The Widow of Zarephath – 14 Key Points for Bible Study October 17, 2015

Key Scriptures: I Kings 17:8-24; Luke 4: 25-26

Supporting Scriptures: I Kings 17:1-7; Ex.16:4, 8a; Jer. 1:5; Is. 55:8; Phil. 4:6; I John 5:14b

Her Character: “A foreigner facing starvation, she showed extraordinary hospitality to one of God’s prophets, providing a safe harbor for him”.  (2; pg. 123)


I Kings 17:1—“… As the Lord, the God of Israel, lives,

whom I serve, there will be neither dew nor rain in the next few years except at my word.”


I Kings 17:4— “You will drink from the brook, and I have ordered the ravens to feed you there”.

I Kings 17:5-6— “So he did what the Lord had told him…the ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook”.

NOTE: When Going Thru Remember What God Has Already Done

See Exodus 16: 4, 8a—–“Then the Lord said to Moses, I will rain down bread from heaven for you….you will know it was the Lord when He gives you meat to eat in the evening and all the bread you want in the morning,..”


I Kings 17: 7-9— “…later the brook dried up because there was no rain in the land…Then the word of the Lord came to him: Go at once to Zarephath of Sidon and stay there. I have commanded a widow in that place to supply you with food.”


# 1: See NIV Footnote I Kings 17:9—Zarephath was a coastal town in the territory ruled by Jezebel’s father, Ethbaal. God sent Elijah to the area where Baal worship was predominant. The widow was therefore from a pagan nation and completely outside of God’s own people.

#2: See Luke 4:25-26 (Jesus said) “I assure you that there were many widows in Israel in Elijah’s time….yet Elijah was not sent to any of them, but to a widow in Zarephath in the region of Sidon.”

NIV footnote Luke 4:26-27—“Jesus’ point was that when Israel rejected God’s messenger of redemption (Elijah), God sent him to the Gentiles.”


I Kings 17:10— “So he went to Zarephath”.


I Kings 17:10b-11—“…..a widow was there…he asked… would you bring me a little water in a jar…and bring me, please, a piece of bread.”



I Kings 17: 12a— “As surely as the Lord your God lives,” she replied, (NIV Footnote I Kings 5:7—-“in polytheistic Cultures, it was common practice for the people of one nation to recognize the deities of another nation”.

I Kings 17:12b—“I don’t have any bread only a handful of  flour in a jar and a little oil in a jug….to take home and  make a meal for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die”.


“When Elijah came and asked the widow for bread, it appeared as though he were asking her to give up the last food she had for herself and her son. Actually, he provided her with sustenance that would last until the famine was over”. (2; pg. 124)

Often when we are in the midst of crisis, we can only see the immediate. As believers, we must stand on faith, trust and know that God has the answer.


I Kings 17:13-14—“Elijah said..don’t be afraid..make a small cake of bread for me..then make something for yourself and your son. For this is what the Lord God of Israel says: The jar of flour will not be used up and the jug of oil will not run dry until the day the Lord gives rain on the land.”


I Kings 17: 15—“She went away and did as Elijah had told her. So there was food every day for Elijah and for the woman and her family.”



I Kings 17: 16— “For the jar of flour was not used up and

the jug of oil did not run dry, in keeping with the word of the Lord spoken by Elijah.


I Kings 17:17— “Sometime later, the son of the woman

….became ill….and finally stopped breathing.

NOTE: SEE JER. 1:5— “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you”.


I Kings 17:18b—“She said to Elijah…did you come to remind me of my sin and kill my son”.

I Kings 17:20— “he (Elijah) cried out to the Lord…have you brought tragedy also upon this widow…by causing her son to die?”

NOTE: Is 55:8—“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.


I Kings 17:21—“Then he…. cried to the Lord, O Lord my God, let this boy’s life return to him”.

NOTE: Phil. 4:6—“Don’t be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God”.


I Kings 17:22—“The Lord heard Elijah’s cry and the boy’s life returned to him and he lived…..He gave him to his mother and said look your son is alive”.

NOTE: I John 5:14b—“….if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us”.


I Kings 17:24—“Then the woman said to Elijah, NOW I KNOW that you are a man of God and that the word of the Lord from your mouth is the truth”.

  1. NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995
  2. Women of The Bible, 52 Bible Studies For Individuals And Groups,

Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan 1999

“The Value of Man Today!”

Genesis 1:26Then God said, let us make man in our own image, in our own likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.

Genesis 2:7The Lord God formed the man from the dust, of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.

The Genesis 2 account of God’s creation of man is introduced with a description of the actions of the God of Israel.  Verse 7 begins with the phrase, ” And the Lord God…” This refers to YHWH, the Hebrew name for God.  This is “Jehovah Elohim,” the self-existent and supreme God, the Ruler of all.  While Genesis 2:7-25 focuses on the human being and the human experience, reverence for the holiness of God stands as the precursor to those events.” (1)

“The phrase “heavens and earth” is found  in that order, three times in Genesis 1:1, 2:1 and 2:4.  However, Genesis 2:4 then reverses the order and focuses on the human being on earth rather than God in heaven.  This signals the shift in God’s emphasis to the human experience (Berlin and Brettler 2004).  The shift also shows man’s complete dependence on God.  Human origin is God’s responsibility and God is the source of sustenance.” (1)

The creative act of putting man on earth was a unique operation of God.  In verse 7 the words for “man” (Heb.’adam, aw-DAWM) and “ground” (Heb,. ‘adamah, ad-aw-MAW) come from the same root word.  Man’s formation from the from the ground indicates God’s ability to make the inanimate animate.  God formed, made, and established man by shaping, and fashioning similarly to an artist creating a painting  or a potter rendering a piece of art. The basest ingredients God used to create man.  These are not spectacular elements. They have no value, no reproductive qualities;yet they are the very items that God uses.” (1)

“God’s interaction with man was a two-fold process.  First, God formed man from the dust of the ground.  In English, we usually translate the word “dust” as fine particles.  A stronger translation of “dust” would be “clods, lumps,of earth, soil or dirt.”  This would indicate that God formed man from clumps of dirt.” (1)

“The second phase required God’s breathing into man’s nostrils.  Formation of the human species culminated in a physical body, but the “breath of life was the spiritual phenomena that made man a living soul.  The phrase “breath of life” means “the breath that gives life.”  Until God put His breath into man, man was nothing but a lump of clay that could not move alone. The breath of God was the power that made the difference between the physical man and the spiritual man.  Thus, Adam became a living being.  Only the divine nature of God can bring that which is without life into life.” (1)

The New International Version of the Bible footnote to Genesis 1:26 teaches this: since human beings are made in God’s image they are all worthy of honor and respect; they are neither to be murdered (Gen 9:6) or cursed (James 3:9-10). (2)

We are living in a time when man is so devalued.  We’ve become unwilling to support, care for, or nurture man.  We find man being constantly replaced by other means to create life, to do meaningful work, and to take care of the world.  Yet, there is a charge given to man by God in Genesis 1:28. What can be done to restore man to his rightful place of value? Jesus gave us two great commandments–to love God with all our hearts and souls and minds and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. (Matthew 22:34-40)

Prayer: Heavenly Father, give us the courage to begin to show your love to our fellow-man so that your name may be glorified. In the name of Jesus, Amen

1. Price, Cheryl, Carey, Evangeline, Sailes, Rosa. With These Hands, Inspiring a Call to Stewardship for God’s Creation, Urban Ministries, Inc., 2010.

2. The Holy Bible, New International Version, Zondervan, 1973.

Jezebel Bible Study – 10 Key Points for Bible Study 10/11/2014

From our lesson of Jebezel, 1 Kings 16:29-33, 18:1-19:2, 21:1-25, 2 Kings 9, here are some important points. The points do not directly answer the questions on pages 119-122 of the text, but may help you in our discussion of the Saturday Bible Study 10/11/2014

1. Her name means: “Where is the Prince (Baal)?”or “The Prince (Baal) Exists” (3, pg. 119).

2.  Her character: A religious woman, she spread  idolatry throughout Israel.  Powerful, cunning, and arrogant, she actively opposed God, even in the face of indisputable proofs of His sovereignty.  (3, pg. 119)

3.  She promoted Baal Worship: .  . .  Jezebel’s ardent worship was directed not to the God of Israel but to the pagan  god Baal, thought to control the rain and hence the harvest. (2, pg. 213).

4.  She was the Sidonian Wife of Ahab: . . . he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him.  (1 Kings 16:31)

5.  She killed Prophets of the Lord:  So determined was she to convert Israel to her own religion that she hunted down and killed all the prophets she could lay hands on, replacing them with 850 of her own. (2, pg. 213)

6.  She opposed Elijah:  Elijah Flees to Horeb:  Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he killed all the prophets with the sword.  So Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, ” May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tmorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.”  (1 Kings 19:1-2 and ft. note)

7.  She had Naboth Killed:  Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden . . . (21:2).  But Nabath replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”(21:3).  1 Kings 21: 7-16 gives a detailed account of how Jezebel used her power to have Naboth killed so that she could satisfy her husband’s desire to have Naboth’s vineyard to use for his vegetable garden. (1 Kings 21:7-19.)

8.  Her death was prophesied:  “And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’  (1 Kings 21:23)

9. She confronts Jehu: Tough as nails, Jezebel stood proudly at the window of her palace.  Never one to back away from a challenge,  Jezebel, seized the initiative, shouting at Jehu: ” Have you come in peace, Zimri (the name of a traitor),  you murderer of your master?”  But Jehu simply ignored her challenging those who stood near her.  “Who is on my side?  Throw her down!”  Quickly Jezebel’s servants shoved her through the window.  The palace walls were spattered a bloody red as horses trampled her body and the palace dogs finished the job. (2, pg. 215)

10.  She becomes a symbol of wickedness: Nevertheless, I have this against you.  You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophetess.  By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols.  I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling.  (Revelation 2:20-21)

1. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995. (All Scriptures)
2. Women of the Bible,  One Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture, Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan, 2007.
3. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E Syswerda, Zondervan, 1999.









Women of the Bible – Jezebel – 10/11/2014

Jezebel, is our thirteenth study in our series from Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups by Jean E Syswerda. The study of  Jezebel is found on page 119. The Bible Study will meet 4:00p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

If you have not received your books for the study, please see Glenda. Remember that all materials are free as they are gifts to you from students participating in Homewords Small Group Bible Study Ministry. For information contact Glenda at 727-542-4683.

The Queen of Sheba Bible Study – 10 Key Points for Bible Study 9/27/14

For our lesson of The Queen of Sheba  1 Kings 10:1-13; Matthew 12:42, here are some important points. The points do not directly answer the questions on pages 114-118/ of the text, but may help you in our discussion of the Saturday Bible Study 09/27/2014.

“Visit of the Queen of Sheba”

” This story is told to illustrate the surpassing wisdom of Solomon, so great that it spread throughout Arabia among those very tribes which were famous for their wisdom from ancient times.  Both Solomon and the Queen of Sheba are prominent in Eastern legends.  The Arabs called her Bilkis, but in Ethiopian legends her name is Makeda.  Sheba was the great trading community of southwestern Arabia, and at this period controlled the overland trade routes.” (1, pg. 96)

1. Sheba – In southwestern Arabia (roughly the area of Yemen).  A later queen of Sheba made a memorable visit to King Solomon in the tenth century B.C. (1 Kings 10:1-3) (Genesis 10:28)

2.  Sheba – It profited from the sea trade of India and East Africa by transporting luxury commodities north to Damascus and Gaza on caravan routes through the Arabian Desert.  It is possible that Solomon’s fleet of ships threatened Sheba’s continued dominance of this trade business. (1 Kings 10:1 and Footnote)

3.  Her character:  Though a pagan queen like Jezebel, she prized wisdom above power.  She appears to have been intellectually gifted, with a good head for business and diplomacy. (4 pg. 206)

4.  When the queen of Sheba heard about the fame of Solomon and his relation to the name of the Lord, she came to test him with hard questions. (1 Kings 10:1)

5.  Solomon answered all her questions;  nothing was too hard for him to explain to her.  When the queen of Sheba saw the wisdom of Solomon, as well as the palace he had built, the food on his table, the seating of his officials, the attending servants in their robes, the cupbearers in their robes and the burnt offerings he made at the temple of the Lord, she was overwhelmed. (2 Chronicles 9:2-4)

6. The visit of the queen of Sheba portrays the fulfillment of God’s promise to give Solomon wisdom and wealth. (2 Chronicles 1:10-12)

7.  Praise be to the Lord your God, who has delighted in you and placed you on the throne of Israel.  Because of the Lord’s eternal love for Israel, he has made you king, to maintain justice and righteousness. (I Kings 10:9 and Footnote)

8.  Though Jerusalem lay fifteen hundred miles to the north, the Queen was determined to see for herself whether Solomon measured up to even half the tales told of him.  Hoping to establish a trade agreement with Israel, she assembled a caravan of camels and loaded them with precious spices, gems, and four and a half tons of gold.  Her entrance into Jerusalem would have created an unforgettable spectacle, adding to Solomon’s growing fame. (4, pg. 207)

9.  Then she gave the king 120 talents of gold, large quantities of spices, and precious stones.  There had never been such spices as those the queen of Sheba gave to King Solomon. (1 Kings 10:10)

10.  … Jesus himself referred to the Queen of Sheba when he replied to the Pharisees who had demaded from him a miraclous sign: “The Queen of the South will rise at the judgement with this  generation and condemn it; for she came from the ends of the earth to listen to Solomon’s wisdom, and now one greater than Solomon is here”. (Matthew 12:42)

1. The Interpreter’s Bible, Volume Three, In Twelve Volumes, Abingdon Press, New York 1954.
2. The NIV Study Bible, Zondervan, 1995.
3. Women of the Bible,  One Year Devotional Study of Women in Scripture, Ann Spangler and Jean E. Syswerda, Zondervan, 2007.
4. Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups, Jean E Syswerda, Zondervan, 1999.


Women of the Bible – The Queen of Sheba – 09/27/14 (Fall Pot-Luck/ 9th Anniversary)

The Queen of Sheba, is our eleventh study in our series from Women of the Bible, 52 Bible Studies for Individuals and Groups by Jean E Syswerda. The study of The Queen of Sheba is found on page 114. The Bible Study will meet 4:00p.m. to 6:00 p.m.

If you have not received your books for the study, please see Glenda. Remember that all materials are free as they are gifts to you from students participating in Homewords Small Group Bible Study Ministry. For information contact Glenda at 727-542-4683.

Announcement: The Ninth Anniversary Celebration & Pot Luck will be held with our Saturday Bible Study, September 27, 2017 at 4:00pm. Please contact Glenda for information at 727-542-4683.

The Lenten Season (Lent), by Yolande Brunson Collins

The Lenten Season, or the Season of Lent, is a solemn time.  It represents the ancient season of preparation for baptism on Easter Sunday. Ash Wednesday marks the first day of Lent, and the season lasts 40 days – not counting Sundays. During Lent, Sundays are considered Feast Days, and it is acceptable to rest from the strictness of Lent.

Why does Lent last 40 days? The number “40” has special spiritual significance regarding preparation. Moses was on Mt. Sinai for 40 days and 40 nights, without food or water, preparing to receive the Ten Commandments (Exodus 34:28). We read in 1 Kings 19:8 that Elijah “went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights as far as Horeb (another name for Sinai), the mountain of God.” And, we know that before He began His public ministry, Jesus fasted and prayed for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert (Matthew 4:2).  So, in the old days, it was decided that the preparation time of 40 days would be adequate and appropriate.

Though not Biblically based but more of a Christian tradition, some form of Lent has been practiced since the early Christian Church. According to The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, Lent started as the practice to “prepare those who would be baptized at Easter, and before long other members of the Christian community joined those candidates for baptism as an act of solidarity.” During the season of preparation, candidates for Baptism were engaged in study, fasting and prayer.

Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, which falls on March 5 this year, and is celebrated by fasting, repentance, moderation and spiritual discipline. Most people who are not familiar with the meaning of Lent usually think it is a season with the sole tradition of giving up something. Many are not aware that there are other Lenten traditions. In fact, many people add something to enhance their lives or in order to get closer to God. The underlying thought is that if one does something for 40 days, the practice will become incorporated into her or his daily life. It is felt that after 40 days, whatever was chosen as the personal focus of Lent will have then become a positive habit.  The beginning of the end of Lent falls during Holy Week, with the observances and rituals of Palm Sunday, Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Holy Saturday. Lent culminates in the joyful celebration of the resurrection of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Easter Sunday.

As an Episcopalian, I have seen many traditions played out during Lent.  The first, of course, is the practice of abstaining from something — usually food.  This speaks to the practice of fasting during Lent.  Some people give up certain foods such as fried foods or red meat, or alcohol, or sweets.  Others practice certain fasting rituals, such as not eating before a certain time of day or consuming food only prepared a certain way.  Fasting is probably the most widely practiced tradition and works for many people, but when people have chronic health issues or as they age, fasting may not be suitable due to health-related reasons.

When food is not given up, or in some instances in addition to giving up food, many individuals select to abstain from certain dangerous, unhealthy, offensive, or wasteful habits, such as speeding, cursing, “impulse” shopping, gossiping, gambling, just to name a few. If they choose to add something to their lives, they may choose focused and consistent prayer, Bible study, setting aside more time for their families, or volunteerism.  Some even take the time to become more organized or clean out their closets in an effort to “clear the clutter” from their lives and, subsequently, make donations to clothes closets and other charitable organizations.  There are many ways individuals observe Lent.

In 2013, Presiding Bishop Katharine encouraged us to “be in solidarity with the least of these.” She encouraged us to consider what and how and with whom we eat and to consider the challenges of the poor as they try to feed themselves and their families on food stamps, which is about $4 per person per day. She challenged us to be in solidarity with those who do without. Many Episcopalians accepted the challenge.

There are some liturgical changes, as well.  As Episcopalians, we omit both the Gloria in Excelsis and the use of the Alleluia during the liturgy until Easter Sunday. As a result, there is a tradition in some churches where the Alleluia is literally “buried” until Easter.  It is a custom where the children of the parish are witnesses to the “burying of the Alleluia,” when a cloth or banner with ALLELUIA on it is actually buried in the courtyard or other appropriate place – to be resurrected on Easter Sunday. It is an honor to be chosen to either place the ALLELUIA in the “grave” or to be the one chosen to resurrect it by digging it up on Easter Sunday.

There are many practices and customs associated with Lent. The fact is that you don’t HAVE to give up or add anything to your routine during Lent  — or for the full 40 days.  The time is used to prepare for Easter, so I encourage you to make that preparation by slowing down a bit and doing something meaningful which brings you closer to God.  Though you may or may not celebrate the Lenten season in a traditional way, the 40 days of Lent are the perfect time to evaluate your relationship with God and consider what you can do to have a better relationship with Him. I encourage you to take this time before Easter and enjoy a sacred and reflective Lenten season.


(1)   Exodus 34:28, 1 Kings 19:8, Mathew 4:2, Holy Bible, The New King James Version, 1990 by Thomas Nelson Publishers, Inc., Nashville, TN

(2)   The Episcopal Church newsletter, “Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Lent Message 2014,” by The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, February 28, 2014.

(3)   Catholic Education Resource Center, “History of Lent” by Fr. William Saunders, 2002.

(4)   The Episcopal Church newsletter, “Episcopal Church Presiding Bishop Lent Message 2013: Learn more, give alms, share what you have,” by The Most Reverend Katharine Jefferts Schori, Presiding Bishop and Primate of the Episcopal Church, February 4, 2013.