Zarephath: The Place of Refining
Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there.
–1 Kings 17:9
Eventually, God told Elijah to move forward after his waiting time at the brook of Cherith. God told Elijah, “Arise, go to Zarephath, which belongs to Sidon, and stay there” (1 Kings 17:9). Zarephath was the second waiting place for Elijah, where the training, testing, and refining would be even more intense.
If Cherith was the place of testing for Elijah, then Zarephath represented the place of refining his faith. Zarephath was about 100 miles from Cherith, so to travel to Zarephath took faith because Elijah was a marked man. Jezebel had put a price on his head, and traveling was very dangerous, but Elijah didn’t allow any of that to deter him from doing what God had called him to do.
So he picked up from Cherith and went to Zarephath. Zarephath was eight miles south of Sidon. Sidon was the birthplace of Queen Jezebel, and Zarephath was known for one thing: it was the place where the idols for the worship of Baal were manufactured. Any time you wanted to make an idol or any piece of jewelry, there was a process for doing that. You would take the metal or the gold, you would heat it up until it became in a molten state, and once it was in a liquid state, the impurities of that metal or that gold would rise to the surface and would be skimmed off the top so that the molten gold or metal could be poured pure into the mold and make whatever object was being crafted. And that’s what Zarephath literally means in Hebrew. It means “to smelt” or “to melt.” It refers to the refining process. In fact, the noun form of Zarephath means “the crucible.” And that’s what Zarephath became for Elijah. It was a place where his faith would be tested, it would be heated so that the impurities of his life could be removed.
Did you know that’s what God does in your life and my life? Peter said that suffering tests our faith by fire: “In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:6-7).
Why does God send hard things into your life? It’s not because He hates you. It’s because He is molding you to become like His Son, and one way He molds you and me into the image of His Son is to heat up our lives, to make things difficult, so the impurities of our life will become evident and hopefully can be removed so that we can become what God wants us to be.
Today’s devotion is excerpted from “Secret #3: Wait on God’s Timing” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2017.
Scripture taken from the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1960,1962,1963,1968,1971,1972,1973,1975,1977,1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.