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The Story of Elijah and the Cherith Brook

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What are we to do with a dried up brook? God allows events to transpire in everyday life that has a tendency to test faith. The story of Elijah the prophet is first mentioned in 1 Kings 17, where the prophet steps onto the page without any prior mention. Detailed in this book is the timeline of kings that ruled Israel after David's reign, opening with David's death, and God's discipline and grace with the nation of Israel. 1 and 2 Kings make up one book in the Hebrew Bible, split into two books in the English translations. This post will lightly cover 1 Kings 17 with a sermon from Community Bible Church.

A Three Year Drought

The time of testing usually requires sacrifice and faith, both interchangeably. For Israel, this time of testing would be over the course of three years when the prophet Elijah is told by God that there would be a drought in Israel.

"Now Elijah, the Tishbite, who said to Ahab, "As the LORD the God of Israel lives, before whom I stand, surely there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word" (1 Kings 17:1, NASB).

A quick history of Israel:

  • Mentioned first in Genesis, 1 Kings 11:1 also reiterates God founding Israel through Abram (Abraham)

  • 1 Kings gives a preview of 22 years of Israel's history with 15 kings. There are 12 kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel and 3 kings of the Southern Kingdom (the Kingdom of Judah). Israel is split into two kingdoms upon the rise of King Solomon's son, Rehoboam, to the throne around 901 to 209 B.C. Due to King Solomon not listening to God during his reign as king and obtaining multiple wives, pursuing fleshly passions, and worshipping other gods, God told Solomon that he would stripped the nation of Israel from his family and He did so through Solomon's son Rehoboam (1 Kings 11:1-13)

  • The 12 tribes of the Arab nations come from the family line of Ishmael, the son of Abraham and his female servant Hagar mentioned in Genesis 16. Due to Abraham sinning against God and not waiting for God to give him and his wife Sarah a child, God allowed the ongoing strife of Islam and Judaism that is seen still today in the Middle East.

  • Over the course of the 22 years covered in 1 Kings, Israel has 20 kings that are wicked in God's sight. God allowed the Babylonians to conquer the southern kingdom. The deeds of King Rehoboam are mentioned in 1 Kings 12.

Now that the history of Israel has been recapped, 1 Kings 17 will be better understood. God rises up Elijah, a Tishbite (a resident of Tishbe), to be a prophet to Israel. Elijah told the current king (Ahab) that there will be a drought in the land of Israel. Jezebel, the wicked wife of Ahab, wants Elijah dead and so God tells him to hide himself by the Cherith book, east of the Jordan River. God provided for Elijah here by using ravens to bring him food and the brook to provide him water.

The 100 Mile Journey From the Dried Up Brook

After a while, the brook dried up that had provided Elijah with the nourishment of water. God was calling him forward, out of his silence. God directed him to Zarephath, the land of Sidon. This is the very land that Jezebel was having the prophets of God killed for not worshiping the demon Baal. God was directing him there to strengthen his faith and the faith of a widow that lived here with her son.

"The word of the LORD came to him, saying, "Go away from here and turn eastward, and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. It shall be that you will drink of the brook, and I have commanded the ravens to provide for you there." So he went and did according to the word of the LORD, for he went and lived by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he would drink from the brook. It happened after a while that the brook dried up, because there was no rain in the land. Then the word of the LORD came to him, saying, "Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there; behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you" (1 Kings 17:2-9, NASB).

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The above picture shows the distance of Zarephath to the Cherith brook. It is not detailed how Elijah traveled (whether on foot or by animal), but it is detailed that Elijah followed God even to the heart of this city where Jezebel was murdering the prophets of God--knowing full well that he could be next. The brook that had provided him so much nourishment and tranquility had dried up and God was pressing him forward. This passage details the majesty and sovereignty of God, highlighting that not only will He not forsake His people but also that God is in complete control amidst chaos and confusion.

For the full chapter, please see Bible Gateway.