The Mother Who Struck Oil at Home
Text: 2 Kings 4:1-7
Proposition: “I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
Introduction: “Write the name of the first man that God created.” The little boy went to the blackboard and wrote ADAM. “Now write the name of the first woman.” The little guy paused and then put an ‘M’ in front of ADAM.
Madam – her blood contains more water than mans.
- Her heart beats more rapidly than mans.
- Her lungs are smaller, head is shorter and face is broader.
- Her torso is longer, legs are shorter, the first finger of her hand is usually longer than the third finger, man’s are the opposite
- More than all these, Madam or mother is the one who carried us for 9 months, in whom we were formed by whom we were nurtured and loved.
Mothers Day is a time to recognize all women for the blessing they are to our families, our communities and to the Lord and His church around the world.
There has never been a mother who, in the upbringing of her family, in the cultivating of her marriage, in the struggle of making a living, hasn’t felt a sense of desperation, a time when her life seemed overwhelming. There is in the Bible a story of a woman whose life had hit one of those times of being overwhelmed. She had met some of the toughest foes that any family could ever meet… Death, Debt. Destitution and Desperation. The circumstances of her story are remarkable, extra ordinary… but the conclusions are for us all. It’s in 2 Kings 4:1-7
I. In This World You Will Have Trouble…
As you read the first verses it seems that this woman, this mother, has struggled to deal with the death or her husband. She had the struggle of dealing with the debt her husband left behind and now she has nothing left but her two sons. If the struggle of life had stopped there she may never have gone to Elisha. There are many who live right on the edge of destitution. But the trouble of this world did not stop there, the creditor was coming to take the only thing left, the value her sons represented as indentured servants or slaves. By law the creditor was able to do this in Jewish society. Exodus 21 laid out the details for what this would look like. They were allowed to purchase a servant but after seven years they had to release both the debt and the person. This creditor was going to take both her sons as payment of debt and there was no way past this. So in her desperation she goes to Elisha and cries out to him. She reminds Elisha that her husband had been a faithful servant, a godly man, a good husband. As a mother she pleads… not for more money or property… she pleads for the well being and freedom of her two sons. That’s what mothers do, they make life work as best as they are able and especially when it comes to their children. Mothers are resourceful and determined but more than that mothers have to know when to seek God, when to pray, when to have faith. Perhaps that’s exactly where this widow was when she goes and finds Elisha and lays her situation before him. Maybe a ‘take away’ for us is that when we come to God all we really need to do is lay our needs at His feet. Our version of what a solution could look like is unnecessary. It’s the bringing to God of the need that infers there is a faith in Him that He knows what to do about it. Look at how Elisha responds to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?” Elisha doesn’t give her the answer, he leads her to a discovery of it by faith.
II. When You Have Trouble, Take Heart!
When Jesus was meeting with the disciples on that evening of the Last Supper He knew what they would need for the days ahead. In John 16: 33 He says to them, “In this world you will have trouble. But take heart!...” There are so many things that can trouble any mother, the ability to provide for and protect her kids, the desire she has for their love even as she loves them with all of her heart. A little guy who struggled at school every day came home and ran up to his Mom and said, “Mom, guess what, I got 100 in school today… 50 in Math, 30 in English and 20 in History.” His joy was her joy even when the economics of it were a little skewed. Mothers need to take heart even when it seems like it’s in a very little thing. When Elisha asked what she had in her house her reply was brief, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Just a jar of oil, it wasn’t even worth offering it to the creditor. So Elisha tells her, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few.” Sometimes the way that God works doesn’t seem to make any sense to us but what we can tell is that something is about to happen. That sense of something happening because of the hand of God is what hope is made up of, it’s what taking heart is all about. I take heart not in the goodness of mankind nor in my own creativity, I take heart in the way that God knows exactly where I am and what I’m going through. He will use our faith and the slim resources right under our hand, He will use strange things like empty pots and a small jar of oil to reveal His love for us. The problem is, when God presents a solution we may very well reject it or even laugh at the very possibility of it. How ridiculous it might have seemed to be going around to all her neighbors asking to borrow whatever empty pots they might have had. Never mind the questions, the strange looks or even the looks from her own two sons as they helped her in this. Ridicule can never be what stops a mother from acting in her faith to God’s requests.
III. In This World You Will Have Trouble But Take Heart, I Have Overcome the World!
Elisha’s instructions were simple, “And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” In other words some things that God does in your life are for you and your children, they are between you and God. They are for your children to watch as you move with faith. Some things that God does in your life will require you pouring out what little it is you have. Some things that God does in your life will change the way of your trouble but it will require faith on your part. Some things that God will do in your life will leave a very sure evidence that it has been miraculous, like pots, twenty or thirty of them shimmering full to the brim with oil. She would be set free from her creditors, her children would be safe, her home restored and her future would have hope all because God can overcome the world.
The problem with these amazing stories is that we see them as historic events that happened way back then. Could God ever do that for me, could He meet me in the time of my trouble, can I too take heart? I suppose the answer to that depends on how you answer the last part of verse. When He said, “In this world you will have trouble but take heart, I have overcome the world.”, do you believe that? Can He, has He, overcome the world? It’s what the cross was all about wasn’t it. The creditor of sin was coming to make it’s claim upon us and we would most certainly be enslaved by it. Of our own resources we were powerless to turn it away. Sin would bring about death and there would be no escaping it unless there was a way to pay the debt… unless somehow, something or Someone was poured out. Someone so precious that what was in Him would more than pay my debt and set me free. It would also secure my life and create a future packed with hope. That’s exactly what Jesus did for us, it was Him being poured out to pay the price of my sin. It was His blood, His life that was poured out like precious oil. If the cross of Christ was the pouring of the oil, then the resurrection of Christ was the evidence of it’s effect. But there was something more, it demands my action, my choice, my faith to believe this was my only remedy.
If you were to come to Jesus this morning and ask Him to help you with whatever it is that is troubling you and He were to turn to you and simply ask, “What shall I do for you? What do you have in your house?” , what would you say? It’s not the things, not the furniture or clothes or electronics or appliances. What He’s looking for in your house is that very small thing that you have that He is inviting you to pour out. He’s inviting you to pour out your faith, small as you might think that is, pour it out in the belief that Jesus Christ alone can and will save you.
It’s Mother’s Day, the greatest gift she ever received is that faith in Jesus Christ that He has indeed overcome the world!