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Elijah and the Widow

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Marvel (4-5)Year 2Unit 2 (Marvel at God’s Wisdom and Strength)Session 4

Elijah and the Widow

God cares for people who trust in his Word.
Faith Nurture Goals
  • Delight in the remarkable way God cared for Elijah, the widow, and her son.
  • Trust that God will care for all of our needs.
  • Identify some things we trust God for.
Memory Challenge

Leader Reflection

Preparing to Tell God's Story

We take a sudden jump in time from the divided kingdom to the reign of the wicked King Ahab. The intervening years chronicle the sad story of the gradual decline of Israel, both the northern and southern kingdoms, into idolatry and apostasy. The refrain we read over and over: "He did evil in the eyes of the Lord , following the ways of Jeroboam. . . . " (1 Kings 15:34).

King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel, come to symbolize all that has gone wrong with God's people. Jezebel is a foreign wife, and like the wives of Solomon she imports her idols; Ahab supports her by building a temple to Baal. Ahab, the author remarks, "did more to arouse the anger of the Lord . . . than did all the kings of Israel before him" (16:33).

But God did not leave his people alone. In the next few sessions we will follow the story of Elijah, the prophet who confronted kings and called the people back to faith in their God. All of a sudden, with no warning or introduction, Elijah the prophet shows up in the courts of Ahab to announce a famine over the land that will last for three years: "[T]here will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word" (v. 1). Imagine announcing to the king that now the word of this scraggly prophet of God will control the most vital resource in the land!

No wonder God tells Elijah to get out of there at once and go to a remote place---the Kerith Ravine or wadi near the Jordan. The Lord promises to provide for him, and for some time he is fed by the ravens that bring him meat and bread---another of God's miracles performed through his creatures.

But then the water dried up, and the Lord told Elijah to move north, across the border, to Zarephath. Notice how God assured Elijah of his continued care, divulging little about how he would go about providing it: "I have directed a widow there to supply you with food" (17:9). Sure enough, Elijah discovered a widow gathering some sticks for a fire. The prophet asked for some water and then for some bread. Hearing his requests, she spilled out her story of poverty and desperation, telling him that she was preparing to make a last meal for herself and her son before they both died of starvation.

Elijah had seen enough of the Lord's care to declare to her that, if she would only do as he said, the Lord would take care of them. "The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord sends rain on the land" (v. 14), he promised. And so there was food enough every day for this little family and their strange guest. Some time later God, through Elijah, also raised the woman's son when he became ill and died.

If these stories remind you a little of Jesus (who fed people in the wilderness and raised the dead), they should. The people of Jesus' day saw the similarity too. In fact, some thought Jesus was Elijah returned to life (Matt. 16:14). And it was Moses and Elijah who stood with Jesus on the mount of transfiguration (Mark 9:2-13).

One of the fascinating features of these stories is how Elijah listens to God and obeys God's commands, even when they don't seem to make any sense. Elijah is a model of the kind of faith we all need---and a reminder of the kind of God who promises to take care of us. These stories show how God, even in judgment, will not abandon his people.

  • How does Elijah get to speak before Ahab?

  • What kind of attitude does the woman in Zarephath have toward Elijah?

  • Have you ever had to act on God’s command or prompting before you really knew that God was going to provide for you?

  • The children in your group will certainly identify with the poor widow and her son, who had to share their last meal with this stranger. Perhaps you can share moments in your own life when you acted in obedience even before you knew how God would take care of you.


Step 1 Gathering for God's Story

  • earth smart
  • self smart

Before the children arrive, lay out four sheets of paper or newsprint, labeled with the following headings printed in large letters: Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner, and Snacks.

Welcome everyone and ask about their week. What’s happened since the last time you met together? Be sure to let the children know you are interested in what goes on in their lives throughout the week.

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