraid; go build the fire and prepare the meal; but make me a little cake first and bring it to me; then prepare one for you and your son. For thus saith the Lord, the barrel shall not be empty and the oil shall not cease until God sends rain' (1 Kings 17:10-14). The widow did as she was commanded, and the promise of God was fulfilled toward her (1 Kings 17:15-16).
How wonderful and sovereign are the ways of our God. He will reject the strength and wisdom of the flesh that he may have all the glory (1 Cor. 1:25-31). In the time of famine, he would send his prophet to a Gentile city, to the poorest of women, a widow, to be fed and cared for.
This woman was one of God's elect; for, though she knew it not, God had already prepared her heart to receive his prophet and his word. 'I have commanded her' (Psalm 110:3; Gal. 1:15-16; 2 Thess. 2:13).
The woman heard the words of the prophet and the promise of God to bless and sustain her; and she believed, the evidence of her faith being that she prepared a cake for the prophet first and brought it to him. Like Abraham of old, she believed God against all human reason, logic, and hope and staggered not at his promise (Rom. 4:17-25).
The faith of God's elect might be summed up in this way:
Knowledge - 'I know whom I have believed.'
Confidence - 'I am persuaded he is able to keep.'
Committal - 'That which I have committed unto him.' (2 Tim. 1:12.)
2. The faith of the evangelist
1 Kings 18:29-39. In the third year of the great famine, Elijah called the 450 prophets of Baal and the 400 prophets of the groves to Mt. Carmel and challenged them to call on their gods, and he would call on the name of the Lord, and the God that answered by fire, let him be God (1 Kings 18:19-24). After the false prophets had utterly failed, after crying all day, Elijah's confidence and faith in the living God is seen in two things: (a) His soaking the sacrifice, wood, and altar with twelve barrels of water (1 Kings 18:30-35).
(b) His brief, God-glorifying, sixty-three word prayer (1 Kings 18:36-37). 'The fire of the Lord fell.' 'I believe, Lord, help thou mine unbelief.'
3. The faith of the enemy
1 Kings 20:31-32. Ahab sinned against God in sparing the wicked Benhadad, whom God had appointed to destruction, but the faith of these enemies in the mercy of the king of Israel and the way that they came to him is certainly a lesson for all guilty sinners who seek the mercy of God. Come in the sackcloth of repentance, with a rope about your neck, justifying God's right to destroy you, and owning your just condemnation (Luke 23:39- 43). God is plenteous in mercy to those who seek mercy (Psalm 130:2-8), but the proud he will send away empty. Death, the wages of sin, we have justly earned and deserve; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ, our Lord (Rom. 6:23).