Grades 3-6 Sunday School Lesson
Elijah: Where God Guides, He Provides
Lesson 2: God Provides When the River Runs Dry
Author’s Notes: This week, we’re continuing a series of lessons on the prophet Elijah. We will specifically focus, with each lesson, on what God called Elijah to do; and how God provided the way for Elijah to obey. These lessons are a great reminder that no matter what God calls each of us to do, He will be right there to meet our needs along the way; because where God guides, He always provides!
What does the word “trust” mean? (allow the students to respond, then share the following definition). “Trust” means believing that someone will do what they say.
If you have individual chairs in your classroom, try this example of trust: invite one of your students to the front of the classroom. And invite them to sit on a chair you have placed there. But before they sit down, ask them if they trust the chair to hold them. Then ask if they trust you not to pull the chair away when they go to sit down. Remind them that trust is often demonstrated in our actions. If the student sits in the chair, they are showing that they trust the chair, and you.
When we say we trust in God, it means that we believe the promises we find in His Word. And we can demonstrate that belief by obeying His instructions because we know we can rely on His promises.
Why should we trust God? (allow the students to share their reasons) We should trust God because He has told us, in His Word, that He loves us; and that He wants the very best for us. And we know we can trust Him because He has shown Himself faithful, in His Word.
Has God ever broken a promise? No. Sometimes He does things in ways we don’t expect. But He always keeps His promises! God’s Word is full of examples of His faithfulness, and doing all that He says He will do. We can be sure that when we trust God to take care of us, He will always do what’s best for us in His own special way and time.
So, should we believe everyone who says, “Trust me?” No! Why not? Because unlike God, not everyone is trust-worthy. Not everyone will keep their promises. And there are some in this world, including Satan, who will even try to gain your trust only to deceive you, and lead you to sin. So it’s very important to make sure we’re placing our trust in someone, like God, who has our best interest at heart.
In our lesson today, God is once again going to ask Elijah to trust Him. We’re going to find God leading him to move, once again. And Elijah will have to decide whether he will trust God enough to obey Him. And do you think that God will take care of Elijah, just as we saw Him do in our last lesson? Of course He will.
But we’re also going to meet someone new, this week. A widow woman is also going to be asked to trust God, and follow His directions. And her decision could cost her the lives of herself and her son. And just like Elijah, the widow woman is going to learn that the Lord is, indeed, faithful. We’re going to see that God supplied all of her needs, just as He promised to.
Our memory verse for this week reminds us that God will do the very same thing for us, when we place our trust in Him. Let’s learn together what God has promised concerning our needs.
Memory verse: (Have the children repeat this verse with you several times, until they are able to say it themselves. And encourage them to repeat it to others several times during the week, so that it’ll have a place in their hearts.)
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:19
Opening prayer: Lord, thank You for each student who’s here, today. And thank You for Your Word, The Bible, where we can learn new truths about You, and Your promises to us. Help each one of us here, today, to be attentive to what You would have us learn. Give us open ears and hearts, ready to listen to Your words. Amen.
This Week’s Lesson: The Prophet, Elijah Meets the Widow of Zarephath (1 Kings 17:5-16 )
In our last lesson, we met the prophet Elijah. We listened, as he courageously stood before wicked King Ahab, to deliver a message from the one true and living God. Does anyone remember what that message was? Elijah told Ahab that God was going to stop the rain. And that it would only begin again when he said so. Do you remember why God had chosen to take away the rain? Did Ahab worship God? No. He worshipped an idol called Baal. And Baal worshippers believed that he was the god of rain. So God was directly challenging Ahab, and the god that he served.
And since the rain didn’t stop just over Ahab’s house, Elijah needed a place where he could find food and water, not to mention protection from an angry king. So the Lord sent Elijah to live by the brook Cherith. Do you remember where Elijah’s food came from? Let’s look again at the end of our scripture passage from our last lesson, to see just how the Lord provided for Elijah.
5So he went and did according unto the word of the LORD: for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan.
6And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
Who brought Elijah’s food every morning and evening? God sent ravens to bring food for Elijah. We talked last week about the fact that God will never lead us someplace where He won’t also provide for our needs. Food from the mouth of a bird might not have been what Elijah would have asked for. But our God is creative! And He may very well provide for our needs in unexpected ways, too. When He does, we must always remember to be thankful; because God loves us, and will always provide the very best for us.
If we had been in Elijah’s place, we might have started to wonder about that, as we read the next verse. We’ll get there in just a moment. But keep in mind that God has promised to always provide for our needs. Not necessarily those things we might just wish we had. And sometimes God seems to wait just a little longer than we might like to provide for those needs. But when He does, we learn to trust a little bit more. That’s what it means to have our faith stretched! So let’s look at the next verse, to see what happened that might have stretched Elijah’s faith in the Lord.
7And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
God had told Elijah to go live by the brook. And for a while, Elijah had everything he needed there. But after some time, without rain to replenish it, what happened to the brook? It dried up! What do you think you might have been thinking, as day after day there was less and less water in the brook? Do you think you’d have wondered if God forgot about you? After all, He is the Creator. He could have miraculously added more water to the brook, just for Elijah, if He had chosen to.
But that was not God’s plan. He was going to once again ask Elijah to trust Him, and follow His direction. And as He had before, God already had a plan in mind for how He would continue to provide for His prophet. So let’s continue in today’s passage to see where God sent Elijah next.
9Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there: behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee.
God told Elijah that he was to leave the brook, and go to a city called Zarephath, in the region of Zidon. Now, does the name Zidon sound familiar to anyone? We have heard that name before. Zidon was the area evil Queen Jezebel came from. And it was well known for being a region where Baal was considered to be their chief god. So God was telling Elijah to go right into the heart of enemy territory!
And who did God say would be there to take care of Elijah? Some wealthy businessman who had a large home, and plenty of food to share? No! God was sending Elijah to a widow woman. She was probably one of the poorest, most needy people in her city. But God saw something in her heart that was greater than any wealth. He saw faith! And we’ll see how she demonstrated that faith in just a moment.
First, we again are going to see Elijah’s faith being lived out in his obedience to God; even when he was being sent into a tough situation. There is no indication that Elijah hesitated, or questioned God in any way, even though the idea might have sounded crazy. As he did when God sent him to King Ahab, then again when He sent him to live by the brook, Elijah once again simply did what the Lord asked him to do.
10So 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.
11And 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.
God didn’t make it hard for Elijah to find the widow woman God had sent him to. When he arrived at the city gate, she was right there gathering sticks. Do these verses tell us that Elijah went to her and introduced himself? Or explained to her how God had sent him there? No. Elijah just asked the woman for some water, and a little bit of food. Remember, this woman was a widow. And the fact that she was out gathering sticks probably meant that she had no one else taking care of her. So with no one helping her, even during good times, she was probably just barely getting by. But these weren’t good times. It was a time of severe drought and famine. No one had extra food or water; especially not a widow.
But regardless of the difficult circumstances, did you notice the widow’s reaction to Elijah’s request for water? She had gone, right away, to get him some. This was a woman who, though poor and needy herself, was willing to give of what she had to Elijah. God had selected, for Elijah, a woman with a giving heart. Unfortunately, though, she did not have enough to give Elijah all that he asked for…or so she thought.
12And 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.
The widow woman probably would have liked nothing better than to be able to provide a meal for Elijah. But she was living in a very desperate situation. She had only enough food in the bottom of her barrel to feed herself and her son one last meal. And what did she expect would happen after that? She assumed there would be nothing left for them, and they would starve to death.
But we’re going to see that not only did the Lord send the widow to provide for Elijah, He also sent Elijah to provide for the widow. Because the Lord’s going to do the same thing for her that He was doing for Elijah. God was going to ask her to do something for Him, in providing food for His prophet Elijah. But He was not going to leave her helpless. God was preparing to provide the way for the widow to do just what He was asking of her.
13And 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.
14For 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.
We need to keep in mind, here, that this woman lived in an area where most of the people probably worshipped Baal. They believed that Baal, and not the Lord, was the one who sent the rain. They believed that he was the one who allowed them to have enough food because of the rain Baal would send them. But who did Elijah say would be the one to send rain? Elijah said it would be the Lord who would decide when the rain would come again.
And what did Elijah say that the Lord was promising the widow, if she would feed Elijah, first? Her meal and oil would not run out. Notice, he didn’t promise to fill the barrels up. She would have to keep trusting that though the barrel was nearly empty, the Lord (and not Baal) would keep supplying.
And don’t miss the order of how things worked out. The widow needed to obey, first! Then, when she had demonstrated her faith by obedience, God would provide. The widow would have to use the meal and oil she had, even though it looked like the end of the barrel, to feed God’s prophet first. What if God wasn’t powerful enough to do what Elijah said. Then her response to Elijah would not only cost the widow her own life, it would cost her son’s, as well. But this widow was not only a giving woman. She was also a woman of faith. She must have believed, with all her heart, that what Elijah said was true. She must have believed that if she took care of this prophet of the Lord, that He would do as He promised, and supply the food she and her son needed to survive.
And of course God did just as He promised.
15And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16And 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.
From that day on, until the Lord again sent rain for the nation of Israel, the widow woman’s barrel never emptied of meal. And her jar of oil never ran out. The Lord was faithful to do just what He had promised.
The Lord was going to work through His prophet Elijah, to show the people of Israel, from the poorest widow to the mightiest king, that He alone is the one, true and living God. He was the God who decided when it was going to rain, and when it was not. He was the God who could keep supplying food for Elijah, and for a believing widow.
And the Bible tells us that God is the same yesterday, today, and forever! We can trust Him because He has proven Himself faithful, time after time. Has God ever shown Himself faithful to you? If you have accepted Jesus Christ as your Savior, then God is faithful, every day, to keep you saved by His gift of grace. He is keeping you clean by the blood of Jesus. And His Holy Spirit is in you, helping you to keep from sinning.
God is also meeting all of your needs in His best way and time. We may sometimes find ourselves in places where things seem to be drying up, just as Elijah did. But Jeremiah 29:11 promises us this: “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” No matter how things may seem, no matter how close to the end of the barrel things get, God will always be there to supply all of our needs because He loves us, and wants the very best for us. Remember our memory verse! He is supplying according to His riches in glory. And that’s a supply that will never run dry!
Closing Prayer: Heavenly Father, thank You for the example of Elijah and the widow. And thank You for reminding us that You will always be there to take care of us, and supply all that we need. We love You, Lord. And thank You, this day, for Your faithful provision for us. Help us to be grateful, each day, for all that You supply. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Activity: (Review Questions)
Fill in the Blanks
True or False
1. The brook God had sent Elijah to dried up in the drought. (true)
2. When Elijah arrived in Zarephath, he could not find the widow. (false – she was at the city gate gathering sticks)
3. The widow thought that she and her son would soon starve to death. (true)
4. The widow made herself some food first, then fed Elijah with what was left. (false – she fed Elijah first, just as he had asked)
5. God provided the widow with an endless supply of meal and oil. (true)