A long time ago, the people of Israel were split into two kingdoms, and one was the tribe of Judah, which had a king called Asa, who was a thoroughly good egg. He loved the Lord and did what he said, he was a cool king; he liked bowling and chatting with his mates. Israel, on the other had, were a bunch of miscreants and their king was called Ahab. Now Ahab was a naughty king of Israel. He succeeded a horrible king who succeeded a horrible king who succeeded a horrible king and he was the most horrible king of all. He didn’t love the Lord at all and not only that but he married a very nasty lady called Jezebel, who worshipped a made up god called Baal. Baal; it sounds like a sheep, doesn’t it? And worshipping him was about as effective as worshipping a sheep!
Well, things got so bad that God decided to send his prophet Elijah to see Ahab. Poor old Elijah had to trudge up to the palace where he sneaked in when the guards weren’t looking and he found Ahab in the temple of Baal making a fool of himself dancing around wearing a frog on his head. He rolled up his sleeves and tapped that naughty king of Israel on the shoulder and said “You, Sir, are a plonker. Because you ignore God and dance round idols wearing frogs on your head, God has decided that it’s not going to rain ever again until I say so. No thunderstorms, no April showers, no summer rain, no mist, no dew. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch.” And then, he ran for it. As you can imagine, Ahab was a bit miffed with this, and was just looking round for someone to tie Elijah up and throw him to the lions! So Elijah ran for it as fast as he could a long way away to a ravine. A ravine is a big rocky hole in the land where there’s nothing to do, no one to talk to and nothing to see. He got to drink from the brook and on top of all that, God has sent him ravens to feed him. Now I personally would have issues with that because ravens are not the most hygienic of things, and they made the bread smell like sick. Every day Elijah got to eat bread and meat and drink water, and count sand grains.
Just when he really thought that he couldn’t look another raven in the face again, the brook dried up, and God sent him somewhere new. “Thank God for that!” prayed Elijah. “Proper food at last! And I can check my email at the library. Then I’m going straight down Tesco and stocking up on mango ice tea. And what would I do for Chilli-con carne??” And off he went to Zarephath. When he finally trudged through the town gate, it was pretty late and a bank holiday to boot, so no shops were open. He saw a lady gathering sticks and asked her as nicely as he could manage; “Could I trouble you for some water and some bread, maybe?” (Thinking to himself – have some chilli on the hob, have some chilli on the hob…)
But the lady turned round to him and said “You’re having a laugh, right? It hasn’t rained here for months, No thunderstorms, no April showers, no summer rain, no mist, no dew. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. All my crops are dead, and I have the sum total of one jar of flour and one jug of oil.”
So Elijah, trying not to cry, said “well, how about this, go home and make some bread with what you have and then bring it back for me. If you do that, God will make it so that your jar never runs out of flour and your jug never runs out of oil. Right up to when it finally rains again. What do you think?”
Well, at that, the lady gave him a very suspicious look, as I imagine you would have if it had been you, but in the end she decided, why not? At the end of the day, one piece of bread wasn’t going to make that much difference to her one way or the other, so she agreed and wandered off back home. Well, the Lord kept Elijah’s word and they all lived together for a while, Elijah, the lady and the lady’s little boy. Every day was sunny, No thunderstorms, no April showers, no summer rain, no mist, no dew. Nothing, nada, zip, zilch. And every day they ate bread and water, bread and water, bread and water. Poor Elijah did wonder if he would go mad! Then, out of the blue, months later the lady’s little boy died. Well, the lady got very upset, as you can imagine, and started having a right go at Elijah. “What kind of God is this, that I can believe in you, take you in and share my house with you and give you flipping bread and water every day and how do I get repaid? My little boy is dead!” And she stormed off out of the house to have a stiff drink down the pub.
So Elijah, poor old Elijah, who God sent to tell the king off, who had to run for his life and live in a ravine, who hasn’t had Chilli-con-carne for years, just sits down and wails at God “Why me? Why this boy and his mum? Please Lord, let it end and bring this little boy back to life!” And God, of course, heard him, and did just that! When the lady got back from the pub, Elijah picked up her little boy and gave him to her and she saw that he was alive! Well, you can imagine the party they had that night! The lady was convinced that Elijah was definitely a true prophet of God and they made up there and then. They had the music turned up loud and started dancing on the street. When it was dinnertime they really pushed the boat out and went down the local Mexican restaurant. Everyone ordered… the Chilli-con-carne. Elijah proposed a toast. “Well, it’s a great day when someone comes back from the dead. Even better if it’s followed by Chilli-con-carne!” Everyone laughed and raised their glasses.
“To Chilli-con-carne because it’s YUMMY FOR THE TUMMY!”