2 Kings 4 The Widow and the Oil.
All through history bad things have happened to good people. It is nothing new. Back around 850BC in the northern kingdom of Israel things were in a bad way. The land was being ruled by a king who ignored God and all the people were suffering. The king and country were trusting in their own strength and resources and not trusting in God. The people and land suffered on a large scale but the suffering was also on an individual and family level.
In 2 Kings 4 the passage tells of a woman whose husband was a decent and godly prophet but he died leaving her with huge debts. She was on the brink of disaster and the debt collectors were threatening to take her children into slavery to pay the bills. This would not only be a huge emotional loss but would ultimately mean the widow could die of starvation because her children would not be there to look after her as she grew older. There was no Centrelink back in the day and it was the children’s job to take care of their elderly parents.
The widow cried out for help to Elisha who was a well-known prophet of God. Elisha heard her plea – how she had lost her husband and was now about to lose her children and asked her what she did have left. The widow replied that she had nothing in the house except a little bit of oil in a jar. Elisha told the widow to go and borrow as many empty jars as she could from her neighbours. He said that she would need lots and lots – not just a few. The widow must have felt strange doing this but she did what she was told and trusted that God was helping her through His man, Elisha.
Elisha instructed the widow to begin pouring out oil from her jar into all the vessels she had collected and not to stop until every single one was full. The widow did what she was told and the oil did not run out until every single jar was full. There was enough oil for the widow to pay her debt collectors and still have enough to live on for a while.
Although the main point of this story is that God cares for the widows and orphans like the one in 2 Kings 4, there is also a bigger picture at work. The nation of Northern Israel was ignoring God and trusting in its own resources and wisdom, and it was a disaster; the nation was a mess. This poor widow on the brink of losing everything trusted God and God answered her needs.