Summary: God remembers His own. He is concerned with little things. He cares for our needs. Hardships reveal where our true trust is.
We have been looking at the miracles of Elisha. It is good to remember that these works were done against the backdrop of the widespread idolatry.
• The Northern Kingdom of Israel especially, where Elijah and Elisha ministered, the people had already abandoned God and gone into worshipping Baal.
• Only a remnant remained faithful and continued to seek the God of Israel.
• They gathered, most likely with the prophets, on occasions like New Moon or the Sabbath (that’s what the Shunnamite’s husband mentioned in 4:23), where they worship God and hear from the prophets.
And we have the companies of prophets (the schools for younger prophets) that we read about a few times, who stayed committed to proclaiming God’s truth.
• These faithful ones were the minority, but God showed them, through many miraculous happenings, that He has not deserted them.
• God manifested His presence and His power in unique ways, to assure His own that He would provide for what they need.
We see in 2 Kings 4 God’s care for an unnamed widow with a debt she could not pay, the Shunnamite woman who lost her son, and today, God’s provision of food.
• Let’s read 2 Kings 4:38-41.
The first incident happened during a famine in the land. Famine has become a common sight because of the judgement of God.
• We read of a famine in Elijah’s time and now in Elisha’s time, and a few more times in the coming chapters.
• 8:1 tells us God has decreed a famine in the land that will last seven years.
This was not supposed to be because the Promised Land that God gave them was to be a land “flowing with milk and honey” (cf. Exo 3:8), a fruitful land.
• THAT IS, if the people had honoured God and obeyed Him.
• God made this covenant with Israel in Moses’ time. It’s a covenant of blessings if the people remained faithful to Him in the land that God gave them.
And the Lord even explained that this was not because they were more numerous than the rest of the nations (Deut 7:7).
• He has chosen them to be the custodians of His truth. Israel was to be a witness to the nations of God’s truth and righteousness, and to show them that Yahweh is the one and only true God.
• If Israel had been faithful and fulfilled this role well, not only would they themselves be blessed, they would also be able to demonstrate to the nations the futility of the false gods.
But sadly, instead of drawing the nations to God, they followed the nations and worshipped false gods.
• Baal was supposedly a fertility god who was believed to enable the earth to produce crops, but it couldn’t even bring rain.
• The famines came, and Baal could do nothing about them.
Despite the widespread disobedience, there were those who remained faithful to God.
• God will not forsake them. GOD REMEMBERS HIS OWN, even in the midst of the famine.
• The miracles that we have been seeing over the past few weeks proved this.
• The believing remnant is not exempted from the hardships of life but God is with them.
God helps His own overcome the hardships in life because they trust in Him.
• Therefore facing hardships in life does not mean God doesn’t care about you.
• On the contrary, we see God showing His presence and power in the midst of hardships.
In fact, hardships tell MORE about us than God.
• HARDSHIPS REVEAL WHO WE TRUST, in whom are we really trusting.
• They either draw those who love God closer to Him (we cling on to Him), or it widens the gap for those who don’t love Him (and turn our hearts against Him).
• Hardships reveals where our true love and true faith is.
In the first incident, the pot of stew was poisoned. No death was mentioned but clearly the taste was out-of-the-ordinary and not drinkable.
• Elisha stepped in and ordered that some flour be thrown in, and God changed it.
• It was just a pot of stew but the ruin of a pot of stew in a time of famine was significant. God did what was necessary.
The second incident showed there was a shortage of food but the Lord provided through one man’s offering.
• This unknown man came with what looks like his firstfruits offering – 20 loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain and some heads of new grain. (4:42)
• Firstfruit offering is recorded in Lev 23 and it is a time of thanksgiving for God’s provision.
• Usually this would be offered to the priests in the Temple of God but now in this new context, to the gathering of the prophets.