Empty Jars 

2 Kings 4:6
“Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’ And he said to her, ‘There is not another vessel.’ So the oil ceased.”

Living conditions in Israel had become very difficult; the nation was constantly at war with its enemies, years of drought had created wide spread famine, and morality was in decline. These things affected the living condition of everyone, regardless of their social status. In the story before us, we are introduced to a poor widow who is facing starvation. Without giving details, we learn that her husband, a godly man, had died and she and her sons were on their last leg. All her resources were gone and the creditors were at the door. In her distress, she sought counsel from Elisha who asked a simple question, “what do you have?” To which she replied, the only thing left in the house was a jar of oil. Elisha went on to instruct her to borrow vessels from her neighbors and fill them with oil from the jar. When she did, they found that the oil poured as long as their was an empty vessel to put it in. I think there are at least two valuable applications from this passage.

The first is obvious. This is a story which illustrates how God provides for His people. Long before this, Abraham referred to God as YHWH-Jirah, the Lord our Provider. This unnamed woman found God to be the one who could meet her needs when all seemed lost. We can take comfort in knowing, no matter what our need, we have a God who cares for us and has the resources to provide. I am always blessed when I hear of a child of God who chooses to trust in the promises of God, for they are the ones who see the miraculous hand of God providing for them.

The second may not seem as obvious, but is equally as striking. We read the oil flowed as long as an empty vessel was provided. Oil is often used symbolically in Scripture to represent the work of the Spirit. In the Old Testament, it was oil that was used to anoint prophets, priest, and kings, and in the New Testament oil is used to anoint the sick. In this story, what was required to have the oil flow was an empty vessel. It did not matter what the vessel had previously been used for, it did not matter what size, shape, or color the vessel was, the only thing that mattered was that it was empty and available. When it comes to Christian service, we are all dependent upon the work of the Holy Spirit. Nothing in the kingdom of God can be accomplished in the energies of the flesh. That being said, if we want to be used by God, we need to be empty and available. Some of the things we must be empty of are private sins, pride, excuses, prejudice, and unwillingness to do the lowest of tasks.

This woman and her sons saw a remarkable work of God, and when it came to an end, I suggest that their only regret was that they did not gather more jars.

Pastor Jim

 

God Who Sees

Genesis 16:13
“Then she called the name of the Lord who spoke to her, You-Are-the-God-Who-Sees; for she said, ‘Have I also here seen Him who sees me?’”

2015/01/img_1306.jpgWe have four sons and had to select names for each of them. When making our decisions, we looked through name books, considered family names, then ultimately chose names that we liked. Very little consideration was given to what, if anything, the names actually meant. In Biblical times, names mattered much more than they do today. A person was named for an event that transpired around their birth, or to describe a particular character trait. A son who came out of the womb with a lot of hair was called Esau or Hairy, and his twin brother who held on to his heel, was called Jacob, or heel catcher. This principle is particularly true as it relates to God. The names ascribed to God in Scripture are more than titles to distinguish Him from others. These names are like miniature portraits and promises that identify who He is and what He does.

Hagar, the maidservant of Sarai, found herself in a difficult place. She had become pregnant, had no husband, and was forced out of her home by a jealous woman. With nowhere to go, she fled to the wilderness in desperation. It was there, by a spring of water, that she had an encounter with the Lord. He met her where she was, and gave her promises for her future. In response to this meeting, she called the place “Beer Lahai Roi”, or “the well of the God who sees.” When no one else seemed to care about her state, or to know where she was, God was carefully watching, and had plans for her life.

As Scripture unfolds, many names for God are given. Each name reveals something about His character. A brief list of some of those names may prove to be a source of encouragement to you.

Jehovah – The Self Existent One
• Jehovah-­‐jireh -­‐ The Lord will provide (Genesis 22:14)
• Jehovah-­‐rapha -­‐ The Lord that heals (Exodus 15:26)
• Jehovah-­‐nissi -­‐ The Lord is my banner (Exodus 17:15)
• Jehovah-­‐mekoddishkem-­‐ The Lord who sanctifies you (Leviticus 20:8)
• Jehovah-­‐sabaoth -­‐ The Lord of hosts (Joshua (5:13-­‐15)
• Jehovah-­‐shalom -­‐The Lord our peace (Judges 6:22)
• Jehovah-­‐elyon -­‐ The Lord most high (Psalm 23:1)
• Jehovah-­‐rohi -­‐ The Lord our shepherd (Psalms 23:1)
• Jehovah-­‐tsidkenu -­‐ The Lord our righteousness (Jeremiah 23:6)
• Jehovah-­‐shammah -­‐ The Lord is there (Ezekiel 48:35)

Again, these are not only descriptions of who God is, but of who He will prove to be to you. If you are in need, He is the provider. If you are afraid, He is your peace. If you are alone, He sees and He is near. Take a few moments to consider who God is, and how He desires to help in your time of need.

Pastor Jim