Summary: This is an illustrative sermon, which, while preparing the pottage, shows the picture of the ingredients, and how the blood of Jesus is the only thing that can destroy the poison of sin.
“Death In The Pot”
INTRODUCTION: Read 2 Kings 4:38-41
The prophet Elisha is meeting with his Bible School students … the “sons of the prophets”. There is a famine in the land, so Elisha has one of his servants go out and pick vegetables for a stew.
If we look closely, we can see a deeper meaning than just a pot of stew. We can see a picture of “man” … under the bondage of sin. We can also see redemption through Christ Jesus. (Gal. 4:3-5).
Each of the elements in the Biblical story has a meaning … they tell their own story.
1.- POT – The pot represents MAN. It was probably made of iron … from the ground … like man, who was made from the dust of the earth.
Elisha wanted POTTAGE in the POT, to satisfy the hunger of his students.
2.- POTTAGE – comes from the Hebrew word for “pride” … ‘something that satisfies’. Elisha wanted something in the pot, POTTAGE, that would SATISFY his student’s hunger … something that he could be PROUD of. Elisha was probably a good cook!
This was also God’s idea. God wanted something in man that He could be PROUD of. SO … God made man in His own likeness … after His own image. (Genesis 1:26) Man was fine in the Garden of Eden … like delicious POTTAGE in the POT. He was sinless and perfect. Man was something that God could be PROUD of … He even said “it was very good”.
THEN … sin entered the picture. Man’s heart became corrupt when Adam & Eve disobeyed God. God could no longer be PROUD of His creation, so He cast them out of the Garden of Eden. DEATH had entered into the POT … and fellowship was broken.
3.- FIELD - 4:39 – The servant goes into the field to find herbs to put into the POT to make POTTAGE. The FIELD is the WORLD (Matthew 13:24,38).
Elisha lived about 3000 years after Adam & Eve were cast out of the Garden of Eden. Mankind hadn’t gotten any better … but worse! Mankind, created in God’s image, was now reproducing after Adam’s image … sinful in nature.
It seems as if God is saying, “Go into the world and see what you can find. See if there’s anything good that can be put in the POT (man). See if you can put anything into the POT, to make POTTAGE that I can be PROUD of.”
So, the servant goes into the FIELD, the WORLD.
4.- HERBS – 4:39 – Elisha wanted HERBS in the POT, to make POTTAGE … something he could be PROUD to serve his students. The Hebrew word for “herbs” means “light”. This is what God wants in His POT (man). God wants mankind to shine forth the image of God, so all mankind can see Him (Matthew 5:14-16).
BUT … the servant couldn’t find any. The HERBS just weren’t there. The LIGHT had faded. That’s why God sent forth His Son into the world … to be the light of the world. BUT … the light had faded.
5.- VINE – The servant didn’t find any HERBS … BUT … he did find a VINE. The Hebrew word for VINE means ‘to bend’ … ‘crooked’. When God looks into the FIELD (world) today, that’s what He finds. God sees many who are going the CROOKED way … the broad way that leads to destruction (Mt. 7:13-14).
Few there be who walk the straight and narrow way … the way of the HERBS … the way of God’s light. The crooked vines were growing everywhere. BUT … God wants HERBS … He wants light-bearers.
6.- GOURDS – 4:39 – GOURDS are like squash, which grew on these crooked vines. The Hebrew word for GOURDS means ‘to split’ … probably because when you split them open, the many seeds are exposed. The servant split the gourds open, and put them into the pot – 4:39b-40. (cut up the squash).
The servant didn’t know it, but the gourds were POISON. GOURDS are like SIN … it ‘splits’ … or separates man from God. It’s deadly … it kills. SIN is what makes death in the pot. “For the wages of sin is death.” – Romans 6:23. Instead of HERBS (light) in the POT of man, there is DEATH (gourds). Instead of good POTTAGE (that which would make God “proud”), there is DEATH (gourds), which separates man from God (Isaiah 59:2).
OTHER INGREDIENTS – I suppose there were some other ingredients that they put into the POTTAGE besides GOURDS. Numbers 11:5 – “We remember the fish, which we did eat in Egypt freely; the cucumbers, and the melons, and the leeks, and the onions, and the garlick:” They may have put in some of these as well. These were good things that they liked. There’s nothing wrong with them at all. They are like the good qualities of man (pot) … there’s a lot of good qualities that can be found in man.