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This transaction proves that God actually is, as the Scriptures represent Him to be a FATHER to the fatherless and a HUSBAND to the widow; and the relation of it must afford comfort to all persons in extreme necessity, since it proves, that no condition is so hopeless, but the Providence of God can afford relief.
It is scarcely possible for any person to be in more indigent circumstances than the poor widow of Zarephath. In losing her husband she seems to have been deprived of every earthly friend, and knew not where even to procure a little fuel to dress the last morsel of nourishment she had a prospect of obtaining for the sustenance of herself and child. She lived in a country where the inhabitants were so devoted to vice and sensuality as to be insensible, even in plentiful times to the distresses of a fellow-creature; for we find the heathen described by David, as oppressing the fatherless and widow; and we may suppose them, during the famine, wholly intent on their own preservation.
This woman's trial was great, and great was also her reward; for the Lord graciously made her a partaker of the miraculous support which he vouchsafed to his chosen servant; and not only relieved the necessities of her and her child, but gave her an opportunity of exercising the benevolence of her mind, in doing good of fices for a worthy friend. Elijah received great comfort from the conversation of this good woman, and no doubt rewarded her kindness by teaching her how to praise and adore their Divine BeneFACTOR.
It is true, we have no Prophets in these days, neither does the ALMIGHTY relieve our distresses by supernatural means; but, to a considering mind, the annual increase of corn, from a small quantity of grain, is full as wonderful as the multiplying of the widow's meal and oil; and
we may daily hear of persons being relieved from distress by the most unexpected means. To a common eye, these things appear accidental; but by the history of Elijah, and the widow of Zarephath, we are taught to ascribe them to the goodness of God; since what He has done for one, we may conclude he will do for ALL his creatures, in some way or other, if they do not forfeit His mercy by mistrust and impiety.
This incident was also particularly calculated to encourage all those who should afterwards be employed, as Elijah was, in the immediate service of the Lord, to expect miraculous supplies in cases of extreme necessity, and to admonish all others to treat the Lord's prophets with respect.
THE HISTORY OF AHAB KING OF ISRAEL CONTINUED
BAAL'S PROPHETS SLAIN,
From 1 Kings, Chap. xviii.
And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the Loud came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go shew thyself to Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.
And Elijah went to shew himself to Ahab: and there was a sore famine in Samaria.
And Ahab called Obadiah which was the governor of his house : (now Obadiah feared the LORD greatly.)
And Ahab said unto Obadiah, Go into the land, unto all fountains of water, and unto all brooks: peradventure we may find grass to save the horses and mules alive that we lose not all the beasts. So they divided the land between them to pass
throughout it : Ahab went one way by himself, and Obadiah went another way by himself.
And as Obadiah was in the way, behold, Elijah met him: and he knew him and fell on his face, and said, Art thou that my lord Elijah ? and he answered him, I am : go tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah is here.
And he said, What have I sinned, that thou wouldest deliver thy servant into the hand of Ahab, to slay me? As the LORD thy God liveth, there is no nation or kingdom, whither my lord hath not sent to seek thee : and when he said, He is not there: he took an oath of the kingdom and nation that they found thee not.
And now thou sayest, Go tell thy lord, behold, Elijah is here.
And it shall come to pass, as soon as I am gone from thee, that the Spirit of the LORD shall carry thee whither I know not; and so when I come and tell Ahab, and he cannot find thee, he shall slay me : but I thy servant fear the LORD from my youth.
Was it not told my lord, what I did when Jezebel slew the prophets of the LORD ? how I hid an hundred men of the Lord's prophets by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water ?
And now thou sayest, Go tell thy lord, Behold, Elijah, is here : and he shall slay me.
And Elijah said, As the Lord of Hosts liveth before whom I stand, I will surely shew myself unto him to-day.
So Obadiah went to meet Ahab, and told him: and Ahab went to meet Elijah,
And it came so pass when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel ?
And he answered, I have not troubled Israel, but thou and thy father's house, in that ye have forsaken the
commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.
Now therefore send, and gather to me all Israel unto mount Carmel, and the prophets of Baal four hundred and fifty, and the prophets of the groves four hundred, which eat at Jezebel's table.
So Ahab sent unto all the children of Israel, and gathered the prophets together unto mount Carmel.
And Elijah came unto all the people, and said, How long halt ye between two opinions? if the LORD be Gon, follow him : but if Baal, then follow him. And the people answered him not a word.
Then said Elijah unto the people, I, even I only, remain a prophet of the LORD; but Baal's prophets are four hundred and fifty men.
Let them therefore give us two bullocks, and let them choose one bullock for themselves, and cut it in pieces, and lay it on wood, and put no fire under :
And call ye on the name of your gods, And I will call on the name of the Lord : and the god that answereth by fire, let him be God. And all the people answered and said, It is well spoken.
And Elijah said unto the prophets of Baal, Choose you, one bullock for yourselves, and dress it first; for ye are many : and call on the name of your gods, but put no fire under.
And they took the bullock which was given them, and they dressed it, and called on the name of Baal from morning even until noon, saying, O Baal, hear us. But there was no voice, nor any that answered.
Anil they leaped upon the altar which was made.
And it came to pass at noon, that Elijah mocked them, and said, Cry aloud : for he is a god, either heris talking, or he is pursuing, or he is on a journey, or peradventure he sleepeth, and must be awaked,
And they cried aloud, and cut themselves after their manner with knives, and lancets, till the blood gushed out upon them.
And it came to pass when mid-day was past, and they prophesied until the time of the offering of the evening-sacrifice, that there was neither voice, nor any to answer, nor any that regarded.
And Elijah said unto all the people, Come near unto me, And all the people come near unto him: and he repaired the altar of the Lord that was broken down.
And Elijah took twelve stones, according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob, unto whom the word of the LORD came, saying, Israel shall be thy name.
And with the stones he built an altar in the name of the LORD: and he made a trench about the altar, as great as would contain two measures of seed.
And he put the wood in order, and cut the bullock in pieces, and laid him on the wood, and said, Fill four barrels with water, and pour it on the burnt-sacrifice, and on the wood.
And he said, Do it the second time: and they did it the second time. And he said, Do it the third time: and they did it the third time.
And the water ran down about the altar, and he filled the trench also with water.
And it came to pass at the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, that Elijah the prophet came near and said, LORD God of Abraham, Isaac, and of Israel, let it be known this day, that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.
Hear me, O LORD, hear me, that this people may know that thou art the LORD God, that thou hast turned their heart back again.