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  • Writer's picturePaige Patterson

I May Not Be That Hungry!

God has a sense of humor! In fact, I can almost hear God announcing to an audience of cherubim, “Ok, have a seat and just watch this.” For example, in 1 Kings 17:4, God announces to an incredulous Elijah, “… and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.”

Elijah’s thought pattern may have included something like, “Lord, I am just not certain that I have ever been that hungry.” His cerebral process might have continued, “Now, Lord, you created what is it? manna on the desert floor and flew in delicious doves for your rebellious children in the wilderness. Reckon why you are going to feed who knows what to your faithful prophet using ravens for table waiters? Lord, I do not want to be picky, but have you watched the feeding habits of those feathered avians?”

Now ravens are quite intelligent birds. Unlike most in the animal kingdom, they are monogamous and capable of demonstrating faithfulness and grasping the exercise of multiple transactions. Omnivorous, their own diet often includes carrion. Consequently, Elijah may have had a reservation or two about the table waiters God had chosen.

Several important lessons leap from the pages of such Old Testament narratives. First, King Ahab and his Sidonian Queen Jezebel have followed the example of Omri and raised the stakes of rebellion against God. As a result, God sends a drought across the land of three-years duration. The godly and the ungodly suffer through this bone-dry season, and that includes Elijah. But God is not unaware of the need of His people. Elijah needs shelter from Jezebel’s wrath so God cares for his needs by the Brook Cherith and employs the ravens in an emergency air drop so that the prophet will not famish.

The lesson is that God’s people have to live in a fallen world. In such a world, the judgment of God is frequently evident. Covid-19, riots, and political upheaval are only the most recent examples. But as Habakkuk prayed, “O Lord, I have heard Your speech and was afraid; O Lord, revive Your work in the midst of the years! In the midst of the years make it known; in wrath remember mercy” (Hab 3:2). God does remember His children and send His servants (the ravens) to minister to our needs.

The second lesson to appropriate is that God loves variety. In the sacred volume, He makes use of a lion, ravens, a rich fish, and a preaching donkey—to cite just a few. Be prepared for the unusual when the Lord steps in. He even uses wicked, godless beings, military leaders, and others who have no intention of being used of God. Sometimes He makes use of a hungry rod (snake) as when Moses’ rod was hungrier than those of Pharaoh’s magicians, whose rods were consumed.

In the economy of God, all creation is available for the demonstration of His power. As observed in the created order itself, God’s imagination is more extensive than the universe itself. The Bible itself is a revelation that exhibits God’s love of variety.

A third lesson demanding notice is that God’s resources are inexhaustible. Ours are limited. The brook dries up. Food is scarce. Yet as the psalmist sang, “I have been young, and now am old; yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken, nor his descendants begging bread” (Ps 37:25). God’s provision is never sparse.

A concluding observation concerns a rather remarkable capacity in God. How can an ineffable being ferret out a way to communicate to mere mortals? The precise answer to that enigma may elude us, but the fact that He is able to bridge the communication gap with a great fish in a storm-tossed ocean, a lion and a donkey to wait for the arrival of an aging prophet, and black birds to serve a prophet his meal is sufficient to establish the cogency of His speech to humans. Even passing references to incidental happenings abound with instruction in the amazing Word of God.


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