You can’t read your Bible without running into miracles.
They don’t happen all the time and you can’t predict in advance when they’re going to happen. Other than Jesus, no one in the Bible started their day at breakfast, thinking, “At 2 o’clock today, I’m gon’ drop by a funeral home and raise some people to life!”
Rather, people were led along by the Holy Spirit into an encounter where God chose to move in unexplainable ways.
To be clear, when I say, “Miracles”, I’m talking about a supernatural temporary suspension of natural law where God arouses our sense of awe and bears witness to Himself.
For example, Jesus commands a storm to stop and it instantly ceases, (As a result, His disciples believe He really is the son of God);
The prophet Elijah calls down fire from heaven (and as a result, an entire nation turns back to God).
What we see in all these accounts is that when God worked a miracle through a man, He wasn’t just doing something – HE WAS SAYING SOMETHING (mostly about Himself). So, I’d like to invite you to listen in closely and hear what God may be saying to you about His ability to provide more than you’ve come seeking Him for.
It’s a story in the Old Testament that involves a prophet named, Elisha and a recently widowed woman. 2 Kings 4:1-2 ,“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.” 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 small jar of olive oil.”
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT ELISHA
Elisha was a young man who was mentored by one of the greatest prophets in Israel, Elijah.
On the day before Elijah was taken up to heaven (God apparently have him a “pass” on death), Elisha makes this incredible request of his mentor, “Please, let a double portion of your spirit be upon me.” (2 Kings 2:9)
God heard his prayer and anointed Elisha with a powerful prophetic ministry that included miracles that were on parwith the kinds of miracles Jesus Himself performed.
God’s hand was so powerfully present with Elisha that he served as “special counsel” to coalition of kings,while at the same time, also serving as the leader of a seminary of sorts for prophets.
So, everyone knew that to have Elisha present was to have God’s voice and God’s provision present.
It was this understanding of the ministry and role of Elisha that led the widow in our story to seek out his help in what would arguably have been the lowest point of her life.
5 THINGS YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS WIDOW
Her husband was a student in Elisha’s school for prophets.
Her husband died poor and in more debt than he was worth.
Financially, this widow is in dire straits.
Her husband’s creditor is unwilling to write off the debt and has come seeking for his money from the prophet’s widow.
According to ancient laws, creditors could enslave debtors and their children for several years to work off a debt(Exodus 21:2-4), which is exactly what this widow is about to experience.
So, where does a grieving broke single parent (who’s about to lose her kids) go when she finds herself at her the end of her rope? She reaches out to the closest thing that represents the power and presence of God in her life, the prophet Elisha; and that leads to the first thing we hear God is saying in this miracle.
1. GOD IS PRESENT WITH YOU, NOT ONLY IN THE “HIGHS” OF LIFE, BUT ESPECIALLY IN THE “LOWS”
Just so you know, getting an audience with prophet Elisha would not have been as easy as making an appointmentto see a counselor or your local pastor. Remember, this prophet has served as special counsel to heads of states, kings! He rolls with the one percent! In addition, he’s the head of the school of prophets, and if you know anything about Biblical prophets, they’re kind of strange and sometimes scary to talk to because you never know if they’re going to pronounce a judgment on you or give you a blessing. So, you can imagine how nervous, and perhaps fearfulthis poor widow would have been in approaching the prophet to make her requests known.
Let me ask you this, “Are your fearful when you go to God in prayer?”
I don’t mean fearful in a reverent sort of way, I mean afraid! Do you keep silent before heaven because you’re afraid something you’ve done, said, or thought about has disqualified you and your prayers from being received?”
Allow me speak to that incase it’s held you back - the resounding chorus throughout the scriptures is an open invitation to “COME!”. Ephesians 1:7-8 says, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us.”
The word, “lavished”in that verse carries the idea that God (even now) is pouring out His grace, His mercy, His forgiveness and love onyou so much that it is extravagant, it’s overwhelming, and it’s almost reckless and way out of control.
In other words, there is nothing in your life that surprises God because ALL YOUR LIFE was taken into consideration when Jesus died on the cross. You have no sin, past, present or future that has more power than the cross of Jesus Christ, or THAT CAN KEEP YOU FROM CHRIST when you turn in repentance to Him.
So, just incase you’ve been entertaining the idea that God regrets saving you or that He’s given up on you, and that has resulted in you holding back from making your petitions in prayer known to Him, the scriptures would tell you that you’ve been misled because God’s throne of grace has always been accessible to you because of Christ in you.
The widow in this story could have rationalized in her mind as we sometimes do, that, “Well, my husband and I got ourselves in this mess, so we need to get ourselves out.” Fortunately, she knew better. She believed that the God of Elisha was a Provider-God who is not only present with us in the “highs” of life, but especially in the “lows.”
That brings us to the 2nd thing we hear God saying in this miracle is:
2. DO NOT DESPISE THE “LITTLE” GOD HAS ENTRUSTED TO YOU.
Having made her great need known, Elisha wants to know what she has to work with. He says to her in verse 2,“How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” This strikes me as an odd question because the very reason she came to him was because she had nothing in the first place!
Or did she?
In the latter part of verse 2, she says, “Your servant has nothing there at all,” (but then later in the same verse, she clarifies), “except a small jar of olive oil.” That jar of oil is not a small detail, and it certainly wasn’t nothing as she claimed.
In Biblical times, oil had an array of uses. It was used for cooking and mixed into flour to bake bread. It was used as fuel to light lamps in home. It was used as a remedy for stomachaches. It could be used as lotion, and even as balm to heal wounds. It was also the base ingredient for making perfumes and ointments.So it was a staple product at the local market that you could sell for profit.
Now, this widow had only a little bit of it at home, but it wasn’t nothing, especially because shortly it was about to be entrusted into the hands of the God of Elisha.
Her attitude about her small jar of oil is not much different from our attitude about some of the things in our lives God has entrusted to us. How many times have you said “NO” on God’s behalf by explaining away the things you felt you were lacking in?
“Oh, I’m not going to apply because I don’t have enough education for that job.”
“Oh, I couldn’t do that, I’m not a good public speaker.”
“Oh I’m not even going to attempt that because we could never afford that in a million years.”
FILL IN THE BLANK (whatever that “area of lack” is for you)
What excuses have you recently made or given for why you can’t step into what you suspect God may be preparing to do in your life, in your family, in your business, in your Church or community? What in your life have you looked upon as insignificant, perhaps because you’ve compared it to what others have?
Listen, the fact of the matter is that God doesn’t need whatever little you have in order to accomplish His intended plans for your life. He brought creation into existence simply by speaking it! There is, however, a Biblical principle at play here, and it’s the central theme that flows out of this message:
IT IS IN THE POURING OUT OF THE “LITTLE” GOD HAS ENTRUSTED TO YOU THAT YOU’LL RECEIVE THE “MORE” GOD HAS IN STORE FOR YOU.
We do the opposite of this, right? Our tendency is to hold back and hold tightly what we perceive to be insignificant in our lives (or what we don’t have enough of). Yet, in God’s order, rather than hoarding our talents (or whatever it is we’re holding on tightly to), you’ll discover that it is in the pouring out of the LITTLE you have that it becomes more.
And that’s where Elisha was heading next with this widow, which brings us to the last thing we hear God saying in this miracle.
3. GOD HONORS FAITH-FILLED PREPARATION.
Starting in verse 3, Elisha tells her, “Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side. She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring.”
Now, there’s a lot going on here, but here’s the first thing that popped out at me. It’s the fact that the woman doesn’t ask the prophet Elisha how exactly her small jar is going to fill all the other containers. It seems that’s a conversation that should have been had - “I’m sorry, Mr. prophet Elisha, but I don’t think you understand my need. I need money to pay back my creditors, not empty jars.”
Yet, those questions never pop up. Rather, what we see on the widow’s part is mixture of faith and obedience demonstrated by her diligent preparation.
This woman believes that God is about to show up and multiply the little oil she has and so it is operation-storm-the-neighborhood as she and her sons borrow as many jars as they can jam pack in the house!
Verse 5 says, something supernatural, something miraculous began to happen as she began pouring out her small jar of oil into all the jars she had now filled her house with. It just kept flowing, and flowing, and flowing and flowing….Until every single jar her sons brought into the house was filled! Verse 6 says, “When all the jars were full, she said to her son, “Bring me another one.” But he replied, “There is not a jar left.” Then the oil stopped flowing.”
Now think about what just happened here and its impact on her life.
Remember that I said oil had many uses in ancient days and that it could even be sold for a profit? Well, as a result of this miracle, this widow now has enough oil to sell to not only pay back her husband’s creditors, to not only use for personal household purposes…
but she now has enough oil in her inventory to start her own oil business and have a regular income!
So, she ended up with WAY more than she bargained for!
She learned that IT IS IN THE POURING OUT OF THE “LITTLE” GOD HAS ENTRUSTED TO YOU THAT YOU’LL RECEIVE THE “MORE” GOD HAS IN STORE FOR YOU.
So, what does the little jar of oil in this story represent in your life? Sure, it probably looks tiny to you and you’re hesitant to part with it, but when entrusted into the hands of the creator God of heaven and earth, MIRACLES HAPPEN!
May I urge you to step out in faith today and act on what you believe God has called you to do?
You just may end up shocked to find that you’ll end up with way more than you came for!
Husband. Dad. Pastor. Nigerian American. Storyteller. Aspiring Prayer Warrior. Steak Lover. Follower of Jesus Christ reminding you that God the Father still loves you.