I love reading 2 Kings 4, with the stories of Elisha and the poor woman, as well as the rich woman who makes a room for Elisha the prophet to come and stay. The story of the poor woman with two children reminds me of my own personal story. The woman has lost her husband and she is responsible for two children.
She takes her needs to God from what we glean from the text. She approaches Elisha and tells him her current situation, and the possibility that the creditors would take her sons as slaves as they have threatened. Elisha first asks, “What can I do to help you,” but then wants to know what the woman has in her home. She answers, “Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil.” Read that again. First she says, “Nothing at all.” But then she continues EXCEPT a flask of olive oil. The woman didn’t have much, but she had a flask of olive oil.
Elisha tells her to have her sons collect empty jars from the neighbors. Then they are commanded to shut the door and pour the oil into the empty jars. We read that EVERY container is full—and not just full, but FULL TO THE BRIM. There was no more room for anything more. God provided and He did so in abundance. Today, remember that we serve a big God. Quit focusing on the “nothing at all” and press onward. Quit settling for good things when you were made for GREAT things. Dive into His Word, fall upon your knees, and allow Him to speak life into your dry bones. Allow Him to get you back on the narrow path, re-energized and refocused.
“Soon every container was full to the brim! ‘Bring me another jar,’ she said to one of her sons. ‘There aren’t any more!’ he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.” – 2 Kings 4:6 [NLT]
When Elisha gathered around with the sons of the prophets, there was a famine. Barrenness, sickness, affliction and famine were seen as judgment from God for sin. As we read again and again, the curse of sin is judgment and death.
These people were in search for food. When they went around to gather something to eat, they gathered wild gourds. From the text, it did not seem that they knew what the food would bring. They simply wanted to fill their need for food. But when they added this unknown item into the stew, it became deadly. They cried out, “There is DEATH IN THE POT.” Elisha had to add flour to the stew for it to become safe to eat.
We often try to add things into our daily lives to fill voids. We are facing a famine – the curse of sin. Through Christ alone the curse is no longer. We grab anything we can to fill our needs; however, we do not always understand what we truly need. Elisha poured flour into the deadly stew. In the same way, we can seek to eat from the Word of God, and become blessed by the “meal” of Christ. Through prayer and God’s Word we are sanctified. In 1 Timothy 4:4-5 we read: “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer” (NASB). It doesn’t matter how deadly the stew of your life has become; nothing is too dead for God to raise back to life. He will repair. He will revive. He will restore. He will redeem.
“One of them went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds, and came and cut them up into the pot of stew, not knowing what they were. And they poured out some for the men to eat. But while they were eating of the stew, they cried out, ‘O man of God, there is death in the pot!’ And they could not eat it.” – 2 Kings 4:39-40 [ESV]
All is well. Shalom. That is what we read in 2 Kings 4 twice—both times from the Shunammite’s mouth. The prophet Elisha passed by her home often and the Shunammite wanted to make a room for him. What an awesome gesture to make a room for the man of God. If only we each made room like that for God in our lives.
The Shunammite was blessed by God with a son but one day while the son was with his father, he fell ill and died. The Shunammite woman had her son carried to the bed of the man of God. He was laid on the bed and she left. As she saddled the donkey, she was asked why she was headed to Elisha on this day. She said, “ALL IS WELL.” When she came upon Gehazi, she again said, “ALL IS WELL,” before she fell at Elisha’s feet.
All is well. Shalom. The word means completeness or peace. What a great thought—peace! But how can one have peace when their son lay dead?!? How can a person say, “All is well” when it doesn’t appear that everything is okay? This woman was without a son for so very long and now her prized son was dead. All is well. Shalom. Why? Because she had her eyes fixed on God and she allowed Him to move into her house and into her life. Her circumstances might have been painful, but all was well. She loved and feared the God of the impossible. He moved into her home—and he moved in her life. So too He can in yours. As the hymnist Horatio Spafford wrote, “It is well, it is well with my soul.”
“And he said, ‘Why will you go to him today? It is neither new moon nor Sabbath.’ She said, ‘All is well’ … Run at once to meet her and say to her, ‘Is all well with you? Is all well with your husband? Is all well with the child?’ And she answered, ‘All is well.’” – 2 Kings 4:23, 26 [ESV]
Reading John 4:4-42
Beyond the Text: Samaritans
Samaria was destroyed by the Assyrians in 722 B.C. but was resettled by pagan people to replace the Israelites. “Each national group made its own gods in the several towns where they settled… They worshiped the LORD, but they also
served their own gods in accordance with the customs of the nations from which they had been brought.” The Samaritans stemmed from a mixture of surviving North Israelites (Jews) with various foreigners – people from Babylon, Cuthah, Avva, Hamath, and Sepharvaim (see 2 Kings 17). The Samaritans were forbidden to help build the temple in Jerusalem (Ezekiel 4:3-4) so they set up their own temple on Mount Gerizim (the site actually commanded by Moses for the temple according to their understanding of Deuteronomy 12:5. These bad feelings continued—in 128 B.C. John Hyrcanus, a Jewish high priest, invaded Samaria and destroyed their temple. Later the Samaritans sneaked into the temple in Jerusalem and defiled it by scattering corpses all around. In the days Jesus walked the earth, the Jews had no dealings with Samaritans (John 4:9). Many strict Jews would walk the long way to get to their destination to avoid walking though Samaria. The Samaritans considered themselves Jews but they worshiped in their own distinctive way. They were devoted to the Law and kept the festivals. They expected the coming of a prophet (see Deuteronomy 18:15-19). They did not acknowledge the Jerusalem temple. The used their own version of the Pentateuch (first five books of the Bible). Some scholars believe they did not believe in the resurrection of the dead.
The story of the Woman of Samaria or the Woman at the Well is the longest documented discussion a person had with Jesus that we find in the Bible. What does this say about salvation?
What was the woman’s response when Jesus asked for water? Why? (v. 9)
When Jesus spoke of living water, what was the woman’s focus? (v. 11)
When the woman asked for the water Jesus offered, what was her reason? (v. 15)
Jesus mentioned the woman had five husbands and was now living with a man that was not her husband. How did the woman react to His statement? (v. 19-20)
The woman stated that she knew the Messiah was coming. Jesus’ response was “I who speak to you am He” (v. 26). Jesus did not travel around professing that He is the Messiah. Why was this situation different than others?
Theme Discussion – Barriers
Peter, Andrew, James and John were fisherman. They left behind their fishing nets to follow Jesus. In verse 28, we read that the woman left her water jar and went into the town to tell people to come and see Jesus. The water jar was valuable to the woman (for daily water needs, costly to replace). To be in a closer relationship with Jesus, one must leave behind the past (sin) and remove any barriers. One of the devil’s greatest joys is to keep us surrounded by barriers to keep our eyes off of Jesus, to keep our eyes out of the Word and to keep our mouth from proclaiming the Good News.
Approaching this woman at the well broke many barriers. What barriers did Jesus break?
We can see two sides of the spectrum when we look at Jesus and the woman from Samaria. Jesus represents grace, the woman represents law. Jesus represents everlasting life. The woman represents everyday life. When Jesus mentioned her situation (living in sin), she changed the conversation from relationship to religion. How do we put up barriers? How can we be a bridge?
When she understood Who Jesus is, what did she do? What happened when the barriers were removed and the eyes were opened? (v 28-30, 39-42).
What barriers keep you from being in a closer relationship with Jesus?
We often keep our Father waiting. We don’t spend time with Him. We go through our entire day and don’t even speak to Him or even think of Him. Sometimes we walk away. And as the father in the story of the Prodigal Son, our Father waits. He’s always reaching out, always wanting us to just speak to Him—to have a relationship with Him.
In Psalm 90:12, Moses said, “So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom” (ESV). He understood time was our most valuable possession. As such, we must always be reviewing how we spend our time because that’s our priority in life. Is God your top priority—your number one priority?
Matthew 13:45-46 speaks of the pearl of great value. This pearl was found and because of the great value, the merchant sold ALL that he had just so he could buy it. But what do we do? Sometimes we do not consider our pearl of great value – Jesus, our prized possession. Instead we choose lesser pearls in life (possessions, power, pleasures).
You need to make room for God’s presence. In 2 Kings 4:8 we read about Elisha going to Shunem. A wealthy woman there fed Elisha when he passed through. She spoke with her husband about building a room for him—she wanted that man of God to come whenever he passed through and stay at her place. Do you have a place where you go to read your Bible or pray? A special place to push away the noise of the world and fix your eyes on Him? In Matthew 6:6, before Jesus tells the disciples how to pray, he tells them to “go into your room and shut the door” (ESV). Why? To shut out the worldly noise.
Routine – Not Routine
Routines are great. They help you to get a better night’s sleep. They help you to have less stress in life. But the issue is that sometimes routines are like traditions. The Bible doesn’t speak about too many traditions we are to keep. Most of the traditions we have are man-made traditions. I love traditions but sometimes we find our hearts not ii them because it’s simply routine. Like this man I met once. He sang the words, “Jesus loves me, the silo.” Yes, that’s not how the song goes, but he didn’t know that. He heard it wrong and continued to sing it wrong for over a decade. He didn’t know the truth—his life was built around tradition. Only when he was an adult did he learn what those words truly were and what the song truly meant.
In Luke 18, we read of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector. The Pharisee was all about tradition. He was going to the Temple to pray. He was fasting twice a week. He was tithing from all that he got. Yes, he was going through the motions, but his heart was proud. He didn’t have his heart fixed on God. The Tax Collector, he stood before God as a humble man, emotionally beating his chest. He recognized his need for God. He truly was baring his heart before God. That’s what God wants. He wants honest, raw, truth. He wants you to open up and pour out your heart. And He wants your ears to listen when He responds.
With our human eyes, we see what is there and we consider that to be our resources. When I look into my refrigerator and see a gallon of iced tea, I understand that is all I have. At the same time, I know I have the money to get more tea so it does not worry me. There are moments though when we do not have the resources in our hands or in our bank accounts. There is nothing there to bring about a certain something in our lives. We do not have enough we then say.
It could be the funds necessary to put down a security deposit and first month’s rent to move into a new place because you have to move. It could be money that is needed to evaluate your car after the “check engine” light shined bright. It could be new shoes for your children because they have outgrown yet another pair. Whatever it is, you find yourself saying, “There’s not nearly enough.”
This servant looked around at the people and then he looked at the available resources. There’s not enough. There’s not enough. The servant said there wasn’t enough. But Elisha responded, “God says there’s plenty.” God says there’s plenty. Do you think God forgot about you? Do you think that when you need something, it won’t be there? God says there’s plenty. When the need truly arises, the need is met. God says there’s plenty. Trust it will come and it will be enough.
“His servant said, ‘For a hundred men? There’s not nearly enough!’
Elisha said, ‘Just go ahead and do it. God says there’s plenty.’”
-2 Kings 4:43-44 [MSG]
We all can think back to a time when we expected that something would go differently. Even things we have prayed for did not turn out the way that we had imagined in our minds. When I was a teenager, one of the hardest periods of my life was when the healing I expected for my Grandfather did not come. Sometimes God has another plan—a better plan. We cannot always understand it. We cannot necessarily predict it. Honestly speaking, there are moments when we don’t always like it either because we cannot see the bigger picture.
Naaman had leprosy. He expected that Elisha would come out to him and wave his hands over the leprosy and call on the name of God to heal him. Naaman expected to stand there and watch Elisha summon the Lord for healing. Instead, Elisha gives him directions via a messenger. He was to wash in the Jordan seven times—the Jordan River, not even the most likely body of water for healing in Naaman’s eyes. Naaman became angry, so angry that he stalked away.
There are moments when we get angry. We expected something to turn out differently. We followed the path God directed us to take but it is not like we expected. There’s suffering. There’s hardship. There’s challenges. There’s mountains to climb. It’s not all rainbows and butterflies. It takes work. This is not what we expected. Today, don’t let your expectations cloud you from your focus on God who has something for you that is beyond your expectation. When something doesn’t go the way you expected, trust that He has a better plan.
“But Naaman became angry and stalked away. ‘I thought he would certainly come out to meet me!”’he said. ‘I expected him to wave his hand over the leprosy and call on the name of the LORD his God and heal me!’” – 2 Kings 5:11 [NLT]