Down By the Riverside

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THEME: Elijah; A Man Like Us
TOPIC:  Down By the Riverside
TEXT: 1 Kings 17: 1-16

Rev. (Dr.) Stephen K. Awoniyi



Prophet Elijah, also called Elisa, was from Tishbeh in Gilead.  He was a great and righteous prophet of God who preached powerfully against worship of Baal.  After the death of King Solomon, another king of Israel named Ahab, ruled.  King Ahab was known to be a very mean person because he worshiped idols.  In view of his lack of respect for God, the Lord sent Prophet Elijah to him to give him (King Ahab) a message because Prophet Elijah was God’s  messenger.  Elijah went to King Ahab and said the Lord told him to pray that the land would neither have dew nor rain for a long time.  That is, rain will fall only when Elijah pray and ask God to make it rain again.   Due to Elijah’s prophecy the water in the rivers and lakes dried up and became like a desert in the country.  The Lord knew that King Ahab would be angry with Prophet Elijah because of the water in the rivers and lakes that dried up, therefore, the Lord sent Elijah to the valley to hide by a stream of water.  Elijah knew that if the people found him, they would try to kill him because there was no water on the land, but the Lord protected Elijah.  The Scripture says;

And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. 25 But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality (Col. 3: 23-25).

In today’s message the following topics will be explained:

  1. Alone in the Wilderness

What does the word “Wilderness” mean?  According to Wayne Blank and Hate Him, it could be explained thus; “A place of thirst, a place of hunger, a place of disfavor, a wild and uninhabited area left in its natural condition, and a place of deprivation.”   Wilderness could also be viewed or narrated in the Bible thus:


The Scarlet Woman and the Scarlet Beast

1 Then one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls came and talked with me, saying to me, [a] “Come, I will show you the judgment of the great harlot who sits on many waters, 2 with whom the kings of the earth committed fornication, and the inhabitants of the earth were made drunk with the wine of her fornication.” 3 So he carried me away in the Spirit into the wilderness.  And I saw a woman sitting on a scarlet beast which was full of names of blasphemy, having seven heads and ten horns.  4 The woman was arrayed in purple and scarlet, and adorned with gold and precious stones and pearls, having in her hand a golden cup full of abominations and the filthiness of her fornication. [b] 5 And on her forehead a name was written:


6 I saw the woman, drunk with the blood of the saints and with the blood of the martyrs of Jesus. And when I saw her, I marveled with great amazement (Rev. 17: 1-6).

I will bring you out from the peoples and gather you out of the countries where you are scattered, with a mighty hand, with an outstretched arm, and with fury poured out.  35 And I will bring you into the wilderness of the peoples, and there I will plead My case with you face to face.  36 Just as I pleaded My case with your fathers in the wilderness of the land of Egypt, so I will plead My case with you,” says the Lord God (Ezekiel 20: 34-36).

For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance. 10 “He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye (Deut. 32: 9-10).

                Brethren, from the above narrated points I said according to Wayne Blank, wilderness means,  “A place of thirst (that is, when you are thirsty and have nothing to drink), a place of hunger (when you are hungry and have nothing to eat), and a place of deprivation of all sorts.”  Wilderness also stands for a place of preparation for the Lord’s work, and the best place in the world to know God and have a good relationship with Him.  Wilderness could also be seen as a place you go on your knees and pray to your almighty Father.  Bear in mind that the Israelites spent many days in the wilderness with Moses and Aaron when they left the land of Egypt.  Likewise, King David, our Lord Jesus Christ, and the Apostle Paul spent some days in the wilderness.

  1. Making a Connection

The phrase, “Making a connection” could be defined in this way; “Joining together or being relevant with each other” (From a connection).

Prophet Elijah whole-heartedly wanted to go to either Zarephath or any other city the Lord wanted him to go, in order to get connected with the woman the Lord sent him to.   Finally Prophet Elijah arrived in Zarephath hungry, thirsty, after about one hundred miles journey.  As he passed through the city gate he saw a woman picking up sticks to make a meal for herself and for her son.  Prophet Elijah carefully asked her if she could prepare something for him to eat because he was hungry and thirsty.  This could be viewed as a modest request but it unlocked the agony of the woman’s soul.  The Scripture says;   

Elijah and the Widow

8 Then the word of the Lord came to him, saying, 9 “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and dwell there.  See, I have commanded a widow there to provide for you.” 10 So he arose and went to Zarephath.  And when he came to the gate of the city, indeed a widow was there gathering sticks. And he called to her and said, “Please bring me a little water in a cup that I may drink.” 11 And as she was going to get it, he called to her and said, “Please bring me a morsel of bread in your hand.”

12 So she said, “As the Lord your God lives, I do not have bread, only a handful of flour in a bin, and a little oil in a jar; and see, I am gathering a couple of sticks that I may go in and prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it, and die.”

13 And Elijah said to her, “Do not fear; go and do as you have said, but make me a small cake from it first, and bring it to me; and afterward make some for yourself and your son. 14 For thus says the Lord God of Israel: ‘The bin of flour shall not be used up, nor shall the jar of oil run dry, until the day the Lord sends rain on the earth.’

15 So she went away and did according to the word of Elijah; and she and he and her household ate for many days. 16 The bin of flour was not used up, nor did the jar of oil run dry, according to the word of the Lord which He spoke by Elijah (1 Kings 17:8-16).  

The woman narrated her situation or hard condition very well.  This is because she said, she had only a handful of grain in a barrel, a little oil in a jar, and she was preparing to make one last meal for herself and her son and then die.  This means she and her son are living very close to death and they are in a great despair.  But Prophet Elijah truly knew he was in the right place where the Lord sent him.    

          Brethren, no-matter the antagonist of the Devil against you, be assured that since you are walking faithfully, honestly, and obediently with your Lord, you will be an overcomer in Jesus’s name.  Since Prophet Elijah succeeded during his troublous time, so you will also if you faithfully depend on Him.  Not only Prophet Elijah that stayed in the Wilderness, other people also did, such as King David because the    Scripture says;   

David in Wilderness Strongholds


14 And David stayed in strongholds in the wilderness, and remained in the mountains in the Wilderness of Ziph. Saul sought him every day, but God did not deliver him into his hand. 15 So David saw that Saul had come out to seek his life. And David was in the Wilderness of Ziph in a forest.[a] 16 Then Jonathan, Saul’s son, arose and went to David in the woods and strengthened his hand in God. 17 And he said to him, “Do not fear, for the hand of Saul my father shall not find you. You shall be king over Israel, and I shall be next to you. Even my father Saul knows that.” 18 So the two of them made a covenant before the Lord. And David stayed in the woods, and Jonathan went to his own house (1 Samuel 23: 14-18).

Joy in the Fellowship of God: A Psalm of David when he was in the wilderness of Judah.

1 O God, You are my God; Early will I seek You; My soul thirsts for You; My flesh longs for You

In a dry and thirsty land Where there is no water.2 So I have looked for You in the sanctuary,

To see Your power and Your glory.3 Because Your loving-kindness is better than life,

My lips shall praise You.4 Thus I will bless You while I live; I will lift up my hands in Your name.

5 My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and fatness, And my mouth shall praise You with joyful lips.

6 When I remember You on my bed, I meditate on You in the night watches.7 Because You have been my help, Therefore in the shadow of Your wings I will rejoice.8 My soul follows close behind You; Your right hand upholds me.9 But those who seek my life, to destroy it, shall go

into the lower parts of the earth.10 They shall fall by the sword; They shall be a portion for jackals (Psalm 63: 1-10).


Brethren, the Lord is always there to meet your needs but you must first of all be obedient to His commission.  Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, and not for anybody.  The Lord provided for Elijah in an unusual way because he did not go out to get food while he was hiding in the wilderness.  Instead, God had some black birds, called ravens, which brought food to him to eat.  Every morning and evening the ravens brought meat and bread to Elijah.  Not only did God used the ravens, but also the woman who though she would die together with her son due to lack of food.   The Lord used Prophet Elijah to meet the woman and her son’s needs.  God promises to help us with our needs too and He will listen to our prayers and step in to solve our problems when we faithfully, obediently, and honestly wait on Him.  Our Almighty Father knows that we have problems and He has a way to solve our problems when we truly trust in Him.  In view of that, wait on Him, depend on Him, and you will see how your needs will be meat by Him.    

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