Back to Old School: Elisha
Elisha's work within Israel involved two areas: personal and political. As a man easily accessible to the people, he frequently interceded in the ordinary events of life that bring anguish and crisis.
But these stories within the larger context also show the power of God over all aspects of nature,
Let’s look at an amazing story found in II Kings 4:1-7
One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.” 2 “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?” “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied. 3 And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” 5 So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim! “Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons. “There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing. 7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”
This woman who came to Elisha knew him. Her deceased husband had been part of Elisha’s group of prophets who served Elisha. She, obviously through her husband knew how God’s power was unleashed through Elisha, thus she came to him desperate, but optimistic. It was a common practice for poor people and debtors to pay their debts by selling themselves or their children as slaves to the creditors.
The Widows’ Resources (what she did have): A far as anything of value, she had only some olive oil. A much-needed commodity in that time period. However, she didn’t have much – in fact just one small container called a “flask.” This would only be enough for limited cooking or lighting a lamp for a short period of time.
Elisha’s proposed solution: Grab as many empty containers (jars) as you can find – even borrow as many as possible from friends and neighbors. Then, close your doors – and empty your flask into the jars. As one jar is filled, set it aside and fill the next jar and the next, and the next, etc.
What did the widow do? She did as she was told by the man of God. How I wish sometimes, as a pastor, when consulted by someone as to what to do… and I share an answer from God’s Word – that folks would actually do what the Bible is telling them to do!
What happened? The oil continued to flow from the flask until every jar was completely filled. The widow and her sons now had a prodigious amount of olive oil! When the widow told Elisha what had happened, he confirmed what she probably already knew – sell as much olive oil as needed to satisfy the creditors, then sell the rest as needed to live on.
What’s significant about the use of olive oil to meet the widow’s needs?
God will meet all of your needs. Philippians 4:19 – “And this same God who takes care of me will supply all your needs from his glorious riches, which have been given to us in Christ Jesus.”
What is our part in securing God’s provision?
Elisha helped people see the all-powerful God. Do you see His ability to provide all you need?