8 And the word of the LORD came unto him, saying,
9 Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
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. 1 Ki. 17:8-16
As with the Shunammite woman, this fair lady’s name is not mentioned. But she was equally great. Oh, to be great in God’s sight!
This widow woman was a Canaanite (Oba. 1:20). She was not an Israelite.
Notice it was the Lord who commanded her to sustain Elijah. A command is something that has to be obeyed. This Canaanite woman heard and obeyed God’s Word. This is what makes her so great. In other words, she heard the Word of the Lord in her spirit, and she obeyed it. By obeying God’s Word, this poor widow became a great woman of faith.
In Luke 4:26, Jesus also speaks of this woman:
“24 And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 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; 26 But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.” (Lk. 4:24-26)
Notice the reason Jesus says that Elijah was sent to this Canaanite woman was because she would receive and obey Elijah’s word, which was God’s Word. Even though there were many widows in Israel during the famine, yet none would accept God’s Word to do what this Canaanite widow did – to serve the servant of God their last meal in the face of a deadly famine.
During the time of this great famine, we read that Israelite women were boiling and eating their own children in order to preserve themselves (2 Ki. 6:28-29)! That speaks of character. It would not have been easy for Elijah to convince such a person to let him eat any food that they had prepared first. These people were faithless and desperate.
But God knew the Canaanite widow would obey Him in spite of her grim situation. So He sent Elijah to her.
True faith is obeying God in the face of difficult times, including persecution. I cringe when I think of the many times that I have failed to obey God in the face of just such situations. When I consider this poor, primitive Canaanite woman’s faith, I deeply abhor myself. I realize I am the least in the Kingdom of God. I repent, even this morning. May God have mercy on me.
It does not matter to God who we are or what we do. God is God, and He has commanded us to obey Him. He uses hardships and difficult situations to test our faith. Great faith is not when we are raising the dead. Great faith is when we are obeying God in the face of hardship and trouble.
The Bible says:
“Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison, that ye may be tried; and ye shall have tribulation ten days: be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)
“Be thou faithful unto death”. That is God’s commandment to us.