Summary: It describes how the life of Elisha is applicable to us
2 Kings 4: 42 - 44 - eighth sermon on the life of Elisha
Below is the outline of the sermon, I preached on 10 June 2012 at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey:
The incident occurs when the land of Israel was still in the period of famine that had started when we looked at where there was death in the pot) - it was a famine that lasted for eight years.
There was no precedent in the Bible for feeding in such a miraculous way – until Jesus fed the 5,000 recorded by all four gospel writers (e.g. Matthew 14: 13 – 21) - so Elisha had to step out in faith.
As Christ had compassion on the crowd before Him, so Elisha was concerned for the hungry people.
We will look at the following:
· The Need
· The Provider
1. The Need
The man had travelled a long distance to meet up with Elisha – from Baal-shalisha to Gilgal for fellowship – what prevents us from meeting up with other Christians (such as on Days of Prayer, mid-week meetings)? It could be that there is inconvenience for us, or we are lukewarm towards God, or it could be when legitimate reasons (such as family) become excuses.
When we pray ‘give us our daily bread’ then it is so easy to forget the One who provided it – we can get so wrapped up in the gifts that forget that God wants to do greater things in our lives.
In addition, the man came from a town originally called ‘Shalisha’ but influence by Jezebel so that affixed word pagan idol ‘Baal’ to the name – as demonstrated by Baal-Hermon (1 Chronicles 5: 23). In the midst of difficult times, one man prepared to be identified with true God although he was going against the prevalent culture of the time, which has so many lessons for us today where the Christian heritage of this nation is being eroded.
Had he come from Bethel, for example, there might not have been any comment – as school of prophets in that town.
He was not aware that he was going to take part in a miracle – yet it is amazing how God used him.
Even when there is famine, food elsewhere in the world. It is said that enough food in the world today to feed everyone so no need for people to die of starvation.
In our day, the hand of God is pushed aside and there is no recognition as to His blessings upon us – need to thank Him for the things we take for granted, e.g. shelter, food, music, air, life itself.
When the prophet Amos recorded the words of the Lord, it was stated: ‘I also withheld rain from you when the harvest was still three months away. I sent rain on one town, but withheld from another. One field had rain; another had none and dried up.’ (Amos 4: 7) God continues: ‘People staggered from town from town to town but did not get enough to drink, yet you have not returned to me.’ (verse 8)
We too live in a day of drought – spiritual as well as physical.
2. The Provider
We have looked at the need, now to look at the provider: God
There was obviously a harvest in Baal-shalisha for God is merciful. In addition, He gave man a heart to serve God’s people.
God also keeps His promises, such as ‘As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night will never cease’ (Genesis 8: 22) - He has not deviated from any of them so we can trust in Him.
The offering of the first fruits was normally offered to a priest (Leviticus 23: 10), but here is a precursor to when all who would believe in the Lord would be the priesthood of all believers.
CS Lewis wrote: ‘All find who truly seek’ (The last battle, p. 149)
We need to acknowledge the bounty of God by bringing a representative portion to Him – here the firstfruits were to be brought normally into the house of the Lord. (Exodus 23: 19; 34: 26)
We are not to keep all for ourselves – e.g. tithes, other free will offerings for the work of the Lord, ourselves
Interestingly, there was a person who questioned (verse 43) but the real faith in God is not stumbled by the unbelief of others
Jim Elliott (a man who was willing to give his life in the service of God) wrote ‘He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose’
Dietrich Bonheoffer (another man who gave his life in the service of God who he loved) also wrote ‘In life we receive more than we give; therefore it is only with gratitude that life becomes rich.’