Summary: The story of the widow and Elisha and the never ending oil.
You have to love stories like this. It was one of those great stories that make you feel good all over.
It starts on a bit of a sad note; a widow lady comes to the prophet Elisha and proceeds to tell him her problems. First of all this was not Elijah this was Elisha and Elisha is no more Elijah then Dan is Denn. Last week we looked at the prophet Elijah in the book of 1 Kings, this morning we sang about him in Days of Elijah and the Puppets sang about him in their presentation. But Elijah is gone, he was taken away to heaven in a chariot of fire and Elisha who was his student and protégée is the focus of our story this morning.
So the widow comes to Elisha and bares her heart, her husband who had been a student of Elisha’s had passed away and now she was in financial straits. She has no money and no source of income and her creditors are now seeking payment and she can’t pay them. As a result the creditors are demanding that she release her two sons to them to work as slaves, to work off her debt. Now I don’t know if she thought that Elisha might have the money to help her, or perhaps he knew someone who might have the money to help or perhaps he would speak to the creditors or maybe she wasn’t really looking for answers she just needed someone to talk to.
Regardless of what she was looking for somehow I doubt that she could ever have imagined what she ultimately received. She was looking for a crust and she got the entire loaf, no she got the entire bakery.
After she had told Elisha what her problem was, he asked her “what can I do to help you?” but before she even had time to reply he asked “Tell me, what do you have in the house.” To which she responded, “Just a little bottle of olive oil”
“Ok” he said “This is what I want you to do, you listening? I want you to go to all of your neighbours and relatives and borrow every container you can put your hands on, Tupperware, Rubbermaid it doesn’t matter you can even use the cheap ones you get in the dollar store. And then I want you to bring all the containers back to the house, go inside with your sons, close the door and start pouring the oil from your jar into the containers. Just set them aside as you fill them up.”
I’m sure that she just looked at him; “like, are you in your right mind? I said that I had a little bit of olive oil not lots of olive oil.” But there must have been something in his words or his look or his attitude because she sent the boys out to collect all the containers they could find. I don’t know what they told their friends and neighbours they needed the jugs for, the truth would have sounded a little far fetched. And when they had all they thought they needed the brought them home, closed the door and she tipped up her little jar of olive oil and started pouring. And the first container was filled to the brim and the second container was filled to the brim and the third container was filled to the brim. And she kept pouring and they kept filling until finally she ran out of containers to pour the oil into and then and only then did she finally run out of oil.
I’m sure that as she rushed to tell Elisha the news that she could hardly believe what had happened. There was only one way to describe it and that was a Miracle. When the man of God heard the news he smiled and said “I’m glad for you, now go and sell the oil. There will be enough there to pay off your debts and support you and your sons.”
The story is found in the book of 2 Kings which is the 12th book of the Bible. 1 and 2 Kings were originally one book, however around 300 BC they were translated from the Hebrew into Greek and because the Greek alphabet uses vowels it required two scrolls instead of one. Thus 1 and 2 Kings.
Jewish tradition has long held that the prophet Jeremiah was the author and even though we have no evidence to confirm that we have no evidence to contradict it either. The book was written around 550 BC and covers approximately 400 years of the history of the nation of Israel. 2 Kings picks up the story at Ahab’s death and continues through to the slightly beyond the point that Jerusalem was destroyed.