Chef's Surprise: Death Stew
Sermon on 2 Kings 4:38-41
Title: Chef’s Surprise: Death Stew
Theme: Elisha is God’s messenger to bring health back to God’s people again.
Goal: to encourage God’s people to follow the way of Elisha to life in God.
Need: the Israelites have abandoned God’s law and have replaced it with death.
a. I have had this feeling that when I ask this question that I’ve asked for the last several weeks I am going to get a little quicker response.
b. What are some of the themes of the life and times of Elisha?
i. Elisha has the Spirit of God in line with Elijah.
ii. God gives life to the obedient in surprising ways
iii. God punishes the disobedient with death.
2. Two themes shine through more clearly in this passage.
a. God punishes the disobedient with death
i. A famine in the land.
1. perhaps a flash of the promise the Elisha is in the line of Elijah. Elijah provided aide during the famine to the woman and her son.
2. Famine was a sign that God could withhold his blessing of rain. It wasn’t Baal but Yahweh who is over rain and storms. He gives life. He takes away.
3. Famine happened often as a punishment to the nation for their corperate sins.
ii. Must hear the allegory in this to catch the point for the people of the day and us today as well.
1. Famine is a sign that there is a lack of God.
a. There is no king in Israel again.
b. Like the time of the Judges even though there is a king on the throne
2. The Famine is a sign that they have forgotten God’s law. The law allowed the people to live. The law is missing so the people are unable to live the blessed life.
3. something needs to fill the nutritional gaps during the famine.
a. Some thing will fill the gaps of this life when God is not the king. Some other rule for life will fill the gap if God’s commands are not the way we are living.
b. Wild Vine
i. wild vine—literally, “the vine of the field,” supposed to be the colocynth, a cucumber, which, in its leaves, tendrils, and fruit, bears a strong resemblance to the wild vine. The “gourds,” or fruit, are of the color and size of an orange bitter to the taste, causing colic, and exciting the nerves, eaten freely they would occasion such a derangement of the stomach and bowels as to be followed by death. The meal which Elisha poured into the pot was a symbolic sign that the noxious quality of the herbs was removed.
ii. Wikipedia tells more saying that it was so violent of a laxitive and cathartic that those who ate this vine would bleed internally. An early abortion pill because of its violent reaction it created.
iii. No wonder it was called death.
iv. Apply to today. What do the pleasures around us do to us? What about God?
iii. Imagine the devastation of the prophets hoping to eat during the days of famine. A whole wasted stew and violently ill people of the group.
b. God gives life to the obedient in surprising ways.
i. This theme has come up all throughout the life of Elisha. I wonder if we today expect to flourish with life in unexpected places? Or do we become so comfortable that we believe true life is only possible when the routine is maintained. Do we expect to thrive or just get by?
ii. They need to eat.
iii. Elisha calls for something different:flour.
1. brings us back to think of the unthinkable act he did for the prophets up in Jericho. Throwing salt into their water to make it good. Blech.
2. Here he takes flour…. ! Flour, and he puts precious flour into the pot with the mystery sauce that had prophet randy running for the washroom. What is he thinking.
3. But look at the obedience. Elisha represents and brings the word of God. The prophets do this ridiculous idea because they trust him as the one filled with the Spirit of God. They do it and obey expecting God to bring life by it.
Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., Fausset, A. R., Brown, D., & Brown, D. 1997. A commentary, critical and explanatory, on the Old and New Testaments. On spine: Critical and explanatory commentary. Logos Research Systems, Inc.: Oak Harbor, WA