(Image courtesy of pinterest)
The thoughts for this blog are taken from the message I have prepared for Sunday September 1st, 2019. They are based on a passage from the Old Testament found in the Book of 2 Kings 4:1-7. It is the account of a widow who is about to lose her two sons because she cannot pay a debt she owes. What unfolds in this passage is wonderful story of God’s provision.
When preaching this message, it is my intention to go verse by verse as I attempt to help folks see how God, ever faithful to keep His promises, can grow faith in the hardest of times.
For you, Dear Reader, I’ll be touching on highlights here (should you want to hear my soothing tones discussing this in fuller detail, please go to our website, www.lakesidechristianministries.org and click of the dropdown menu audio/video).
As always, it is good to get some background/context to the passage of scripture being considered. Elisha, who had been the prophet Elijah’s assistant, has now assumed the leadership position after Elijah has been taken up to heaven. He is the man of God the widow seeks for help. As prophet, Elisha would have others working and ministering under his guidance. One of these people had been the widow’s husband.
It’s also helpful to remember that the accepted custom of that time in ancient Israel was if you were unable to pay your debt, some or all family members would be forced to be servants of that creditor. In essence, they could be sold into slavery to cover a debt. If she lost her sons, there would be no one left to work the land. Her very bad situation was going to spiral even further downward. She would be destitute. You get a better sense of her desperation by knowing these things, I think. At this point, she would be seeing more of empty jars than anything that might grow her faith.
In her grief, pain and uncertainty of the future she seeks out the prophet. (Folks even then looking for a fix/cure on their own level instead of going first and directly to God.) Elisha had already worked miracles in his ministry; no doubt the widow would have known, hence her seeking him out to do something about her situation. She spells out her issues to Elisha, who may or may not have already known about what she was up against.
After the widow spells out her problems to him, Elisha asks if she has anything at all to work with to pay the debt. “Nothing,” she replies, “except this little but of oil.” To us this would be like having one dollar to our name when we owed one million. Her situation looked hopeless, having more to do with empty jars than a flowing faith at this point.
The Prophet then gives her some strange instructions. She is to go to all her neighbors, asking to borrow empty jars. It is at this point we can she the widow starting to walk in faith. This was a very humbling thing to do. By going to all her neighbors, they would certainly know something was wrong. No matter how they might talk about her, she was grasping at the chance to save her boys.
After collecting the jars, Elisha’s instructions don’t get any less crazy sounding. The widow and her boys are to take them into their house and close the door. Once they were alone, she was to start pouring the little oil she had into these empty jars.
Common sense would tell us this is futile, a heart hoping for God to do something wonderful would start pouring. She did, and the Bible tells us the oil does not stop pouring until all the jars are full!
God has always been in the multiplying business. Thinking about this takes me back to grade school grade school and learning the multiplication tables. Each of these always showed that anything times zero was always zero. That’s good for a mathematics table, but it doesn’t fit God’s character. God continues to make something where there once was nothing!
This account was meant to grow the faith of those involved, not their pocketbooks! As you ponder it (and may I encourage you to read/re-read again 2 Kings 4:1-7), may I ask, “How can God enlarge your faith today?” You don’t need to be in the dire straits this widow was. In fact, we should learn from her example and not wait as long as she did before seeking help. Don’t fall prey to the prideful feelings that you can a: work everything out yourself, or b: be to ashamed to admit something is messed up and you need help.
Take a spiritual inventory of what you have in the Lord and where your walk is currently with Him. This will help you to see what you have in Him as opposed to how little you have on your own. Let your faith grow as you ponder what God did for this obedient woman. Difficulties might seem huge and having a kitchen full of empty jars seem of little use. But our God will meet our deepest needs, if only we admit/ask Him to sustain us. He’s done it; He’s doing it. Do you have the faith He can do it for you?
Thanks for reading,