I taught a lesson about Elijah the prophet to my class of eight-year-old children last Sunday, and I cannot stop thinking about a certain story. Elijah lived in the northern kingdom known as Israel during the reign of Ahab and Jezebel. The king and queen hated Elijah because he called them to repentance for their idolatry. One day God told Elijah to tell Ahab that there was going to be a drought. The drought would last for more than three years.
Elijah delivered the message and then followed God’s instructions to flee to a brook where he would be fed bread and flesh by ravens each morning and evening. Elijah stayed by the brook until the brook dried up. Then God told him to go to Zarephath where a widow woman had been commanded to sustain him.
Again, Elijah followed God’s instructions and went to Zarephath. When he arrived outside the city gate, he saw a widow woman gathering sticks and made a special request.
10 … Fetch me, I pray thee, a little water in a vessel, that I may drink.
11 And as she was going to fetch it, he called to her, and said, Bring me, I pray thee, a morsel of bread in thine hand.
12 And she said, As the Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.
13 And Elijah said unto her, Fear not; go and do as thou hast said: but make me thereof a little cake first, and bring it unto me, and after make for thee and for thy son.
14 For thus saith the Lord God of Israel, The barrel of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the Lord sendeth rain upon the earth.
15 And she went and did according to the saying of Elijah: and she, and he, and her house, did eat many days.
16 And the barrel of meal wasted not, neither did the cruse of oil fail, according to the word of the Lord, which he spake by Elijah (1 Kings 17:10-16).
I am intrigued by the actions of the widow woman. She had just enough meal (flour) and oil left to make a small loaf of bread. She knew that it would be the last of her flour and oil, so she and her son would not have anything more to eat. She was planning to die. Yet, she willingly used her little bit of flour and oil to feed Elijah.
Was she acting on faith that Elijah’s words would be fulfilled? Did she believe him when he said that she would have plenty of flour and oil? I think that she believed him because she followed his words.
There have been many prophets upon the earth since the days of Adam. Each of them taught the gospel of Jesus Christ, but each of them also had a special mission and needed personal revelation to fulfil their mission. A favorite Primary song tells of some prophets: Adam, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Samuel, Jonah, and Danial. What the Lord told one prophet might not work so well for helping another prophet. For example, Noah was told how to build an ark in order to save his family from the Flood, but Moses needed help to feed the million or more Israelites that he led out of Egypt. The last verse of this Primary song talks about the current prophet of God and is followed by the chorus.
Now we have a world where people are confused.
If you don’t believe it, go and watch the news.
We can get direction all along our way,
If we heed the prophets – follow what they say.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; don’t go astray.
Follow the prophet, follow the prophet,
Follow the prophet; he knows the way.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is holding its semi-annual General Conference in Salt Lake City this weekend, and millions of members of the Church of Jesus Christ are attending, watching, or listening to the conference proceedings. The words of the current prophet of God and His apostles will be read and studied for months if not years. Members of the Church of Jesus Christ know that there is a prophet on earth today, and they seek to learn from him. However, there are many people who either do not believe in prophets or they have little faith in him. The following words of then-Elder Henry B. Eyring seem to apply at this time.
Looking for the path to safety in the counsel of prophets makes sense to those with strong faith. When a prophet speaks, those with little faith may think that they hear only a wise man giving good advice. Then if his counsel seems comfortable and reasonable, squaring with what they want to do, they take it. If it does not, they consider it either faulty advice or they see their circumstances as justifying their being an exception to the counsel. Those without faith may think that they hear only men seeking to exert influence for some selfish motive….
Every time in my life when I have chosen to delay following inspired counsel or decided that I was an exception, I came to know that I had put myself in harm’s way. Every time that I have listened to the counsel of prophets, felt it confirmed in prayer, and then followed it, I have found that I moved toward safety. Along the path, I have found that the way had been prepared for me and the rough places made smooth. God led me to safety along a path which was prepared with loving care, sometimes prepared long before.
I know that there is a living prophet on the earth today, even President Russell M. Nelson. I know that God speaks to us through His prophet. I sustain him as God’s prophet, seer, and revelator. I also sustain his counselors and the members of the Quorum of Twelve Apostles as prophets, seers, and revelators. I know that they too speak for God and work under the direction of President Nelson.
I am grateful for General Conference, which is held twice each year, for the prophet, apostles, and other leaders speak to us. As I follow their counsel, I become a better person. If you are interested in listening to the Lord’s prophet and apostles this weekend, you can do so at this site. You can also read or hear their counsel at a later time at the same site. I love the prophet, and I gratefully follow him as he leads me safely back to the Savior.