September 21, 2011
Encouragement in Faith
Live on the Rest
2 Kings 4:7
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In the Old Testament, God spoke through prophets. The prophets spoke over different centuries, and often targeted their message from God to the people and rulers of Israel. Yet, as we have seen, Jonah presented a notable exception, because God sent Jonah to the people of Nineveh, the hated enemy of Israel. About 848 B.C., Elisha began his prophetic ministry in Israel. You may recall about 930 B.C. the land was divided into two kingdoms: Israel in the north comprised of ten tribes, and two tribes in the south, called Judah, with Jerusalem as its capital. Elisha will arise and begin speaking to the King and people of Israel.
The Widow in Distress. We have all seen families in distress when the husband dies, leaving behind children and a mother to care for them. In 2 Kings 4:1, we see that a widow “cried out” (“צָעֲקָה”) to Elisha the prophet for help. The usage of this term indicates that it was a powerful call, indicating deep distress and emotional upheaval. Notice that the woman cried out to Elisha, for several reasons: (1) Elisha knew her husband; (2) her husband served Elisha; (3) Elisha knew her husband feared the LORD. Now the creditor had threatened to come and take the widow’s two sons to be slaves in satisfaction of the debt owed by the deceased husband. In the United States, we no longer have debtor’s prisons, but in ancient Israel, you or your family could be sold into slavery until the debt was paid. This woman faced a terrible prospect of not only losing her husband, but now her children were also at risk.
Ø When you face terrible distress, do just what this widow did: turn to God and seek people of God who have the ability to help you. Cry out to them in your distress. Do not sit down, curl up, and do nothing.
Seek help from spiritual people, and turn your whole heart to the Lord Jesus Christ for His immediate solutions to all your problems, even your financial problems with creditors. I have seen widows who have to try to work out finances and debts left behind by their husbands, and how they struggle at times. Yet, the promises of God remain sure: “I have been young and now I am old, yet I have not seen the righteous forsaken or his descendants begging bread.” (Psalm 37:25).
Turning over Everything You Have To God. In 2 Kings 4:2, we see that Elisha asked the widow two closely related questions: (1) What shall I do for you?; (2) Tell me, what do you have in the house? Notice that Elisha planned on using the resources at hand to produce help for this woman. Jesus fed thousands of people on more than one occasion from the resources at hand, because Jesus can always miraculously stretch resources far beyond natural limits. The widow replied she only had a jar of oil.
Ø When in distress, be sure to turn over everything you have to God–do not overlook anything, no matter how meager it may seem to you.
Borrow What You Need. In 2 Kings 4:3, God commanded the widow, through the prophet, to go borrow vessels from her neighbors, and “do not get a few.” When God intends to bless you and meet your needs, then you will need to borrow enough vessels to hold blessings. God does not encourage stealing, but merely borrowing for an essential, short-term purpose.
Supply and Multiply. In 2 Kings 4:4-6, we see another great example of the supply and multiply principle of God’s provision. Notice that Elisha told the widow the purpose behind her borrowing the vessels. They would all be filled, so be sure to borrow as many as she could get. How much would you borrow if you knew they would all contain oil, sold for value? You can count upon God to provide a means for taking what you have, and multiplying it beyond what you ask or think. The widow thought she was about to lose her children on top of losing her husband. Instead, she was going to see God provide for her family in a miraculous way, because she turned to God in her distress. God wanted her to pour out her blessing behind closed doors, and set aside what is full. Her sons brought the vessels to her, and she poured. She poured and poured until God had filled every vessels with oil. The oil stopped at just the time the last vessel was poured full. Notice how perfectly God matched His blessing with the needs.
Ø When you face financial distress, be sure to count upon God to supply your needs and then multiply His blessings to you.
Pay Your Debt. In 2 Kings 4:7, we see that God intends for people to pay their debts, and He will provide the means. No one would have guessed the widow would have become an oil entrepreneur by God’s grace. By God’s grace, He gives us all we need for living, and saving our children from being servants to pay off a debt.
Live on the Rest. In 2 Kings 4:7, we see too that God intended to provide for the widow and her children beyond their current debt. God not only solved the debt problem, but provided enough oil for the family to live for some period of time until they could stand on their feet financially. God loves you, and will provide all the help you need during times of financial crisis, wrapped in times of personal grief and loss. After the sting of losing your spouse grips you, then you must still provide for your family and pay off the debts. God is not angry with you, but loves you and your family. He has always provided for you, and did so through your spouse before God began a new plan for providing for you in another way. So often we think that our spouse provided our income, but it was always and only God helping us. We should all learn to live on the rest that God provides for us every day we have more than we need to pay the immediate bills. Perhaps you have some widows around you that need your financial help (James 1:27).
So we learn more about the living through financial distress today.
● When you face serious distress after the death of a spouse, friend, or someone else you love, cry out to God for help.
● Count upon Jesus to provide for your spiritual, physical and financial needs, beyond what you can ask.
● Jesus will provide enough for you to pay your debts and still have extra left to live on until you can earn your own living.
Application for Today
As I live today, I will encourage my friends going through financial troubles to look to the Lord Jesus and His servants for help. Jesus will always provide enough to pay our debts, and to have some left over to live upon. Will you encourage your friends in financial distress to turn to Jesus for financial help today?