When God’s Plans Seem Dumb or to Not Work

This is from 1 Kings 17-18.

God had sent Elijah to go tell the bad king of Israel, Ahab, that, because he was so bad, it wouldn’t rain again until God decided to make it rain again. Naturally, Ahab wasn’t amused and God sent Elijah into hiding by the brook Cherith. God told him to stay there and that he would drink from the brook and the ravens would feed him. Elijah obeyed and he stayed there and drank from the brook and got fed by the ravens. So far, so good.

After some time, though, the brook dried up, because, well, it hadn’t rained in a while. Elijah has a problem, yet he followed God’s will. It sure might seem silly that he went through with this, at least according to man’s wisdom. However, it doesn’t record that Elijah complained to God about this. God came and told Elijah to go to Zarephath and be sustained by a widow woman, who, as it will turn out, is not even able to sustain herself at the moment, let alone him. Again, God’s plan seems, according to man’s wisdom, to be quite nuts. (Whether Elijah knew this about the widow or not, the Bible doesn’t say. What it DOES say is that Elijah again obeyed God and didn’t argue.)

He got there and asked for something to drink. She went to get it. When he also asked for something to eat, however, she said that she had only a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse, and that she was getting sticks to go make it for her and her son so that she could go eat it and then die. Real comforting!!!

Elijah tells her to fear not (something very hard to in her situation, at least from man’s perspective.) and to go and do that, but to make him a cake first. She may have thought that Elijah was a selfish jerk to ask such a thing (He did just come from hiding by a brook and is asking for her last meal. Even if the people in that time and place were nice to guests, that DOES seem quite a strong request all the same.) Then he said that God said that he would ensure that her barrel wouldn’t run out. As this seems physically impossible, from man’s perspective, for nothing is impossible with God, she may have had doubts. However, it says that she obeyed God and did it and she was able to eat many days on this. Ok, a miracle.

However, then things take a turn for the worse. Her son falls ill and he gets worse and worse until he stops breathing. She, and possibly Elijah, have got to be really confused right now. She just helped Elijah and obeyed God and now this happens to her son. She wonders if he has come to remind her of her sins and has come to slay her son (what sins in particular she was referring to, the Bible doesn’t say.)

Elijah asked the widow to take her son upstairs. She let him. He cried to God, asking him, basically, why, after the widow helped him, why this had happened and if it was part of God’s will. Clearly even Elijah doesn’t know why this has happened. However, he at least trusts that God knows what he is doing.

However, Elijah asked God to restore the boy and God did. He took her son back down to her. Now having seen her food sustained and her son restored, she said that she knew that God really did care and that Elijah was a man of God and that God really did speak through him. What a testimony!

In the third year of the drought, God told Elijah to go tell Ahab that God was going to make it rain. Elijah obeyed and went to go meet with Ahab. Meanwhile, a guy named Obadiah, who, despite being one of Ahab’s officers was a good man, and who had hid 100 prophets in two separate caves so Ahab couldn’t get them and had sustained them with food and water, was with Ahab. Ahab had decided to have them look for water so they wouldn’t have to go kill the livestock. They went in two different directions. Obadiah came across Elijah.

Elijah asks Obadiah to go tell Ahab that he is there and to go meet him. Obadiah is hesitant, because, apparently, Elijah is on the top of the list of Israel’s Most Wanted and Ahab is searching everywhere for Elijah and is having people swear that they don’t know where he is before letting them go. If he goes to Ahab, Ahab might get the idea that he was hiding Elijah and kill him. (God’s plan does seem strange. On the other hand, Obadiah does seem to have taken enough risk to hide the 100 guys. Yet, he can’t seem to feel safe about Elijah.) He says that God might hide Elijah, but not him. (Obadiah seems to have a lack of faith.) Elijah said that he served God and would meet with Ahab right then. Obadiah obeys and goes to Ahab.
Ahab comes and a showdown between Elijah and the prophets of false gods soon entails. Elijah mocks the prophets of Baal, suggesting that maybe Baal is on vacation, deaf, or sleeping. The prophets go nuts and cut themselves and many things, but, it doesn’t work.

Elijah, to prepare his offering, adds water to it. It seems odd to have water, especially three times, if you’re going to have a fire, but he did. He then prayed to God. Fire came down. It burned the offering and the altar too.
After this, the people bowed to God. Elijah led them and they killed all of the prophets of Baal. A huge victory had been won for God!
Elijah told Ahab to eat and drink and that a big rain was coming. Elijah went to a mountain and prayed. He knelt down to pray too. He then asked his servant to check to see if he saw anything. The servant said no. Elijah repeated this seven times. By the seventh time, Elijah had got to be wondering what is going on with God and if His plan had failed to work. The seventh time, the servant reported that he’d seen a small cloud.

Elijah sent his servant to go tell Ahab that it was going to pour. Soon the sky was filled with dark clouds. Ahab went on his chariot to Jezreel as it started to pour. Elijah went and ran ahead of Ahab all the way to Jezreel. So, despite God’s plans seeming dumb or not working, if we follow God, everything will work out in the end. Maybe not how we’d like or how we expected it to, but it will.


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