Summary: The School of the Prophets were looking forward to a feast, but found a miracle too.
Ill. A little girl wanted a classmate to join her family for a meal at a restaurant. When the family reached to hold hands and bowed their heads to give thanks for the meal, the guest was confused, but cooperative.
Later, she asked her friend what that was about. The girl answered, “We always give thanks to God for everything we receive.”
The guest girl replied, “We don’t, we just start eating.”
The friend laughed.
“Why do you find that so funny?” the guest asked.
“Because my dog does the same thing.” (adapted from a previously used illustration).
2 Kings 4:38-41 - 38 And Elisha came again to Gilgal when there was a famine in the land. And as the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, "Set on the large pot, and boil stew for the sons of the prophets." 39 One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. 40 And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, "O man of God, there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it. 41 He said, "Then bring flour." And he threw it into the pot and said, "Pour some out for the men, that they may eat." And there was no harm in the pot.
What was the school of the prophets? According to a Wikipedia article, “It was the name given to bands of prophets or “sons of prophets” living together for instruction and worship under Samuel, Elijah, and Elisha. Little is known about these schools, but they seem to have been important religious institutions in Israel and references to them are frequent.”
Elisha was there, probably teaching, and he said to his servant, “Let’s have a big meal. How about a big stew?”
More than likely, the idea spread, and people began to bring things to put in it. One of them went out to find some herbs. He didn’t know his herbs very well and got some wild gourds, cut them up, and dumped them in.
So after a while, the stew was done. Time for the feast. The servant begin dishing it out.
One taste, and the people eating it knew it was bad. Gagging and spitting, they cried out, “Teacher, somebody put death in the pot.”
Ill. Laura and I came to an agreement many years back. She hates to cook and I enjoy it. BTW, she seems to be enjoying it better more lately.
My problem is, I hate recipes. I don’t even like recipes by memory. I love to create, experiment, guess and sometimes get lucky. Sometimes I have heard something similar, “Pops, there’s death in the pot.”
We have eaten some combinations that no one in history has ever eaten, I believe. Some of my ideas have worked out great. Other times, I have sought redemption by taking the family out to eat after total rejection of my creations.
“There is death in the pot.” And they could not eat it. All the excitement of Thanksgiving, all the anticipation, all the work, down to nothing.
I remind you there was a famine in the land. Food was one of the most valuable commodities in those days. What do you do, throw it out?
Perhaps you are wondering, “Why did the writers put this in the Bible? What did God have in mind?” I want us to look at three things I am sure we must learn and practice from this story.
I. Everybody wanted to participate.
Elisha comes up with this idea, “Hey, let’s put on a big batch of good stew.” Elisha’s servant put a built a fire, suspended a big pot, and everybody headed off to find things to put in it.
Ill. When I was at Jacksonville College, I traveled, sang, and played the bass guitar for the traveling choir. My sophomore year, we headed to Florida. We sang our way there and back. Our college had booked with Churches, they would feed us that day, put us up at night (usually in homes) and take up a love offering for expenses.
Best I can remember, we stopped somewhere in the panhandle of Florida that was known as the “something” capital of the world. I don’t remember what, but they put a big pot on a fire, much like they did in our text scripture. Church members and community members brought chicken, shrimp, and someone told me squirrel, cray fish, armadillo and alligator, but I am not certain about all that. They also brought onions, celary, tomatoes, corn, and I don’t know what else. Somebody brought some kind of Cajun sauce. I remember, it was really good. I also remember it was also hard to sing afterwards.