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Oil Unlimited

Key References: 2 Kings 4:1-7; Reflecting Christ, p. 269; The Bible Story (1994), vol. 5, pp. 69-73; Our Beliefs, nos. 21, 5, 18.

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“And my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

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The supply of God’s grace never ends.

What birthday or Christmas present have you wanted that you were afraid you might not get? How did you feel when you considered asking your parents for that gift? Did you get it?

The Spirit of the Lord was upon Elisha and worked great miracles through His faithful prophet. Elisha continued the work started by the prophet Elijah to restore the worship of the true God in Israel. His infl uence for good spread throughout the land.

The sons of the prophets were a group of men who remained faithful to God even during times of widespread apostasy. They did not bow their knee to Baal, but worshipped Jehovah, the true God. These faithful men mingled with the people, helping those in need and spreading the knowledge of the living God.

During the time of Elisha a man from the company of the prophets passed away, leaving behind a wife and two sons. Sadly the widow had no means of paying back the debt that her husband had incurred while he was alive. Soon the creditor would come demanding the payment and threatening to take the widow’s sons as his servants. In her despair the widow remembered the man of God, and she went to share the burden of her heart with the prophet Elisha:

“ ‘Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord. But now his creditor is coming to take my two boys as his slaves.’

“Elisha replied to her, ‘How can I help you? Tell me, what do you have in your house?’

“ ‘Your servant has nothing there at all,’ she said, ‘except a small jar of olive oil.’

“Elisha said, ‘Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few. Then go inside and shut the door behind you and your sons. Pour oil into all the jars, and as each is filled, put it to one side.’

“She left him and shut the door behind her and her sons. They brought the jars to her and she kept pouring. When all the jars were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another one.’

“But he replied, ‘There is not a jar left.’ Then the oil stopped flowing.

“She went and told the man of God, and he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debts. You and your sons can live on what is left’ ” (2 Kings 4:1-7).

This story is rich in meaning, and the careful seeker after truth will glean important lessons from it.

It is clear from the conversation between the prophet and the widow that Elisha had a generous spirit. He was ready and willing to help anyone who came to him. Whether it was the king of Israel or a poor widow, he was always ready to lend his help and make a difference. He was a man of prayer. He pleaded with God on behalf of those who needed help, and the Lord performed miracles through His faithful servant.

It is noteworthy that Elisha asked the widow to bring what she had. Certainly God could have provided for the widow’s needs without her contribution. Yet the widow had a part to play. By acting in obedience, she experienced in a tangible way God’s miraculous power to multiply the supply of oil and to honor the prayer of faith. So it is with us today. God has given us spiritual gifts that He wants us to use as we serve Him and others. The oil is also a symbol of the Holy Spirit. The presence of God’s Spirit in our hearts will produce fruit (see Galatians 5:22, 23). Whether we have the fruit of the Holy Spirit will be visible in the way we interact with others.

the man of God had asked. She did not doubt that God could use even her small supply of oil. Her active response was a positive influence on her sons. When the widow asked them to help, they obeyed her. The two sons knew that they were in danger of becoming slaves to the creditor, so they had to do something to avoid such a predicament. Inspired by their mother’s faith, they helped her carry out God’s plan. As a reward of their obedience they became eyewitnesses to God’s miracle of multiplying the oil. After the widow sold the oil, she was able to pay off the debt. Her sons were saved from a life of slavery! Meanwhile God supplied much more than what the widow had asked. She needed help only to pay off the debt and save her sons from servitude. But with the rest of the money obtained from selling the oil God provided for their daily sustenance. Truly God “is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20).

God is the source of every blessing. All that we are and possess come from Him. We are only stewards of the time, talents, health, and material goods we received from God. Our whole being— mind, body, and soul—belongs to God (see 1 Corinthians 6:19). How does that make you feel? Are you spending your time and resources to pursue your wishes or to please God? We express our gratitude to God by recognizing that all good things in life come from Him. We show our faithfulness to God by giving back to Him a tithe and offerings to support His work around the world. Let’s be faithful to God, from whom we receive every blessing!