Wednesday, March 30
Reader: “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked.”
Response: “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”
Scripture: 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.”
“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.
And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 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.”
So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 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.
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.”
While this may not be one of the most familiar stories in the Bible, there are several insightful lessons here. In the days of Elisha, prophets of God had groups of “apprentice prophets,” if you will. Elisha was in such a group following Elijah. You’ll recall, as Elijah was getting ready to ascend to heaven in a chariot of fire, Elisha asked him for a double portion of Elijah’s spirit. His request was granted as Elisha did exactly double the number of miracles his mentor had done. (This “apprentice” practice was in operation in Jesus’ day as his disciples, ‘talmidim,’ functioned in the same way.)
One of Elisha’s talmidim had died and his widow had come to Elisha for help. She was in a tough place. What Elisha did reminded me of the incident of Jesus changing the water to wine at the wedding feast. Jesus’ mother came to him with a problem―no more wine. The widow came to Elisha with a problem―no more money. Elisha and Jesus worked with the resources that were available (neighbor’s jars, empty water jars).
In Elisha’s case, the woman poured the oil miraculously filling all the gathered jars. There was so much oil, she was able to sell it and pay off her debt and still have plenty to live on. In the case of the water to wine miracle, Jesus produced 180 gallons of wine!
Both miracles resulted in creating a lavish amount, examples of God’s generosity.
What observations can we make here? God works with ordinary resources which are available. We should not be shy in going to a benevolent God for help in any situation. God is in charge of the timing. God’s ways are not our ways.The widow had no idea what to do and couldn’t have guessed what Elisha would do. Jesus’ mother had no idea what was about to happen, she just knew “do whatever he tells you.” Friends, that’s our position in coming to the Lord with a problem, we need to do whatever he tells us. Keep your ears and eyes open today, you never know what’s going to happen.
Music: “Praise My Soul the King of Heaven” OrganPower (Marshall and Ogletree)
Almighty God, Lord of the storm and of the calm, the vexed sea and the quiet haven, of day and of night, of life and of death―grant unto us so to have our hearts stayed upon Thy faithfulness, Thine unchanging and love, that, whatsoever betide us, however black the cloud or dark the night, with quiet faith trusting in Thee, we may look upon Thee with untroubled eye, and walking in lowliness towards Thee, and in lovingness towards one another, abide all storms and troubles of this mortal life, beseeching Thee that they may turn to the soul’s true good. We ask it for Thy mercy’s sake, shown in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. ―George Dawson, from Prayers Ancient and Modern, p.161