The Widow's Oil
We are In A Time Of Provision
Do you know the story of Elisha and the poor widow?
I reread this story the other day, and no matter how many times I read it, new and exciting points leap out at me. The Bible is filled with life, and when we faithfully search the scriptures, they continue to supply us with fresh revelation.
There are many obvious points in this story, but hopefully, I can bring some not-so-apparent revelation to light. What I love most about this story is being reminded of God's faithfulness and provision in the darkest days of our lives.
Let's revisit 2 Kings 4 and talk about what I believe to be a current, relevant focus for us. It's a story of faith and great encouragement for today.
2 Kings 4:1-7 ESV 1 Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves." 2 And Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me; what have you in the house?" And she said, "Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil." 3 Then he said, "Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. 4 Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside." 5 So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, "Bring me another vessel." And he said to her, "There is not another." Then the oil stopped flowing. 7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, "Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest."
In this story, we find a poor widow with two sons. Her husband, who was 'of the sons of the prophets,' had died and left her with debt she couldn't pay. She faced losing everything, including her sons. She had nothing in the house except for a small jar of oil. But what she didn't know is that God would use what little she had to produce all she would need.
Elisha was sent to her under divine instruction from the Lord. Her husband was known as a 'son of the prophets' (known by Elisha and considered a righteous man), which meant they were in good standing with their neighbors. We should also be in good standing with our neighbors; we never know when we may need to borrow something from them! Of course, this is not the only reason to be in good standing; we are taught in scripture to love our neighbors as ourselves.
Though she did not know what would happen, the widow was obedient to the man of God. She borrowed as many vessels from her neighbors as she could carry. Her obedience amid despair is a reminder to us of how we should act when the Word of the Lord comes to us.
I don't think it matters how many vessels she borrowed; the Lord knows just how much is more than enough! The main point is the value of the oil. It had many uses and was worth a great deal! Some uses include:
• Perfumes and Fragrant oils
• Used for international trade
The oil flowed miraculously for as long as the vessels were available. I'm reminded of the Maccabees and the one cruse of oil they found in the desecrated Temple. That single cruse burned for eight nights. This event is known as the miracle of Hanukkah.
After the oil stopped, it was apparent that she could pay off the debt and be set to live on the rest of the funds. She and her sons would live in comfort and plenty. The provision of the Lord is evident.
We are reminded in this story to have faith, live generously, and be joyful. We must strive to give, with joy, to family and neighbors. "The joy of the Lord is your strength" Nehemiah 8:10 and "These things I have spoken to you that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be made full." John 15:10-11
Cultivate contentment. Whatever situation we are in, we must learn to be content. Paul says:
"Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content." Philippians 4:11
Wikipedia defines contentment as:
"an emotional state of satisfaction that can be seen as a mental state, maybe drawn from being at ease in one's situation, body and mind. Colloquially speaking, contentment could be a state of having accepted one's situation and is a milder and more tentative form of happiness."
Things looked pretty desperate for the widow, but God!! When we are in an impossible situation, God shines!
When God sends someone to us with a Word of Prophecy, do we believe? Or do we find doubt and unbelief sneaking up on us because we cannot know for sure how that Word will play out?
If we are grounded in scriptures, we will learn how to rightly divide the prophetic. A word of action will always line up with scripture. Keep the Word of God in your heart and be obedient!
Can we begin to declare God's faithfulness and goodness, especially when things seem the darkest? Is there a little oil jar somewhere that God can use in your difficult situation?
"Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and thrown into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him." Mark 11:23
We can learn from the widow to employ these simple precepts. God sends His Spirit and gives us opportunities to praise, trust and obey Him in every human situation. I hope that this teaching has provided a refreshing reminder of this vital truth.
"It is not what you look at that matters; it is what you see!" — Henry David Thoreau
In Yeshua's Love,
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Unless otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved