The Widow of Zarephath lessons that we will explore in this post might challenge you.
If you are going through a rough patch, you will find encouragement.
More than anything, the story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath can teach us a lot.
Yes, they are Bible characters from a long time ago but their faith in God has reached across time to uplift our hearts.
Background for the widow of Zarephath
The story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephtah can be found in the following Bible verses: 1 Kings 17: 8-24
Before we get into the lessons from the Widow of Zarephath, let me summarize the story and create some context for you.
Ahab was the king in Israel at a crucial time.
The worship of the true God was at an all time low. It was almost gone.
Baals, the false gods, were erected all over the land of Israel and places of idol worship were on every corner.
Ahab hired hundreds of priests to conduct the services.
The state of spiritual affairs was dim.
So Elijah, the prophet of God, declared a three year drought over the land of Israel.
(Read on to find out why he chose a drought over anything else)
It was in the middle of this drought that Elijah and the Widow at Zarephath become a part of each other’s lives.
Ahab blamed Elijah for the drought and wanted to kill him.
Elijah had to run for his life. God sends him to stay by a brook first.
God provides for him through a raven. But the brook dried up after a while.
God spoke to Elijah again and told him to go to Zarephath.
This is when God brings Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath together.
5 Facts about the widow of zarephath
Who was the Widow of Zarephath? And who was her son?
Here are a few details about her that will help you to understand her story.
FACT #1 – The name of her village was Sarepta. This was another name for Zarephath. It was located between Sidon and Tyre which would be in modern day Lebanon.
FACT #2 – She was a gentile. Zarephath was a gentile country. It was ironic since generally, Israelites were not supposed to be mixing with the surrounding nations. But God is full of surprises.
FACT #3 – Elijah knew she was a widow because of what she was wearing. In those days, widows, especially those without sons, were very vulnerable. Their clothing set them apart so they could receive help from their community.
FACT #4 – She was extremely poor. When Elijah finds her, she was picking up sticks for firewood. Now how long would those last? There was a famine of food. If everything was dying, she should have had more access to firewood. Plus, she was literally down to her last meal.
FACT #5 – The son of the Widow at Zarephath remains nameless. There is much curiosity about what he was called but there is no record of his name in all of Scripture.
What can we learn from the widow of Zarephath
We can learn so many lessons from the story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath.
I will not be exploring all of them in this post or we would have a whole book.
Here we go.
The 7 Widow of Zarephath lessons
Times of crisis are prime time for spiritual warfare
The first of the Widow of Zarephath lessons is that spiritual warfare goes up a notch in times of crisis.
While Ahab and Jezebel and Elijah were drawing swords on earth, that was just a representation of what was happening in the spiritual word.
Ahab and Jezebel worshipped Baal. Elijah worshipped Jehovah.
Baal was said to be the god of the weather. When Elijah declared a drought in the name of the God of heaven, it was the beginning of a showdown.
And this showdown came to a head in the story of Mount Carmel.
Elijah’s names means “Yahweh is my God”. Just Elijah’s presence in the land was an offense to the enemy.
But it was also a declaration that although it seemed like God was absent, He was very much present.
And he was fighting to rescue the hearts of his people from worshiping things that would not serve them.
There is always spiritual warfare over your heart’s loyalty.
God will do what He needs to do to secure your hearts’ complete loyalty.
But only if you allow him.
God is also always looking for opportunities to show up in your life and show off.
God is in the business of protecting his reputation.
He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)
God provides in strange and unpredictable ways
The second of the encouraging Widow of Zarephath lessons is a bit of a cliche.
God works in mysterious ways.
Firstly, the Widow of Zarephath was a gentile. This was the last place that you should expect to find faith.
But anyone who is willing to open their hearts, God is ready to walk in.
This was the case with the faith of the Widow of Zarephath.
Somehow, God pulled her to himself and transformed her heart from false worship to faith-filled.
When this happened, she was ready to be used by God.
And used her he did.
The faith of the Widow of Zarephath turned out to lead to the provision for a tired, depressed, and hungry prophet on the run for his life.
Elijah was a fugitive but God used this widow to give him a place where he could be at rest and have some comfort as he waited for God’s promise to be fulfilled.
The faith of the Widow of Zeraphath is unusual that she is a point of reference for Jesus in the New Testament.
I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time, when the sky was shut for three and a half years and there was a severe famine throughout the land. Yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon. (Luke 4:25-26)
Like Naaman, her faith was unlikely and Jesus makes reference to him as well.
When her level of faith was compared to those who claimed to know God, she stood head and shoulders above them.
She left a legacy of faith that has lasted for generations.
God will make his word come to pass.
This next of the Widow of Zarephath lessons is an exciting one.
When God sends Elijah to the Widow, the instruction was that he had commanded her to feed.
Elijah turns up and two things are obvious. First, she seemed to be unaware of this command.
Second, she was in no position to feed anybody.
The Widow of Zarephath was desperately poor!
She literally was going to eat her last meal and then she was going to starve to death.
It took great faith for Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath to believe God.
Elijah needed to trust that if God said provision would be made, then God’s promise would be fulfilled.
He took God at his word. He knew the current reality did not measure up with God’s promise.
So he made the request for food on faith, knowing that God would no doubt watch over his word and make it come to pass.
Claim and trust God’s promises. They are sure.
Your blessings might be connected to your service.
From the Widow of Zarephath we can also learn secrets for success in life and business.
The Widow had her last bit of sustenance left in this life.
But she was so willing to give from it. She had every right to refuse.
Elijah could be seen as taking advantage of the vulnerable in society.
Nevertheless, she was quite giving.
And when she gave, something amazing happened.
God multiplied the flour and oil so that she did not have to worry about food.
Her life is saved. Her son’s life is saved. Elijah’s life is saved.
Her blessings were full to the running over.
Sometimes our blessing is bound up with our service
When we share, no matter how small, we are enriched.
Even if we ourselves are struggling, reaching out can save you both.
No matter how small or insignificant, we have something to give to someone else to help them.
By doing so we help ourselves and could even save ourselves.
Maybe your times of crisis can be lifted if you reach out to help someone.
God wants us to practice faith over fear.
This a very short Widow of Zarephath lesson about the power of fear versus the power of faith..
When the Widow of Zarephath expresses concern for her meagre meal, Elijah told her, “Do not be afraid.”
For her to move forward in obedience and faith, she needed to put away fear.
Remember, she was looking at the possibility of dying a bit earlier if she gave away her very last meal.
The faith of the Widow of Zeraphath was absolutely stretched to limits!
So many people are prevented from reaching their goals, accessing their blessings, and living an abundant life because of fear.
Fear can be just as strong as faith…if you let it.
Trusting God is a day by day experience
When Elijah declares that her food would not run out, the Widow steps out on this word and uses her last bit of flour and oil to make him a meal.
Elijah lived with her for 2 years and God provided enough for each day.
God did not provide a whole barrel full at once. Just enough for them to live on a daily basis.
The faith of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath helps us to realize that God wants to trust Him each day.
He wants us to lean on him and depend on him daily.
It takes faith to deal with this.
Not in a way that is driven by anxiety. But in a way that is grounded in abiding trust.
Like a baby who knows that mom will come when she needs something, God truly wants us to expect him to show up for us.
You might be living from hand to mouth but recognize that it is God’s hands to your mouth.
God’s promise of provisions is sure.
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. (Psalm 37:25)
And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. (Philippians 4:19)
God hears the prayers of ordinary people
And in case you are wondering if it is possible to trust God in such a way, the last of the Widow of Zarephath lessons will bring the point home.
James 5:17-18 says:
Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.
Elijah struggled with wobbly faith, loneliness, anxiety, and depression. But in times of spiritual crisis, he prayed in faith and God answered.
And note that his prayers were no small prayers and his faith was equally huge.
A three year drought.
Daily provision for food for three years.
Fire from heaven.
Neither are you and I.
We can really pray for and trust God for BIG things.
I’ve stopped saying we should challenge God for big things.
Actually, nothing challenges God.
Instead, challenge yourself to get to that place where your faith triumphs over your fear.
Having a crisis? God’s listening.
YOU MAY ALSO LIKE: Lessons from the Canaanite Woman and her Faith
Final words about Widow of Zarephath lessons
I hope you have been encouraged by these lessons from the story of Elijah and the Widow of Zarephath.
We only explored one part.
But know this – God is in the business of performing miracles for which only he can get the glory. No matter how little, we have something we can use to bless someone.
He will provide for our needs on a daily basis.
He will watch over his word until it comes to pass. But he wants us to trust Him. Completely.
If you want to continue learning from the Widow of Zarephath story, I encourage you to check out some other Bible studies.