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 2 KINGS 4:1-7

ELISHA AND THE MIRACLE OF THE "POT OF OIL!"

 

 

LET'S STUDY THIS EVENT IN THE LIFE OF THE GREAT PROPHET!

IT STILL CONTAINS LESSONS FOR US AS WE SEEK TO LIVE FOR GOD DAY BY DAY!

--- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

2 Kings 4:1-7

 "Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.  And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.  Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.  So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.  Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest."

 

 

THERE ARE TWELVE LESSONS BELOW ON OUR TEXT.  (JUST BEGIN AT LESSON NUMBER 1 AND SCROLL DOWNWARD AS YOU READ TOWARD LESSON 12.  MAY THE LORD BLESS YOU AS YOU STUDY HIS PRECIOUS WORD!)

 

 

LESSON 1 ... INTRODUCTION:

The Lord just seemed to have me thinking about (of all things) ... oil!

I even saw a book in a local bookstore about it!

Oil!

The noun "oil" occurs 202 times in the Bible.

The general consensus among Bible-believing preachers is that "oil" is generally a picture of The Holy Spirit.

It seems clear that the Bible subject of "oil" is vast in its scope.  In fact, all the Bible is "exceeding broad!"  So says Psalm 119:96.

Gradually, after several other "potential" passages came and went, the Lord focused me on 2 Kings 4:1-7.  It describes a miracle ... concerning "oil!"

Elisha is the Prophet involved and a poor widow lady is the beneficiary!  (And, of course, our great God provides the Power behind it all!)

Here's the Bible account, word for word:

"Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen.  And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil.  Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few.  And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full.  So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out.  And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed.  Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest."  Again, this brief text is found in 2nd Kings 4:1-7.

Did you notice that this poor lady is a "widow?"  That makes her two boys "fatherless."  And puts all three of them in a special category!  Listen to Psalm 146:9 which says:  "The Lord ... relieveth the fatherless and the widow!"  Our Lord always champions the cause of the poor and humble and lowly!  (And He always resists the proud!)  Peter tells us ... "God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace to the humble!" 1st Peter 5:5

I'm glad for the day the Lord, by means of Holy Spirit "conviction," humbled my soul and brought me to the place where I (submissively with heartfelt repentance and a broken will) confessed myself to be a sinner in need of salvation!  I got "saved" that very hour as Jesus, the "Saviour," moved into my life and literally took control!

Is someone reading here today who is that needy?

Fatherless?

Sorrowful?

Poor?

Destitute?

Come to the dear Lord Jesus!

He can give you oil too ... just like He did this little widow in our paragraph!

And you, as her, can be associated with the "Oil of Gladness," the precious Holy Spirit of God!

Psalm 45:7 uses that very term in prophesying about Jesus!  It says that He will "love righteousness and hate wickedness:  therefore God will anoint Him with the Oil of Gladness!"

The Lord willing, more about this precious "oil" tomorrow.

                                                                                  --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

 

LESSON 2 ... verse 1:

What destitution the opening verse presents us!

"Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the LORD: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons to be bondmen."  2 Kings 4:1

She is just called a "certain woman!"

But she surely knew what to do with her problems!

She took them to the Lord!  (Or at least to the Man of God, the Prophet Elisha, whose very name means "God is Salvation"!)

The noun in Hebrew for woman is "ishshah."  Man in Scripture is often depicted by the word "iysh."  See the similarity?  The lady is WOMAN  ... simply a derivative of MAN!  And often the feminists and the rebels do not like that fact at all!  To complicate  their problem, in the New Testament the same word is used for woman and wife ... identically!  To be a woman is to be a wife (grammatically)!  Of course the Bible has some excellent exceptions to this rule ... but that's God's basic standard!  The enemies say that this "objectifies" the woman. 

Yet, on the other hand, no Book exalts womanhood as does the Bible and no Person honored the ladies with whom He came in contact more than Jesus! (Including the lady in our text right here!)

Also notice that this lady was the wife of a preacher!  The "sons of the prophets" were a group of young ministerial students who congregated around a great man of God like Samuel or Elijah and studied the great truths of Scripture! 

But her husband had died!

And left her poor!  With unpaid bills!

This may or may not badly reflect on him.  We just are not given any details.  If he was a careless spender or a poor manager of money, he was wrong and his wife suffered for it.  But if he had an extended illness or was persecuted for his faith's sake ... the poverty may have been unavoidable.  (In which case God's provision is even more lovely!)

Yet the now deceased preacher did have a godly testimony!  (At least he did with his wife and with Elisha!)  I would say that the companion of a man, his wife, would be the first to know his real character!  This one "feared the Lord," the Old Testament clause that indicates godliness and reverance.

Yet another problem has risen.  (Did you ever notice how trials come in "groups?" Her husband died ... her money is gone ... and now her boys are threatened!  Ask old Job about this too!  And the devil tempted Jesus three times in rapid succession!)

A "creditor" has come to take away her children!

The term means a man to whom they owed money!  (Paul later encourages us to ... "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."  Romans 13:8)

And this financial tyrant did have legal right to "claim" these boys and make them work off the indebtedness ... at least until the 7th year came.  See Exodus 21:2 and similar verses.

The noun "bondmen" is in Hebrew "ebed" and just means a common slave (servant). 

As I said in the opening sentence today ... This lady was destitute!

She reminds me of the plight of those who congregated around David as he fled from King Saul!  "And every one that was in distress, and every one that was in debt, and every one that was discontented, gathered themselves unto him; and he became a captain over them: and there were with him about four hundred men." This is 1st Samuel 22:2.

Even Jesus said:  "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  Matthew 11:28

Or listen to what commonly happened in the life and ministry of our Lord.  "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."  Matthew 11:5  (What a group this was!)

It sounds to me like the dear Lord Jesus came to the very kind of people this widow lady represents!

(And that includes you and me ... at least spiritually it does!)

I'm glad He cares!

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 3 ... VERSE 2:

Just prior to God working this miracle, Elisha asks the poor widow lady a couple of questions.

"And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil."  2 Kings 4:2

The first question, "What shall I do for thee?" is unusual.  The great Prophet has just heard the details of the lady's plight! 

"What shall I do for thee?"

This sounds to me like something Jesus occasionally did too!

Listen to the first thing Jesus says to blind Bartimaeus in Mark 10:51 --- "And Jesus answered and said unto him, What wilt thou that I should do unto thee? The blind man said unto him, Lord, that I might receive my sight."

Did you see that?

The same question!

And again in John 5:6 at the Pool of Bethesda Jesus asks the impotent man nearly the same thing.  "When Jesus saw him lie, and knew that he had been now a long time in that case, he saith unto him, Wilt thou be made whole?" 

I am prepared to go this far today ...  Elisha seems to be here a picture of Christ Jesus!

One day soon I am going to write a whole article on that subject alone.  I think there may be a dozen or more ways in which Elisha depicts Jesus!

Yet again there's another question!

"What hast thou in the house?"

How very practical!

Do YOU have anything the Lord can use?  (Of course God can perform miracles without any "means" whatsoever!  He "spoke" the worlds into existence Hebrews 11:3 tells us!  But often He uses some "catalyst" in His miraculous doings!)

Again, this sounds just like Jesus!

At the feeding of the 5,000 He asks "How many loaves have ye?"  Matthew 15:34

Or by the shore that post-resurrection day in John 21:5, Jesus asks his failing disciples, "Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No."

Wow!

Now watch the lady's answer.

She had "not any thing in the house!"

Not a thing!

Think what this means!

Likely the "creditor" had been to see her before!

He who now threatens to enslave her two sons has already (piece by piece perhaps) emptied her house of furniture and keepsakes and "everything!"

One loss after another!

One "reversal" followed another "reversal!"

YET this lady's faith failed not!

She still sought help from the Hand of the Lord!

She watched her pantry being depleted day by day.  Now everything is gone ... except a pot of oil!

She here reminds me a little bit of Habakkuk who said:  "Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail, and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls: Yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will joy in the God of my salvation."  Habakkuk 3:17-18

Or maybe even Job who said:  "Though he slay me, yet will I trust in him!"  Or "What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips." 

I admire such faith!

However I do not want to close this verse without noticing one more little word. That's the adverb "save!"

Nothing left ... except!

Just this pot of oil!

And the word here is NOT indicative of a big earthen oil vat ... but a small flask or "skin" of oil!

The "root" of the word used here, "asuk," means "anointed!" 

Nothing was left but a small skin of oil ... anointing oil!

(Perhaps her preacher husband had used it again and again prior to his death!)

BUT that bit of oil was sufficient!

God used it mightily!

Again, could this be a picture of the Holy Spirit?

Is He sufficient?

I rest my case right there!

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 4 ... THURSDAY, DECEMBER 9, 2004 ... VERSE 3:

The Lord gave the widow lady (through Elisha) some very specific instructions.

"Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbours, even empty vessels; borrow not a few."  2 Kings 4:3

The verb "go" (in Hebrew = "yalak") means to walk!  "Get started" says the preacher. Go!  The verb is framed as a command too!  This is now urgent business!  God wants to meet our need!  It is important to Him!

And the verb "borrow" (in Hebrew = "shaal") means "to ask" for something!  (It's the "root" of the Hebrew name "Saul" too.)  It too is an imperative, a command!  In the King James Bible this word is translated "ask" 94 times and "borrow" 6 times.   It's also rendered "beg" twice!  (Get the vessels any way you honorably can!)

And the noun for "vessels" in interesting!  It is spelled "kaliy" and means a utensil or implement or apparatus of nearly any kind!  Again, in the King James Bible it bears the following translations:  vessel (166 times), instrument (39 times), WEAPON (21 times) and JEWEL (21 times), ARMOUR (10 times) and even FURNITURE (7 times)!

If these vessels, when filled with precious oil, picture the believe saturated with the Holy Spirit, we have something beautiful here!

Is the fullness of the Spirit the equivalent of being well armoured, of having the right weapons in the spiritual battle?  Of course it is!

Is the fullness of the Spirit also a picture of the believer "bejeweled" with godly beauty and loveliness?  Certainly that's so!

Is the fullness of the Spirit in relation to the Christian just what a complete set of furniture is to a room?  Yes!  Yes!  Yes!

Wow!  What vocabulary this Bible has!

Even the adjective "empty" has significance!

"Reyq" (Hebrew for "empty" in this verse) means "poured out" or just "empty."  In our Bibles it is translated "empty or emptied" 7 times ... but also "vain" as in vain men 7 times!

We as vessels are to pour everything out of our lives ... everything that does not belong there!  To be emptied of ourselves and our fleshly desires and our old besetting sins!  (This is part of what Paul meant when he said "I die daily!")

BUT also when we describe ourselves as "empty" vessels ... we are admitting that once we were "vain" too!  Useless to God and good!  Idle in any sense of accomplishing God's will for our lives!

Lastly, Elisha taught the lady and her sons to "borrow not a few" empty vessels!

Get as many as possible!

This sounds a lot like commanded "determination" to me!

Don't be slack!

Go door to door!

Ask and seek and knock!

Come boldly before thy neighbor!

Elisha is a real disciple of diligence!

(Remember his "shooting arrows" lesson to King Joash in 2 Kings 13?  The Preacher was upset because the King didn't shoot enough arrows toward the enemy!)

The more vessels ... the more oil!

This even reminds me of Elisha's great "digging ditches" miracle too.  And it's in chapter three of 2 Kings (within the context of our "oil" miracle right here)!

The verb "borrow (not) a few" translates "maat" in Hebrew.  It means "to lessen or to make small or to diminish." 

Everything is pointing to fervency in gathering the oil holders!

Paul teaches us to be "fervent" in spirit in all our business dealings!  See Romans 12:11.

Peter repeatedly teaches us to "give all diligence" to our Christian growth!  See 2nd Peter 1:5.

Be eager and hungry and excited when it comes to the filling of the precious Holy Spirit of God!

His Presence is essential! 

                                                                            --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 5 ... VERSE 4:

The Prophet Elisha continues to instruct the lady. 

He says:  "And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full."  2 Kings 4:4

Notice first that the widow is to do her work in private.  Have you ever thought about that?  Jesus did some of His miracles in private also. 

The deaf man with a speech defect was healed by Jesus ... "aside from the multitude!"  ("And he took him aside from the multitude, and put his fingers into his ears, and he spit, and touched his tongue; and looking up to heaven, he sighed, and saith unto him, Ephphatha, that is, Be opened.  And straightway his ears were opened, and the string of his tongue was loosed, and he spake plain."  Mark 7:33-35)

Or remember when Jesus raised that little 12 year old girl from the dead He "And they laughed him to scorn. But when he had put them all out, he taketh the father and the mother of the damsel, and them that were with him, and entereth in where the damsel was lying. And he took the damsel by the hand, and said unto her, Talitha cumi; which is, being interpreted, Damsel, I say unto thee, arise. And straightway the damsel arose, and walked; for she was of the age of twelve years. And they were astonished with a great astonishment."  Mark 5:39-42

Some things are to be done with the door shut!  They are just too precious and private to be shared with gawking unspiritual eyes!  (Matthew 7:6 just might apply here:  "Give not that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine."  Jesus said that too!)

Here are some more things Jesus encourages us to do in private:  our praying, our giving and our fasting!  See Matthew 6:1-18!

Then notice this.  The lady was to have her sons with her as this miracle unfolded! God wanted the boys to see and know of His great Power!

Isaiah 44 tells us that when God blesses, He can and will include our sons and daughters!  "I will pour my spirit upon thy seed, and my blessing upon thine offspring ..." declares the Lord!

Much of the visual aspect of the Old Testament history is for the children to see and understand!  Listen to Joshua 4:6 --- "That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones? Then ye shall answer them, That the waters of Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the LORD; when it passed over Jordan, the waters of Jordan were cut off: and these stones shall be for a memorial unto the children of Israel for ever."  Include the children!

Then ... "pour out" into all those empty vessels!

The verb is "yatzsaq" and means to let flow or to even to overflow!  The first 2 Bible uses of the word (from the life of Jacob) involve pouring oil also!  (Genesis 28:18 and Genesis 35:14)

The verb is also the one used when molten metal is being poured into a mold and cast (set) into hardened form!  It is translated "cast" 11 times.  (Pouring to set firm!)

Then she is instructed to "set aside" that which is full!

Here's the exact wording:  "And thou shalt set aside that which is full." 

It just locally means that, in order to stay organized, place the empty vessels in one place and the full ones in another. 

BUT I believe it may have a spiritual meaning for us today also! 

When a vessel (a picture of a believer) is completely filled (with oil ... a type of the Holy Spirit) ... he often is to be "set aside" (dedicated, consecrated, used in a special way) to the glory of God!

Oh, to be filled with the Spirit of God!

Then, oh, to be used of God!

It should be our hearts constant desire!

                                                                                --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 6, OIL, A TYPE OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:

First let's look at some places oil was used in Bible days.

In Luke 10:34 we are told some of the things the Good Samaritan did for the battered and robbed traveler.  "And went to him, and bound up his wounds, pouring in oil and wine, and set him on his own beast, and brought him to an inn, and took care of him."  See the oil being poured into his wounds!  Just think of the sin-festered cuts and gashes on our poor old souls ... when the Holy Spirit convicted us of our sins!  Yet His "oil" has soothed and healed us completely!

And in the Tabernacle of Moses' day oil was used as a source of fuel for the lampstands!  Exodus 25:6 tells us some of the thigns needed in the true worship of God.  "Oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense."  The oil gave light! There will never be any true illumination of the Word of God or the Christian way of life apart from the oil of the Holy Spirit!

Here's another Biblical use for oil.  It was put on one's face!  Listen to what God can provide.  "And wine that maketh glad the heart of man, and oil to make his face to shine, and bread which strengtheneth man's heart."  Psalm 104:15  I am telling you, dear friend, when one is anointed with the Holy Spirit, it shows on his or her face!

And how about the old cleansed lepers, who had oil put on their ears, their hands and their feet during their consecration ceremony!  (First blood was placed on these areas ... because one must be blood-washed before he can be spirit-anointed!)  Oil on these body parts suggests Holy Spirit control of all I hear, all I do and everywhere I go!  "And of the rest of the oil that is in his hand shall the priest put upon the tip of the right ear of him that is to be cleansed, and upon the thumb of his right hand, and upon the great toe of his right foot, upon the blood of the trespass offering." Leviticus 14:17

And when Aaron was dedicated as Priest ... oil was poured on his head!  Leviticus 8:12 tells us:  "And he poured of the anointing oil upon Aaron's head, and anointed him, to sanctify him."  This simply means all one's thoughts are to be Spirit approved! 

And of course there was that copious supply of oil on the meal offering in Leviticus 2 also!  The meal offering is a picture of Jesus (here in His Life as well as in His Death) saturated with the oil of the Holy Spirit!  "And if thou bring an oblation of a meat offering baken in the oven, it shall be unleavened cakes of fine flour mingled with oil, or unleavened wafers anointed with oil."  Leviticus 2:4  In fact Jesus had so much of the Spirit upon Him and within Him that we are told by John "For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him."  John 3:34

And from whence does this oil come?  Why, from the olive!  See what Exodus 27:20 says: "And thou shalt command the children of Israel, that they bring thee pure oil olive beaten for the light, to cause the lamp to burn always."  And these olives had been bruised or crushed or "beaten" ...  just what happened to Jesus on Calvary!  Had Jesus not gone to the Cross ... no Holy Spirit would have been given, at least not as we have him today in this age of Grace!  John 7:39 --- "But this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive: for the Holy Ghost was not yet given; because that Jesus was not yet glorified."

Praise God for the lessons of the oil in Scripture!

And praise Him even more for the Holy Spirit that oil represents!

                                                                                   --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 7 ... VERSE 5:

The Bible reports that this widow lady was obedient to the Man of God!

"So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out."  2 Kings 4:5

She did exactly what she was told!

The Preacher said "Go!"

And she went.

Elisha also said "Borrow vessels!"

And she did.

He even told her "Shut thy door!"

Which, as you have just read, she did also!

He said for her to include her sons.

And she did that too.

Then he commanded her to "Pour the oil!"

So she poured (and poured and poured)!

I think I'll say this about her:  She did all that she was commanded!

What a testimony that is!

ALL that she was commanded!

That thought send me to my concordance.

Where else did anyone do all that they were commanded?

Surprisingly, I found some places!

In Luke 17:10 Jesus observes a servant, a common slave, doing all that he was commanded.  Then Jesus said:  "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do."  Wow!  What kind of servants are we?

And in Jeremiah 35 we meet a group of people who have done all that their fathers commanded them.  The Rechabites were highly commended of God!  He used them as an example of obedience to spur the Israelites onward!  "And Jeremiah said unto the house of the Rechabites, Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel ... ye have obeyed the commandment of Jonadab your father, and kept all his precepts, and done according unto all that he hath commanded you."  Jeremiah 35:18

And God promised special blessings to Israel if she as a nation obeyed all His commands!  "Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them: I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me."  Deuteronomy 26:13-14  (Therefore they could pray:  "Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land which thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey."  Deuteronomy 26:15)

And one last time, it appears that Moses and the people did all God commanded when it came to the building of the Tabernacle!  I base my statement on Exodus 39:43 --- "And Moses did look upon all the work, and, behold, they had done it as the LORD had commanded, even so had they done it: and Moses blessed them."

So this poor widow lady joins an impressive group of folks who did ALL they were commanded!

Are you in that group?

Am I?

She also joined the group who enjoyed multiple blessings from the Lord!  (He does bless obedience!)

She had all the oil she needed!

I therefore will say this.  (Based on God's Word.)  If you do ALL He has commanded you ... He will bless you too, abundantly bless you!

What a heritage for this widow lady to leave those two boys!

                                                                              --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 8 ... VERSE 6:

I wish to extract just one lesson from today's verse.  We shall perhaps return to it later.

"And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet a vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed."  2 Kings 4:6

Just notice with me that the oil flowed as long as there were empty vessels!

The OIL was not exhausted!  That supply never ended!

The number of empty vessels was diminished.

The insufficiency was on the vessel end, the human end, NOT the Supply end of the miracle!

Theoretically had they gathered more empty pots, they would have had more oil to fill them! 

Here's my point today.

The oil, being a picture of the Holy Spirit, was absolutely inexhaustible!

Watch the expression of Paul's that I have highlighted from Philippians 1:19 --- "For I know that this shall turn to my salvation through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ ...."  That word "supply" is a technical Greek noun that was used of a man who provided everything needed for a play or a concert or some other public program!  He took care of EVERYTHING!  The place, the cast, the wardrobe, the refreshments ... everything!  Paul is teaching us that the Holy Spirit provides all we need to live the Christian life to the glory of God!

Just as the oil was more than enough ... so is the Holy Spirit more than sufficient in our lives!

Praise the Lord!

I've just been word-searching in my Bible!  "Sufficiency" and its cognates have interested me.  Let me share my findings with you:

2 Corinthians 3:5 --- "Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God."

In 2 Corinthians 12:9, as Paul was suffering with is "thron in the flesh, our Lord encouraged him with these words:  "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me."

John 14:8 --- "Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us."  I guess so!

Genesis 45:28 even came to mind where Jacob (Israel) said:  "It is enough; Joseph my son is yet alive: I will go and see him before I die."  Our heavenly Joseph (Jesus) is alive too ... and we are going to see Him as well!  That is enough for us also!  And some are even going to see Him before death!

The sufficiency of the oil in our 2 Kings 4 text here is a picture of the Sufficiency of the Lord God Almighty!

Amen!

                                                                          --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 9 ... VERSE 7:

"Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest."  2 Kings 4:7

I don't know if we can "spot" it or not, but the widow lady obeys Elisha the man of God incrementally!

He tells her some things to do ... she does them ... she returns to the preacher ... he adds to the instructions ... and she (in today's verse) goes and completes the "assignment!"

This is called obeying "one step at a time."

If Elisha had told her EVERYTHING to do at once ... she might have crumbled under the burden of too many instructions!

Instead, he led her a little bit at a time!

Jesus once told His disciples:  "I have yet many things to say unto you, but ye cannot bear them now." (John 16:12)  He had to tell them a thing or two at a time!

Paul said the same thing to the Corinthians:  "I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able."  1st Corinthians 3:2  (They couldn't handle the "meat" yet ... so they just got "milk.")

Again, live for Jesus one step at a time.

Jesus taught us to ask for our "daily" bread ... not the monthly supply!

Then notice that she repeatedly goes to the preacher (Elisha) for advice!  Today's culture is trying to portray God's men as inept and stupid hypocrites, only in the ministry for the money.  The media are wrong!   God's true servants are saved, spirit-filled, and equipped to do the work to which God has called them!  It is Biblical to seek their advice!  "Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly."  (Psalm 1:1a)  That means it's all right to seek the counsel of the godly! Even back in Ecclesiastes 12:9 we are taught:  "And moreover, because the preacher was wise, he still taught the people knowledge; yea, he gave good heed, and sought out, and set in order many proverbs."  Wow!

Also notice how the spiritual aspect of life here intertwines with the material.  Lady, take the oil (the spiritual) and sell it and pay thy debt (the physical, commercial, earthly)!  God wants us to put our Christianity into shoe-leather and live it in front of people everywhere we go!

We also see that it is right to pay one's debts!  Paul taught us to "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another."  (Romans 13:8)  Proverbs adds, in an effort to curb our borrowing and spending, "The rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant to the lender."  (Proverbs 22:7)  Don't get a bad reputation and ruin a good testimony over delinquent debts.  If you can't pay something on time, call the company and explain the situation and work out a plan of some kind.  They will usually cooperate with any sincere client.

And the verb for "live" (in Hebrew = "chayah") is 12 times (King James Version) translated "be revived" and 8 times rendered "recovered!"   Its sense of "timing" means to live and live and live (incomplete action)!  This suggests that the Oil (the Holy Spirit) provides the opportunity for life ... meaningful life ... abundant life! Jesus said in John 10:10 --- "I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."  Amen!

Lastly observe that there will be, even after all the debt is paid, something left on which they could live!  Elisha calls it "the rest."  This noun "yathar" means the "leftovers!"  (Jesus had "leftovers" too, didn't He?  John 6:13, after the miraculous feeding of the thousands, says:  "Therefore they gathered them together, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves, which remained over and above unto them that had eaten.")  That word for "rest" in Scripture is also translated as:  that which excels!

What provision!

And look at this.  God not only provided for the widow lady alone ... but for her two sons also!  God remembers the family!  Ask Noah!  See Genesis 8:16 where God said to him:  "Go forth of the ark, thou, and thy wife, and thy sons, and thy sons' wives with thee.Ask Paul, who taught us:  "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house."  This is amazing.

Thus we leave a fulfilled and happy lady with two sons ... rejoicing in the things of God!

Elisha, like Jesus, just "went about doing good ... for God was with him." (Acts 10:38)  And I have a strong feeling that they both "did all things well!"  I know Jesus did! See Mark 7:37 for this expression!

I am so glad we have studied this miracle.

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 10 ... THE OIL BUSINESS:

At first you may think I've forgotten about the miracle of 2 Kings 4:1-7.  That is not the case.  You will see the "connection" soon.

I recently read a book about oil.  Really it just records the history of "crude" oil.

The more I read about the oil business, the more I thought of God's "oil," the precious Holy Spirit.

The first known oil well was drilled in 1859 (sounds late)!  The Holy Spirit first started "drilling" in the New Testament Church on the Day of Pentecost, around 30 AD.

One sixth of the world's economy presently is dedicated to the oil business in one way or another!  Sadly, very little of the world's economy is invested in the things of the Spirit!

The planet's oil reserves are finite (limited) it seems.  But the supply of the Holy Spirit is not!  (So far the world has yielded about 2 trillion barrels of oil!)

There's a massive amount of rock called "shale" in Colorado.  It contains oil!  If we could learn to extract that oil economically, scientists say there would be a usable amount equal to the whole world's currently known oil inventory!  Wow!  Plenty of power and heat and light ... if we only know how to "get" it!  Yet the Bible is very clear on how we can "get" the power of the Holy Spirit! 

World geography is such that the major reachable oil reserves are in the (where else) Middle East?  Mostly lands near Israel!  I believe there often is a "geography" of Holy Spirit power too!  Thousands of times in world history one area had revival (power) while other areas were dry!

Oil is often found in conjunction with natural gas and salt!  They are the companions of the oil industry.  The oil of the Spirit and the salt of the earth (the saints) are very compatible also!

The ancients used oil in warfare!  (We still do today also.)  Lighted oil soaked arrows shot into the enemies' homes cause untold damage!  And the Christian certainly can wage no warfare apart from the Holy Spirit too!

And, as one would expect, some in the past even worshiped that oil and the fire it produced!  (Just as some today, ignoring the Father and the Son, worship and preach and focus only on the Holy Spirit!  This grieves Him I'm sure.)

It is said that today we are consuming oil ... at a rate about 100,000 times faster than it can accumulate again!  Wow!  This is NOT true of our dependence on the Holy Spirit!

The Oil book said this too.  Oil is made of carbon atoms.  In fact it is comprised of long chains of atoms ... unified in such a way that 70 and more link together!  (Light natural gases may have only 4 carbon atoms.)  Look what we have just been told: one big "secret"of the power in oil is in UNITY!  And, according to Psalm 133, that's a secret of the Christian's power too! 

Early uses of oil (in the form of kerosene) produced the first street lights America ever knew.  Now we have oil producing "light!"  And let me quickly say this:  If we ever get any true spiritual light ... it will come from the illumination of the Holy Spirit of God!

It is said by oil "historians" that Would War II (and every war since then) has been won by the nation that has the most oil power!  (I'll just let you apply this one spiritually!)

One of the main reasons Japan lost the war (WW II) was the "oil embargo" enforced against her by the Allied nations!  (I think the devil has an "oil embargo" against many Christians too!  He wants to deprive them of Holy Spirit anointing.)

Each oil company in the world has its own research department, seeking to improve knowledge of oil and its power.  (Every Christian should be a living "research lab" when it comes to the Holy Spirit and His infilling.)

Oil products have yielded fertilizers that make crops grow exponentially!  (The Holy Spirit in His Presence and Power will energize the "food" of God's word for the development and maturity of our souls.)

Mankind has learned to extract oil from rock! Spiritually speaking, all oil (Holy Spirit Power) is extracted from a smitten Rock (the Lord Jesus Christ who died on Calvary)!  Read Deuteronomy 32:13 --- "And he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock."  Wow!

American wheat farmers must have fertilizers (produced from petroleum products) in order to grow their crops!  Here we have the association of oil and real wheat!  I would say that for true wheat (a type of the real Christian) to be produced ... the fertilizing power of the Holy Spirit must be in operation!

The oil fields of the world are being depleted.  But the Christian's Source of power is inexhaustible!

There are many "downsides" to oil production.  Carelessly done, it can damage the environment or hurt the people who live nearby the wells or refineries.  But with Holy Spirit power ... there is never anything but good to come!

The world's oil pipelines are under constant threat of attack by terrorists.  (The power of the Holy Spirit is always under attack by the devil also!)

While there are alternative sources of energy being studied and developed on this earth, there is NO other source of power for the Believer than the power of Almighty God!

However ... sun power and wind power ... both with great "potential," are also types of our Heavenly Father or the Lord Jesus or the Holy Spirit in their empowering ability!

Dear Christian friends, let's thank God for the infinite source of oil, an emblem of the Holy Spirit of God, Who is our great Companion and Comforter!

Our study is nearly complete.

                                                                                 --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 11 ... SOME CONCLUDING OBSERVATIONS:

This is a miracle of time.  We have gallons and gallons of oil being produced here instantly (without the aid of the olive tree), a process that normally takes months! This reminds me of Jesus' miracle of turning water into wine.  That also was a miracle of time!  Gallons and gallons of fine juice were produced instantly without the aid of the vines (and rains and sunshine and months) normally required.

As is true in most cases, trouble seldom comes alone.  Here the widow lady's trials come in groups, just as they did with Job and Paul and Jeremiah and Jesus!  And just as they often will with you and me!

Psalm 68:5 tells us that God is ... "A father of the fatherless, and a judge of the widows, is God in his holy habitation."  This miracles prove that fact!

"Many a cloudy morning has turned into a fine day!"  Or as Psalm 30:5 puts it:  "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."  This is an exact description of this miracle!

Elisha asked the lady to borrow "not a few" vessels!  That is the spirit of Psalm 81:10.  "I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt: open thy mouth wide, and I will fill it."  Wow!

Go to church empty ... God may "fill you" with the oil (power and joy) of His Spirit ere you leave!

John, talking like one of these vessels, says:  "And of his fulness have all we received."  John 1:16

Our miracle is a parable of history.  Servant after servant has been filled with the Spirit of God!  David and Jeremiah and Habakkuk and John the Baptist and Paul and all the godly spiritual giants of the ages that followed!

This miracle shows the importance of "little" things.  A little stone in the hand of David ... killed a giant!  A little cloud in Elijah's day produced a rainstorm!  A little child in Jesus' lap teaches a great lesson!  A little strength in a church can prevent apostasy!  Little is much ... when God is in it!

The "income" of the Holy Spirit will pay the "debts" of the believer!

This widow lady exchanged want for wealth and poverty for plenty!  Christian, spiritually, so can you!

The previous miracle of Elisha's is the one about "digging ditches!"  This woman is practicing the truth of that miracle too!  With each borrowed vessel, she digs another ditch to contain the coming blessing!

This "pot" of oil, as we studied inverse 2, is in reality a flask or bag of oil.  It was stored in such a fashion as to suggest it was anointing oil!  Oh, how we need the anointing of the Holy Spirit in today's world!  Oil upon our heads and ears and thumbs and feet and our garments!  What a difference He makes!

This lady did not ask for a thing!  She simply told the man of God her burdens!  God took care of the rest!  There's a whole volume of "unsought blessings" poured upon God's people throughout the pages of Scripture.

Maybe God just heard her "groans!"  Listen to the Lord in Exodus 3:7-8 and notice what He heard!  "And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; and I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians."  That is just precious!

Maybe the widow lady had heard what God did for the widow at Zarephath during the days of Elijah!  (1 Kings 17)  If so, that event increased our lady's faith!  (Rahab also had heard some things too!  Let me show you what she said to the spies: "For we have heard how the LORD dried up the water of the Red sea for you, when ye came out of Egypt; and what ye did unto the two kings of the Amorites, that were on the other side Jordan, Sihon and Og, whom ye utterly destroyed.  And as soon as we had heard these things, our hearts did melt, neither did there remain any more courage in any man, because of you: for the LORD your God, he is God in heaven above, and in earth beneath.")  Hearing can bring faith.

Let me show you some verses this lady did NOT have.  "Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you."  (1st Peter 5:7)   And "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need."  (Hebrews 4:16)    Or "Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened."  (Matthew 7:7-8) We today are so blessed!  (Yet God has proved Himself faithful again and again ... whether in Old Testament or New!  Praise His Name!)

Our study is now completed.

I'm so thankful we have examined these verses.

                                                                                    --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

LESSON 12 ... TYING IT ALL TOGETHER:

Yesterday I saw something thrilling!

I was studying a text in the Book of Acts.

Somehow I came across the word "vessel."

As you know we have been looking at one of Elisha's miracles this week, the one where many empty vessels were filled with oil.  It's recorded in 2 Kings 4:1-7.

The paragraph I was reading was comparing us to vessels.  That of course is a Biblical word picture for sure.

Here's what I saw.  It deals with the great Apostle Paul.

In Acts 9:15 the Lord calls Paul a vessel, a "chosen" vessel!  "But the Lord said unto him (Ananias), Go thy way: for he (Saul/Paul) is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel."  This conversation occurs shortly after Saul's (Paul's) salvation.

Other passages in Scriptures compare people to vessels also. 

Romans 9:21 does so.  "Hath not the potter (the Lord) power over the clay (we humans), of the same lump to make one vessel unto honour, and another unto dishonour?"  And Verse 22 mentions His "vessels of wrath" while Verse 23 talks about His "vessles of mercy!"

And in 1 Thessalonians 4:4 Paul longs for us:  "That every one of you should know how to possess his vessel in sanctification and honour."  Wow!  (Our vessels here are our very bodies!)

And in 2 Timothy 2:21 Paul, in a "classic" use of the term, says:  "If a man therefore purge himself from these (sins), he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master's use, and prepared unto every good work." Live godly clean lives!

And even Peter uses the word as he teaches us husbands how to live with our wives.  "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."

So Biblically I can say that Elisha's miracle in 2 Kings 4, the one about a widow lady ... in debt heavily ... with two young sons ... and temporarily owner of nothing but one pot of oil ... but about to borrow many more ... which will all be filled with oil ... has real meaning!   It pictures many clay pots or vessels ("types" of us believers) who are initially empty!  Empty vessels!

Empty pots that need to be filled with oil!

Do remember that in the Bible "oil" is a type or picture or symbol of the Holy Spirit of God.

So we have empty vessels (Believers) who need oil (Holy Spirit) in order to help others!

This miracle has become a parable too!

Well, back to my Acts verses.

I began by saying that Acts 9:15 calls Paul a "chosen vessel."  It does.

But two verses later God says that Paul is about to be FILLED with the Holy Spirit!  "And Ananias went his way, and entered into the house; and putting his hands on him said, Brother Saul, the Lord, even Jesus, that appeared unto thee in the way as thou camest, hath sent me, that thou mightest receive thy sight, and be filled with the Holy Ghost."   Wow!

Paul, the vessel, filled with the Holy Spirit!

(Another empty vessel ... filled with oil!)

Acts 9 provides the "key" to interpreting a miracle in 2 Kings 4!

That's simply comparing Scripture with Scripture.  And it is a valid means of Bible Study!  (An ESSENTIAL means!)

And the Lord God is the Author of both the Acts and the 2 Kings Passages!

This Saturday we all should spend some dedicated time with our Lord ... asking Him to fill us (vessels) with His Spirit (oil) as we approach the Lord's Day tomorrow. 

That will make a difference!

Amen!

                                                                             --- Dr. Mike Bagwell

 

 

I TRUST THAT THESE TWELVE LESSONS HAVE BEEN HELPFUL TO YOU IN YOUR CHRISTIAN LIFE!  THEY TRULY TEACH A BIBLE PRINCIPLE:  "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit."  Ephesians 5:18

 

 

 

May the Lord bless you for studying the "2 Kings 4:1-7" Page!

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