King Ahab was a wicked man and “did more to provoke [Heavenly Father] than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”

Besides the many other evil things they did, Ahab and his followers worshiped graven images of wood and stone. They also believed in a false god named Baal.

Hoping to humble these foolish and proud people, the prophet Elijah was sent by the Lord to warn them. Elijah told the king how displeased our Heavenly Father was with him and with his people’s wickedness. He warned the king that there would be no rain or even dew in the land until the Lord permitted it.

The Lord then commanded Elijah to go secretly and live by the brook Cherith where ravens would bring him food to eat each morning and evening. As promised, the birds fed Elijah faithfully. But in time the brook dried up because there had been no rain. The Lord then directed Elijah to go to Zarephath and dwell with a widow who lived there. When he arrived in that city Elijah saw the widow gathering sticks. Thirsty from his journey he said to her, “Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.” As she turned to go for the water, Elijah also asked if he might have a little piece of bread.

“As the Lord thy God liveth,” the woman answered, “I have not a cake [bread], but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse [jar]: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it [make a small loaf of bread] for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

Elijah’s heart was touched by her words. He knew that there was famine in the land because the grain needed precious rainwater and full streams to make it grow. Nevertheless, the prophet tested the woman’s faith and, hoping to ease her mind, he said, “Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me a little cake [bread] first, and bring it unto me, and after make [bread] for thee and for thy son.

“For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, the barrel of meal [flour] shall not waste [become empty], neither shall the cruse of oil fail [run dry], until the day that the Lord sendeth the rain upon the earth.”

And it was true as the Lord promised through his prophet. Each day there was enough meal and oil for the widow and her son and Elijah to have bread to eat.

One day the widow’s son suddenly became so ill that there was “no breath left in him.” The woman was heartbroken over the death of her son and blamed Elijah, thinking that he had been sent by the Lord to punish her for some wrongdoing.

Elijah, however, was unable to explain the boy’s death and asked for permission to take the lifeless body up to his own room. There he pleaded with the Lord to “let this child’s life come into him again.”

The prophet’s sincere prayer was answered and, when he carried the boy down to his weeping mother, Elijah said, “See, thy son liveth.”

With a thankful heart the widow replied, “Now by this I know that thou art a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in thy mouth is truth.”

Illustrated by Jerry Harston