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. You shall drink from the brook and I have commanded the ravens to feed you there.” So he went and lived by the brook Cherith that is east of the Jordan and the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening and he drank from the brook. (1 Kings 17:2-6)
So Elijah had just told Ahab, I’m shutting the water off. He made a bold challenge to a disobedient and evil king. I don’t think Elijah was timid or even very cagey and strategic. He went straight ahead and spoke with great boldness. It was not his style to go hide, but God is setting up a pattern here of boldness followed by rest and dependence. And so God tells him to go hide by the brook in Cherith, east of the Jordan river.
Cherith brook was in a less populated part of the country but Elijah would have been familiar with it since it ran through his home town of Tishbe in Gilead. I’m guessing the location was a remote one since God assured him that he would provide all the food and water he would need.
So that’s certainly one problem figured out – I’m an American male living in the 21st century. I require constant entertainment or interaction. I’m an extrovert with a short attention span. Yes, how am I gonna eat would be my first question. My next questions are “How long do I need to stay there, who else is coming and what am I going to do?”
2 meals covered, the rest of the day was all his. God was preparing Elijah for a powerful ministry. His prescription for ministry preparation was time alone and God dependence. Jesus often went off to a lonely place and even spent 40 days in fasting and prayer. There was a brook which is good because Elijah just caused a drought and he was there long enough for the brook to dry up.
The water sounds refreshing. The raven delivered food – a little sketchy, the solitude for hours and hours and days and weeks…that ‘s what sounds intimidating to me. It doesn’t say how long Elijah stayed there, but assuming that this was a thriving brook, it would take a while to dry up. So that’s a significant amount of time eating Raven chow and just thinking and praying.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer once said about solitude, “Whoever cannot be alone should beware of community. Whoever cannot stand being in community should beware of being alone.” I’ve made my peace with being alone for short stretches, but usually I fill the time with nonsense (what’s wrong with the Lakers?!) and I don’t redeem it with meditating on God’s word or in prayer. How have you taken advantage of time in solitude to deepen your connection to the Lord?