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Fed by the Master

Last time we said that when Elijah asked God to stop the rain it should have caused the children to learn the taste of gratitude.

Today I want to talk more about the taste of gratitude. We all know the story: after Elijah declared that there would be no rain, God told him to leave the area. Not surprising, God told him to go to the one place where there was still water – the Brook Cherith. He also promised to feed him. What was surprising was how God chose to send food.

Now, we already know that he’s God. Had he wanted to have food fall from the sky he could have done that. He had done it before. The children of Israel had been fed for forty years by food that fell from the sky.

But God had another plan for feeding Elijah, he used his messengers instead. I Kings 17:6 says: The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning, and bread and meat in the evening; and he drank from the brook.

The taste of gratitude is sweet - sweeter than a honeycomb.

There are several fascinating pieces of information in that verse. Let’s unpack them together:

1) Ravens are birds of prey. That they would actually bring food to a non-raven is peculiar. But this shows that animals obey the command of their Creator.

2) The raven was considered unclean to an Israelite. For God to use an “unclean” animal and expect Elijah to eat from it … showed God’s infinite faith in Elijah. It also shows how much we should be willing to submit ourselves to God’s leading.

3) The ravens brought bread and meat to Elijah. Where did the bread come from? Where did the meat come from? Assuming that meat refers to the food of the ground as referenced in Genesis 1:29, where did the plants come from?

It was after all a famine. The people would have been gathering all that they could which would have left nothing for the birds. How far did these birds have to travel to bring the food to Elijah?

4) Predator birds had food that they did not eat. Predator birds had food that they did not eat? How awesome is that? For them to not eat suggests to me that they were well-fed. Either that or they were more concerned with being obedient to their Master than giving in to appetite.  

Now I like to imagine Elijah sitting by the brook, with nothing else to do all day, he must have spoken to God a lot. He may even have looked back at his act of cursing the land and wondering, “What have I done?”

Did he at that point wonder where the people would get food as the drought became more extreme? Did he wish he could undo what he had done? Or did he in fact have a strengthened conviction that he was doing the right thing?

A few hours go by and he realizes he’s hungry. He looks around but alas! Apart from the dwindling waters of the brook there is nothing to see for miles. But wait! What is that on the horizon?

Birds! Lots and lots of ravens. Could this be…? He remembers God saying, “I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” Surely God didn’t really mean ravens. But he did.

One by one the birds came and dropped their offerings in his lap. Bread. Meat. Bread. Meat. Why there was enough for a full serving!

What did that first bite taste like? Did Elijah feel apprehensive about eating from the animal that had been classified as unclean by the great Jehovah? Did he wait until the hunger got unbearable before taking the first bite? Or did he immediately accept the offerings from the raven and eat it?

I don’t know which it was but I believe that it was at that moment that Elijah learnt the lesson that he hoped the children of Israel would learn: how to be grateful. That first bite must have tasted sweeter than manna. Sweeter than the sweetest honeycomb…

In those days by the Cherith Elijah came into the understanding that God is able to provide all his needs according to his riches in glory.

What are your challenges today? How do you need to start appreciating what God has provided for you? Share it in the comments below.

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