Beth Moore — The Widow’s Oil
But we open to Elisha's narrative and I want to tell you a little something about Elisha. He was just out plowing in a field one day when Elijah… so to keep them separate, Elijah preceded Elisha. Elijah just passes by him. Elisha is just plowing in the field. I wonder who is just plowing along in life? You never know when something is going to happen to you when you're just like plowing along in life.
So Elisha is plowing along. Elijah comes up to him and throws his mantle on the man's back. He's going like, "I'm plowing here." But unlike that darling little barista, he didn't say, "I do not want your jacket." It was like, "Whoa! What is hitting me?"
This wonderful passage at the very end of the gospel of Luke, Jesus tells his disciples, "You stay right where you are until you are cloaked with power from on high." Now it is my prayer that in the coming series that we're going to share together that we're just going to get a fresh cloaking of power. Anybody want that? And I'm talking about the kind that is so Jesus that you don't take credit for it.
Wouldn't it be something if we could have a humble enough spirit that Jesus could really entrust some supernatural power to us? What would it take?
So I want you to look into the narrative with me. It is Second Kings four, verses one and two.
Now we're going to get all the way to seven but it will be a while. So start with me in verses one and two -- Second Kings four, one and two. If you don't have a Bible, I'm going to read it to you anyway.
Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, "Your servant, my husband is dead. And you know your servant feared the Lord but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves."
And Elisha said to her, "What shall I do for you? Tell me! What have you in the house?"
And she said, "Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil." I want you to sit tight right there particularly in that very first verse of Second Kings chapter four, and I want you to see the story line that begins right here. I think you might find this a little bit interesting. I'm a history nut, so is my husband, so we are like just constantly in some kind of book -- constantly putting some pieces together.
I love biblical history, he loves Texas history. I mean we are wear it collides into one house. Here's what I found out. According to Jewish tradition, and when I say "tradition" don't think automatically myth. Remember there's the truth of the Word of God but that doesn't mean that other texts have no truth in them.
It means this is the Word of God. This is the scriptures like nothing else, but we can look at many historical... it would be like an encyclopedia as opposed to the sacred text of the scriptures.
So early Jewish tradition, and the Jewish historian Josephus and the Targums, I'm going to throw this out to you so you'll see that it has got some real meat attached to it, that is the Aramaic portions of the Old Testament -- the Targums -- they believed that this was Obadiah's wife. So through history it was passed down that that was her identity.
Now we don't know who it is, we just know that he was one of the servants of Elisha, and one of the prophets and sons of the prophets. So we don't have a name but Jewish tradition says that this is Obadiah's wife.
Now here's why, if it is, that is an interesting story to you and me because we can relate to this a whole lot better than we think we can at first. If it is Obadiah, there is this place in scripture, if you want to jot this down so you can study it later, by all means do, First Kings 18:3-4. That's where we would learn that Obadiah was a man of God, a mighty man of God and he was over King Ahab's household. King Ahab was king over the people of God in this kingdom at the time.
Now King Ahab, if you've got any kind of biblical history you might have heard of a woman by the name of Jezebel. And when a woman is called a Jezebel they do not mean that as a compliment. She is the original Jezebel.
So here was Obadiah. He watched over, he managed this house. Well, she goes absolutely nuts and she tries to destroy all of the prophets of God in Israel. So Obadiah -- now this part we know for an absolute fact.
This Obadiah takes 100 of the prophets into a cave. He hides them in caves and then he feeds them, the scripture says, you check it for yourselves, First Kings 18:3-4, he fed them bread and water. Now so what I'm telling you is that tradition is passed down from that time to the present that this is Obadiah's wife.
It would help explain why she is in so much debt because he would have used so much of what they had to feed all of these prophets bread and water. So it would also explain why she could march herself up to Elisha and go, "You've got to help me here. Your servant has died and they are coming for my children." So the fact that -- you know there is some kind of tie because she is holding him, in many ways responsible. "You've got to help me. He helped you. You help me."
And I want you to see something. What if it is so -- what if it is true that that was her husband? Can you imagine because that would have been a man powerfully used by God; that's a true hero when you think about it, if he was used to spare 100 prophets' lives. So imagine that our country is like folding on top of itself, and someone takes different pastors of God in a time of terrible persecution and hides them away.
We would call that person a hero. If that's her husband, he was a true hero. Before there was Schindler's list, there was Obadiah's list. Now that we know for sure; what we don't know for sure is, is this that man's wife? If it is, it makes the story even more interesting because... I'm going to give you point number one out of three points we're going to do in this series together.
Number one is this: Personal desperation can jar us out of secondhand stories because... personal desperation can jar us -- that's going to be a key word to us in this series -- out of secondhand stories. Everybody got that down? Because I'm going to want you to say it right back to me. What were those first two words? Personal desperation can jar us out of what? -- Secondhand stories. -- Because if that's who her husband was he had been the big one.
I just wonder, when you associate the power of God with the day in which we live, if you believe, even if you've got limited knowledge of the scriptures, even if you don't know yet what to do with Jesus Christ, do you believe that there's a God present and active in this world system somehow? And if you do, I want to ask you a question today. Do you associate him with someone else or is it you?
Because what can often happen is we know God is powerful because look what he's doing! And we find ourselves, our salvation may have been intimate but from that point on, we'll so often find ourselves operating out of a secondhand relationship. It is about our pastor and may he be a mighty man of God -- maybe about your Bible teacher -- may he or she be mighty men and women of God.
But it's always somebody else -- no, I'm asking about you -- you! Because what happens is this, when that person is out of the picture or somehow steps aside, all of the sudden crisis happens to you and it becomes not what they're going to do in their struggle, what are you going to do with what you're going through?
A big question I've come to ask you. What are you going to do with what you're going through? Because listen, I know you're jarred with something because I'm just -- I'm 55, I'm old enough to know. I've lived enough life to know that there are very few of you tuning in today that have not got something in your present life that is jarring you.
And what can happen is that when we get into a situation where it is very personal -- anybody just like going through something very, very personal?There are corporate things, we go through corporate crises at work -- I'm not asking you about those things.
I'm asking you about your own life, your own heart, your own brokenness, whether you yourself feel rejected or betrayed or turned on? I'm talking about your own personal desperation that can jar you out of a secondhand story. And suddenly, you're in that movie for yourself, and it is you and it is Jesus.
The prophet Isaiah puts it like this, "In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw the Lord. I saw the Lord!" He had seen him through that king, operating in that king and around that king all of those years. Suddenly, he was out of the way. God bless him! And Isaiah was like, "He is high and lifted up."
Here's the thing. You and I are going to be talking some about personal desperation but what if you're in the situation that we're about to address here for just a few minutes where you're just going, "That's really not me. I've always got problems but I can't say that I'm just desperate right now."
In fact, I would tell you, if you ask me how I was, I would tell you, "I'm fine. I'm not great, but I'm not awful. I'm just fine -- I'm just fine!" Anybody?
You're thinking, I've been in desperation, I know what that's like. In my present, like today, no. I have not been home yet, today, but today, I have problems, some very specific problems, some of which I'm going to tell you about later in this series but I would not say that I've just been in a crisis of desperation like I have been very recently.
So okay, I fall a little more into that category of fine but here's what I want to throw out to you. Number one was: Personal desperation can do what? It can jar us out of what? It can jar us out of secondhand stories.
And number two is this: God didn't call us to "fine," he called us to faith. He didn't just call us to fine -- F-I-N-E, he called us to faith. What I pray is going to happen to us in this series is nothing less -- listen to this carefully -- than a revival of faith. I wonder, I just want to talk about like an old fashioned revival in a very new world.
I'm wondering, could anybody -- has it just been a while since you've been out there on the fringes where you just had to really believe God for something and if he did not come through you were not going to make it -- because that's where some life happens --
hat's where some life happens -- that's where miracles happen. It's been on my mind because some months ago in the spring of this last year, my pastor, who is also my beloved son-in-law taught out of this text.
Now you're going to be relieved to know I'm not just bringing you a carbon copy of his message. It's been a couple of months or more than that now, that I poured back over it but it came to mean something to me, and I'm praying the same thing is going to happen to you. What will you do with it?
But here's the question he asked us and it just pierced my heart. He said to our whole congregation. He said this, "Do you want to experience the supernatural provision of God? Or do you just want to live a completely explainable life?"
I want to say that to you again because I want you to answer it for yourself. Do you -- I mean there's fine. Some of us just go, "I'll go along with fine." Okay, so you've got one turn here on planet earth and so you just want to go, dude, just be fine. Just be fine! Or do you want to live an extraordinary life? Do you want to live on the miraculous provision of the supernatural?
Do you want to see the miraculous in your life or do you just want to live a life that, when it comes to the end of it, is very easy to explain? I was just like -- I'm a student at heart so I'm taking notes down so hard it's nearly ripping through the page. Does anybody know what I'm talking about? And I write down in my notes, I want to experience -- I'm just like -- I want to experience the supernatural provision of God!
We're here one time -- are you kidding me? We're just going to -- let mediocrity just like pass our time, one day after another, just be like everybody else when we have the living spirit of the son of God in us, if we've received Christ? Are you kidding me?
No! I get bored too easy. I'm not interested in that. I want to live -- I want to experience the miraculous. I want to see it. I want to know it.