Elijah and Elisha Message #17, “Every Vessel Filled with Oil”, Ed Miller, April 19, 2023

Listen to the audio above while following along with the transcript below, which is also available for download in Word document at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com

Welcome again to our look at our Lord Jesus; that’s why we’ve gathered.  We’re in the book of Kings and are studying the life and ministry of Elisha, but you didn’t come to see first or second Kings or Elisha; we came to see the Lord. 

I want to share a couple of verses before we go to prayer.  1 John 5:12, “He who has the Son has the Life.  He who does not have the Son of God, does not have the Life.”  Many people just have existence, and they don’t have life.  Life is a Person, and His name is Jesus.  So, to have Jesus is to have Life.  Philippians 1:21 in connection with that, “For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain,” and I don’t think I do harm to the scriptures if I add my own words to that inspired word, “To live is Christ, to die is to gain more of Christ.”  With that in mind, let’s commit our time to the Lord.

Our Father, we thank You so much for the revelation of Christ that You’ve allowed us to see so far, and we thank You, Lord, that we have the Holy Spirit living in our hearts, whose ministry and pleasure it is to ever turn our eyes in a fresh and living way unto the Lord Jesus.  So, we know those who are taught of God come to You, and we ask now that we might behold the Lord Jesus in a fresh way.  Thank You for every part of the word of God, but in a special way these days for this record of your servant, Elisha.  We commit our meditation unto You, in the matchless name of our Lord Jesus.  Amen.

Welcome to our study.  We have finished our look at the revelation of our Lord Jesus in the life and ministry of Elijah.  Presently, we are looking at the revelation of the Lord Jesus in the life of Elisha.  In our meditation we’ve come to 2 Kings chapter 4.  I pointed out last week that this is a unique chapter because it records five overt miracles, in other words, miracles that are obvious, and then several that are implied, like the miracle of timing, and the miracle of insight, and the miracle of faith.  They’re in there, but you’ve sort of got to look to get that.

Let me just mention the five miracles.  We’re just at the beginning of the first miracle.  2 Kings 4:1-7 is the miracle with the widow and the multiplied oil.  2 Kings 4:8-17, God gives promises and a son to the Shulamite family.  In 2 Kings 4:18-37, God raises that child from the dead, and that was another miracle.  And then in 2 Kings 4:38-41, God had to heal during a time of famine some poison stew.  We’ll read about that.  And then the chapter ends, and you almost think you’re in the New Testament, 2 Kings 4:42-44, is the miracle of multiplying loaves to feed a multitude of people.

We’ve only begun to look at 2 Kings 4:1-7, the miracle of the widow and the oil.  This is now, as far as the record is concerned, the fourth recorded ministry of Elisha.  He had a positive ministry at Jericho, he had a negative ministry at Bethel with the bears, and he had a ministry to Jehoshaphat in the wilderness of Edom, and now he has this ministry with the widow in the multiplied oil.  I’m briefly going to review, not very much, but what we touched on last time.  Let’s just look at her situation again, 2 Kings 2:1, “A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant, my husband, is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord, and the creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.’”  That was the occasion, and clearly on the level of earth, it was a time of desperation for her.

Let me describe her situation in terms of a principle.  We look at principles to have application in our lives.  How does the Lord provide for His children when they find themselves in adverse circumstances, because that’s where she was, and adverse circumstances in the will of God?  That’s an important point.  What took place in that little family, in the hardship that she was facing, was 100% out of her control.  She didn’t do anything wrong.  This wasn’t a consequence of some act that she or her husband did.  Her husband died, and she lost her life partner.  He wasn’t only a husband, but look at verse 1 again, “Your servant, my husband, is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord.”  This was not only a husband, but this was a Godly husband, somebody that feared the Lord.  Her sons were in a situation not under their control.  That was the law.  If a debt could not be settled, it was the law at that time to take members of the family and use them as servants or as slaves until the debt was paid off.  Keeping the law, obeying the law was in the will of God.  Her situation, everything here is in the will of God.

What we’re reading here is not chastening from the Lord.  The Lord is not chastening them because they rebelled in some way.  They weren’t rebellious to the Lord.  God is not dealing with them as a father chastens his children.  At this point, God just allowed things in their lives, and it just suddenly took place.  As far as the record, all indication is that their spring was fine; it wasn’t like the spring at Jericho that was polluted.  As far as the record goes, they’re not mocking the message or messengers of the Lord like they did at Bethel.  As far as the record goes, they weren’t compromising with the world, as Jehoshaphat did, trying to do the right thing in the wrong way.  As far as the record goes, there’s no external enemies.  There’s not a Syrian army in sight.  There’s not an Edomite army in sight.  All that was taking place in their lives was something that the Lord brought into their lives and allowed at this particular time.

God’s message is, “How does He provide for those who are in the will of God, and suddenly circumstances come up out of their control?”  In this case the husband died, and the boys were put in jeopardy, the widow was left broken hearted and confused and afraid and anxious for the future of her children, but it was all in the will of the Lord, in the will of God, circumstances that God engineered or allowed that suddenly came into the life of a Godly family.  Elisha’s ministry is now directed to those who suffer in the will of God.  That’s the focus of this particular revelation.  What shall they do, and how do you cope when something like that takes place?  They’re suddenly faced with a situation, maybe in your life or my life or the life of some Christian, it could be an accident or some health crisis that suddenly comes into our life, or some financial loss or a bad report or some news about children or family members or loved ones. 

When we left off, we just introduced the story and saw her answer to the question that Elisha asked her.  2 Kings 4:2, the first part, “Elisha said, ‘What shall I do for you; tell me what do you have in the house?’”  Her answer was in verse 2, the second part, “She said, ‘Your maid servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil.’”  At this point in her life she had no idea that God was using her case as part of the Bible.  She’s going in the Bible.  She doesn’t know that, and she has no idea about the significance of what she calls “a jar of oil”.  If it weren’t for that jar of oil, you wouldn’t have this story in your Bible; I wouldn’t have it in my Bible.  She brushed it off.  I’m sure she saw it was valuable, but she said, “I have nothing, oh, except a jar of oil,” and she just made that an exception, sort of a last resort.  She saw it was valuable, but she didn’t see the sufficiency that God had put into that symbol.  She had no clue of the spiritual significance of that jar of oil.

Let me just give a silly illustration.  If you were frustrated because of circumstances that came into your life and put you in financial hurt, and some man of God came up to you and said, “What do you have in the house?” and you answered, “Nothing, but a million dollars.”  That’s what that jar of oil was to her; it was more than a million dollars.  She didn’t know it.  If you don’t know it, you’re going to live like a pauper.  We’ll look more at that.

Anyway, as we closed last week I homed in on the spiritual significance of the word “oil”.  I’m not going to try to prove it this morning.  I think I showed you last week.  I’ll just state the fact, the symbolic importance, the significance of the oil is a picture of the Life of God; it’s a picture of the Holy Spirit.  It’s used so many times in connection with the sacrifices.  If you go through the book of Leviticus, thirty-eight times you’re going to read about oil in connection with the sacrifices.  If you go to the book of Numbers, you’re going to see the word “oil” thirty-four times connected with worship and the sacrifices.  The oil was used for anointing kings and anointing prophets and anointing priests.  The name “Christ” means “the Anointed One”, and there are many references of the oil and the Anointed One, Christ. 

The oil was the fuel that kept a light in the seven pronged candlestick.  Oil was a great picture.  I showed you this verse, and I’ll just quote it again, in the vision Zachariah had eight visions in one night, and after each vision he woke up.  Imagine waking up eight times in a night!  When he had the vision of the golden candlestick, he saw two olive trees next to it feeding the flame.  Then God explains that in Zachariah 4:6, “’Not by might, nor by power, but My Spirit,’ says the Lord of Hosts.”

 “What do you have in the house?”  “A jar of oil.”  “Alright; what do you have in the house?”  “I have the Lord; I have the Spirit of God; I have a jar of oil.”  No matter what else I face in the will of God, I always have Him.  Whatever else you face in the will of God, you always have the Lord.  You might be left without a life partner, but you have a jar of oil, you have the Lord.  You might be low or absent of finances, but you have the Lord.  Your health and strength might be failing, but you have the Lord.  You might be short on friends, and you might not have open doors of opportunity for ministry, but this is always true, you have Him, I have Him, we have the Lord.  Nothing can change, nothing can alter that glorious fact that you have the anointing; you have the jar of oil, His Life, His indwelling, Emmanuel, God with us.    Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  That’s where we left off.

Before we look at the heart of the story, and especially the revelation of the Lord Jesus, I remind you again, that’s why you came.  As I studied before the Lord, that’s why I study; I want to see the Lord.  I want to know the Lord.  The Bible is the revelation of Him.  It’s not just academic facts and not just doctrine.  It’s a revelation of the Lord Jesus.  We want to see Him, but before we do, I want to look briefly at several things that are all related to the story.  2 Kings 4:1, these are just observations that I did not make last time, and they’re connected, but loosely connected, “A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, ‘Your servant, my husband, is dead.  You know your servant feared the Lord.  The creditor has come to take my two children to be his slaves.’”

We have the death of a God-fearing man, but I want to call attention to the fact that he was one of the sons of the prophets.  That becomes important.  We know he was Godly, and we know he was married, and we know he had a couple of boys, but we also know that at this time he was a student at the local Bible school; that was the sons of the prophets, those were schooled.  When you see sons of the prophets, when it’s plural like that, “sons”, that doesn’t mean that their father was a prophet.  It means that they are students at a seminary or at a Bible school.  This was a student at the Bible school.

Some of my commentaries have actually called Elijah and now Elisha, since Elijah is in heaven, the president of those five Bible schools.  There were five schools of the prophets.  They’re considered president, but just think of it as a Bible school.  The reason I call attention to that is because this man died while he was being prepared for some ministry in a Bible school.  His graduation took him to heaven, and not to the mission field.  Now, I want to illustrate the fact that we’re always being prepared, but this present moment is your ministry.  Your ministry is not in front of you.  It’s not after you graduate.  Don’t think, “When I get out of school, then I’m going to go into the ministry,” or, “When I get older, then I’m going to serve the Lord,” or, “When I grow up, I’m going to serve the Lord,” or, “After we get financially stable, after we have a family, and we’re secure and we’re settled, then we’re going to serve the Lord.”  There’s no guarantee you’re going to live to get out of school, and there’s no guarantee that you’re going to live long enough to retire.  You don’t have that guarantee.  We’re always being prepared, but we’re always ministering.  We may not have the opportunity to get married and be debt-free.  This moment is a moment of ministry.

I love James 4 in this connection verse 13, “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we’ll go to such and such a city, spend a year there, and engage in business and make a profit,’ yet, you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow.  You’re just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.  Instead, you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and also do this or that.’”

I have a dear friend when I was a student at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina.  He was a senior, and he was always talking about going to the mission field, “Can’t wait to graduate; I’ve got everything in order.  All my ducks are in a row.”  During the Christmas holidays he was killed in an automobile accident.  He never got to go to the mission field.  His student life was his ministry.  He didn’t know that; he thought, “Ministry is up in front of me; I’m being prepared for ministry.”  Well, that’s true; we’re always being prepared, but now, this moment is when God wants to manifest Himself through you.  So, I just wanted to call attention to that.

A second observation is the relationship between this story and the one that preceded it.  The story we looked at that preceded it, where the three kings and three armies and all their animals were doomed because they were in a wilderness starving to death, listen to verses 16 & 17, “Thus says the Lord, ‘Make the valley full of trenches,” for thus says the Lord, ‘you shall not see wind, nor shall you see rain; yet, that valley shall be filled with water, so that you should drink, both you, your cattle and your beasts.’”  In that story we had a valley full of trenches.  In this story we have a room full of empty vessels.  2 Kings 4:3, “Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few.”

I call attention to the story preceding this is a story of emptiness, because that’s what a trench is, a hole, it’s nothing, it’s emptiness, and fullness by a miracle of God.  This is a story of emptiness and fullness by a miracle of God.  In both cases they’re alike in that connection, but I think there’s something in this story, a nuance, that takes us beyond emptiness and fullness.  It’s illustrated in verse 6, “When the vessels were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel,’ and he said to her, ‘There is not one vessel more.’  And the oil stopped.”

I’ll state the fact now, and we’ll develop it in another connection.  The Holy Spirit not only emphasizes emptiness and fulness, but this story focuses on capacity, how much you can hold.  Wanting another jar is to increase the capacity.  When there’s no more room, the oil stops flowing.  His revelation will always wait on my capacity; His revelation will always wait on your capacity.  As much as you are able to receive, He is able and willing to give.  The limit is never in God’s willingness to give.  The limit is always in our ability to receive.  It’s in our capacity.  Hold that for now, and I’m going to develop it a little more probably next gathering.

Here are a couple of observations.  First, your life work is this moment.  Yes, you’re being prepared for tomorrow, but right now is your life work.  The second is that God’s revelation will wait upon our capacity.  The third observation I want to make is related to the principle of capacity.  Verse 6, “When the vessels were full, she said to her son, ‘Bring me another vessel.’  And he said to her, ‘There is not one vessel more.’ And the oil stopped.”  As I was preparing this in the presence of the Lord, I found myself not inclined to many of my commentaries who were suggesting that this woman and her sons were to blame for not having more vessels, “Bring me another vessel,” and there were no more and the oil stopped.  They’re saying that she should have had more vessels, “There would have been more oil if she had had more vessels.” 

When Elisha told her what needed to be done, he didn’t specify how many vessels.  In verse 3 he said, “Go borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, empty vessels, and do not get a few.”  We don’t know how many that is; is it ten, fifteen, twenty, is it more?  We know it’s not a few.  The oil stopped when she came to the last vessel.  She asked her sons, “Bring me another vessel,” and they say, “There is none.”  Some of my commentaries say, “Oh, that woman, she had little faith.  She should have had more vessels.  She should have gathered more.”  And then the question is, if she should have gathered more, how many more?  She would always be accused of having little faith.  Would she have crossed the line from humble thanksgiving for God’s provision, to greed, if she had wanted more and more vessels?  God knows the limit of my capacity, and He knows the limit of your capacity.

Listen to verse 7, “She came and told the man of God.  And he said, ‘Go, sell the oil and pay your debt, and you and your sons can live on the rest.”  What was provided that day in that room took her all the way to the end of her life.  What would another vessel of oil do?  You wouldn’t need it.  She had enough oil to meet that present moment and to meet her needs for the rest of her life.  Rather than rebuking her for claiming too few vessels, I believe the principle is that God knows the limits of my capacity, and He knows the limits of your capacity, and how many vessels were represented in that particular limit.  She didn’t even need an additional thimble full of oil, because God had made all the provision.  His supply was perfect.

I believe when the boys went out to borrow empty vessels from the neighbors, when they went through the village, they didn’t gather more because there were no more to gather.  I think they gathered all they could gather, and the Lord had a hand in that.  She didn’t know her capacity, and I don’t know mine, and you don’t know yours.  God knows what you’re going to face today, tomorrow, next month and all the days of your life, and He has made full provision in the oil to meet every need for every moment.  God knows what we need and how much we can receive.  This scene of multiplied oil is not as much a measure of her faith, as a measure of His goodness, and His provision, and His supply.  Those are three general observations.  I just wanted to mention those before we moved on, that my ministry is right now, and that there’s not only emptiness, fullness but capacity, and the Lord knows exactly what you’re going to need, and how much you can take.

With that as background, I want to get a little closer to my goal this morning, which is to present the revelation of the Lord Jesus in this story.  In order to get to that I need to do a little more donkey work.  I want to take three facts, three details, out of this story, because each one contains a principle, and if we put those three principles together, we’ll see why the revelation of Christ is what it is. 

Let me give first those three facts, the details.  2 Kings 4:3, “Then he said, ‘Go, borrow vessels at large for yourself from all your neighbors, even empty vessels; do not get a few.’”  I want you to get in your mind’s eye “empty vessels”.  That’s the first detail.  The second detail is in 2 Kings 4:4, “You shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons…”  The second detail is the “shut door”.  Empty vessels, the shut door, and then in verse 3, “Pour out into all the vessels, and you shall set aside what is full.”  Those three facts: the empty vessels, the shut door, and the pouring of the oil.  Those are the three things that contain the principle that lead up to the revelation of Christ.  I’ll comment on them one by one.

What do the empty vessels symbolize?  We aren’t told what these vessels looked like.  I don’t know what you’ve imagined.  I know some of the imagination that I’ve read in the commentaries.  Were they all the same?  Were they different shapes?  Were they different sizes?  Were some tall and some short and some fat and some skinny and some fancy and some ugly and some strange looking and some attractive looking vessels?  We’re not told, but because of the possibility that there were many different shapes, and in other places we are called vessels, some of the commentators suggest, when it says in verse 3, “Go borrow vessels from all your neighbors,” that those vessels symbolize the neighbors.  That’s what some believe.  You might imagine in the vicinity of the Bible school, there might have been neighbors that were believers. 

When we were married students at Columbia Bible College, we lived off-campus, and we lived in a government housing project, but in our section, they were all Christians.  It was funny because it was like Acts, everybody had everything in common. You would see a door open, “Yandel has food,” and everybody would flock to Yandel’s house.  Everybody had everything in common.  We were all pouring our lives into one another. 

One of my commentators said, “Symbolically, that room was filled with empty vessels.  That room was not just her and her two boys, but all the neighbors represented by the empty vessels.  I personally think that’s a little fanciful and probably reading into it.  It’s a precious thought, though, because the neighbors have nothing to give but emptiness.  That’s all they had to give.  If you have a problem and you come to me, I can give you my emptiness.  Just to have a room full of Christians, even though they have nothing to give when you have a problem, that’s a comfort, even though they’re empty vessels.  There’s an application to that, but again I think that symbolism breaks down and breaks down very quickly.

What did those vessels have in common?  The answer is that they were all empty.  We know that.  There’s a room full of empty vessels.  When we describe the circumstances of the widow, I called attention to the fact that she felt very much alone and destitute and fearful about her future and the future of her children, she was a little bit discouraged and anxious, and maybe a little bit of hopelessness was there.  I think if you had asked this woman at that time to take a piece of pager and pencil and write her needs from which she sought relief, I think she would have mentioned, “My children are in trouble, I have debts to pay, I have responsibilities.”  She didn’t have a clue how many needs she would have, and the Lord takes it all the way to the end of her life. I think this room of empty vessels pictured what God saw to be her needs, not what she saw to be her needs.  She had a few needs at that moment, but God saw how empty she was and the possibility of her experiencing His Life and His Fulness in all of those needs.

Recently, some of you know and some of you attended, we had a flocking of a group of men in Denton, and I had the privilege to share, and one of the early principles I gave was that God is all supply, and we are all needs.  We are a bundle of needs.  In our first lesson we looked at that.  We’re so needy, we don’t even know what our needs are, and we don’t even know that we’re needy.  When we ask the Lord to provide our needs, we say to provide our needs, but we need needs.  That’s our need — needs.  Sometimes He provides our needs, so we can know His fulness. 

This miracle is a object lesson reminder of how the Lord desire to fill every space in your heart and my heart from this moment until the day God calls me to heaven.  He longs to fill and meet our needs.  It’s not just a handful of needs.  You have a whole room full of empty jars.  You are so needy, and I am so needy.  We need to face that.  I’m all needs, and I don’t have one drop of sufficiency and adequacy in myself.  Sometimes we think we could use help with the weak areas of our life, but we’re pretty settled on the strong areas; you don’t have any strong areas in your life, and I don’t have strong areas in mine.

Just listen to these New Testament verses. 1 Corinthians 1:27, “God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God.”  The last thing in the list, “things that are not,” you don’t even exist.  It’s not like I’m small.  It’s, “things that are not.”  Romans 7:18, “For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh.”  Philippians 3:3, “We are true circumcision, who worship in the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh.”  You are familiar with Galatians 5:22&23, the fruit of the Spirit?  Those nine things, we say, “That’s the fruit of the Spirit.”  That’s the oil; that’s the fruit of the oil, but that makes those nine things needs.  I need love, I need joy, I need peace, I need patience, I need kindness, I need goodness, I need gentleness, I need self-control, and He wants to provide those.  That list is not complete.  I need strength, I need grace, I need guidance, I need correction, I need affliction, I need revelation as I study the Bible, I need courage, I need insight, I need compassion, I need forgiveness, I need humility, and there’s no end to your needs, and there’s no end to my needs.  Those vessels represent all the multitude of our needs.  Hold that a moment.

The second detail, verse 4, “And you shall go in and shut the door behind you and your sons…”  Now, I know in the story it’s literal.  She actually went into a room, and she actually closed the door.  I don’t know what else was in the room.  Was there a bed, a table, a lamp, and a couple of chairs?  I don’t know what else was in the room, but the story tells us that the family was in the room, the empty vessels were in the room, and there was a jar of oil in the room.  That’s what we have to focus on.  Verse 4 again, “You shall go in, shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into all these vessels, and you shall set aside what is full.”  I want you to notice from that verse that the woman knew in advance what was going to happen when she went into that room.  Elisha told her up front.  She already knew.  Romans 10:17, “Faith comes by hearing, hearing by the word of Christ.”  He told her in advance because that was an invitation to faith, “Go in, you hear now, you know what’s going to happen, so go in and pour that jar of oil, and be expecting, because you know in advance.”

I speak as a fool, as I always do, but if I knew in advance that a miracle like that was about to take place, I think I would invite the neighbors in.  Every neighbor that gave me a empty vessels, I’d say, “You won’t believe what we’re about to see.  You come on over here.  Thank you for your vessel, but you come in this room.”  It would have been a very dramatic scene, and what a chorus of Hallelujahs would have been raise, and what praise God would have received, but it would have violated the principle of the shut door.  What is the principle of the shut door?  God wanted to provide, as she and her sons were shut in, to God alone, and shut out from the world and every distraction; shut in and shut out.  It’s the closet experience that Jesus mentioned in Matthew 6:6, “When you pray, go not your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.” 

The Lord doesn’t work with bells and whistles and flashing lights.  The carnal heart would love to see signs and wonders, and so on.  But He pours His life into you and me in private.  Get before the Lord alone, you and Him, and shut the door, and shut the world out.  The neighbors are going to have plenty of opportunity to see what happened in that room when you walk out of the room.  They are going to see it in your joy, in your walk, in your character, in your audible praising of the Lord. 

Every year I choose a year verse, and this year it’s Psalm 91:1, “He who dwells in the shelter of the most high will abide in the shadow of El Shaddai, of the Almighty.”  What the New American Standard calls “the shelter”, the King James calls “the secret place of the most high.”  God works in the secret, just Him and you, just Him and me.  Don’t answer out loud, have you just gotten alone with the Lord in your empty vessel, and said, “Lord, this is my situation.”  The empty vessel is your need, and the closed door is getting alone with the Lord.  If you meet Him with the doors shut, as I said, the neighbors are going to see your life and countenance and hear your testimony.

The closed door doesn’t have to be a room, and it doesn’t have to be a closet.  A closed door is just saying, “A place where you’re not distracted, a place where it’s you and the Lord.”  It can be meadow, it can be a field, it can be out in the woods, it can be on a mountainside, it can be by a brook or stream, or it can be in your automobile — just you and Jesus.  That’s the principle.  The woman had the promise before she entered the room, but she did not experience God’s provision until the door was shut.  Isaiah 26:20, “Come, My people, enter into your rooms and close your doors behind you; hide for a little while until indignation runs its course.”  The principle of the vessels is emptiness, the principle of the shut door is meeting alone with the Lord.

Let me say this in passing; it’s sort of connected.  This miracle is a family miracle.  It’s very important.  You say that it’s private, you and the Lord.  That’s true, but it’s important to include the kids, it’s important to include the family.  As you trust the Lord and live the life of faith, it’s going to be a big part of your children’s future to remember how God provided along the way.  So, don’t leave your children out.  I’m sure these boys could never forget that memorable day when she poured the oil and set them free from a lifetime of slavery.  Bringing your kids in sets them free.  I just wanted to mention that.

What is the principle illustrated in verse 4 again, the pouring?  “You shall shut the door behind you and your sons, and pour out into these vessels, and set aside what is full.”  It’s not enough to have the jar of oil.  All Christians have the Holy Spirit.  Every Christian has the Holy Spirit.  I used to teach that all Christians have life, but not all Christians have abundant life.  I don’t teach that anymore.  The Lord corrected me on that.  All Christians have life, because Life is a Person, and His name is Jesus.  All Christians have Life.   Abundant Life is also a Person, and His name is Jesus.  All Christians have abundant Life, but the miracle is in the pouring. 

At Passover you remember that they had to slay that little lamb; every family had to slay a lamb.  The blood was shed, and the blood was in the basin, but they weren’t delivered until the blood was applied to the lentils and the door posts.  The pouring has to do with application; it has to do with applying the Life of Christ to my particular need.  It seems like these three details; we go privately to the Lord, illustrated by the shut door, we present our empty vessels, illustrated by our needs, and then we appropriate the Life of Christ to meet that particular need.  That’s illustrated by the pouring.  At that point the miracle begins, and we begin to experience that.  What a glorious promise pictured by Isaiah 44:3, “I will pour out water on the thirsty land and steams on the dry ground; I will pour out My Spirit on your offspring and My blessing on your descendants.”  Empty vessels, many needs/shut the door, get into the presence of the Lord/pour, apply His Life to your need.

Alright, let me give you now what I believe is the distinctive, prevailing revelation of Christ in this story.  I told you that the empty vessels represent our unnumbered needs, and now I call your attention to something that is so obvious in the text, and yet you can miss it.  Every jar was filled with the very same oil.  I want you to think about that.  In verse 4, “You shall go in and pour out into all those vessels.”  Oil was God’s one and only provision for all of the needs, no matter how many shapes those vessels had.  For the sake of illustration, I’m going to label a few of the jars that I’ve experienced in my own life, empty vessels.

One of my empty vessels is my need for the truth; I don’t want to be deceived, I don’t want to fall into some cult or some false teaching.  So, I get alone with the Lord, and I say, “Lord, I need teaching, I need doctrine,” and He answers, “You don’t need doctrine; you need Me.  I am the Truth, I am the Way, the Truth and the Life.”  Now, I come before the Lord with my other vessels and I say, “Lord, I need holiness.  I need sanctification.”  He responds, “You don’t need sanctification.  1 Corinthians 1:30, ‘By His doing, you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption.’”  You don’t need something called “holiness”; you need Jesus.  He became to us redemption and righteousness and holiness.  I say, “Lord, my empty vessel, I don’t know what to do, I need some guidance.”  John 14:6, “Jesus said to him, ‘I’m the Way.  You don’t need guidance.  You need Me.  I’m the Way.’”  If I have Jesus, I have teaching.  If I have Jesus, I have sanctification.  If I have Jesus, I have wisdom.  If I have Jesus, I have righteousness.  I say, “Lord, my vessel is so dark and empty.”  Jesus says, John 9:5, “While I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”  “You don’t need something called “light”; you need Me, you need oil.”  “I’m sad, I’m depressed, I’m gloomy, I lack joy.”  Isaiah 12:2, “God is my salvation, I will trust and not be afraid; for the Lord God is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation.”  He’s my song, and He’s my joy.  “I need power to live the resurrected life.”  John 11 25, “I am the resurrection and the Life…”  Colossians 3:11 summarizes the main message of this story, “Christ is all, and in all.”  Oh, may God open our hearts to understand that! 

There’s only Christ.  God has given us, and He’s the bread of Life, and He is my hope, and He is your hope, and He’s our Deliverer, He’s our Fortress, He’s our Rock, He’s our Shelter, He’s our everything.  Things are going to pass away in this world, and God wants to fill every space in your life, and every empty space in my life, but He’s not going to give us His Son and something else called “power”.  He’s not going to give us Jesus and something else called “insight”.  I don’t need comfort; I need a Comforter; I need Him who is the Comforter.  He Himself desires to fill every space.  Every vessel and every need had only one solution, and that was the oil, the Life of God.  He is more than enough for any loss you have, any heartache you have, any sorrow you have, any loneliness that you feel, any confusion that you have, any struggle with your old sin nature; all you need is Christ.  As many vessels that you bring Him, that’s how many He will fill with His Life.  2 Kings 4:6, “’There is not one vessel more,’ and the oil stopped.”  You are going to run out of vessels before He runs out of oil.  His shovel is bigger than yours, and bigger than mine. 

This is the revelation of Christ.  Some people accuse me of — I tell them to look to Christ — and they say, “That’s a cop-out; I need a real answer.  I need something practical.”  Nothing is more practical than to look to Jesus, than look to Christ.  It’s the only answer.  The full mention of this is in Colossians 2:10, just that little expression, “In Him you have been made complete.”  It’s in Him.  Christianity is not doctrine.  Christianity is not things.  Christianity is Christ; it’s the Lord Jesus.  Friends in Christ, nothing in this universe can hold back the flow of oil, if you will just go in and shut the door, and put your need before Him, and say, “Lord, I need Your Life.  I need You, I need Your oil.”  There’s no emptiness He can’t fill with Himself, if we would just go into the secret place.

I don’t have any message, as I hope you know by now, than the one Elisha gave the woman that day.  You don’t need experience, you don’t need to know Greek and Hebrew, you don’t need a Bible school education, you don’t need some kind of a board behind your back, you don’t need anything, and you surely don’t need Christian counseling, and you don’t need things.  You don’t need sacraments, you don’t need ordinances.  Don’t be upset with the Lord if He engineers your life where you become very needy.  He has a reason for that.  He desires to pour His fulness into that space, and He wants you to see that need, so that He can fill your life to the brim. 

Elisha gave her the only answer.  When I read this story, a woman comes and says, “I have a need, and I’m in debt,” he could have said, “I’ll tell you what I’m going to do.  I don’t have a lot of influence, but I’m going to go to your creditors, and I’m going to discuss with them, and maybe we can work things out, and maybe make it a little easier.  Also, there’s five schools of the prophets, I don’t know if they have an emergency fund.  Maybe they do.  Maybe we could take up a love offering, and we’ll be able to help you out with your particular problems.”  He didn’t tell her that.  He said, “You go in and shut the door, and take your empty vessels, and let His Life flow into that vessel.  He’s enough for this moment,” and as you’ll see in this story, for every moment all to the end of her life.

I’m going to close.  My illustrations are silly, but let me give this illustration.  Let’s say some generous benefactor did come into your life, and not because you deserved it, but just because they loved you, and out of grace and free mercy they handed you a million dollars, and the day came when you and your family needed groceries.  So, you made your way up the walkway of that man and knocked at the doors, and said, “Kind sir, I know how generous you are, but my family and I need groceries, and we’d like to trust you for that.”  He would say, “I gave you groceries; the groceries were in the million dollars.  The million dollars is convertible.  You can convert the money into groceries.”  And you say, “Oh, thank you very much; I hadn’t thought about that.”  Then a month later you’re back at the door knocking and saying, “You know, my children need shoes, and I was wondering if you could help out with shoes, and the rent is coming due, and the mortgage is overdue, and I’m just wondering if you could help out here.”  He would say, “I’ve already given you that; that’s included in the million dollars.  The million dollars is convertible.  Everything you are going to need is in there.”  Another day comes, and you say, “You know, I’m sorry to bother you again, but my car broke down, and I need some transportation, and I don’t know what to do, and things are getting tough.”  He would say, “You don’t understand; everything is included in the million dollars.  It is convertible.  There’s enough in the million dollars to take you a very long way.”

The Lord encourages us to come often, to knock, to seek, to ask.  No matter how many vessels we bring, no matter how large they are, how small they are, no matter how many vessels, He’s asked us to come.  Don’t be embarrassed to ask too much from Him.  He’s not offended when you bring your empty vessels, but I think He is offended if you think things can fill those vessels instead of His Beloved Son.  That’s got to disappoint the Lord.  Joy and power and rest and victory are wonderful, but they’re not Jesus.  You have Jesus, and He wants to fill every space in your heart.  There’s only one provision, and as money is convertible and can be turned into anything, Jesus is convertible, and when you have Jesus, you have joy, you have strength, you have patience, you have love, you have everything that you’ll ever need.  But if you seek those things apart from Christ, you’ve wounded Him; I’ve wound Him. 

Romans 8:32, “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things.”  He wants you to have all things, but with Him, in Him all things.  So, take every need, take your empty vessels, and go into His presence, shut the door, put the mouth of your vessel at the provision of His Life, and let His Life fill you.  That’s the message.  He IS all and in ALL.

I’m not quite finished with this story.  Next week we’ll pick up a few more observations from this story.  We don’t usually do this, but I’d like to close, not me singing, I need a little help here, with a chorus.  Are you familiar with the chorus, “He’s all I need, He’s all I need?”  Those that know it, help me along.  Let me recite the words:  He’s all I need, He’s all I need, Jesus is all I need.  He’s all I need, all I ever need, Jesus is all I need.”  That’s the exact words and the tune is approximately like this.  

Heavenly Father, we thank You for that reality, and forgive us for settling for things, rather than relationship with our Lord Jesus.  Thank You, Lord, that You’ll fill every spot, every space in our empty life, all the days of our fleeting life on this earth, and we just praise You.  Make these things real.  We ask in Jesus’ name.  Amen.