God-Soaked World Bible Guide – Day 11
March 16, 2017
Thursday, March 16 – II Kings 4:1-7
4 Now the wife of a member of the company of prophets cried to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead; and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but a creditor has come to take my two children as slaves.” 2 Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” She answered, “Your servant has nothing in the house, except a jar of oil.” 3 He said, “Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not just a few. 4 Then go in, and shut the door behind you and your children, and start pouring into all these vessels; when each is full, set it aside.” 5 So she left him and shut the door behind her and her children; they kept bringing vessels to her, and she kept pouring. 6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” But he said to her, “There are no more.” 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 children can live on the rest.”
Points of Interest:
- Elijah’s similarly-named protégée Elisha is the best known of a class of a few dozen or more prophets. They are spiritual advisers to the monarchy and the nation as a whole. One of Elijah’s junior colleagues has died, and his widow is destitute.
- As is still true in many developing nations, the widow’s destitution leads to crippling debt which leads to the risk of child slavery. This link of hardship to debt to enslavement has been a curse of the earth’s poor for millennia.
- Elisha begins with what social workers call a strength-based approach. In the widow’s lack, he asks what she does have, which in this case is a single jar of oil. From there, she’s told to borrow more jars from her neighbors, as many empty jars as possible. So before she becomes more full, she is asked to become more desperate, and publicly so.
- The widow’s empty jars look like a physical mark of faith. Each empty jar she gathers represents hope that God will in some way fill that jar. The more empty jars, the more unlikely they’ll all be filled, but the more possibility for God to work wonders.
- As it turns out, the widow’s oil goes a lot further than she could have imagined. She kept pouring. There is more and more oil. Behind closed doors, she physically sees the provision and love of God in this oil. She kept pouring.
- When her jars are all full, the oil stopped flowing. The moment ends, but the miracle has just begun. The widow has enough oil to pay her debts and so rescue her children, and to provide for their needs, both on this day and into the future.
Taking It Home:
- Spiritual Exercise – Remember your deep desire of these 40 Days of Faith. Is it the deepest desire of your heart, or has any new longing emerged? Hold empty hands up, and speak your desire to a good and loving and attentive God. With your hands up, ask Jesus to reveal to you how they aren’t empty. What jar of oil do you have? What step of faith can you take today, as your part in the thing you are waiting for God to do? Ask God for courage to take that step this very day, even if it makes you look a little desperate. And ask God to meet you in that step of faith, fulfilling your desire.
- Prayer for your city – Remember in prayer the desperately poor in your city and in your world. Ask for them that God will provide an Elisha to turn to – a spiritually wise and creative comforter and adviser that will highlight whatever strength they have already and help them join with God in seeing that become enough. Pray that God will supply whatever miraculous help and provision is needed for them to survive both today and tomorrow.