The Lord Will Provide
1 Kings 17:8-16 (ESV) Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to feed you.” So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” And as she was going to bring it, he called to her and said, “Bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.” And she said, “As the LORD your God lives, I have nothing baked, only a handful of flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug. And now I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said. But first make me a little cake of it and bring it to me, and afterward make something for yourself and your son. For thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, ‘The jar of flour shall not be spent, and the jug of oil shall not be empty, until the day that the LORD sends rain upon the earth.’ ” And she went and did as Elijah said. And she and he and her household ate for many days. The jar of flour was not spent, neither did the jug of oil become empty, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke by Elijah.
Elijah was the mouthpiece of the Lord, first to Ahab with words of judgment, then to the widow with words of blessing and hope. The widow at Zarephath believed the Lord’s word of promise spoken through Elijah, so she gave all that she had to live on over to the Lord by giving it to Elijah.
Similarly, Jesus commends the widow in Jerusalem, who put all that she had to live on into the offering box at the temple, committing all that she had to the Lord and trusting that He would provide for her:
Jesus looked up and saw the rich putting their gifts into the offering box, and he saw a poor widow put in two small copper coins. And he said, “Truly, I tell you, this poor widow has put in more than all of them. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all she had to live on.” (Luke 21:1-4)
As a faithful child of Israel, this woman believed David’s words, “I have been young, and now am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his children begging for bread” (Psalm 37:25), and Jesus’ words, “Blessed are you who are hungry now, for you shall be satisfied” (Luke 6:21).
Both of these poor widows prefigure Jesus, who gave all that He had for us on the cross to save us from our sins and win for us eternal treasures in heaven: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you by His poverty might become rich” (2 Corinthians 8:9).
In Holy Baptism we have been made children of God’s Kingdom (John 3:5), so we possess all that we could ever need for eternity. This liberates us from the need to be anxious over temporal provisions (Matthew 6:31-32) and frees up our time and attention for seeking God’s Kingdom and righteousness in the Church, where Jesus gives us a supply of forgiveness that cannot be spent and a source of joy that cannot be emptied in His Word and Sacraments.
Prayer (LSB 787):
The rich in bright array
Contributed from gleaming hoards
Their scales could scarcely weigh.
And offered them in praise.
They were the last she had to give
Or save for darker days.
And knew she had no more,
He praised a love that spared not self
And called her rich, though poor.
And laid it on a tree;
There gave Himself, His life, His love
For all humanity.
Whatever love demands
And freely give, as You have giv’n,
With open hearts and hands. Amen.