For Our Admonition Part 4 – The Widow of Zarephath

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“The Widow of Zarephath”

Key Verses: 1Ki 17:8–17:16

We continue in the new series “For Our Admonition” that is focused on drawing out spiritual lessons and reminders of the Lord’s plan and process regarding His Elect.  The Lord moves Elijah onward from hiding out from King Ahab, the most wicked king Israel ever had (1Ki 16:30).  There are greater works to be done, and Elijah is commanded to go to Zarephath and be nourished by a widow.

1Ki 17:8. And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying, 
1Ki 17:9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. 
1Ki 17:10  So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 
1Ki 17:11  And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 
1Ki 17:12. And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 
1Ki 17:13  And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 
1Ki 17:14  For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. 
1Ki 17:15  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. 
1Ki 17:16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah. 

The Lord makes a way for His people. Only He can always provide and put His people together to do the greater works of Christ (Joh 14:12).  Elijah is sent to teach (feed the flock) and be taught (fed by the flock), and that is why the Lord makes us needy and incapable of surviving cut off from the Living Christ.

1Co 12:12  For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
1Co 12:13  For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

When our Lord’s ministry began, His words were rejected by His own people, as our words also will be.  He then cited this Elijah story (parable) to indicate that He and His elect are only to go to the true Jews (Rom 2:28-29), the few chosen (Mat 22:14) who are also the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

Luk 4:24  And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country.
Luk 4:25  But I tell you of a truth, many widows were in Israel in the days of Elias, when the heaven was shut up three years and six months, when great famine was throughout all the land;
Luk 4:26  But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta (Zarephath), a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.

This widow is a physical Gentile and is a type and shadow of the Lord’s prophets leaving their own who reject them and going to the Gentiles, who are the true Jews prepared of the Lord.

Act 18:6  And when they opposed themselves, and blasphemed, he shook his raiment, and said unto them, Your blood be upon your own heads; I am clean: from henceforth I will go unto the Gentiles. 

Mat 10:6  But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.

The lost sheep of the House of Israel are scattered all over this world and from all nations, tribes and tongues, even unto spiritual Zidon.  A second witness to this truth is the parable of the Canaanite woman whose daughter was vexed by a demon and who showed great faith and by example that she was of the true house of Israel. The Lord and His Christ go into Zidon to find and feed the lost sheep.

Mat 15:21  Then Jesus went thence, and departed into the coasts of Tyre and Sidon.
Mat 15:22  And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil.

Our reasonable service (losing our life) to the Lord is practicing pure religion.  This has us ministering to the spiritual widows and orphans who do not yet know the Lord in Spirit and in truth to whom the Lord sends us.

Jas 1:27  Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world.

A widow is someone whose husband has died. When we come out of Orthodoxy (the other Jesus), our former husband that bound us to the self-righteous law for the lawless is dead.  Our old way of life is perishing, and we are no longer bound by the law (Moses and Gentiles) that kept us bound for our entire life.  The hearing of the Word releases us from the law as that husband is now (is, was and will be) dead.

Rom 7:1  Know ye not, brethren, (for I speak to them that know the law,) how that the law hath dominion over a man as long as he liveth?
Rom 7:2  For the woman which hath an husband is bound by the law to her husband so long as he liveth; but if the husband be dead, she is loosed from the law of her husband.

Yet we still must come to know the true Jesus before we can be made ready and get married again.  The truth of the Word we are now hearing makes us into spiritual widows.  The fact is we need to be made ready and that can only be by enduring the wrath of God that clothes us in the proper garments.  We will remain a widow hearing only until we are made ready when grace appears.  The marriage to Christ comes after we have been made ready.

Rev 19:7  Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready. 
Rev 19:8  And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints.

There is great spiritual significance to the names and places in Scripture.

Zarepath – Zarephath comes from the root word H6884 “tsaraph” which means refinement and is associated with metal works in a foundry’s furnace.

H6884, tsâraph – Total KJV Occurrences: 33

tried/try,  13
founder, 5
goldsmith, 5
pure, 2
melt, 2

Here are some uses of the root word for the name of Zarephath where we as a widow are approached by the prophets of the Lord.  It is in the Body where we are refined and purified in the Lord’s fiery furnace.

Psa 12:6  The words of the LORD are pure words: as silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times.

Isa 48:10  Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction.

Zarephath is where we are when faith first comes to us by way of a prophet sent by the Lord.  Zarephath is the wilderness, in the land of Canaan that is also Babylon.  The promised land given to Israel includes the land of Canaan which represents the gain seeking ways of flesh.

Oba 1:20  And the captivity of this host of the children of Israel shall possess that of the Canaanites, even unto Zarephath; and the captivity of Jerusalem, which is in Sepharad, shall possess the cities of the south.

Zarephath is a type of spiritual Babylon within us and represents the place or process of being refined through the interaction of the Word, the Lord’s prophets and our unbelieving widow mindset.

Zidon – Zarephath is also part of Zidon [H6721] which is known as Sidon and Tsidon in the NT and which traces back to the first born of Canaan (1Ch 1:13). Sidon symbolizes fishing and where prey is hunted and caught in the nets of our carnal mindedness.  It represents a wealthy and merchandising city of the world (Rev 18:11) and a place of increase of goods as is Babylon (Rev 3:17).

Arguably the most famous Sidonian was Jezebel, the wife of King Ahab (1Ki 16:31), who seduced the king and brought fornication and Baal worship into Israel and who pursued the Lord’s prophets, including Elijah.  Judgment comes in due time to the land of Zidon to burn out the Canaanite spirit in the temple and kingdom of God within us (Luk 17:21).  Spiritually speaking when we leave orthodoxy, we go into Canaan.  That is where the father of faith Abram (type of Christ) was sent and later received prophets and ate bread with them.

Gen 12:5  And Abram took Sarai his wife, and Lot his brother’s son, and all their substance that they had gathered, and the souls that they had gotten in Haran; and they went forth to go into the land of Canaan; and into the land of Canaan they came. 

We find the widow, and we ourselves are found, by the prophet in our spiritual Zarephath.  It is here within the kingdom of God that the land begins to be refined by the fiery Word we are given to eat and drink.  Let’s reread the next verses as we look deeper into the story.

1Ki 17:10 So he arose and went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering of sticks: and he called to her, and said, Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink. 
1Ki 17:11  And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand. 
1Ki 17:12  And she said, As the LORD thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. 

When the Word of God meets the widow, we as that widow, are busy doing carnally minded things (gathering sticks of wood) to feed ourselves and sustain ourselves in the Spirit.  The woman had no hope, which defines the status of those separated from the gift of faith.

Isa 38:18  For the grave cannot praise thee, death cannot celebrate thee: they that go down into the pit cannot hope for thy truth.

The widow needs to hear the Word from the sent preacher (Rom 10:17) to grow in faith.

Psa 130:5  I wait for the LORD, my soul doth wait, and in his word do I hope.

Gal 5:5  For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

If one has faith and a lively hope, then provision is being made by the Lord’s precious promises.

Joh 6:35  And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.

Mat 5:6  Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. 

We are this woman who has no husband, caught between the works of the law which has died in us and waiting on the coming of Christ with truth and grace.  We are then asked of the Lord by the prophet to give to all who ask of us and especially water, food and clothing.

Mat 5:42  Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away.

Luk 6:30  Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
Luk 6:31  And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise.

Before the prophet comes with the word and boldness of a lion, we are this widow gathering sticks outside of faith.  This represents an immature mindset, when we are still under the influences and lies of the harlot being carnally minded and caught between the two mindsets of flesh and spirit.  Instead of sacrificing ourselves and losing our life, we are yet gathering wooden sticks, representing our outward self-righteous works of the law to sustain and save ourselves.  Fire must be spoken to ears that hear that will burn up this wood and bring forth a renewed mindset (Rom 12:2).

Jer 5:14  Wherefore thus saith the LORD God of hosts, Because ye speak this word, behold, I will make my words in thy mouth fire, and this people wood, and it shall devour them.

Making these two sticks into one stick is the promise of the mind of Christ (1Co 2:16) that will come to us more and more as we abide in the fire when chastening grace (Heb 12:6) appears.

Eze 37:16  Moreover, thou son of man, take thee one stick, and write upon it, For Judah, and for the children of Israel his companions: then take another stick, and write upon it, For Joseph, the stick of Ephraim, and for all the house of Israel his companions:
Eze 37:17  And join them one to another into one stick; and they shall become one in thine hand.

Rom 7:24  O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
Rom 7:25  I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Elijah brings comfort and trust through the Word to the widow that is acted upon in faith.

1Ki 17:13  And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son. 
1Ki 17:14  For thus saith the LORD God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sendeth rain upon the earth. 
1Ki 17:15  And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days. 
1Ki 17:16  And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the LORD, which he spake by Elijah. 

The story of the widow acting in faith and giving ALL she had in giving her “two mites” is a similar parable to this widow’s story.  Both gave all they had in their poverty, which is the epitome of faith in action and giving of their very life.

Luk 21:3  And he said, Of a truth I say unto you, that this poor widow hath cast in more than they all:
Luk 21:4  For all these have of their abundance cast in unto the offerings of God: but she of her penury hath cast in all the living that she had.

The widow of Zarephath comes to see that it is by giving all we have and trusting in the Lord by which we will be sustained.  She is taught this by the prophet and trusts that the meal will not waste and will indeed feed them for many days. A mature Solomon came to see this way of the Lord.

Ecc 11:1  Cast thy bread upon the waters: for thou shalt find it after many days.

These stories teach us to give, which requires trusting in the Lord and remembering we are just stewards of what the Lord has given to us.  It is by the Lord through His prophets that the meal and oil is multiplied and the fire spreads.

Heb 6:13  For when God made promise to Abraham, because he could swear by no greater, he sware by himself,
Heb 6:14  Saying, Surely blessing I will bless thee, and multiplying I will multiply thee.

Our brother Victor added a great point I have now added into this permanent study.  He pointed out that these  multiplied blessings from the Lord only come after we deny ourselves for His name’s sake, as this widow has to make a cake for Elijah first, and only after doing that she can make a meal for herself and her son.

1Ki 17:13  And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.

A New Testament witness to this same truth were these words of Jesus Christ.

Mat 19:29 And every one that hath forsaken houses, or brethren, or sisters, or father, or mother, or wife, or children, or lands, for my name’s sake, shall receive an hundredfold, and shall inherit everlasting life.

I have seen firsthand how the Lord does this.  When we cast our bread onto the waters of mankind, to those few the Lord brings or sends to us; that bread is then found later multiplied and used to feed us back.  When we are being used to bring others into the true faith of Christ, we are casting our bread upon the waters and that work, and Word shall not return void (Isa 55:11) and will sustain us through the four seasons of life.

This story is mostly about the blessings of giving and trusting in the Lord to provide and not hoarding for ourselves the things the Lord has given to us.  This is true whether those things be physical or spiritual. The valuable things of life are to be poured out on the Body.  This is contrary to carnal thinking that does not know that Jesus Christ is come in His flesh (Eph 5:30).

Mat 26:7  There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat.
Mat 26:8  But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste?
Mat 26:9  For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

Mat 26:11  For ye have the poor always with you; but me ye have not always.
Mat 26:12  For in that she hath poured this ointment on my body, she did it for my burial (death to flesh)
Mat 26:13  Verily I say unto you, Wheresoever this gospel shall be preached in the whole world, there shall also this, that this woman hath done, be told for a memorial of her.

The memory or memorial of this lesson is this:  It is better to give than to receive!

Act 20:35  I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.

A key lesson to receiving the blessings of the Lord (understanding, healing of false doctrines, etc.) is to become a giver, which is the true fast the Lord desires from His people.

Isa 58:7  Is it not to deal thy bread to the hungry, and that thou bring the poor that are cast out to thy house? when thou seest the naked, that thou cover him; and that thou hide not thyself from thine own flesh?
Isa 58:8  Then shall thy light break forth as the morning, and thine health shall spring forth speedily: and thy righteousness shall go before thee; the glory of the LORD shall be thy rereward. 

2Co 9:6  But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully

We cannot serve God and mammon, and the Lord tries and rewards us when we act according to faith.  To those who are given much, even more shall be given when they honour God.

Luk 16:10  He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

The Lord blesses us when we give in faith of His promises as this widow gave to Elijah.  The meal never ran out, and the oil never failed just as Elijah had spoken.  We can only give what the Lord has given to us even if that is two mites or a thimble of meal.  None of us have anything to do with our possessions of anything be it physical or spiritual valuables.  It is all of the Lord!

1Co 4:7  For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

The Word of the Lord will not fail. The Word is the meal, and the oil is the anointing via God’s Spirit.  This is the sustenance we spiritually live on in every phase of our walk and maturity.  It comes through God’s prophets and angels (messengers), i.e. His elect and is also known as rivers of living waters.

Joh 4:14  But whosoever drinketh of the water that I shall give him shall never thirst; but the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life.

There is always food found in the gathering of the saints.  This Holy City is where the rivers of life flow endlessly with food for all seasons.

Eze 47:12 And by the river upon the bank thereof, on this side and on that side, shall grow all trees for meat, whose leaf shall not fade, neither shall the fruit thereof be consumed: it shall bring forth new fruit according to his months, because their waters they issued out of the sanctuary: and the fruit thereof shall be for meat, and the leaf thereof for medicine.

Even a poor destitute widow is needed in the Body and by acting in faith is able to give back and fulfill the needs of Jesus Christ and feed the flock of God as a shepherd herself (Joh 10:2).

1Co 12:23  And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.
1Co 12:24  For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:

Elijah is a man of faith, one sent to preach the Word that feed and sustain us in the wilderness.  This is an example of how we are to help the spiritual widows we find on whom the grace of God has not yet fallen.  We are the instruments to prepare them for what lies ahead, impart faith and hope by feeding them the pure word of God.

Mat 14:15  And when it was evening, his disciples came to him, saying, This is a desert place, and the time is now past; send the multitude away, that they may go into the villages, and buy themselves victuals.
Mat 14:16  But Jesus said unto them, They need not depart; give ye them to eat.

The Lord knows how to nourish His children throughout all the stages of their growing up.

Act 20:28  Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.

Psa 37:3  Trust in the LORD, and do good; so shalt thou dwell in the land, and verily thou shalt be fed. 

The woman did not die as she thought in her initial unbelief.  Eating meal made with oil brings life through the death (Joh 12:24), that life being the new man increasing as the old man dies.

Joh 6:58  This is that bread which came down from heaven: not as your fathers did eat manna, and are dead: he that eateth of this bread shall live for ever.

Job 5:20  In famine he shall redeem thee from death: and in war from the power of the sword.

This story of the widow and her son is a two-part parable of how the Lord saves us.  Going to Zarephath coincides with our going into spiritual Babylon where we hear the truth and grow in faith.  Yet Christ must come the second time with fire (grace) to save us and deliver us from our sins.  That, as we all know, comes by going through judgment in this age.  First comes the faith by hearing and that is followed by the grace that saves us by killing the man of sin.  The Lord prepares us for the greater trials to come only giving us what we can bear.

1Co 10:13  There hath no temptation (trial) taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

Lord willing, we will cover the grace part of the story next time which will focus on the death and resurrection of the widow’s son.

1Ki 17:21  And he stretched himself upon the child three times, and cried unto the LORD, and said, O LORD my God, I pray thee, let this child’s soul come into him again.
1Ki 17:22  And the LORD heard the voice of Elijah; and the soul of the child came into him again, and he revived.