Elijah’s Exile … pt 3

And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LordGod of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.( I Kings 17:1-5)

The Lawsuit has been served on the Apostate King and his Kingdom There would be no rain or dew for years. This condition has theological ramifications.

Israel is a land which is dependent on two seasons of rain, the early rain, for planting and the latter rains to finish the crop and perfect it for harvest. The promised land was seen as being morally sensitive, it would react to the righteousness or the sin of the people favored to live in it. If they should obey, the land would flourish , a “land flowing with milk and honey”.

But should Israel defect, and descend into idolatry, the Land would react, Even to the point of “Vomitting out the inhabitants of the Land” (Exile)

Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the nations are defiled, which I am casting out before you. For the land is defiled; therefore I visit the punishment of its iniquity upon it, and the land vomits out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, and shall not commit any of these abominations, either any of your own nation or any stranger who dwells among you (for all these abominations the men of the land have done, who were before you, and thus the land is defiled), lest the land vomit you out also when you defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you.” (Leviticus 18:24-27)

Immediately after delivering the Covenant lawsuit, God sent Elijah out of the Land, first across the Jordan to the Wadi Cherith, then up into Zarapath, to dwell with the widow and her son.

There are several possibilities as to why God sent Elijah into Exile;

  • It could have been a practical move, a kind of strategic retreat to keep Elijah from the murderous Ahab and Jezebel.
  • Israel’s sins were going to eventuate in her exile. Unless she repented, She too would be taken out of the promised Land, and scattered among the Nations, as Moses predicted. Elijah was a prophet and his ‘exile’ could have been a pictorial warning of the coming Exile Judgment coming on the ten tribes.
  • Elijah may well have been told to leave the Land as a living example of the deeper spiritual meaning of the physical ‘famine and drought’ God was bringing upon Israel; ida famine for the Word of God, and a drought of the Holy Spirit on the people of God.

Israel’s entire existence was centered around the presence of God in her midst, and the stewardship and benefit of the Torah, the presence of the Word of God as guide and life for the people.

Because of her apostasy the LORD was withdrawing His Word and presence (Spirit) as the Spiritual counterpart to the famine and drought. Amos the prophet verifies this,

Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:  And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the Lord, and shall not find it ( Amos 8:11-12)

In Jesus’ first sermon in his own home synagogue he made mention of this as well,

And he said, Verily I say unto you, No prophet is accepted in his own country. 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; But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta, a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow. ( Luke 4:26-28)

Israel would endure a famine, while her pagan neighbors would be fed. The one man in Israel who represented the “word of the Lord’ was sent across the Jordan, to wait in a Wadi, and be fed by the least likely messengers, unclean Birds!

Because of sin and iniquity, Israel would languish in a drought and a famine, while God would use the unclean, outside of the Land. They had rejected the Word of the LORD, so the Word of the LORD would be sent away, across the borders.

Cherith means a cutting or a separation. Now Elijah would for the time being remain in solitude, outside the Land and in the wilderness, no doubt to plead for Israel to God, and simply to wait upon the LORD, and to learn to trust in his strange provision in a strange and foreign land. As long as there was food and water, Elijah waited…

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1 Response to Elijah’s Exile … pt 3

  1. bryan Johnston says:

    Another very well written part of the story of Elijah and his trials, full of nuggets of hitherto unknown detail (e,g, i never knew, or even thought about ravens being “unclean” c.f. the so-called Prodigal Son eating pig food = the pits for a Jew/Jewess.) Thanks very much Pastor Bill – very enjoyable AND informative as well. God bless+++

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