Elisha helps out a widow who is about to lose her sons to pay her debts. The Lord provides abundant oil to her through him.
This story holds some similarities to one of the stories of Elijah. The story I’m thinking of is the widow he went to stay with during the drought. God provided oil and flour each day for them to live on. I want to compare the two miracles. I want to break them down into several parts. I’m not sure why this way but that is what I feel the Spirit pulling me towards. We will see where He takes us with it.
Elijah: prophet (Elijah), widow (non-Israelite; from Sidon), her son. This woman knew of Israel’s God but he wasn’t her god. She wasn’t His child. She wasn’t even seeking help. She was hopeless and ready to let go of life.
Elisha: prophet (Elisha), widow (Israelite widow of one of the prophets of Jericho), her two sons. This woman was the wife of one of God’s prophets. She knew Him, at least through her husband. She knew Elisha’s God and his relationship with Elijah. She was desperate but had hope because she knew where to turn.
Us: varied. Those of us who know the Lord are His children. Those who don’t have the opportunity now through Jesus. He meets us wherever we are.
Elijah: life for all those in the ‘cast’. The drought and subsequent famine in the land had used up all her resources. Elijah was without resources too. They both had a need and God saw to it. Hers through him and his through her.
Elisha: financial remedy for the widow and her sons. The children were about to be sold to pay the family’s debts. The widow had nothing left but her faith in God.
Us: varied. God knows our needs. He knew them even before we did. He is a Good Father and cares about each of us.
Elijah: Elijah approached the widow following God’s instructions. God sent him to her. He told him where to go and who to look for. He didn’t know her situation until after making her acquaintance.
Elisha: widow approached Elisha seeking help. The widow sought out Elisha because she believed he could help her. She had no idea how but KNEW that God worked through him.
Us: varied. We often are the seeker because of some crisis in our lives but often times that ‘crisis’ is His way of reaching out instead. Like the first widow, we are hopeless without him. And like the second widow, when we know Him we know where to turn for our salvation.
Elijah: oil and flour remnant remained no matter how often used. The pots didn’t overflow with oil and flour. She had enough every day to make the meals they needed to survive. She didn’t have excess to share with her neighbors or to sell.
Elisha: abundant oil flowing from one pot until every pot was filled. The oil kept flowing until every pot they had gathered was filled to the top. She had no idea what to do with it afterwards but knew again where to go for the answer. She sold what she had been given to clear her debts and provide for herself and her sons.
Us: varied. God knows the solution to every obstacle we face. Sometimes it is a daily going through it and trusting that He will be there every step of the way. Other times it is His divine preparation for what lies ahead and/or healing for what came before. He can do ALL things for those who put their trust in Him.
Elijah: use her last oil and flour to feed the prophet instead of herself and her son. She had to put honoring a man she barely knew above her own needs and that of her son. She had no guarantee this man was who he claimed to be or that what he said would come to pass. She probably heard of Israel’s God but she was not expecting Him to make a personal appearance in her life. She had to trust Elijah with her life. Honestly, what difference would one more meal mean if she was wrong?
Elisha: gather pots from the neighbors. She had to go to her neighbors and ask for pots, jars, vessels and anything else that would hold oil. The number of vessels she gathered would speak to how strong her faith was. She had one chance to get this right. She could plan for a ‘flood’ or a ‘shower’. If she was certain of the outcome she probably scoured the village for pots.
Us: varied. Sometimes God requires great acts of faith, like moving across the country to take a position you believe He has called you to or provided for you (personal experience). Other times the act of faith needed is just to be still and wait. That last one can be as hard or harder than any action called for. “Be still, and KNOW that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).
Elijah: the oil and flour didn’t run out until the drought was ended. God provided for Elijah, the widow and her son for the remainder of the drought. We aren’t told how long this was but I have no doubt that it was a lengthy time. I have a feeling the oil and flour continued until there was sufficient time to replenish the stores of Israel. The day the rain ended did NOT end the effects of the drought.
Elisha: the oil kept pouring until all the pots were filled. The oil continued to flow until every last pot was filled. She was ready to pour even more until she was informed that there were no more pots. That is the point it stopped flowing. I have no doubt that she was also blessed when she later took her full pots to market. I KNOW there was no better oil in all Israel for sale.
Us: varied. Sometimes God provides a miracle blessing that fills your need completely right then (a check just when you needed it or coverage for what you thought had expired). Other times He provides daily the things you need to make it each day (a job or income that sustains you when you were without).
Elijah: saved the lives of the entire ‘cast’ and created a new ‘family group’ of the three. Elijah became part of this family. He lived with them until at least the end of the drought. He even raised her son from the dead. She walked in the miracle of the oil and flour every day but didn’t really believe in God until after the miracle of her son’s resurrection. Her son was saved from death twice.
Elisha: freedom from debt collectors and financial security for the widow. The woman’s family was kept intact. Her children were not taken to clear her debt and they had money to live on. She would have to budget that money as it was to last at least until her sons were old enough to provide for her. I wonder if her debt was of her own making; because of no husband or bad management of her resources.
Us: varied. God’s most important and lasting impact on our lives is the salvation He provides through Jesus. This is something that He gives freely to all who ask. As we continue to walk with Him He teaches us ‘new skills’ and grows our faith. I have learned patience where I once had little to none. They came from trusting Him and KNOWING that He ‘had my back’ at all times.
Elijah: he had a daily impact on the mother and child. Elijah could share God’s word with them every day. He had time to help them grow in knowledge. It took a separate miracle for the mother to believe but God was ready when she was.
Elisha: he spoke with the widow two times. Elisha shared God’s direction for her actions but not His word with the widow. She already knew God to some degree but this personal encounter with His hand changed her life. She was ready to believe. She also had a story to tell of His provision when she went to market. Her oil came with her testimony.
Us: varied. We have no idea the impact our simple lessons from God might have on someone else. This blog is born out of my greatest blessings and hardest lessons. Without those experiences in my life I would be empty. Drifting like a ship without a sail. Because of His hand in my life I am boldly sharing His love with ANY who want to listen.
Some questions to ponder:
Which widow do you think was impacted the most?
Who would remember the blessing longer?
Who would have the stronger tie to the prophet and the Lord as a result?
Both used the only thing they had available. Both were blessed by the Lord. Both were fed and cared for. Both had their families restored. Both would have a story to tell to those who were hurting. Both would have experiences to fall back on when challenged by life again. I’ve been both.
Father God, thank You for ALWAYS being there in my time of need. From the times I was ready to ‘lay down and die’ to the times I was held in financial bondage. I haven’t walked exactly where these women had but I’ve felt their pain. And You lifted me out of it! THANK YOU LORD for each and every time You put Your fingerprints in my clay. The places where You pressed a little harder in the molding process of my making. You NEVER take Your hands off because I’m still in process but sometimes You find a spot that needs just a bit more pressure to conform to the design You have for me. I am NOT confined by that design but an defined by it. EVERYTHING You make is beautiful! I am fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:19) by You. Thank You for each lesson and blessing along the way.
Holy Spirit, thank You for the journey today. I’m SO glad I let You lead this ‘dance’.