The widow of Sidon

 

pot of oil     “But in truth, I tell you, there were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah, when the heavens were shut up three years and six months, and a great famine came over all the land, and Elijah was sent to none of them but only to Zarephath, in the land of Sidon, to a woman who was a widow.” Luke 4:25-26

Yesterday my blog post was on Luke 4:16-30… Jesus is our Jubilee.   When He begins talking to them in verses 23-27, He was addressing their neglect of being a people of The Blessing….Gen 12:3 “I have blessed you to be a blessing to ALL families of the earth”  

It’s important when we read Scripture that we really read it with the heartbeat of our Father.… a heart that beats with restoration and love.  

In Luke 4 the people expected God to judge their enemies… to have vengeance on them.

Truth be told, sometimes we all feel that way…. so angry with someone or tired of their treatment of us that we cry out like David “slay the wicked Lord!” or like the disciples “Lord, do you want us to call fire down from heaven to destroy them?”.  We tend to like Scriptures like the one in Romans 12:19 that says “Vengeance is mine says the Lord, I will repay”…. of course the next part of that Scripture is if your enemy is hungry, feed him and if he is thirsty, give him a drink.

And Jesus rebuked His disciples telling them they didn’t know what kind of spirit they belong to because He didn’t come to destroy men’s lives but to save them….. sozo – to heal, deliver, rescue, make whole… nothing missing, nothing broken in their lives.  Remembering Romans 5:10 that we were once enemies of God and yet Jesus laid down His life for us.  Our hearts need to beat for our enemies the way God’s does… with love, restoration, being ministers of reconciliation.  Overcoming evil with love – not judgement.

God’s heart has always been for ALL people, every nation… Jews (believers) AND Gentiles (unbelievers).  Rahab, Ruth and the people of Ninevah are examples of God’s saving grace in the Old Testament.  Psalm 2:8 says ask of Me and I will give you the nations as your inheritance.

In Luke chapter 4 Jesus was giving them examples of the Gentiles that Elijah and Elisha had done miracles among… and this widow woman in 1 King 17:8-16 is one of them.  We don’t know the widow’s name, but we know where she is from, her circumstances and the circumstances of the nation at that time.

The land was in a middle of a drought and the brook that Elijah was at was dry. The drought had been for 3.5 years.. meaning the people of Israel could not grow crops and in turn they could not feed and take care of their own widows.

The verses before that tell us that Ahab was Israel’s king and he had married Jezebel.  And then Ahab built altars and groves for her god Baal.  And in doing so he angered God more than any of the Israelite kings before him.  And during this time Ahab commissioned the rebuilding of Jericho through Hiel, the Bethelite…. although God had ordered through Joshua that it never be rebuilt (Joshua 6:26).

This is where the widow resided… a place that was full of idolatry and rebellion… and yet it was just the place where God was going to pour out His grace and extend His love to this Gentile woman.  Luke 4:26 says there were many widows in Israel at the time but Elijah was sent to none of them…. he was sent to this widow only.. a Gentile widow.  God tells Elijah to go to Zarephath in the region of Sidon and stay there because He has commanded a widow there to supply him with food.

God chose her… she didn’t choose Him (John 15:16).  She had no idea that God had commanded her to feed Elijah.  Ephesians 2:8-10 for by grace have ye been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, that no man should glory.  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God afore prepared that we should walk in them.  God prepared her good works in advance… long before she had the opportunity to do them.

Even though there were 7000 in Israel who were still faithful to the Lord… and many would’ve considered it a great honor to help Elijah.  Instead God chose a widow in Zaraphath… a foreigner outside of Israel’s borders.  God chose a Gentile to take care of Elijah…. she didn’t have the priviledges that Paul talked about in Romans 9:4-5….. the people of Israel, chosen to be adopted to sonship, God revealed his glory to them, He made covenants with them and gave them his law, He gave them the privilege of worshiping him and receiving his wonderful promises, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are their ancestors, and Christ himself was an Israelite as far as his human nature is concerned.   Not only did she not have that great heritage…. she had a distinctly ignoble one.

But she did have one thing going for her… in 1 Kings 17:12 she acknowledges the “Lord, God of Israel lives”.  She is a pagan Gentile widow in the midst of a pagan godless area but acknowledges the true and living God. And then she did what the prophet… the man of God asked her to do.  She added faith to her acknowledgement. She believed the word of the prophet and gave ALL that she had. She gave everything… the last little bit to God.   God also later raises this woman’s child back to life.  Faith pleases God.

The gospel is the power of God unto salvation.. healing, deliverance, rescue, making whole… to ALL who believe (Romans 1:16).

Next blog post we’ll look at Jesus’ other example, Naaman the Syrian…..

~ Robin

Jesus is our Jubilee

Jubilee 1

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”  ~Luke 4:18-19

2016 is a Jubilee year (see post-2016 year of God’s manifested goodness).  In Leviticus 25, Jubilee has promises attached to it….

  • Liberty for the captives
  • restoration of family, land, and possessions
  • increase from your field
  • freedom from oppression 
  • safety
  • triple blessings…. blessings upon blessings!   

In Luke 4,  Jesus goes into the synagogue… which was his custom… to read and teach the Word.  The Word was teaching the Word!  This time He went to the synagogue in Nazareth, His home town.   Jesus had just begun His ministry and was becoming pretty well known for all of the signs, wonders, and miracles that He was doing in Capernaum and the rest of the Galilee of the Gentiles.

The synagogue was an intimate place that allowed the Jewish people to gather in a less formal setting than the Temple itself. There were no high priests, no Levites, nor any standard liturgy.  Anyone was allowed to get up and read from the sacred scrolls.  The reader stood and the rabbi sat. They stood up to read the Torah, and they sat down to teach to Torah (Matthew 5:1-2:; Luke 5:3; Matthew 26:55; Luke 10:39;)  In ancient times sitting was the posture of authority.   Here, after reading the scroll of Isaiah 61:1-2,  Jesus assumed the position of a rabbi….sitting while teaching.

The rabbis taught that these two verses were a Messianic prophecy…. and everyone in that synagogue knew the acceptable year of the Lord was the great Jubilee of Leviticus 25.  Jubilee was always a symbol of salvation.. this was the hope of Israel… that there would come a final Jubilee.  When the Messiah would arrive and all the promises to Abraham and David would be fulfilled.  They knew this passage in Isaiah well… it was their hope.  So all eyes were fixed on Him as they waited until He sat down to teach on what He just read.

The only thing He said upon sitting was “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”  What a short teaching… but so life changing for the people listening!  Everyone else whoever read and taught on that scripture said “someday”…. but Jesus said TODAY!  

Jesus was saying everything you’ve been waiting for is here!  The Jubilee you’ve been hoping for stands before you…. I AM your Jubilee… I am your Messiah.... the Messianic age (the age of Salvation) has begun… it is no longer a future hope.  Your Messiah is here!  Salvation has come!  They no longer had to be poor, broken hearted, captive, blind or bruised.  That day Jubilee became a person…. not just a year in time!

  • Jubilee was a time to sound your trumpet of freedom!
  • Freedom from slavery to Satan (Ephesians 1:17, 2:17; Colossians 1:12; Romans 6:14).  Freedom from sickness and disease (Deuteronomy 28:61; Galatians 3:13).
  • Freedom from debt to Satan and the World’s system (Colossians 2:13-14).
  • Freedom from fear (1 John 2:5, 4:17-18).
  • And a time of the commandment of blessing (Leviticus 25:20-21; Deuteronomy 28:8; Ephesians 1:3; Galatians 3:13-14).

Then He closed the Book….He left off the 2nd part of Isaiah 61:2 which was to proclaim the day of vengeance for our God.  Jewish expectation was that when Messiah arrived, He would not only restore the fortunes of Israel but would do so by destroying her enemies.  They expected a Messiah who was a Warrior King!  Such an exclusion from this reading of Scripture was unthinkable for most Jews.

Deliverance from captivity always included destructive judgment upon the enemies of God who enslaved or oppressed them…. the deliverance from Egypt…. the entrance into the Promise Land…. deliverance from the Babylonian Empire…. from the Medo-Persian Empire… why should the Roman Empire be any different.  But God was doing a new thing!!  

Isaiah 43:19 “”Behold, I will do something new, Now it will spring forth; Will you not be aware of it? I will even make a roadway in the wilderness, Rivers in the desert.”

He also gave them examples of Gentiles that Elijah and Elisha had done miracles among.  When He begins talking to them in verses 23-27 He was addressing their neglect of being a people of The Blessing….Gen 12:2 “I have blessed you to be a blessing to ALL families of the earth”  

In verse 23 Jesus indicates that they are asking for signs and for the blessings to flow in their own town because so far Jesus had been doing miracles in Capernaum which was a city of both Jews and Gentiles.  Jesus was indicating that He had come also to be a light and a blessing to the Gentiles.  This would include their Roman oppressors… unthinkable!

Were they offended that He had taken a passage of vengeance and judgment upon the Gentiles and turned it into a passage of mercy and blessing?

Were they offended that His gracious words…. or words of Grace were towards the Gentiles?

He reminds them of Elijah and the widow from Sidon.  He also reminds them of Elisha and Naaman the Syrian.

More on both of the widow and Namaan next time…. 

~Robin

 

Shevat – 5776 (2016)

blessed-2   Yesterday we entered into the Hebrew month of Shevat, which is Jan 11th – Feb 9th on our calendar.

This is a key month to shout “the blessings are mine in Christ.”

Asher is the tribe associated with the month of Shevat.  Asher means blessed or prosperous and comes from the root word “ashar”, meaning to go on, to advance or to make progress.  Asher was blessed with the potential for every earthly blessing – abundant resources, the most fertile land in Canaan, many children, peace with the other tribes, the favor of God and security from enemies.  He is known as the prosperous one. His blessing from Moses indicated both prosperity and pleasure.   

Asher is the blessing beyond the norm – to be given more than what is necessary for survival. 

  • 2 Cor 9:8 “And God will generously provide all you need. Then you will always have everything you need and plenty left over to share with others (New Living Translation).”
  • 1 Timothy 6:17b “….. place your confidence in God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy.”
  • Ephesians 3:20 “Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us”

We are meant to not only be prosperous but to enjoy that prosperity, both spiritual and earthly riches.  Allow God to do the exceedingly, abundantly, above all you could ask, think, hope or imagine in your life this month.  

Shevat is spelled shin-beit-tet in Hebrew.  Shin is a picture of a crown.  Beit is a house, household or family.  Tet is the letter for goodness.  Shevat is God crowning our households, crowning our families with goodness. Psalm 65:11 “You crown the year with your goodness, and your paths drip with abundance.  Another translation says even the hard places overflow with abundance.  

This month get a revelation of all that God wants to do in your life… the prosperity He wants to pour out on you… not just enough but overflow.  Prosperity and pleasure!   Begin to walk in His goodness, in His richness.  Let’s move forward and continue on in the prosperity He has blessed us with.  

This month let us remember to enjoy His bounty in our lives… to be happy…. full of joy, proclaiming “The blessings are mine in Christ Jesus.”  

This is a GOOD month.

~ Robin