Summary: God is continually looking for empty vessels to fill with his oil of grace and mercy from a limitless supply.
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Pastor James May
2 Kings 4:1-6, "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. 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."
I don’t know of anyone who has not suffered a lack of necessary things in their lives. All of us have faced some hard times financially and spiritually.
There are times when the cupboard is bare and the bank accounts are empty and the creditors are screaming for payment and there seems to be nowhere to turn but to God for help. We are like the woman in this story. We are destitute of the things we need and we have no visible means to get what we need from anywhere but God.
… Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha…
According to Jewish history this widow was the wife of Obadiah, who had hid the prophets by fifty in a cave in the times of Ahab. Ahab and Jezebel had persecuted and attempted to kill every true prophet or teacher of the Law of Moses.
…saying, thy servant my husband is dead…
…and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord…
Her husband was well known to the prophet, and known to be a good man, one of the 7000 who bowed not the knee to Baal. Because of the faithfulness of her husband she went to Elisha for help.
This wasn’t a man who had squandered his income. He had done his best to supply the needs of his family and support the work of the ministry. In fact, it was his commitment to the work of the Lord that played a large part in the debt that he owed after his death.
…and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen…
This widow’s husband, Obadiah, had taken his own money and spent it in the support of the prophets of God that had gone into hiding in a cave to escape the sword of King Ahab.
His commitment reminds us of the stories of those who hid and fed the Jews during Hitler’s occupation of Europe and the operation of the death camps. Those who did so had to do it at their own peril and at their own expense.
Obadiah had supported 50 prophets for a long time, buying food and drink for them all. It is no surprise then that he had accumulated such a large debt.
To most of us this scenario seems somewhat unfair. God’s man, doing God’s work, taking care of God’s people, doesn’t get any help from God and then it’s his own family that suffers in the end. What injustice is that in the eyes of man?
Some of us have been involved in ministry for many years and we have allowed our personal goals and desires to be set aside. I’m sure that some of you, just like me, have often thought about what the future will hold for you financially. Will I be able to retire and have my needs met? Will my family be taken care of after I am gone. We want to buy a lot of insurance against such disasters but the cost is prohibitive. If I could afford the insurance, I wouldn’t need it in the first place.