From Rags to Riches Part 2 of 2
by John Lowe
(Laurens SC, USA)
5 So she went from him and shut the door upon herself and her sons; and as she poured they brought the vessels to her.
6 When the vessels were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another.” Then the oil stopped flowing.
Notice that the widow obeyed immediately after receiving these unusual instructions from Elisha, and she followed his orders step-by-step. How about you? Do you take God at His word this way?
Notice next, “She Had to Use What She Had” (vv.5 –6).
It seemed silly, pouring out her last few ounces of oil from one vessel to another, but she used what she had. She stepped out with little, and God turned it into much (see Luke 17:6). She willingly stepped out to do what she had been told to do, even though her actions appeared to be futile. However, when she started to pour the oil in the privacy of her home, under the watchful eyes of her sons, she witnessed a miraculous display of God’s overflowing supply. Do you ever feel too small to accomplish anything? You shouldn’t, because God delights in using little things for His big purposes. Next, I want to say-
She Had to Prepare for Abundance (vv.3 –6).
The oil was multiplied as it was poured out, and it didn’t stop flowing until all the vessels were full. The way to increase what we have is to use it; use it for the One who gave it to us in the first place. No one is benefited by us hoarding God’s gifts; it’s only when we use them that the Lord increases what we have. She is the one who had to pour out the oil; not Elisha or the sons of the prophets. The widow had to use what she had, and she had to do the work.
Elisha told her to prepare for abundance. He said, “Borrow all the pots you can.” It’s the same with God’s blessings; they may be great and many, so we need to be prepared to receive them and then to use them. He just keeps giving to those who use their talents for Him, but He will take away the talents if they are not used. When we do anything for Him we need to think big. We have a big God, and sometimes He chooses to give us a big gift or to bless us in a big way. Today we think that a church of 250 people is a big church. We often think small; we believe small and our expectations are trivial. Our expectancy may be the only limitation on what God is prepared to do for us! The last thing I want to say is-
The Success Was Brought About for Elisha (v.7).
We are told in verse 7 that the widow was successful in saving herself and her son. The verse says-
7 She came and told the man of God, and he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”
She returned to Elisha with her story of victory. Imagine the headlines in the local newspaper: “Company Widow Discovers Oil!” This was a woman who:
Proved the Adequacy of God.
She went from house to house with her small vessels, until one day, there were no more vessels to fill! Then the prophet told her what to do with the oil she had. He said she must not keep it for her own use. Those whom Divine intervention has made poor must be content with what they have (this, the Bible says is knowing how to want.). And they must not think, when they get a little of that which is better than ordinary, to use it only for their own luxury. Instead, Elisha told her to sell the oil to those that were rich, and could afford to bestow it on themselves. We may presume, since it was produced by miracle, it was the best of its kind, like the wine Jesus made from water, so that she might be able to ask for a good price and that there would be a good market for it. Probably the merchants bought it to export, since oil was one of the commodities that Israel traded in.
She must pay her debt with the money she received for her oil. Although her creditors were too harsh with her, nevertheless they must not lose what they were owed. Her first concern, now that she has money to do so, must be to pay her debt, even before she provides for her children. It is one of the fundamental principles of the Christian religion that we give to all what they’re due, pay every honest debt, and give every one his own, even though we may leave very little for ourselves. And, we should do it willingly; not only to avoid God’s wrath, but also to avoid being sued, and for the sake of our conscience. The rest of the money must not be laid up like savings, but she and her children must live on it, not upon the oil, but upon the money received from it. They must use it to provide for an honest livelihood in the future. No doubt she did as the man of God directed;
Notice That By following Elisha’s Orders She Proved the Ability of God (v.7).
She found that God was able to meet her critical need, which was to pay her debt. And He was able to meet her constant need, to pay daily living expenses. And He met her collective need, to provide for her family. By selling the increase of oil, she was able to pay her debt, save her sons, and live off what was left.
This incident makes the point that those who are poor and in trouble should be encouraged to trust God for what they need. It’s true that God may not provide us with a feast. And we cannot expect miracles now, but we may expect mercies, if we wait on God and seek to obey Him. Widows, in particular, must depend upon Him to care for them and their fatherless children, because to them he will be a husband, and a father. Those whom God has blessed with plenty should use it for the glory of God and under the direction of his word. They should be good stewards with what God gives them, like this widow did. And they should serve God cheerfully when they use it, and the same as Elisha, be ready to do good to those that need them, be eyes to the blind, and feet to the lame.
God has a special place in His heart for widows and their children. In the Bible, He insists that they must be defended and given proper care. It says in the book of Isaiah, “Learn to do good; seek justice, correct oppression; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow” (Is. 1:17). The prophet’s widow faced losing her two sons. Creditors were closing in on her. As she cried out for God’s help, her children stood with her. Children tend to mirror the behavior of the widowed parent. When children have seen a parent growing in the Lord and paying special attention to His Word, there will be a closer bonding as the family faces new problems. This woman refused to allow human anxieties and concerns to overshadow the mercy and faithfulness of God. She heard Elisha’s instructions and immediately went into action.
Children mimic parents. This widow’s faith was a sign that she continued to live like she did before the death took her mate. Her children knew about her deep commitment to God. And without questioning, they hurriedly joined her in following God’s new instructions. In the midst of their crisis, the widow and her sons expected God to answer their prayers. Nothing else had such importance to them. Beyond each desperate need was the promise that the Lord would surely hear their cry and He did. Moses wrote, “You shall not afflict any widow or orphan” (Ex. 22:22-23). Widowhood is not something that is looked forward to, but it does give the opportunity to trust God completely at a time when all earthly support seems to have been taken away. Whether you are facing the death of a loved one, debt, or even doubt, remember that God is able to provide, to deliver, to strengthen, to save, and to do more than we could ever ask or imagine. Take your problems to Him, like the widow did, and He will provide for you like He did for the widow.