Tony Evans - Encountering God's Provision
Today I want you to experience an encounter with God and his provision. I want you to come to see him again for the first time as your provider in 1 Kings chapter 17.
Beginning in verse 8, this is what we read: "Then the word of the Lord came to him," that is Elijah, "saying, 'Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there. Behold, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you. So he arose and he went to Zarephath. And when he came to the gate of the city, behold a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, 'Please get me a little water in a jar, that I might drink.' And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, 'Please give me a piece of bread in your hand.' But she said, 'As the Lord your God lives, I have no bread, only a handful of flour in the bowl, and a little oil in the jar; and behold, I am gathering a few sticks that I may go in and prepare for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.' Then Elijah said to her, 'Do not fear; go do as you have said, but make me a little bread cake from it first, and bring it out to me; and afterwards you may make one for yourself and for your son. For thus saith the Lord God of Israel: "The bowl of flour shall not be exhausted, and nor shall the jar of oil be empty until the day that the Lord sends rain on the face of the earth.'" So she went and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. The bowl of flour was not exhausted, nor did the jar of oil become empty, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke through Elijah".
Here is one of the great stories in Scripture of God's provision. First of all, why does God allow us to be in circumstances where it looks like he is not providing? I am certain that there are plenty of stories here where you have felt like God has let you down by leaving you out, by not coming through when you wanted to, when you needed him to, when you ask him to, when you desired him to. And it looks like when you're in a hurry, he's taking his time. And he has not satisfied the need for provision.
There are a number of reasons why God allows his people to be in circumstances where provision is lacking. In this particular chapter, it was because of the sin of idolatry. God had made it clear that when you go after other gods you let those other gods take care of you. "When you abandon me," Deuteronomy 11, verses 16 and 17, "if you leave me for other gods, then I will close up the heavens and there will be no rain". For an agricultural environment, rain was critical. In other words, don't call on my blessing when you're worshiping another god. And let the competition take care of you.
So when we abandon God through our sin and our idolatry, we walk away from the provider. So one of the reasons why provision is absent is that we have moved away from the provider through our sin, through our idolatry. Remember, an idol is any noun, person, place, thing, or thought, that you go to and appeal to as your source. He says that the reason why Israel right now was dried up and there was a drought is because they had abandoned God for the idols of Baal. So one reason why provision may be lacking is God has been abandoned which means you are now left to your own resources to provide for yourself because he's no longer appealed to, respected, and followed as your Jehovah-Jireh.
That's one reason. But that's not the only reason. Another reason why God allows lack of provision in our lives in a multiplicity of arenas, areas of our lives, is because he is trying us, testing us. Deuteronomy chapter 8, verses 1 to 3, God says: "I let you get hungry. I let your food get low so that I might test your heart". In addition to that kind of test, he goes on in that same passage and says, "And I did it to humble you". In other words, to get rid of some of your self-sufficiency. One of the reasons God will allow lack: emotional lack, physical lack, financial lack, career lack.