Summary: With God, our needs are met.
God's Power to Meet the Desperate Needs of His People
2 King 4:1-44
Circumstances, How to Conquer Crises. Circumstances sometimes arise that create a sense of desperation. Take death, for example. We have no control over death. Consequently, when a loved one is snatched from our presence—whether child, parent, or some other close friend—a sense of helplessness grips us. A deep, agonizing void fills the human heart, an emptiness that is sometimes almost unbearable.
When a person loses everything he or she has financially or materially, becoming destitute and perhaps unemployed, the same sense of desperation grips the human heart. An intense stress afflicts the mind and heart, provoking the person to question: "What am I to do? How can I live with no money and no job to earn a living?"
Almost any human activity can create moments of desperation for us: eating can cause choking; swimming can end in drowning; and the home or workplace or even the playground may be the site of a serious injury. A serious crisis can occur in almost any place at any time, creating an urgent need in the life of any one of us.
1. (4:1-7) Miracle of— Widow, Poor, Needs Met: the first miracle was a very special case, that of a poor widow's oil being miraculously multiplied. Note the desperate condition of this poverty-stricken widow.
1. The widow faced a severe and urgent crisis. Her husband, a prophet, had died and left her with heavy debt (2 Kings 4:1-2). She was destitute, having no money whatsoever to pay off the debts nor to meet payments demanded by the creditors. As a result, the creditors were threatening to enslave her two sons. Ancient Jewish law demanded that debt be paid off by labor if a person could not pay his creditor. The debtor was to become a servant, a worker for his creditor, but never a slave. Furthermore, the creditor was to treat the debtor as a worker, not as a slave. However, as is so often the case, the law of God was abused and some creditors within Jewish society apparently enslaved others who owed them money. Apparently, this was the case with the widow and her two sons. Note that she was utterly destitute, without any food or supplies whatsoever. All she had was a little olive oil that could be used for cooking or perhaps heating.
2. In seeking for a way to solve her critical problem, the widow did the only thing she could: she sought the counsel of the prophet Elisha (2 Kings 4:2-5). Note the five steps she took and how the very same steps can apply to any widow or any individual who is facing a serious crisis:
a. In desperation the widow went to the prophet Elisha to appeal for help (2 Kings 4:1-2). As simply as she could, she explained her circumstances, how desperately she needed help to pay off her debts and to keep her boys from being enslaved by the creditor. She informed Elisha that she was destitute, with no means whatsoever to pay off the debts, nothing except a little oil.
b. With a heart full of compassion, the prophet told her to seek the help of her neighbors (2 Kings 4:3). She was to go around to all her neighbors and borrow all the jars they would lend her. She was not to ask for just a few jars, but for many, just as many as they would lend.
c. She and her sons were then to seek privacy, get all alone by going inside their home and shutting the door behind them (2 Kings 4:4). Whatever miracle took place was to be to the glory of God. The miracle of meeting her need was not to attract attention to her, not to point to her as a super-spiritual person, but rather to honor God. Out of a heart of compassion, God would be meeting her need. But He and He alone was to be praised, for He and He alone could meet her need.
d. Once inside her home, the widow was to begin working, personally doing all she could (2 Kings 4:4). She was to take the little oil she had and begin to pour it in the jars she had borrowed. She was to continue to pour until each jar was completely full and to continue pouring until all the jars were full.
e. If the widow believed Elisha, she would do exactly as he instructed, trusting God to meet the need (2 Kings 4:5). Just imagine the great faith this took: to take the little bit of oil she had in a small jar and to begin to pour it, believing that God would multiply the oil until all the jars were full. But this is exactly what this poor, destitute widow did: she obeyed the prophet and trusted the LORD to multiply the oil enough to fill all the containers she had borrowed.