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 the prophet Elijah met with Ahab, there is an exchange that speaks volumes. Ahab says to Elijah, “So, my enemy, you have found me!” He is called an enemy. Elijah an enemy? He is a prophet of the Lord. He was used by God to raise someone from the dead. He predicted a drought. He is used by God to confront the prophets of Baal when God reigned down fire. God spoke to him outside a cave with a low whisper. Elijah is taken up to heaven with chariots of fire and horses of fire. Elijah an enemy?!?
The word Ahab spoke—enemy—in Hebrew means adversary, enemy, and foe. Why did Ahab use this word? Why did Ahab see Elijah as an enemy? Look at Elijah’s response; it says a lot. He said, “I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the LORD’s sight.” Truth. Elijah spoke truth. That is what made him an enemy. Evil hates truth.
When we boldly stand for the truth, we will find ourselves to be seen as the enemy. It doesn’t mean we are in the wrong, but that we are shining a light—the Light—in a dark world, a world that hates the light. John 3:19-20 states: “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed” [ESV].
“’So, my enemy, you have found me!’ Ahab exclaimed to Elijah. ‘Yes,’ Elijah answered, ‘I have come because you have sold yourself to what is evil in the LORD’s sight.’” – 1 Kings 21:20 [NLT]
The woman at the well appeared surprised to be approached by Jesus as she was a Samaritan and Jews did not have relations with Samaritans. As the longest documented conversation Jesus had with anyone continued, Jesus tore down barriers as she focused on division.
For Jesus to approach her was unseen of at this time, not only because she was a Samaritan. He was a rabbi and a rabbi would not speak to a woman in public. He was sinless and she was a sinner. Barriers and more barriers. As the conversation continued, the barriers can be seen again and again. She was focused on physical human limitations. She was focused on her physical needs, on what would make her life easier. When Jesus mentioned her living arrangements, rather than address the sin she switched the subject. She again put up a barrier. She addressed religion when Jesus addresses relationship.
Each of us have a choice to have a relationship with Jesus Christ or to focus on something or someone else. We can put up barriers again and again. Jesus still reaches across the barriers and invites us to do life with Him. Today evaluate your life and look for any barriers you might have that keep you from your walk with Jesus. Are you drowning in sin? Are you following God’s will? These items are barriers to your relationship with Jesus. Are you spending time each day in the Word? Do you pray daily? Do you listen to the Holy Spirit? Are you serving? Are you actively involved with a church? These items are bridges that bring you closer to Him. You can build up barriers or build up bridges. Choose life.
“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach–if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” – Colossians 1:19-23 [NASB]
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.
King Aram told his commanders not to fight with anyone except Ahab king of Israel but King Ahab had a plan to foil any possible injury. He decided he would wear a disguise in battle. To throw the people off of him, he told Jehoshaphat to still wear his royal robes. Off they went into battle.
When first reading this one would bet that King Ahab would get away with this deception and King Jehoshaphat would meet his doom. It has the perfect storyline for a television or movie action sequence with the antagonist plot and this somewhat innocent ally. But God intervenes. The commanders see that they were chasing the wrong man. Even more, someone randomly, yes randomly, hit the king of Israel, right between the breastplate and his scale armor. That is not an easy shot.
What does this say to us? The prophet Micaiah spoke out against Ahab, prophesying doom when asked if the kings should go to war against Ramoth Gilead. The Word of God stands always. There is no hiding from the Truth. God will see His work to completion.
“When the chariot commanders saw Jehoshaphat, they said, ‘There he is! The king of Israel!’ and took after him. Jehoshaphat yelled out, and the chariot commanders realized they had the wrong man—it wasn’t the king of Israel after all. God intervened and they let him go.”
-2 Chronicles 18:31-32 [MSG]
Naaman had leprosy. He was instructed by Elisha to dip himself into the Jordan River seven times. When Naaman did this he was healed. But it didn’t say that he was simply healed of the condition. The Bible says that “his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s.”
I do not have any skin problems but if I would have a rash or wound, after it healed, my skin would still show some signs of aging. Skin ages and one can look at any department store to find a variety of different lotions claiming to help reduce the signs of aging. But for Naaman, his skin went from the worst possible condition (leprosy) to healthy skin that was like a young child.
This healing is another great demonstration that God does not simply fix us, but He makes us new. The skin was not simply fixed. It now was healthy skin like that of a young child. God can make you new as well. Give Him your life and see.
“So Naaman went down to the Jordan River and dipped himself seven times, as the man of God had instructed him. And his skin became as healthy as the skin of a young child’s, and he was healed!” – 2 Kings 5:14 [NLT]
I always remind the kids to shut the door behind them as they are heading outside on the cold days. By doing this, they keep the cold air outside where it belongs. There are two times in 2 Kings 4 where we read “shut the door behind.”
First there is the widow who is instructed by Elisha to take her two sons and enter their house and “shut the door.” Then they were to pour olive oil into empty jars they collected from neighbors and continue that process until there were no jars left so that they could pay for their debts. Then later, when Elisha went to raise the Shunammite’s son, “he went in alone and shut the door behind him.”
Both of these instances they shut the door behind them. Both of these instances included miracles. Sometimes we need to shut things out so we have no distractions and can watch as God performs a great miracle. Everything from the world was shut out so all focus was on God and what He was doing for this widow and her sons and this son of the Shunammmite woman. Today, perhaps you need to shut the door and see what God has waiting for you.
“Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.” – 2 Kings 4:4 [NLT]
“He went in alone and shut the door behind him and prayed to the LORD.” – 2 Kings 4:33 [NLT]
Micaiah prophesies against Ahab. Whenever the king of Israel consulted with him, it was always trouble. Nothing but trouble. Ahab did not like to hear what Micaiah would say—all this trouble. The problem was the way he was living was the reason for the trouble.
Ahab did not like to hear the truth. It was clear to see that because Ahab was not following the ways of the Lord, he was facing these troubles. Nonetheless, Ahab felt that he could get better news delivered from someone else. You’ve heard the statement – “You can’t handle the truth.” Well Ahab couldn’t. It meant that life wasn’t all about him. It meant change. It meant sacrifice.
Today are you in the same denial? Do you avoid certain people because they speak truth?
“’Didn’t I tell you?’ the king of Israel exclaimed to Jehoshaphat. ‘He never prophesies anything but trouble for me.’” – 1 Kings 22:18 [NLT]
I just finished working on this new project, Settling Down With God: A Study of 1 Kings. Funny enough, when God gave me the title, I initially thought that He wanted me to write about coping with AdHd in a biblical manner, because AdHd is something that both my daughter and I have learned to deal with over the years. Nonetheless, I waited for His direction and later learned that I was way off course.
I was very excited to dig deeper into 1 Kings for this project, as it is always a book I enjoy reading. There is so much there; I am always amazed.
For my first three books, and my 4th book (the Daily Good complimentary 14-day Devotional), I actually used my own personal photography. Each of the photos on all four of those books were taken in Australia. I wanted to do things differently this time around. My daughter is quite the artist and I asked if she could design the book cover. She merely was told that it was a Bible study book on 1 Kings.
As my daughter completed the book cover, I was working on the text. When we both were finished, my daughter sat by my side and helped to edit the cover till it was as she thought best for her vision. She told me that the puzzle pieces were used on the cover because it represents how each one of us is a special piece, we each are different, but we belong to one body. Then she said at the same time, our lives are made up of different pieces. I was so impressed by what she has already learned so far, to see her vision brought to life, and to work with her on this project.
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This lesson is a Bible Study Lesson on 2 Kings 3: Are You a Ditch Digger. This lesson is geared toward youth and adult Bible study groups.
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King Mesha made a promise to King Ahab regarding a tribute to pay. When King Ahab died, King Mesha decided he would not keep his promise. Was there a moment when you did not keep your promise? What happened because of this broken promise?
King Jehoshaphat was considered a good king, but what poor choice did he make that got him into trouble? Have you made a similar choice? Bad company corrupts good character. Could King Jehoshaphat have done things differently to still help King Joram out or was there no good way to move forward with helping him?
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