Brook Dried Up

Scripture: 1 Kings 17:1-16
The story of Elijah being led to the Brook Cherith teaches us about growing spiritually. The brook eventually dried up and God wanted to move Elijah to something greater. That's what can happen to us when we need to move forward.
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Have you ever noticed how great men rise up in times of crises to accomplish special tasks, far beyond the call of duty? From the very beginning of history, God raised up mighty leaders to bring His people out of darkness. Often these leaders would arise from obscurity to accomplish their work quickly and then pass off the scene of action. But the man was always needed and God always prepared him by special power to perform his work.

In the call of Elijah, the Tishbite, we find such an obscure prophet. This man seemed to rise swiftly from some unknown origin. He came on the stage when Israel was in great trouble. The wicked king Ahab and his queen Jezebel had led the people of Israel into sun worship. Paganism had been brought in to supplant the worship of the true God. During those times of backsliding and apostasy, God called this unlearned mountaineer, Elijah, to be his spokesman. He filled that man with the courage of a lion, and gave him a message of judgment for Ahab and his wicked pagan wife. Elijah boldly walked into the throne room of the palace and delivered His message that there would be no rain or dew for 3 1/2 years. I'm sure friends, there was not much polish about his presentation of that message. He must have spoken very bluntly and then turned and walked out abruptly. After leaving the palace of Ahab, Elijah made his way into the wilderness. God directed him there to live in a cave, by the side of a certain brook. The brook was named Cherith. In spite of the fact that Ahab's soldiers were searching for Elijah, he was hidden and protected in this quiet desert place. And the wonderful thing is that God provided for his prophet during the time of the drought. We have a wonderful picture of Elijah being fed every day by ravens who brought food to him. God worked a miracle each morning to keep Elijah supplied with food and water. I want us to study the providence of God, dear friends, in this experience today. Elijah was walking in the very center of the divine will. As long as he did that, there was no lack at all, for anything. God even worked miracles to supply his needs. Let me tell you, that the God of Elijah still lives today. God has always provided, He always will provide for those who serve Him.

You remember how Abraham toiled up the slopes of Mt. Moriah? And how his son Isaac asked the question, "Father, where is the lamb for the sacrifice?" Abraham said, "God will provide a sacrifice." Friends, it may test our faith, but if we will be faithful to him, and hold his hand there will never be any real lack in the life. So Elijah lived there by the Brook Cherith very happy and contented during the years of famine. But friends, something happened right in the midst of those years that must have been quite shocking and upsetting to the Prophet. The brook dried up. Perhaps he first wondered just what it was all about and why it had happened. Let's notice the Bible account of it in I Kings 17:7-9, "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."

Now, friends, I say that God had a hand in the drying up that brook. I say that it would have been tragic for Elijah to just stay in this one place. There was another experience waiting for him. The widow's cruse was to be replenished. A miracle was needed for a poor woman in trouble. Elijah would have missed the Mt. Carmel experience, he would have left Elisha plowing in the field had the brook not dried up. God gave the brook, and He dried it up. Friends, let me say this, God's brooks always dry up. He doesn't want us to stay in the same place all the time. That's the great trouble with the modern Christian. We get by a little brook that is refreshing and it brings blessing to us and we want to stay there the rest of our days. Yes, it's good when God places us in certain situations that are refreshing to us. But, my friends, the time comes when there is a breaking up of the nest, an unsettling of circumstances about us. I don't think Elijah was backslidden because this thing happened. I rather think that he was growing spiritually. He went on to something even greater and more wonderful than he had known before. Some people have been sitting in the same place for many, many years. The same brook of their life has been flowing along peacefully and quietly. They have been satisfied with the good things God has given to them. But, friends, God has wanted to move them out into some other areas where they might do more good. The lesson for us here is that it looked as though Elijah might starve. But God was really opening the door to something greater. God closed Cherith before he revealed Zarephath.

I can just imagine Elijah waking up in the morning and looking down upon those dry rocks. And then there was no raven either to bring his food that morning. What a test that must have been for him as he waited. He didn't know what had happened. He didn't understand why this thing was taking place. But as he waited, it says, "The word of the Lord came to him" telling him to make that long journey up to the coast of Zidon where he was to meet the widow. Well, when he came there the poor woman was gathering sticks to make a last meal with the last bit of oil she had. Elijah asked her to make the food and give it to him. Now that seemed to be a very strange and unreasonable request for anybody to make. But Elijah knew that if God had dried up one brook, He was perfectly able to open up another one for this poor widow. So he made his request. She hesitated for a moment and then went to obey. Probably, this was the most unreasonable thing she'd ever done in her life. And yet, somehow she was impelled to go ahead and honor the request. She dipped down in the barrel for that last little bit of meal and then she dipped down again and again and again, and she did the same with the oil and, friends, there was no end. It lasted and it lasted, for many, many days. It did not run out or dry up. It lasted, in fact, until the rains came and she was able to find food again..

Well, God leads you see, from one experience to another. From one brook to another. As long as we stay in the center of His will there will always be provision. Our whole life will be under His plan and direction. There will be many surprises of course, as new brooks open up. Some of them may appear to be mistakes for a while. And then just like the brook of Cherith dried up, it may seem that God has forsaken us, that we've been left to perish. But faith will soon discover an open door to enter.

Do you remember as a child reading the story of Joseph for the first time? I can still remember how emotionally upset I was, too. Read about Joseph going down into Egypt as a slave. He was a happy carefree boy, and his life seemed to roll along as a happy brook. But suddenly the brook dried up and he was taken to Egypt. My friends, I say it was far better that it did dry up. God could see the future. Joseph did not know what the morrow held. God had a divine purpose in taking Joseph down to Egypt. It was in order to save the lives of his family, his loved ones, and to change the history of the world.

In later years, Jacob was weeping his heart out. He didn't know what the morrow would hold either. I can just hear him moaning and groaning as he said; "Simon is not, and Joseph is gone and now they are going to take Benjamin from me. Everything is against me." Yes, his brook had dried up. But a few days later he was on the back of a camel going down to Egypt. How happy and joyful he was to meet Joseph again. Another door had opened up, even though the brook of his life had dried up. There the guilty brothers confessed their complicity in selling Joseph. And then those wonderful words of Joseph. "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good." What a glorious truth it was, both Joseph and Jacob were glad now that the brook had dried up. Friends, listen let us not grieve because we've lost something that seemed very precious to us, because good will surely come. When one door closes, another must open. Rejoice! Because God is leading into something even more wonderful and greater than you've ever known before. As long as you live in the center of His will, there is a plan and purpose for life that cannot fail. There can be no retreat at all. The brook dries up, but then another one springs forth.

Did you know that a monument in Enterprise, Alabama honors a pest?, The Mexican boll-weevil? In 1915, when the pest made its first appearance in Coffee County, Alabama, the annual yield of 35,000 bales of cotton was cut by 40%. The ravages of the pest spread throughout the entire cotton belt, from Texas to Georgia. Threatened by bankruptcy, the farmers turned to diversified farming and began the successful growing of corn and potatoes and peanuts. In 1919, when the country's peanut crop was yielding more than a million bushels every year, a monumental fountain with this inscription was constructed in Enterprise, Alabama: "In profound appreciation of the boll-weevil and what it has done as the herald of prosperity, this monument was erected by the citizens of Enterprise, Coffee County, Alabama." Well, friends, that's exactly right. Sometimes the disappointments turn out to be the greatest blessings in disguise. If we could only develop the habit of saying, "Well, my good is going to come from it as long as I trust the Lord." Nothing really happens by chance. God overrules, and directs and measures out to us what is best. I'm afraid we often limit God by the way we act. We act as though He has exhausted His power on us. Listen, the Lord has great things in store. There are a thousand ways to guide and lead us that we know nothing about. We should never settle down content that we've finally achieved all that God wants us to have, or all that He wants us to be. The greatest of blessing may be waiting just around the corner for us.

Don't think that God has deserted you when the brook of your life seems to dry up. He's merely wanting you to move up higher. When troubles come, and your dreams seem shattered, it's really not for ill; look for something good. All things work together for good to those that love the Lord.

There's a deeper experience awaiting you. Over and over you will want to build a tabernacle and just stay in one place. You will want to keep certain things in your life, to live in a certain place. Then suddenly the nest is disturbed. The brook dries up. Everything seems to go into reverse suddenly. Ah, friends, just remember what Joseph said, "The Lord meant it for good." It's wonderful if we can stand by that dried up place in our lives and praise God and realize that very soon we're going to see another door open that will lead us to some grander and greater experience.

I can look back into the events of my own life and see where just a few things changed the course of that life completely. I felt at the time that those events had scarred me for life completely. I felt at the time that those events had scarred me for life to come. Now I realize God was leading me. I wouldn't be a minister today if it hadn't been for God's wonderful provision for me in ways that I did not understand at all. May God help you to look up in faith, dear friend. Hold on to His unchanging hand and realize that all things do work together for good to those that love the Lord.

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