Now Elijah the Tishbite, of Tishbe in Gilead, said to Ahab, “As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives, before whom I stand, there shall be neither dew nor rain these years, except by my word.” And the word of the Lord came to him: “Depart from here and turn eastward and hide yourself by the brook Cherith, which is east of the Jordan. 1 Kings 17:1-3
Something I learned with our children was sometimes you need to cup their face in your hands, and speak to them so they can’t miss what you’re trying to say. While my girls didn’t necessarily like it, I felt certain it was necessary because they just weren’t hearing me. It almost seems like this is what God is doing with Elijah. It’s not necessarily that Elijah wasn’t listening, but that God had some very important things to teach Elijah, and the only way was to remove all distractions.
Elijah had just delivered some really bad news forecasting a drought for the northern kingdom, and I’m sure that he knew King Ahab wasn’t happy. God’s telling Elijah to leave was probably met with a sense of relief. Sending Elijah to a place of isolation from the fear he might have of King Ahab was part of what God wanted to accomplish. While not mentioned just yet, the fact that God kept Elijah from having to carry food with him, or gathering it when he arrived at the brook Cherith seems to support this thinking.
Perhaps the very meaning of the word Cherith gives an idea as to why God sent Elijah there. The word Cherith means a cutting or a separation. Coincidences don’t exist with God, so the meaning of the word Cherith is important. God cut away distractions, as well as anything else that might get in the way of God’s plan for Elijah. We know nothing of Elijah before this, so we don’t know for certain, but I think God’s doing this is a clear indication Elijah needed the determined teachings of God. We see something like this in John 15:2 where Jesus is saying fruit-bearing branches are pruned so they might produce more fruit. It seems this is the case here.
Perhaps it’s time to visit our own ‘Cherith’ to find areas where we need God’s hand in pruning or cutting. Think about your own life. Are there areas where you fear losing control? Things like finances, jobs, a relationship, a sin, or something else, that keep you from surrendering? If this resonates with you, perhaps writing a prayer of surrender would start the process of pruning despite the fears you might have.
By Rich Obrecht