Dr. Wayne A. Lawson
Antioch Institutional Baptist Church
Oklahoma City, OK
Preached July 5, 2009 11:00 a.m.
TITLE: SHUT THE DOOR
SCRIPTURE: II KINGS 4:1-7 / ST. MATTHEW 6:6
This is a very exciting text buried in the pages of the Old Testament. The prophet Elisha has begun to spread his wings and move out from under the shadows of his mentor Elijah who had gone on to be with the Lord. There are really two (2) powerful lessons in this text. I will touch upon one while expounding upon the other, although both lessons in these short seven versus are worthy of much more time than I am able to devote this morning. There is an advantage in looking in the Old Testament to consider the essence of the New Testament message. The Old Testament generally presents the truth in the form of a picture. When we look at the Old Testament in the light of the New Testament , we actually discover the truth in a very clear picture. I desire your attention to be placed upon an interesting thought that we can extract from this Old Testament text –Shut The Door.
In our text we will see the value and the importance of a Closed Door. We find tucked away in our text, a woman in moments of bereavement, she had recently lost her husband. Not only did she lose her husband, but she also lost a “God-Fearing” man who understood the importance of placing God in the center of your household. Some would suggest that this man who left behind a family was also a Prophet, he had a Wife and at least Two (2) Sons, mentioned in the text.
So this faithful servant of God had transitioned from Labor to Reward, leaving behind a wife and two sons. As we continue to read the text, we find when he died, he left his loved ones in a bad financial situation. The widow finds the prophet and cries that the “creditor” has come. They did not have Caller ID back then, when the creditor calls today we act like we are not home and don’t answer the telephone. We must be careful – we tell our children/grandchildren to answer the phone and tell the creditor that you are not home -- “Mommy said to tell you that she is not home right now.”
• This woman had a real concern
• Feared the Creditors would Take her two sons
• Children especially sons would be taken from the home to pay off a debt
• Serve as servants
• Sometimes they would be imprisoned for a period of time, until debt was satisfied
Remember with me Jesus told about the King found in ST. MATTHEW 18 -- Called his servants in to check their accounts and one was found that owed him 10,000 talents. Was about to sell his servant, his wife, and their children for payment in an effort to satisfy the debt. Servant asked for patience and he would repay the King. King had compassion and forgave him the debt. The servant left Kings presence and went out and found a neighbor that owed him money – asked for patience – Refused – had him thrown into Prison. When news of this found its way to the King he had his servant beaten and given over to the tormentors because he refused to show the same compassion that was extended to him. Point being – that you were cast into prison for a period of time that would suffice the debt that was owed. So this Mother standing before Elisha had a valid and a very real concern for welfare of her sons.
First thing we see in this text, that we will briefly examine is we should be concerned about preparing a “Nest Egg” must be in the habit young people and young families -- when you are paid on the job -- always pay yourself. Discipline ourselves to save a portion of what you are earning. It is a sad thing to work a lifetime and when the final chapter in this Novel Called Life has been Written – have not put enough away to put us away. The scriptures tell us in PROVERBS 13:22 “A GOOD MAN LEAVETH AN INHERITANCE FOR HIS CHILDREN’S CHILDREN.” God expects us to be good stewards over what he has entrusted to our charge. This was not a new thought, but the foundation of being good stewards can be traced to the history of the Hebrew Wisdom Literature.
So here we find a Widow and family, left in a bad way. Find the widow before Elisha with a heart felt plea. Elijah is somewhat caught off guard by her plea for help, and he responds to her saying -- “What shall I do for thee?” Hear with me what the woman’s request was:
• Not asking for $50 to tie her over until payday
• Not asking for $200 - $300 and give it back to you next Friday
• Not asking to help with the Utility bill
• Not asking help in meeting the Rent payment
• Not asking to buy her and family some Groceries
• This family required a means of continued support
Remember the times and the culture of this narrative – our 21st Century thinking says, well she should go out and find a job and support the family, and if the boys are old enough, put them to work also. The times and the culture dictate that women must remain at home caring for the family; there were no employment opportunities for woman at this particular point in history. Therefore, her plight was even the more difficult Widows back then relied upon the charity of the community. Remember in the New Testament one of the chief complaints to the disciples was that the widows were being neglected. ACTS 6:1 “AND IN THOSE DAYS, WHEN THE NUMBER OF THE DISCIPLES WAS MULTIPLIED, THERE AROSE A MURMURING OF THE GRECIANS AGAINST THE HEBREWS, BECAUSE THEIR WIDOWS WERE NEGLECTED IN THE DAILY MINISTRATION.”
Let’s really examine this text -- we can feel the compassion of Elisha as he searches for a way to help this woman in need. His initial response seems somewhat strange at first glance. He was about to reveal to the woman the living and loving God. We must understand this morning that God is concerned about our Every Need – He is concerned about our Condition. The Prophet said, I don’t know what I can do for you – but I know a Man that is Able to make a way out of no way – I know a Man that can take nothing and make something. So the prophet asks this widow, what do you have in the house? She responds there is nothing left in the house, she had probably sold everything she could to pay the collectors, there was nothing else of value. Don’t we do the same thing today – we will try everything else before we try Jesus and come to the church – when all else fails – now there is no other alternative but to come to the church. Woman responds there is nothing in her house but a pot of oil – most likely it was olive oil. Everything else is gone, now I’ll go talk to Pastor Elisha.
Elisha asked her what he could do for her. She shared her Predicament and he asked her, Tell me, what do you have in your house?" In other words, what resources do you have?? Her response was very telling: “Your servant has nothing there at all,” she said, “except” – “Except a little oil.”
• Isn’t that just like us?
• When we think about our resources we don’t think we have anything to offer others
• We don’t think we have anything to give
• Sit still in Pews year after year thinking we have nothing to Contribute
She said, “Really, I have nothing... nothing there at all! Well, nothing except a little oil.” That word “EXCEPT” is such a big word. I have nothing except! DON’T TELL ME WHAT YOU DON’T HAVE, TELL ME WHAT YOU DO HAVE? While she thought she had nothing, Elisha saw something! The little jar of oil – it sure didn’t seem like much, but it was the key to her solution. To her, one small jar of oil was insignificant. What good could it possibly do to erase the enormous debt hanging over her head?
God is going to do a miracle. But He wants us to offer what we have. God can actually create something out of nothing. Didn’t God prove that to us from the very foundations of the World? He created the world that way – he stepped out on nothing. Yet very often we read in Scriptures, God wants us to offer him what we have and when we do so, we see miracles. God wants us to exercise faith, and participate in His works.
She is found with this little pot of oil -- Elisha knew that was enough for a miracle. Elisha next gives Two sets of instructions. One would appear not to be very important, however; both sets of instructions, in essence, were equally important to follow. Listen to the first instruction – GO BORROW. Borrow implies that it will be returned. Whenever someone asks me for money I like to Clarify – am I going to GIVE it to you or are you going to BORROW a few dollars from me – if you borrow I expect to get it back, if I give it to you, count it as a loss.
GO BORROW vessels from your neighbors -- Need to know they are not giving you a hand out but a hand up. Borrow as many empty vessels as you can. Take all of the empty vessels home with you and fill them up. The logical question was fill them up with what? Already made the declaration nothing but a little Oil. This widow woman did not question she had faith and did what the man of God had instructed. I have learned that faith always precedes your miracle. Without faith there is no miracle:
• She did not question
• She did not ask how is this possible
• Did not Analyze the possibilities
• Walked by Faith and not by Sight
• Visit the HALL OF FAITH - HEBREWS 11
• By Faith ENOCH walked with God and was no more
• By Faith NOAH built an ark before it rained
• By Faith ABRAHAM walked into his Inheritance
• By Faith MOSES looked over and saw the Promised Land
• By Faith WALL OF JERICHO fell down flat
• By Faith DAVID slew Goliath
• By Faith your MIRACLE is on the way
++++FAITH WITHOUT WORKS IS DEAD. Jesus cannot do anything for you, if you’re not willing to do what Jesus instructs you to do in your situation.
• You can’t pray for good results on exam without studying at all
• You can’t pray for good health and not eat well or sleep well or exercise well
• It all depends on how much you really believe Him
• If you truly do, you’ll do everything He commands
The first step towards your Miracle is FAITH. We are reminded in HEBREWS 11:6 “WITHOUT FAITH IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO PLEASE GOD.” This widow did not exercise faith like we do in the 21st Century. She knew she stood in need of a blessing -- she heard instructions from the man of God. I don’t understand Christianity today. First thing we would have done was said:
• ELISHA, I heard your instructions but let me first go HOME AND PRAY ABOUT IT
• Go find someone to stand in agreeance with me
• I will borrow the pots but I know that God is not going to do anything
• I will take the pots home if that’s God’s will
• Well Elisha…I will think about it – get back to you, let you know
• If God’s Plan does not work Elisha…Do you think the Church can loan me some money?
We can learn about Faith by the actions of this Poor Widow Woman. Let me make my final point in this text and try to close this morning. Consider Vs 3-4 again - “THEN HE SAID, GO, BORROW THEE VESSELS ABROAD OF ALL THY NEIGHBORS, EVEN EMPTY VESSELS; BORROW NOT A FEW. AND WHEN THOU ART COME IN, THOU SHALT SHUT THE DOOR.” I must be honest here, at first glance I did not quite understand. I fully understand the miracle of increase. Only God can take our little and make it a lot. Went on to Say – after collecting all the pots go home and – Shut the Door!
When I was lead to this text by the Holy Spirit, I first thought well, this portion is really not important, the Widow had a need – went to the man of God – Acting according to Faith. God was going to give her a Miracle of Increase whether she shut the door or not. The more I allowed the Holy Spirit to deal with me in relation to the text, the more He revealed to me. Elisha was on to something here – he was very specific and said before you can have your Miracle you must shut the door . We have missed out on many blessings and miracles with our name on it because we failed to understand the Principle of -- shut the door ! My first thought was the significance of Shutting the Door was to exclude interruption during the filling process which could only be done in God’s presence. My brothers and sisters there is more to it than that.
When our neighbors know that we are in need – when they know that we are going through a storm – when they know that it is hard to make ends meet. When we have finally heard from God and He has given us instructions – we then allow our neighbor to talk us out of our Blessing, they steal our Miracle. Well…what do you mean Rev?
I don’t know what you are going to do that for
That just doesn’t make any sense
What you going to listen to the Pastor for?
You don’t know what you are doing
It does not take all of that
Don’t even waste your time filling out that application your not going to get the job anyway
Can’t you hear this widows neighbors if she had not shut the door:
• What you taking all those empty pots home for? – RIDICULE Her
• You don’t have nothing in your house -- SHAME Her
• Lost her husband, now she done lost her mind too -- INSULT Her
• What’s she going to do with all those empty pots – QUESTION Her
• Only thing she has left in her house is Air – she going to bottle and sell that too?-- LAUGH at Her
Elisha knew what he was doing, he told the Widow Woman Go Home, There’s a miracle with your name on it -- All you have to do is – shut the door
• Sometimes you have to keep your Noisy Neighbors out – shut the door
• Don’t let your neighbor talk you out of your blessing – shut the door
• It does not take all of that – shut the door
• They don’t need to understand your business – shut the door
• Some are in bad shape today because you have not learned to shut the door
• Not growing Spiritually – shut the door
• Some around us don’t have the Spirit of God indwelling – shut the door
Jesus touched on this Principle as he preached that great sermon on the Mount. ST. MATTHEW 6:6 “BUT THOU, WHEN THOU PRAYEST, ENTER INTO THEY CLOSET, AND WHEN THOU HAS SHUT THE DOOR, PRAY TO THY FATHER WHICH IS IN SECRET; AND THY FATHER WHICH SEETH IN SECRET SHALL REWARD THEE OPENLY.”
Don’t need to tell everybody your business – just tell Jesus and shut the door
When we learn how to shut the door – then our Blessings and Miracles come
Some things I can’t tell the Church – shut the door
Some things I can’t tell my Wife – shut the door
Some things I can’t tell Mom/Dad – shut the door
Some things Best Friend would not understand – shut the door
I’ve learned, I have to steal away shut the door and have A LITTLE TALK WITH JEUS AND TELL HIM ALL ABOUT MY STRUGGLES
We need to understand no matter what we are going through -- GOD IS NEVER CAUGHT WITHOUT A CLUE, just waiting for us to shut the door
- If your Waiting on a Miracle – shut the door
- Looking for a Blessing – shut the door
- Waiting for a Word – shut the door
- Tell your neighbor I Love You but I need to shut the door
- Situation only God can Fix – shut the door
- Need God to Show Up – shut the door
- Need Rest and Peace of Mind - shut the door
**(I delivered this sermon in 2002 and re-wrote a portion of it in 2009. I do not claim originality of this sermon since I did not document in 2002 if I gleaned portions from others).