“And the life of the child came into him again, and he revived. And Elijah took the child and brought him down from the upper chamber into the house and delivered him to his mother. And Elijah said, ‘See, your son lives.’ And the woman said to Elijah, ‘Now I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the Lord in your mouth is truth.’” (1 Kings 17:22-24)
Elijah raised a young boy from the dead while staying in Zarephath. The Lord had led Elijah there to stay with a destitute pagan widow and her son in the midst of the long and deadly drought which He had sent to chastise Israel. King Ahab and his pagan wife Jezebel has brought Israel to a new low by sanctioning Baal worship as well as devotion to his consort Asherah, a fertility goddess. Baal was the god of prosperity. It was believed he controlled the weather and sent rain to grow crops, feed the livestock and thus produce wealth for farmers in Israel and Phoenicia. Yahweh had sent Elijah to confront the idolatry with the drought, to show the people the futility of Baal worship.
The Lord provided for Elijah, not in the lap of luxury but in a place where his faith and patience would be tested and refined: Zarephath a pagan city in Phoenicia. The name means “smelting place” a place where metal ore would be refined and shaped. The Lord was refining and shaping Elijah for there he would live on the edge and be fully dependent day by day upon the sustaining hand of the Lord. Each day would end and it would seem that the provision of food had run out, yet the next day brought enough to sustain the household. His faith grew each day as he saw the Lord provide for him as well as for the widow and her son. Her faith was sorely shaken when her son suddenly died. It was the end of her world for she now faced an empty and meaningless life. Yet her faith was restored when Elijah brought him back to life. Here the Lord demonstrated His great love for the poor, the downtrodden, and all sinners. The grace and provision He gave then and that He gives today is not earned or merited in any way. God just delights to show His love in this way.