Summary: It describes how the life of Elisha is applicable to us

2 Kings 4: 38 - 41- the seventh sermon on the life of Elisha

Below is the outline of the sermon, I preached on 17 March 2012 at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey:


This is the latest sermon in the series on Elisha, whose ministry lasted for fifty years and accounts for fourteen miracles in the Bible.

Last week, we looked at the way God is with us when circumstances are not as we want.

This week, we shall be looking at:

1. Dearth in the land

2. Death in the pot

3. Deliverance is at hand

The context is that Elisha was in the presence of fellow prophets in Gilgal, which we could equate to a church meeting in today’s context. They were learning from Elisha about the power of God, which would lead to the practical lesson in these verses.

Gilgal was just northwest of Jericho and about 10 -12 miles east of Jerusalem

1. Dearth in the land

The incident is set in time of famine (verse 38), which is perhaps the one that is referred to in 8:1 which lasted for eight years.

Elisha had just experienced the ‘high’ when the Shunammite woman’s son was raised, so he was brought down with a bump. When a nation is experiencing famine, Christians are not exempt. However, the famine did not break this community of prophets but drew them closer to each other and to God as it states in Hebrews 10: 25: ‘Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. But let us encourage one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.’

Famine was often seen as a sign of judgement – see Ezekiel 36: 29 where God says: ‘I will save you from all your uncleanness. I will call for the corn and make it plentiful and will not bring famine upon you.’

It can also be seen also in the curses found in Deuteronomy 28: 23 – 24: ‘The sky over your head will be bronze, the ground beneath you iron. The Lord will turn the rain of your country into dust and powder; it will come down from the skies until you are destroyed.’

The physical reflect the spiritual as can be seen in Amos 8: 11 – ‘”The days are coming,” declares the Sovereign Lord, “when I send a famine through the land – not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing of hearing the words of the Lord. Men will stagger from sea to sea and wander from north to east, searching for the word of the Lord, but they will not find it.’

We are living in society where the Word of the Lord is scarce, even in the Church. It is our responsibility to share what God has given to us in the Bible.

Famine can be caused by: materialism, scepticism (generally for others even those we call 'friends,' for Church, for God), the pursuit of those things that God hates, lack of concern in reaching out to others with the love of God

Billy Graham’s daughter was interviewed on the Early Show in the US with Jane Clayson asking her ‘How could God let something like this happen?’ (i.e. Hurricane Katrina). Anne Graham’s insightful response was: ‘I believe God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are, but for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman He is, I believe He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand He leave us alone?’

2. Death in the pot

Because the usual supplies were short, they went foraging for the communal dish.

In verse 39, the person doing the gathering picked up that he found instead of asking.

The poisonous ingredient is considered to be the yellow gourds known as colocynths, now referred to as apples of Sodom or wild cucumbers.

Its effects were that it was a strong purgative (that is, super cleansing the inners) so was extremely dangerous as it caused colic and exited the nerves, with a derangement of the stomach and bowels which preceded death. Wikipedia tells us that it was such a violent laxative that it would cause excessive internal bleeding.

One lesson was that he did not keep the danger to himself – he cared enough to warn the others

Another lesson was that he was alert to the danger.

There are many both inside and outside the Church who cannot discern what are edible or poisonous teachings

It has been stated that we live in a ‘cut-flower civilization’ – we speak of justice, morals, peace and ethics but not rooted in God. The result is that little left to sustain.

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