The Place of Separation and Sustainment

I shared on my Facebook page earlier this week about how God instructed Elijah, during a long drought, to go to the brook East of Jordan named Cherith. It is written in 1 Kings 17:1-7. In the Hebrew, the word Cherith, Chorath, or Kerith means “a place of separation.” If you locate where this brook is located, most modern scholars agree that it is the Wadi al-Yabis, a region that is described as one of the wildest ravines in the region. It is also so wild in terrain, that it is a place where one can easily hide from persecution and still be protected; it is a place of refuge. In this passage, God also told Elijah that he would send the ravens to bring bread and flesh to Elijah.

Cherith or Wadi al-Yabis by samdefranc
Cherith or Wadi al-Yabis by samdefranc

There are many things which need to be pointed out about Ravens. They are extremely intelligent, more than any other bird in the bird kingdom and rivaling that of the chimpanzee in the animal kingdom. They are adaptable to any habitat, mountainous, desert, rocky, grasslands, wetlands, etc., regardless of weather. Ravens can be taught to talk better than most parrots, imitating the human voice and the calls of other birds. They also communicate with each other with their beaks, such as pointing out an object to another raven. Another form of communication they use is to attract other animals to a carcass they want to feed on by their calls, because they cannot tear open with their beaks, then once other predators have opened the carcass for them, they can pick at the meat. They are not known to feed others, except their own babies. They are one of the dirtiest birds in the bird kingdom, yet they are survivors. They are scavengers, and are quite resourceful finding food by outwitting other birds and predators. They even follow the gunshots of hunters to locate a carcass to feed upon, yet ignore other equally loud sounds, showing signs of extreme intellect and recognition. They work in cooperation with each other to steal food, by distraction and/or observation. Ravens are playful and can play together, with other animals, or alone, solving intricate games and using comical behavior. They can fly upside down up to half a mile, do somersaults, and acrobatics. They are more agile than crows in flight, because they use light wingbeats and soar at times. During nesting times, they wash all their food in a nearby water source before feeding it to their nestlings. One of the facts I found to be most interesting is what a group of ravens are called, which is an ‘unkindness.’

"Corvus corax jouveniles". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons -
RAVENS – Licensed under CC BY-SA

Isn’t it just like God to take an unkindness and turn it into a kindness? And wouldn’t God choose one of the smartest, cleverest, most resourceful, and unlikely animals to provide for man who is created in his image? And wouldn’t God take an unlikely raven, who is greedy and selfish, to share of the food they find to sustain mankind? The ravens brought Elijah bread and flesh it tells us in First Kings. Don’t you imagine that those ravens took Elijah in as one of their own to do this? I even wonder if they washed the food before they gave it to him. As I was thinking of this, the ravens, a most common bird, were a substitute savior for Elijah. They took on some of the characteristics of Jesus, by taking care of God’s chosen, offering redemption from starvation in the form of bread and flesh. (Jesus is our bread and flesh. He took on the flesh of a man to dwell among us. He adopted us as his own, once we submitted to him. He is our sustainment and our redeemer.)

So when we find ourselves in a desperate situation that looks like we cannot go on, or have suffered an unkindness; we must remember Elijah and how God provided for him and then look to Jesus and remember that he is our ultimate sustainment, place of refuge, and redeemer. God will provide us a place of refuge, the brook of flowing water, and sustainment, but first we must separate ourselves from the worldly things that ensnare us and keep us from Him. We must put aside encumbrances to allow God to clothe us, to feed us, to supply all our needs, and to care for us better than we can ever care for ourselves. He may take us into a ravenous situation (a place of greedy hunger) to get our attention, or into a hidden wilderness where only he can provide to remind us that he is our sustainer and has provided our ultimate redemption in Jesus Christ. What hunger do you have that the world cannot satisfy? Where is your brook of separation? Have you found it, do you need to go there to renew your heart with God or simply to be sustained and cared for? It is with Jesus. Allow him to be your place of separation and sustainment today and every day.

Consider the ravens, for they neither sow nor reap, which have neither storehouse nor barn; and God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds? – Luke 12:24

Interesting side note on the word raven-ous: The verb to RAVEN means to devour greedily, to seize, and to prowl hungrily. The adjective RAVENOUS is traced to Old French ravener, meaning ‘to seize,’ regarding water, meaning ‘swift flowing.’ Overall meaning: “voracious, greedily hungry, and seized.”

Prayer: May God seize us to have a voracious hunger and thirst for Jesus, as our sole sustainer, refuge, bread, and flesh.