And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the Lord God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word. And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Get thee hence, and turn thee eastward, and hide thyself by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And it shall be, that thou shalt drink of the brook; and I have commanded the ravens to feed thee there. So he went and did according unto the word of the Lord:for he went and dwelt by the brook Cherith, that is before Jordan. And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook. And it came to pass after a while, that the brook dried up, because there had been no rain in the land.
And the word of the Lord came unto him, saying, Arise, get thee to Zarephath, which belongeth to Zidon, and dwell there:behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee. So he arose and went to Zarephath. 1 Kings 17.1-10
Not too long ago, our precious grandchildren were coloring at the house. I hate to say it, but their pictures were really a mambo jumbo of colors that were way outside of the lines on the page of the coloring book. It was right then and there that I began to think about how many times in Scripture, God delighted in coloring outside of our lines of understanding. I am not talking about the fixed lines of the sound doctrines of the faith that were once delivered unto the saints. I am talking about our lines of listening to Him in our desire to walk in obedience and faith in Him. In 1 Kings 17, God suddenly brings on the scene the prophet Elijah. The Northern Kingdom of Israel was worshipping the false God of Baal under the reign of wicked king Ahab and his wife Jezebel. It is not my intention to comment on that subject of idolatry this morning.
What I want to point out today, beloved, is that God “colored outside the lines” of Elijah’s understanding of the letter of the law. He leads Elijah into the Gentile city of Zarephath in Gentile country. It is there that Elijah is going to be fed by ravens and a Gentile widow. At the brook Cherith, Elijah is fed day and night by ravens. According to Leviticus, ravens were unclean birds. “Do not touch,” says the letter of the law. But God, Who is bigger than the letter of His law when it comes to methodology, is training His prophet to learn to trust in His living Word.
Jesus said, “My sheep hear My voice and they follow Me.” Had Elijah not been listening to God, he would have stuck to the letter of the law regarding ravens and starved to death at the waters of Cherith. God colored outside the lines of his understanding. After some time period, the brook dried up and the ravens did not bring him dollar meals any longer. Now what? To his credit, Elijah does not move until God givers him clear instructions. And then what God does speak to him? He is told that a Gentile widow woman has been commanded by God to take care of him. To add to the mystery, this woman has no idea of what God has called her to do. Elijah listens to God, humbles himself, and goes to the woman, who in turn obeys the command of God and not only provides for Elijah, but her and her son as well. Once again, God colors outside of Elijahs line of understanding by sending him to a Gentile region and a Gentile woman.
Dear ones, God’s Word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path. But God’s Spirit will often “color outside of our lines of understanding” to get us to be where He wants us to be for His purposes and glory. It is The Master, not methodology that we are called to follow. There is no contradiction at all between being a Word-based saint and a Spirit-led saint. Jesus said that His sheep will hear His voice. He indeed speaks to us through Scripture. But He is a Living and Risem Savior today as well. He still speaks to us directionally; and there are times when He speaks to us “outside the lines” of our understanding of Scripture in order to accomplish His sovereign purposes and will. He who has an ear to hear, let hear what The Spirit is saying.