When the nation follows Baal, the believers are living in that same world. There are trials for everyone when sin is the popular way. We need to be in the world even if we are not of the world. The world needs to see that we have a different hope. A godly man will also have debt, and death is part of life. But eternal life is also eternal assurance.
Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen. And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full. So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. 2 Kings 4:1-5
One of the prophets will watch from his place near God as his family will see the confirmation of his faith. His wife knew where to find help, and Elisha knows her source. Again the natural woman has to act by faith, taking a step to provide for the unseen answer. Her sons bring the neighbors jars and she prepares to pour out her last material possession to her neighbors. The oil was not depleted, and they found life.
And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest. And it fell on a day, that Elisha passed to Shunem, where was a great woman; and she constrained him to eat bread. And so it was, that as oft as he passed by, he turned in thither to eat bread. And she said unto her husband, Behold now, I perceive that this is an holy man of God, which passeth by us continually. Let us make a little chamber, I pray thee, on the wall; and let us set for him there a bed, and a table, and a stool, and a candlestick: and it shall be, when he cometh to us, that he shall turn in thither. 2 Kings 4:6-10
We too have oil to offer if we give the oil to our world. The Holy Spirit is represented as the oil of anointing. In acts Peter describes the anointing of Jesus even as Saul anointed the kings before him.
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. Acts 10:38
As believers we have only a small anointing of the Holy Spirit, but our life experience is the testimony that inspires others to draw close to God in crisis. Whatever your crisis is, your experience and faith are the oil of the Holy Ghost to revive your needy neighbors.
Elisha has received comfort from another woman, and she prepares to make him more welcome. Can we provide comfort to those who feed our flock? Do our pastors and evangelists find comfort in their outreach? The late Dr. Ben David Lew provided “The Hope of Israel” as a mission and television outreach to Jews for Messiah in the Detroit area for many years. After his retirement many supporters faded from their good works. I do know that he continued to minister in his retirement home and showed great appreciation to those who remembered the man of God. Elisha also remembered these kindnesses.
And it fell on a day, that he came thither, and he turned into the chamber, and lay there. And he said to Gehazi his servant, Call this Shunammite. And when he had called her, she stood before him. And he said unto him, Say now unto her, Behold, thou hast been careful for us with all this care; what is to be done for thee? wouldest thou be spoken for to the king, or to the captain of the host? And she answered, I dwell among mine own people. And he said, What then is to be done for her? And Gehazi answered, Verily she hath no child, and her husband is old. And he said, Call her. And when he had called her, she stood in the door. 2 Kings 4:11-15
Did he send flowers? Or perhaps a gift certificate for the mall? We need something from a God who cares to send the very best.
And he said, About this season, according to the time of life, thou shalt embrace a son. And she said, Nay, my lord, thou man of God, do not lie unto thine handmaid. And the woman conceived, and bare a son at that season that Elisha had said unto her, according to the time of life. And when the child was grown, it fell on a day, that he went out to his father to the reapers. And he said unto his father, My head, my head. And he said to a lad, Carry him to his mother. And when he had taken him, and brought him to his mother, he sat on her knees till noon, and then died. 2 Kings 4:16-20
So you want a hobby during your retirement years? How about adding a nursery to your home? At least he didn’t send triplets! But this new life is still in this world, and it seems a bit fickle. How hard could it be to have a life given, only to watch it fade away in your arms? This woman has experience to draw from now, and she expects help. She knows the source of hope.
And she went up, and laid him on the bed of the man of God, and shut the door upon him, and went out. And she called unto her husband, and said, Send me, I pray thee, one of the young men, and one of the asses, that I may run to the man of God, and come again. And he said, Wherefore wilt thou go to him to day? it is neither new moon, nor sabbath. And she said, It shall be well. Then she saddled an ass, and said to her servant, Drive, and go forward; slack not thy riding for me, except I bid thee. So she went and came unto the man of God to mount Carmel. And it came to pass, when the man of God saw her afar off, that he said to Gehazi his servant, Behold, yonder is that Shunammite: 2 Kings 4:21-25
Her husband wonders if there is a gift from God on an ordinary day. He expects God to keep the holy days, but perhaps not the need of the moment. She is not doubting, and tells the driver to put the pedal to the metal. Elisha recognizes her intense approach.
Run now, I pray thee, to meet her, and say unto her, Is it well with thee? is it well with thy husband? is it well with the child? And she answered, It is well: And when she came to the man of God to the hill, she caught him by the feet: but Gehazi came near to thrust her away. And the man of God said, Let her alone; for her soul is vexed within her: and the LORD hath hid it from me, and hath not told me. Then she said, Did I desire a son of my lord? did I not say, Do not deceive me? Then he said to Gehazi, Gird up thy loins, and take my staff in thine hand, and go thy way: if thou meet any man, salute him not; and if any salute thee, answer him not again: and lay my staff upon the face of the child. And the mother of the child said, As the LORD liveth, and as thy soul liveth, I will not leave thee. And he arose, and followed her. 2 Kings 4:26-30
The servant was sent ahead, but she reported to him that all was well. Elisha sensed a problem though even without a word from God. He sent her home with instructions to place his staff on the dead boy. She didn’t question his instructions.
And Gehazi passed on before them, and laid the staff upon the face of the child; but there was neither voice, nor hearing. Wherefore he went again to meet him, and told him, saying, The child is not awaked. And when Elisha was come into the house, behold, the child was dead, and laid upon his bed. He went in therefore, and shut the door upon them twain, and prayed unto the LORD. And he went up, and lay upon the child, and put his mouth upon his mouth, and his eyes upon his eyes, and his hands upon his hands: and stretched himself upon the child; and the flesh of the child waxed warm. Then he returned, and walked in the house to and fro; and went up, and stretched himself upon him: and the child sneezed seven times, and the child opened his eyes. 2 Kings 4:31-35
The staff made no apparent difference, and Elisha came behind them. He prayed and lay on the child, and the boy revived. Her faith is rewarded, and Elisha goes on about his business.
And he called Gehazi, and said, Call this Shunammite. So he called her. And when she was come in unto him, he said, Take up thy son. Then she went in, and fell at his feet, and bowed herself to the ground, and took up her son, and went out. And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him: and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and seethe pottage for the sons of the prophets. And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage: for they knew them not. So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O thou man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof. 2 Kings 4:36-40
The prophets prepare a meal, and someone is not aware of a deadly ingredient. Food poisoning is painful and lingering, so there is some serious distress in this camp.
But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot. And there came a man from Baalshalisha, and brought the man of God bread of the firstfruits, twenty loaves of barley, and full ears of corn in the husk thereof. And he said, Give unto the people, that they may eat. And his servitor said, What, should I set this before an hundred men? He said again, Give the people, that they may eat: for thus saith the LORD, They shall eat, and shall leave thereof. So he set it before them, and they did eat, and left thereof, according to the word of the LORD. 2 Kings 4:41-44
Meal, or grain is not a known cure, although it turns soup into stew. With God it can serve as the medium for a miracle though. Another brings bread, but not enough for a large group. Elisha sets the stage for the works of Jesus by making this small contribution serve the large group. As with the widow earlier, his contribution was small in his eyes, but great in the service of God.
It’s easy to despair at the tsunami of sin that is washing our world away today. Like Israel and Judah, we see the division of the church and Israel preventing healing. How can they not see the promises of Messiah so clearly foreshadowed in both testaments? How can Christians deny that we too are Jews by adoption? We can ask for help, but he has demonstrated that our help comes in giving the strength that we have to the people in need around us. They need our faith, not our loaves or fishes. But we give that small gift to demonstrate the greater gift that we draw from. We trust a provider to restore our offering. We report for duty in war confident of the peace that is ours in any natural situation.
Years ago I found myself unable to contribute to the building fund of Westland Full Gospel Church in Michigan. I was an auto designer, and a fan of Jeep type vehicles. On my way home from work I noticed a really interesting utility vehicle, and recognized it as a new prototype. In Detroit one may glimpse new cars before they are in production if the engineer takes it on the public roads for testing.
The vehicle was speeding, so I lost sight of it for a while. Then I saw it on the shoulder with the hood up. This is funny when the engineer takes the prize toy out and breaks it. I stopped to offer help because there were no cell phones back then. (They didn’t have cell phone cameras to take spy photos with either!) I gave him a tract from our church and took him to a gas station for help before I left.
A couple of Sundays later our pastor announced that the church had a generous donation from a vice-president of American Motors Corporation. I had not met an ordinary engineer after all. The vehicle was the prototype of the Jeep Cherokee that redefined the SUV market that year. A small investment from available resources can go a long way.
I was taught by Dr. Lew and other Messianic teachers. Many great churches have kept me afloat in the storms of life. My late wife gave unconditional love to her family. I may not have a mega-ministry today, but we have this bread of life. If you find the words of the bible helpful, pass them to friends in person or electronically. His word is him; “I am”.