The story of the Widow’s Oil in 2 Kings 4 reveals a miracle of provision. Can we learn something from it and apply it to our lives? Does God still provide for his people in miraculous ways? We’ll talk about it on this MoneyWise.
- We should always have faith that God will provide because He promises to, and He is always faithful. On the other hand, God is not an ATM machine, even though some people misinterpret the Widow’s Oil passage to mean something like that.
- It’s often used by proponents of the so-called “Prosperity Gospel,” or “Name it and claim it” followers, to imply that God will always answer your prayers with financial or material gain. Of course, that’s not at all what the Widow’s Oil story is about.
- Here’s what the passage is really saying, starting with the first verse in 2 Kings 4, “Now the wife of one of the sons of the prophets cried to Elisha, ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, but the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.” What can we take from that?
- A couple of things, first, that the widow’s husband had been faithful and was deserving of God’s provision. But also, the creditor is acting against Jewish law by abusing a widow and orphans, and further, by threatening to enslave fellow Jews, which was also illegal.
- That sets the stage for what follows in verse 2. There we read, “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.’” What can we make of that?
- It’s saying that we have a part to play in God’s provision. He expects us to use what we have, even if it’s only one jar of oil. God will often use what we already have to provide, in ways we can’t imagine.
- Scripture also has something to say about “small beginnings.” Zechariah 4:10 reads, “Do not despise these small beginnings, for the Lord rejoices to see the work begin.”
- Sometimes we don’t expect God to provide because we lack confidence in the resources He’s already given us. But when we fully grasp that God owns everything and that His resources are unlimited, our faith in His provision will grow and so will our gratitude for what He's provided.
- Let’s move on in 2 Kings 4 to verses 3 and 4, as Elisha speaks to the widow:
- “Then he said, ‘Go outside, borrow vessels from all your neighbors, empty vessels and not too few. Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.”
- There are several lessons here. First, the widow was obedient. She did exactly what Elisha, as God’s representative, told her to do. We must also be obedient as we expect God’s provision. That means following His financial principles found throughout the Bible.
- Second, the widow didn’t rely on her own resources. She went to her neighbors and asked for help by providing additional containers for the oil. It’s not always easy to ask others for help when we need it, and we can’t let our pride stand in the way.
- And third, we learn that God will put people in your life who want to help you if the need is real and you ask with humility. That won’t always be with money. It could be other resources or maybe important information or advice that will help you turn things around. So again, don’t go it alone.
- Okay, continuing on with verses 5 and 6, “So she went from him and shut the door behind herself and her sons. And as she poured they brought the vessels to her. When the vessels were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not another.’ Then the oil stopped flowing.”
- Here we see the widow acting with humility. Can you imagine the temptation she must have felt to throw open the doors and tell the neighbors to see what she was doing? But the widow knew it was God’s hand at work, not hers, and she resisted any urge to claim credit for the miracle.
- Just one more verse: In verse 7 we read, “She came and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on the rest.’”
- Here again, we see that we have a part to play. The widow’s role wasn’t finished— she still had to sell the oil in the marketplace and pay off the creditor. But we also see that God provides exactly what was needed.
- Not only did the widow have enough to satisfy the creditor, but there was enough left over to live on until her sons could start providing for her, which was the custom of the day. Otherwise, she still would have been destitute and may have gone into debt again.
- The overall lesson in 2 Kings 4 is that in our weakness … we see God’s strength. We’re reminded of our dependence on God.
On this program, Rob also answers listener questions:
- What are your options for building credit?
- Should you buy out a vehicle at the end of a lease?
Remember, you can call in to ask your questions most days at (800) 525-7000 or email them to Questions@MoneyWise.org. Also, visit our website at MoneyWise.org where you can connect with a MoneyWise Coach, join the MoneyWise Community, and even download the free MoneyWise app.