A Reason for the Ravens (Just A Minute #136)

Andy Bonikowsky
Written by Andy Bonikowsky

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. (1 Kings 17:5-6)

Doesn't that strike you as really odd?

For what reason in all the world might God choose to do something like that? Certainly He had plenty of other more normal options for feeding his man. There were still a good number of Hebrews throughout the land who believed in Jehovah--at least seven thousand had refused to bend the knee before Baal.

Why even in Ahab's own court there was a servant by the name of Obadiah who would soon risk his neck to save a hundred prophets. Surely the Lord could have arranged for this man to meet Elijah and provide him with a hideout.

But God did not do that.

Rather, He came up with a plan so different and so unusual that the readers of His Word would scratch their heads and wonder.

Or at least we should.

Think of the unanswered questions: Why fly the prophet's food to him? Why twice a day, or why bread and flesh? Of all the birds, why ravens? Wouldn't doves have been more appropriate? Why let His servant watch the stream slowly dry up?

Oh, it would be neat to know the answers! However, they are obviously not important. What is instructive, though, is to pull back, and from a broader perspective, learn something about God.

One observation that comes to mind is the variety of methods in which our Lord deals with His children. Notice the marvelous creativity in the outworking of His will.

He delights in doing things in a fresh way and is not much for repeating miracles.

For example, there was a man who left his house for a walk, and ended up in heaven. Another man lifted a stick and parted the Red Sea. Years down the road his succesor marched around a fortified city and watched its walls crumble. In a valley called Elah a teenager named David killed Goliath, the giant warrior, with a sling. Centuries later and hundreds of miles away, God continued to surprise as He walked with three men in a roaring furnace and tucked a prophet to sleep among lions. The list could go on for quite a while, from the Bible record alone.

Just imagine if we knew all the stories from Genesis to this very day! If nothing else, this truth is a high motive for praise to the Lord.

But we can go further. We can give ourselves to knowing our infinite Creator more and more, and expect Him to work special wonders in our own lives. This is Biblical! A seer named Hanani said that God's eyes go to and fro, across the globe, looking for faithful ones to whom He can show Himself strong.

Whatever else the ravens might mean, they can serve as an encouragement to walk towards God with the excitement of true faith, fully expecting Him to act creatively, as He always has.

Dear Father, Your ways are always full of surprises and You Yourself are so much grander than anything I can conceive of. Help me never get tired of gazing Your way in wonder. Amen.