Summary: God is the help of the helpless. When we turn to Him in times of need, we receive mercy and find His grace. If we need it, God can meet it.
We have been reading the ministries of the various prophets, mainly with the Kings and dealing with the affairs of the nations.
• Today, we have come to the segment where we read of a prophet ministry with the ordinary, dealing with the common needs of life.
• These incidents show us that God is concerned, not just with the high and mighty, but with everyone, the lowly and helpless, widows and orphans, poor and weak.
4:1 The wife of a man from the company of the prophets cried out to Elisha, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.”
This widow was caught in a very pitiful state. She has lost her husband and now because of the debt he owed, the creditor is coming for her two sons.
• The creditor demands to take the boys as slaves, to pay for the debt. This was likely a common practice then, because she did not accuse him of being unjust.
• But it was a very desperate situation for her. Without her husband, she would need her sons, her only means of support and security. They are her lifeline.
Is this God’s judgement? People would like to read it that way when bad things happen.
• But her husband was a prophet in training, one of those in the company of the prophets. And “he revered the Lord”, the wife says.
• We have here a God-honouring family in a time when Baal worship was prevalent.
• Yet they were facing great financial difficulties. Who says Christians will have no troubles in life? Who says Christians will surely have good and easy lives?
• The godly can still face hardships and troubles in life. Even a prophet’s family can have financial difficulties.
Paul in his ministry faces financial needs too, but listen to what he says about his needs:
• Phil 4:10-13 I rejoice greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. 12I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13I can do everything through him who gives me strength.
• Being rich is not necessarily a sign of God’s blessing; contentment is.
• In fact, Paul gave more warnings about riches because of the great temptations that wealth can brings.
Will the godly face troubles in life? “I have been a good Christian, why am I diagnosed with cancer? I’ve been an honest worker, why am I the one being retrenched? I have been faithful, why so poor..?”
• The Bible did not tell us any WHY this but showed us instead that God cares and He can be trusted.
• God did not give us the answers to the WHYs but help us, through the difficulties, to see Him in a better light and understand His purposes.
The desperate situation drove the woman to CRY OUT to God.
• Asking for help is the single, most important, first step that she took.
• Some today struggle quietly and refuse to break the silence because they do not want people to know that they are in need. That’s pride and not wisdom.
• The widow came to Elisha expecting to hear God’s answer to her problem.
And she presented her need a matter-of-factly. No bitterness, no complaining, no blaming God, or accusing anyone, not even the creditor.
• If this is an acceptable practice then – for the creditor to take her sons as slaves for her debts – then she has nothing to complain about; she owed him the money.
4:2 Elisha replied to her, "How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?" "Your servant has nothing there at all," she said, "except a little oil."
Elisha was eager to help, unlike the previous encounter that we saw. In 3:13-14 we read last week, Elisha was not that willing to help King Joram (Israel):
• 3:13-14 “Elisha said to the king of Israel, "What do we have to do with each other? Go to the prophets of your father (Ahab) and the prophets of your mother (Jezebel)."