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.
Get thee hence…
Elijah, the servant of Jehovah, that standeth before God, sent into oblivion!
This, it appears to us, is the main purpose of Cherith, and, at the same time, its significance for us, for you and for me.
O, it is true, he finds a safe place at the brook.
For it must be granted that it was by no. means improbable that the wrath of the wicked king, and especially of the fiendishly hateful queen, would make an attempt to persecute and kill him. There are those, indeed, who consider this hardly conceivable,. They might, perhaps, try to capture him and put him into prison. But hardly would they put him to death. Did he not have the power again to open the heavens, and to cause the rain to satisfy the thirsty land? If, then, they killed the prophet of Jehovah, would they not cut off all possibility of the heavens to be reopened? But they that argue thus forget, first of all, that hatred is blind, and that this is especially true of the hatred of the world against the prophets of the Lord. Furiously the wicked queen was enraged against God’s servant. Besides, might they not argue in their folly, that it was Elijah that kept the heavens shut, and that, therefore to render him powerless would be to open the heavens again automatically? Indeed Cherith was a safe retreat for the servant of Jehovah at this time.
Yet, this hardly explains the whole situation.
Why send the prophet into hiding? Was not his God able to keep him in the midst of the enemy? Had he not just invaded the very palace of the king to bring the Word of the Lord to him? Would he not openly return in due time, again to show himself to Ahab? And would it not have been a far more glorious revelation of Jehovah, and, in fact, a mighty vindication of His servant Elijah, had He commanded him to remain publicly on the stage, and to continue to be the chief character in the drama that was being enacted in the land of Israel?
Get thee hence…hide thyself!
Sent into oblivion!
At the brook the prophet is in complete isolation. With no one had he any contact. No news came to him of the effect of the Word of God he had delivered to the wicked king. O, his word was evidently being fulfilled, for even there at the brook, it could be witnessed that the heavens were of brass, and slowly, day by day, the brook was drying up. But what was the effect of it all? Was the king terror-stricken? Did the people repent and turn unto the Lord? He knew not…
For just a moment the prophet had appeared in the center of the stage.
A very brief message he had delivered: the Word of God to Ahab.
And the next moment the Word of Jehovah sends him into complete oblivion, far away from the center of activity!
Was he not a servant?
And must not a servant of the Most High learn that he is of no significance, that the privilege of serving Jehovah is a gift to the servant, and that the work which it pleases the Lord to accomplish through the instrumentality of His servant is always God’s work? When, therefore, he has performed his calling, he need not, he may not loiter on the stage of action: he may disappear. Some of God’s most capable, most highly endowed servants labored but a little while. He than whom there was none greater among those that were born of women at the time of the Lord’s public ministry just pointed to the Lamb of God and disappeared. The great apostle among the Gentiles is sometimes taken out of his active ministry and shut up in prison for years.
Get thee hence!
Hide thyself at the brook!
When the servant has performed his calling, he need not be anxious about the result of it. It is not for him to worry about the increase. Always his calling is to bring the Word of God. The rest he may leave safely in the hands of God. O, one can easily imagine that Elijah may have been eager to follow up the word he had spoken to Ahab, and which soon began to become manifest as a Word of the Lord in the drought it had foretold! He might want to apply that word! What an opportunity to stage a great revival, to impress upon the hearts and minds of the nation the vanity of Baal, and to arouse them to return unto the Lord their God!
Get thee hence!
Turn eastward to Cherith!
The servant must be kept humble. He must not stand in the way of the glory of his Master. Yet, even the best of God’s servants were in danger of becoming “great men”. Paul is given a thorn in the flesh, an angel of Satan to buffet him!
Elijah was a man of like passions as we are.
And, in the meantime, the Lord mercifully provides rest for His servant, and strengthens him for the work still to be performed.
Brief had been the period of labor, indeed! One short message had been delivered in the name of the Lord. Nevertheless, the delivering of that one sermon had been a tremendous battle, enervating, exhausting.
Go, get thee hence!
Turn thee eastward and hide thyself at the brook! Rest awhile!
For the main battle is still to be fought!
Marvelous way of God!
For in a land of wrath and judgment God provides for His people, and delivers them out of all their troubles!
At Cherith, that deep and rocky ravine through which the water of the brook playfully meandered its way to Jordan, God commands the ravens to bring his servant bread and meat!
Unbelief scoffs at this, foolishly, as unbelief is always foolish.
Or “why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?” Or what rational explanation could anyone give for his profane mockery at the Word of God, when it assures us that God commanded the ravens to feed his servant Elijah at the brook Cherith? Is He not the Creator of the heavens and of the earth, who calls the things that are not as if they were? And is not He Who created all things their Lord, their most absolute Sovereign? Does He not command the clouds, and they gather? Is it not the Word of His mouth that causeth the rain to descend, and the sun to shine, and the soil to nourish the seed, and the seed to germinate in the earth, and the grain to ripen in the ear?
Why, then, should it be the object of mockery that He commands the ravens to feed His servant Elijah?
Or does He not know, perhaps, how to save His people from the present world?
He is the Lord of hosts!
The God of Israel!
Always He keeps an delivers His people in the midst of, and from the destruction of a world of wrath, of sin and death. For, with the first Adam they submerge into corruption, guilt and damnation. Death swallows them up. In a world of wrath, that is delivered up unto destruction, they are born. Yet, He knows how to deliver His own from that world of woe, and to preserve them even unto everlasting glory. Yes, He calls the things that are not as if they were; but He also raises the dead. He calls the light out of darkness, righteousness out of damnation, holiness out of corruption, glory out of shame, life out of death…
That is the glory of His grace!
And of the glory of that grace every wonder is a sign, also the wonder of His commanding the ravens to feed His servant at Cherith.
For, was not Canaan, during those three years and six months of terrible drought, the land of God’s wrath? Had not the wicked grown mighty in the land, and had not the people followed after the vanities of the heathen? Was not the carnal element, wicked Israel, in power, and did not iniquity reign supreme? And had not the anger of Jehovah been kindled over the whole land? And had not the prayer of the prophet cooperated with the wrath of Jehovah to avenge Himself upon His enemies, and to bring judgment upon the wicked nation? Was it not the wrath of God that kept the heavens shut, that dried up rivers and brooks, that caused the earth to crack with thirst, and that threatened death to every living thing?
But what of God’s people?
Were the righteous to be destroyed with the wicked?
Were there not prophets of Jehovah in the land, hid from the fury of the heathen queen in the caves of the earth? And were there, besides, not also the seven thousand that had never bowed their knee to Baal? Were these also to perish under the oppressing wrath of God?
Is God’s church to perish with the wicked world?
Perhaps at the brook, as he gazed up at the brazen heavens through the canopy of leaves that overshadowed his retreat, Elijah thought of this. He knew that there must be true people of God in the land even then. What would become of them? And every morning and every evening the answer came to Him in the Word of God that was embodied in the ravens that carried his daily provisions: “I am the Lord of hosts, I know how to deliver the godly out of all his temptations, even in the midst of, and from a world that is reserved unto the day of judgment to be punished.”
I have commanded the ravens to feed thee!
And as I keep thee, and save thee in the midst of a land of wrath, so I will surely deliver all My people!
Glorious ways of God!
For there one may commit his way unto the Lord, and be assured that He will bring it to pass!
There one may cast the burden of his daily cares upon the Lord, and experience that He will provide, and that they that trust in the Lord of hosts shall never be ashamed.
There one may seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and see the realization of the promise that all other things shall indeed be added unto him. There he may live out of the hand of God, directly, day by day, in childlike confidence.
The ravens shall feed thee there!
O, do not be afraid to go to Cherith, for what is more blessed than to live out of the hand of your God? The ravens shall feed you! No, if you love to follow after your own lusts, if you hanker after the pleasures and treasures of the world and of the flesh, you cannot stand it at the lonely brook. The delicacies of the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, are not there. There you cannot fill your barns for years to come and exhort your soul to eat and to drink and to have no care. For there, at Cherith, you receive your portion, and no more, every morning and every evening. And after every meal you must there look again at the brazen heavens, and at the drying brook, and trust that He Who commanded the ravens once will command them again…
Yet, do not be hesitant to follow up the Word of the Lord, and to go to the lonely, isolated brook!
For the God of Elijah has commanded the ravens to feed you there!
Mark you well. He has commanded them. Before you go your provisions are ready!
Be not afraid to obey the Word of the Lord, and to go to your Cherith, for what is more blessed than that childlike confidence whereby we may daily eat out of the Lord’s hand? All the abundance of the world, all the prosperity of the wicked, cannot yield the blessed peace and profound joy there is in one day of trust in the Lord, a confidence that is always crowned with the blessed experience that He will surely provide!
Be not afraid to go . . . there!
For the ravens are commanded to feed you there!
Just there! No, the Lord has not commanded the ravens to feed you everywhere. Only there!
O, the prophet might have foreseen what would be the result, if the prayer he uttered in the wilds of Gilead were heard, and if the Lord would withhold the rain from heaven! And foreseeing the drought and the famine he might have thought of himself and become anxious, and he might have gathered for himself a store of provisions to keep himself alive in the day of famine. Or he might have judged it better to leave the country immediately, and to seek a living elsewhere.
But there was only one Cherith.
Andthere the ravens would feed him at the command of God.
In the way of the Lord, in the way of obedience alone we can eat the bread of God’s lovingkindness, and enjoy the blessed experience of childlike trust, of tasting the goodness of the Lord, of the wonderful peace that passeth all understanding. For there, and there alone, God has commanded the ravens to feed us!
O, indeed, we may find bread elsewhere! We may refuse to obey the word of the Lord and rather than turn eastward to the brook, turn westward into the way of our own lusts. And in that way of disobedience and carnal lusts, in the way of the world and of seeking the things that are below, in the way of unfaithfulness and denial of the name of Christ, we may find bread in abundance. For thus it often appears: the wicked prosper. And, perhaps, you feel no need of the ravens to feed you…
But remember: it is the bread of wrath!
But the bread of God’s lovingkindness which is better than life you can eat only at the brook whither God’s Word sent you!