Elisha’s miracles: The Widow’s oil and Boy Back to Life / Paul Arrives in Jerusalem: July 1st 2021

2 Kings 3:1-4:37

Joram, son of Ahab, became king of Israel. He wasn’t as bad as his notorious mother and father but still ‘did evil in the eyes of the Lord’ (2 Kings 3:2). He got rid of his father’s sacred stone. The Israelites continued to worship other idols in the tradition of Jeroboam.

Mesha, the king of Moab, rebelled against having to send a massive tribute of lambs and wool to Israel. Joram allied with King Jehoshaphat of Judah, and the king of Edom to fight against the Moabites. They unwisely marched their troops through the Desert of Edom and ran out of water after seven days. Elisha the prophet was with them. He would not have ignored the king of Israel, but, out of respect for Jehoshaphat, he told them to bring him a harpist. While the harpist played, the hand of the Lord came upon Elisha who prophesied that they should make ditches in the valley. Then, these ditches would be miraculously filled with water; Moab would be handed to them and they would ruin the country (2 Kings 3:19). It seems unusual that Elisha first asked for a harpist. However, David used to play the harp to drive away an evil spirit from King Saul (1 Samuel 16:23). Perhaps Elisha needed to drive away negative influences, as he was in the presence of the evil king of Israel, before God would speak to him.

The next morning, the ditches were miraculously filled with water (flowing from the direction of Edom). The sun shining on the water making it look like blood which encouraged the Moabites to attack, thinking the forces allied against them had attacked each other. The king of Moab, after the battle had gone against him, sacrificed his firstborn son on the city wall. The Israelites went back home after they had invaded the land, slaughtered the Moabites, destroyed the towns and ruined the fields.

God carried out a multiplication miracle through Elijah that allowed a widow to keep her sons with her. The widow only had a little oil in her house. She was instructed to ask her neighbours for empty jars. She was to take the jars into her house and shut the door behind her and her sons. She then poured the oil into the extra jars until they were all full at which time the oil stopped flowing. She was able to sell some oil to pay her debts and live off the rest of it. I like to think this miraculously produced oil would be the finest that people had ever tasted – like the magnificent wine that Jesus produced at Cana.

This type of multiplication miracle still happens today. Many have prayed successfully that a dish of prepared food will stretch to feed a host of unexpected guests. My pastor recalls when she was a missionary in Africa and had to keep her bread flour in tins – for fear of the weevils. When she came to make bread one day, all the tins were empty. There would be nothing for lunch. After praying, she checked a tin that she had already looked in earlier to find that it was miraculously full. God provides to those with faith.

A well-to-do woman often gave Elisha a meal whenever he passed and ended up making him a small guest room too. Elisha wanted to do something to repay her kindness. God loves the hospitable. Elisha prophesied that she would have a son in a year. She was childless and her husband was old. Her son was born as predicted but unfortunately died suddenly after he had grown into a boy. The woman rode off on a donkey looking for Elisha as she knew God would listen to him. She wouldn’t tell Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, what was wrong. She took hold of Elisha’s feet. She reminded him that she shouldn’t have been misled about having a son if he was going to die.

Gehazi ran on ahead of Elisha to lay Elisha’s staff on the boy’s face but there was no response. It took Elisha to pray to the Lord and to lie on the woman’s son twice in order for the Lord to bring him back to life. It is effective to remind God of his promises when we pray.

Acts 21:1-26

Disciples repeatedly warned Paul (through the Spirit) not to go to Jerusalem. However, he was not to be dissuaded. Paul was happy to be made captive and even to die for the name of the Lord Jesus (Acts 21:13).

Paul was able to travel with little expense as the disciples were so hospitable wherever he went, letting him stay in their homes.

Paul was received warmly in Jerusalem. He reported to the church elders how the Gentiles had responded to his ministry. The elders had a plan to placate thousands of Jewish converts to Christianity who had become convinced that Paul was leading Jews away from the Jewish law. They asked Paul to join four men in their purification rites after the completion of a vow to demonstrate that he still had respect for Jewish customs and lived according to the law. Paul dutifully joined in and went to the temple to give the customary notice. Paul was prepared to comply with any reasonable regulations if it meant he could continue his ministry.

Psalm 78:56-72

God brought David from the actual sheep pens to be the shepherd of his people (Psalm 78:70-71).

David was a man after God’s own heart and shepherded his people with skill and integrity (Ps.78:72).

The kings after David did not have his integrity. They rebelled and were disloyal and faithless. The whole country lost its integrity as God divided Israel from Judah.   

We should pray to God not only for wisdom but also for integrity – to be honest and have strong moral principles.

Jesus demonstrated integrity in everything he did (Mark 12:14). We can learn his ways by studying his word and living out his principles in our daily lives.

Image: Circle of Jan Pynas, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

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