Lectionary Reflection for the Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost

This excerpt comes from 1 & 2 Kings (BTCB) by Peter J. Leithart, commenting on 1 Kings 17:8-16:

When the water runs out at Cherith, Yahweh sends his prophet to Zarephath, in the region of Sidon, Jezebel’s territory, Baal’s territory. There too Yahweh proves himself Lord. . . . Israel looks on other gods with favor, so Yahweh looks for other nations to favor.

Yahweh sends Elijah off to a Gentile widow, though, as Jesus said, there were many widows in Israel at the time (Luke 4:25). With all Israel remade in the image of its harlot queen (2 Kgs. 9:22, 30), Yahweh seeks out a poor widow-bride among the Gentiles (1 Kgs. 17:13-24).

Wherever Elijah goes, life breaks out, abundantly, since he is the bearer of the word and presence of the life-giving creator. By providing food for the widow of Zarephath, a Canaanite counterpart to Jezebel, Yahweh shows his superiority to Baal, who, after all, is unable to provide a bit of bread for a Sidonian widow and her household.

In the midst of drought and famine, Elijah’s arrival makes her house a place of uninterrupted provision. When she honors the prophet by giving him her first cake of bread, Yahweh gives her a prophet’s reward (Matt. 10:41), replenishing her oil and flour. In the midst of Baal’s territory, Yahweh provides bread for his prophet and for the widow who supports him.

In faith, the woman puts bread upon the waters and receives an abundant return.


©2006 by Peter J. Leithart. Published by Brazos Press. Unauthorized use of this material without express written permission is strictly prohibited.