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The Widow's Oil

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Sermon on 2 Kings 4.1-7

Title:  The Widow’s Oil

Theme:  God provides richly in the face of certain debt, slavery and death.

Goal: to encourage God’s people that he provides richly in the face of deep troubles.

Need:  Circumstances often lead us to wonder whether or not God will provide as richly as we know he can.

Introduction- Debt is like an animal that you adopt as a pet.  If you chose the right one.  If you pay it the proper attention.  If you take the proper precautions to keep yourself and your family safe if anything goes wrong, then debt can be tamed. 

-         the US problem:  The mortgages they chose was like adopting a Bengal Tiger cub.  Oh he’s so cute.  Look at that awesome fur and the big paws.  Oh I just have to have one.  And then when every other person in the neighborhood all had one, they all grew up at the same time.  They all got out.  And this debt tiger, now full grown is just a wild animal that eats up the stuff in its path.  Debt can be aweful.

-         Its especially awful for the widow in our passage because she has absolutely no option with the debt she has. 

-         Sea to Sea.  She is one of these ladies caught in the cycle of poverty and has no way out.  This is a killer debt she has.

In order for us to allow this passage to have the transformational power that God’s word has, we must put ourselves in the spot of the widow in the passage. 

In what ways can we be linked into this old testament story?  In what ways are we caught in cycles like this?

            Physical Debt-  Greed, Envy

            Sins of all kinds

                        Anger

                        Greed

            Doubting the goodness of God.

  1. Review themes as promised:
    1. Elisha is a prophet in the same Spirit of Elijah. 
    2. God gives life in surprising ways.
    3. God punishes those who are not faithful to him.
  2. Last time we saw these themes in the story of the battle Moabite revolution against Israel.  And the League of nations- Israel, Judah and Edom all go and attack together.
  3. The Woman of faith:
    1. Who is she?

                                                               i.      Widow of one of the prophets from Elisha’s circle of prophets.

                                                             ii.      Jewish tradition says that this widow was the wife of Obadiah, the servant in Ahab’s palace.

    1. What is her complaint/problem?

                                                               i.      Verse 1:  Why did a bad thing happen to me.  My husband was a faithful man.

                                                             ii.      Her husband’s debt.

1.      Creditor wants to be paid.

2.      Women have no work.  Can’t possibly pay a debt incurred while her husband was alive.

    1. What is her last desperate option?                                                                i.      Let her sons be taken as slaves to cover the debt.

                                                             ii.      THIS IS AN OPTION TO CHOSE DEATH!!

1.      The cycle of poverty and oppression in place.

a.       Widow- in debt- can’t pay- can’t work- loses only hope of income, her sons- the cycle continues until she would die of physical starvation and emotional at the loss of her family.

b.      Its like a poor African farmer who barely can work his small farm with the little bit of equipment.  When he misses a payment, the bank takes his equipment to get some funds back until he can pay.  But taking the equipment effectively ends any hope of survival for him. 

                                                            iii.      Her desperation is because she knows losing her sons is awful and also means probably losing her own life as well.

  1. The command from Elisha:  Verses 2-4
    1. Question: Why did God chose to use oil as the mode of this widows salvation.  What other solutions are there?                                                                i.      Part may have been because oil was a precious commodity, used for many things.  This isn’t light sweet crude futures they are dealing with.  This is a type of olive oil that was used for so many things.What uses can you think of for oil in scripture.

1.      making food

2.      burning for heat and light

3.      cosmetics

4.      medical uses

5.      offerings commanded to have offering

6.      waterproofing

7.      anointing

                                                             ii.      Part has to do with the first theme of the life and times of Elisha.

1.      Previous mention of oil? 

a.       Involves a widow in dire circumstances

b.      Involves her son

c.       Involves oil that doesn’t run out

2.      Elijah’s miracle to the widow. 

3.      Elisha is without question the man of God.  He has the Holy Spirit.  Same as Elijah.

  1. No hesitation from the woman in obedience.  Verse 5-6.  verse 7 leads us to assume she does what Elisha tells her to do.
  2. What is the result
    1. THEME 2: God brings Life in surprising places:  The woman doesn’t die in the cycle of poverty.  Through her faithfulness and the intervention of Elisah, she lives. 
    2. A life of freedom instead of captivity:  She is provided for richly.
  3. I want to give you a minute to think about what passages this ties you to in the New Testament.
    1. Freedom in Christ

                                                               i.      Paying the debt doesn’t come from us, but it definitely involves us.

                                                             ii.      Always be prepared with oil.  Remember the lesson of the women waiting for the bridegroom.  Not enough oil.

  1. Where does any of this leave in the final and most important part?  Why is this passage in the Bible for us.  What sort of application for today.
    1. Our job is to get the vessels.  Don’t stop until you have as much as you can get, just because the blessings will keep flowing as long as the vessals are ready to accept it.
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