Elijah and Elisha Message #20 “Death in the Pot” Ed Miller May 10, 2023

Listen to audio above while reading the transcript below which is also available to download in Word document at www.biblestudyministriesinc.com

Let me begin by sharing Psalm 143, just a portion of it in verse 8, “Teach me the way in which I should walk, for to Thee do I lift up my soul.”  We need the Lord to continually teach us how to walk, because we’re blind and helpless and we need the Holy Spirit.  Let’s trust the Lord now and the indwelling Spirit; let’s pray…

Heavenly Father, thank You that we can gather here and meditate on Your word and trust the Holy Spirit to show us the Lord Jesus in a fresh way.  We thank You for gathering us and for watching over Your children and protecting us and bringing us here.  Now we ask You to enable us to be completely detached from all the cares, even the legitimate cares of life, that we might focus on You.  We know You’re going to work this for us because we claim it in the precious name of Jesus.  Amen.

Once again, welcome, and we meet to behold our Lord Jesus in a new and fresh way.  That’s the goal of every gathering that we have together.  It’s the knowledge of the Lord; we want to know Him.  We’ve been meditating in 2 Kings 4, and in that chapter the Holy Spirit has recorded five miracles that He worked through His servant, Elisha.  We’ve looked at three of the five—the multiplied oil, the Shunammite woman where God gave her a son and then restored that child to life.  So, we’ve got two more miracles to look at, the death in the pot, and then the multiplication of the loaves.  We won’t finish that today, but we’ll begin with that.

When we left off, I was sharing the meditation on the Shunammite woman and her family who had received a child from the Lord, and then received that child back.  Her reasoning on the level of earth was faulty, but the Lord used it as a marvelous picture.  The story shows how wonderfully her faith was tested.  I’m not going to review that, I am, but I’m going to weave the review into several other observations I want to make.  We finished the story and we looked at the heart of the story, and we saw the revelation of the Lord in the story, but that story suggests other truths.  So, I want to mention four other truths, not so closely connected to the story, but suggested by the story, truths that are Christian-like truths, and are very practical.  I’d like to illustrate that, and then we’ll move to our next story.

My first observation has to do with what do I call this marvelous miracle?  2 Kings 4:32, “When Elisha came to the house, behold, the lad was dead and laid on his bed.”  Her son died.  2 Kings 4:35, “He returned and walked into the house once back and forth, and went up and stretched himself on him, and the lad sneezed seven times and the lad opened his eyes.”  The boy was dead, and we know that child was restored to life.

Let me tell you my problem, and then I’ll show you a principle connected with it.  I knew that the child really died.  I could read that.  I knew the child was restored back to life, but I didn’t know what to call that, except a miracle; it was a marvelous miracle.  I was trying carefully to avoid the word “resurrection”.  I didn’t want to say that God resurrected that child because of the doctrine of resurrection in the whole Bible.  Usually, we think of verses like Philippians 3:21, “We eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform the body of our humble state into conformity of the body of His glory by the exertion of the power that He has, even to subject all things to Himself.”  And more pointedly, 1 Corinthians 15:42, “So, also, is the resurrection of the dead; it has sown a perishable body, and it is raised an imperishable body.” 

I know the word “resurrection” refers to being raised an imperishable body.  That was my problem, because the Shunammite’s son was restored to life, but not with an imperishable body.  In other words, I’m sure sometime he died again; he was raised to life, but then he died.  I didn’t want to call it resurrection.  Even those who were raised in the New Testament died again.  Jairus’ daughter was raised to life, and she died again.  So did Lazarus.  Lazarus was raised and he died again.  And so did Tabitha or Dorcas, raised to life and then died again.  So did Eutychus who fell out of the window and died; he was raised again to life, but then he died again. 

I know this from the Bible; everyone who was raised from the dead and restored to life, were believers before they died; they were already Christians before they died.  How do I know that?  It’s because there is no such thing as a second chance after death.  Dying time is fixing time, and when a person dies, there’s no other chance to get saved.  If they die as unbelievers, and then were raised up, they would have another chance to get saved, and that goes against the word of God.

To get back to my point, what do I call this?  I know it’s a miracle, and I didn’t want to call it resurrection because they died again.  Some of my commentators call it “resuscitation”, and I had a problem with that because it might imply that they weren’t really dead, that they were just resuscitated.  When I was a child, I don’t remember this, I remember part of it, I almost drowned.  My uncle did artificial respiration on me, and I was resuscitated, but I hadn’t actually died.  This child actually died and was raised again.  He wasn’t just in a coma or some kind of a stupor or a faint, or just unconscious; he died.  So, I thought I’d call it “quickening”, except when I read Psalm 119, ten times the Psalmist asks God to quicken him, and he didn’t die, but he needs to be quickened.  So, we’re quickened all the time. 

The reason I brought this up is because it contains a principle.  God solved my problem.  Now I know what to call it.  Hebrews 11:35, “Women received back their dead by resurrection.”  I’m going to call it “resurrection”.  Do you know why?  It’s because God does.  God uses that word, and I was actually trying to be more Biblical than the Bible is Biblical.  I was trying to force everything into my own theology and make sure everything fit.  The principle is this, that words are used in different ways.  We need to understand that when we study the Bible.  Sometimes when you study the Bible, you’re going to see the figure of speech “a lion” or a “serpent”, and it will apply to Satan.  Satan is like a lion, like a serpent.  But then, our Lord Jesus is the Lion of Judah, and He’s the serpent that was lifted up on the pole.  Words are used in different ways.  When you read Isaiah, the new heaven and the new earth, it’s talking about the millennium, because they live a long time and then they die.  When you are in Revelation talking about the new heaven and the new earth, you are talking about eternity, because there is no death there.  Same words—new heaven and new earth, but words are used in different ways.  So here sometimes resurrection means imperishable and sometimes it doesn’t.  Sometimes leaven in the Bible is bad, most of the time.  Sometimes it’s good; the kingdom of heaven is like leaven.  Sometimes brother means brother Christian; sometimes brother means brother man.  If you’re reading 1 John, brother is brother man.  We need to know how words are used and pay attention to the context.  There is a repentance that’s good, and there’s a repentance that needs to be repented of.  Words are used in different ways.

The second observation is calling attention to the fact that this Shunammite woman received her son twice.  She received her son by a supernatural birth, and then she received her son by resurrection.  2 Kings 4:17, “The woman conceived and bore a son at that season, the next year, as Elisha said to her.”  In verse 36, “He called Gahazi and said, ‘Call the Shunammite.’  So, he called her and when she came to him, he said, ‘Take up your son.’”  So, she received her son twice; once in resurrection.

We had the same thing in Abraham.  In Genesis 21:2, “Sarah conceived and bore a son to Abraham in his old age at the appointed time which God had spoken.”  They got Isaac by a mighty miracle of God, but then Hebrews 11:19, “He considered God is able to raise people, even from the dead, from which he, also, received him back again as a type.”  He got Isaac twice.  In between God gave him and he raised him, there was a dedication.  The Shunammite dedicated her son, and Abraham dedicated Isaac. 

I want to mention that truth because in both cases there needs to be a dedication.  Whatever you have, I hope you have it twice.  Whatever I have, I hope I hope I have it twice.  The principle is that we don’t really have what we have until we dedicate it to the Lord, and then He gives it back to us.  I call Lillian, “My Lillian.”  I know better; she’s not mine.  She belongs to the Lord, but I dedicated her to the Lord, and He gave her back to me in resurrection.  My children are not mine.  They belong to the Lord.  I’ve dedicated them to the Lord.  It’s the same with my grandchildren and my great grandchildren.  The Lord gave them to me, and I had them, and I thought that I was the owner.  Then I gave them to Him, and He gave them back, and I’m no longer the owner; I’m now the steward.  I didn’t have my Lillian until I dedicated her to the Lord, and now I’m a steward.  So, He’s called us to be responsible stewards. 

What’s true about our family and what’s true about our loved ones and our friends is true about everything that the Lord gives us. We don’t own our automobile; that belongs to the Lord.  We’re a steward of our automobile.  We don’t own our home; that belongs to the Lord.  The Lord owns the home, and we’re stewards of that.  We don’t own our bank account; we don’t have that.  That belongs to the Lord.  Everything we have belongs to the Lord.  It makes a huge difference if we know we’re privileged stewards and we’re not owners.  If we hold things as if we were owners, we’re going to have a lot of trouble.  One way to know if you’re a steward or an owner, if what the Lord owns, what belongs to Him, if He recalls it, what is your response?  That’s how you know the difference.  If a loved one is called, you are not the owner of that woman or that man or that child; you’re just a steward.  If you have the loss of anything, whether it’s a financial loss or if God closes the door on some ministry or if He touches your health, all things belong to the Lord.

I love in that connection Psalm 62:10, “If riches increase, do not set you heart upon them.”  As far as I know, one penny is an increase.  If riches increase, don’t put your heart on it.  You don’t have to win the lottery to have an increase.  Anything is an increase.  Job 1:21, you remember that first chapter of Job and how he lost ten of his children, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I shall return; the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away.  Blessed be the name of the Lord.”  You can only say that if you’re a steward.  We’re bad stewards if we refuse to return what belongs to somebody else.

I think this is wonderfully illustrated in Luke 19:30-31, Palm Sunday, “Go to the village ahead of you, and as you enter, you’ll find a colt tied on which no one has every sat.  Untie it and bring it here.  If anyone asks, ‘Why are you untying it,’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’”  Why could Jesus say, “Go down and untie that animal from the tree, and if the owners come out or the stewards come out, and they say, ‘What are you doing taking my donkey,’— ‘The Lord has need of it.’”  I hope the Lord teaches you, and I’ll use my pen, to hold things like this (open fist) and not like this (closed fist), because if you hold it like this with a closed fist, and the Lord wants it, it might be painful as the Lord takes it away. 

I have a friend in law, and he quotes that Job verse, and he says, “Naked I came into the world, and naked I’m going to leave the world.  I came in with nothing,” and then he adds, “I still have half of it left.”  Anyway, that’s the second observation that I wanted to make, that we’re stewards, and that’s illustrated by that child being given two times.

A third observation, not only are words used differently, and not only are we stewards, but let me state it in these words.  This is sort of a review, and it’s a very important principle.  May God help us.  I’ve been burned with this, and many Christians have.  We need to make a careful distinction between pictures, between illustrations and the reality that is being illustrated by those pictures.  Pictures are just that; they’re pictures; they’re illustrations only.  The animal, the lamb, was a picture.  It was a sacrificial lamb.  The reality is our Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God.  We don’t offer the picture anymore; we don’t offer the animal.  We offer the reality.  The picture was the temple where the symbolic presence of God was abiding.  That great Solomon temple and Herod’s temple and Zerubbabel’s temple is just a picture.  You’re the temple and I’m the temple, and He’s not symbolically abiding in your heart; He’s literally abiding there.  That’s the reality.  We’ve got to get beyond the pictures. 

All the miracles Jesus did in the New Testament were pictures.  He calls Himself “a spiritual physician”, “The sick need a physician.”  When our Lord Jesus cleansed the leper, that was a picture to show that He could cleanse any sinner of the deepest dye.  When He healed the blind person, He did that literally, but it was a picture to show that He heals the spiritually blind.  He opened deaf ears to show that He opens spiritual ears.  He healed crippled people to show that He could enable people supernaturally to walk before God and before men.  He casts out demons literally as a picture to show that He can give us power over the enemy, that we can have victory in our lives.  He raised the dead because we were dead in our sins and trespasses, and He could raise us up.  We need to understand what is the picture and what is the reality.

I mention this because of the observation that I made last time that this woman’s reasoning was, on the level of earth, was wrong.  She was incorrect, but it was a picture.  It became a picture of the New Covenant.  Her reasoning was, “God gave me a child, and that means this child should never get sick and this child should never die, or God would break His word.”  God never said that, but that was her reasoning.  It was wrong, but it pictured the New Covenant, the promise where God gave you life and He’s promised that He would watch over you and protect you all the days of your life.  Her experience, her faulty reasoning, pictured a wonderful reality which we called “The New Covenant”.

I want to home in a little closer because here is where I got burned.  Hebrews 13:8, I think we all know that wonderful verse, “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.”  Here is how some people interpret that.  They said, “Jesus is the same yesterday, today and forever, so we can expect Him to do today exactly what He did yesterday, because He’s the same.  He doesn’t change.  So, if He healed the blind yesterday, literally, then today He can heal the blind.  If He made crippled people walk then, He’s the same, and He can do the same thing today.  He healed the deaf then, and we can expect Him to heal the deaf now, if,” and that’s where I really got hung up, “if we have enough faith.”  Some people have tried to claim the Shunammite’s faulty reasoning, and if it doesn’t work, they aren’t going to blame God, so they blame themselves, “I didn’t have enough faith.  You gave me a child, Lord, and that child can’t get sick, and if the child gets sick, then I expect you to raise him from the dead.  You prevented the heartache from the Shunammite, so You are the same, and you’ll do the same for me.  Because Jesus is the same, and He is; He’s immutable, and He doesn’t change.  From age to age He’s the same, but we need to distinguish the difference between the picture and the reality. 

Jesus lives in your heart, not to reproduce the picture.  He lives in your heart to reproduce the reality.  All of those pictures are not realities.  They picture a reality.  He still heals the blind and the deaf and the lame and those who are oppressed by the enemy and dead in sin.  He still heals them.  I’m not suggesting that he can’t do it literally.  I’m never going to say, “God can’t.”  He can do whatever He wants to do, and I can’t stop Him.  I’m not even going to say that He doesn’t do it.  Sometimes He does, and maybe He does it often, but what I’m saying is that we have no right and no claim on the picture.  We have every claim on the reality.  It’s sad to see so many Christians, and I was one of them, trying to claim the picture, and then when it doesn’t come to pass, we go on a guilt trip, “Oh, if I only had more faith, if I only trusted more, if I prayed more; I just didn’t have enough faith to have that miracle.  God didn’t answer and perhaps He’s punishing me because of something I’ve done.”  I’ve even heard of people who began to take God’s love and promise in suspicion and doubt His word and doubt His veracity.  God is always faithful; He’s the same, and He lives in you to perform the reality. 

Abraham’s reasoning was a picture; he reasoned, “God told me my child is going to grow up, get married, have children and bless the world, and through him Christ would be born, and then God told me to kill him.  That doesn’t make sense.  So, it must be that I will kill him, and I will set him on fire and consume him and turn him to ashes and God will raise him from the dead.”  That was his reasoning.  That’s not right; he was wrong by faith.  He was trusting the Lord.  He was wrong but he was wrong by faith, but that became a picture of our Lord Jesus. 

There are so many pictures—when He turned water into wine, that’s a picture.  When Peter walked on the water, you don’t expect to claim that picture, “Lord, I’m going to walk on water.”  You say that there is a principle there, and you need to see what the reality is.  We read in the Bible about the laying on of hands.  That’s a picture.  What’s the reality?  We read in the Bible about tithing.  That’s a picture.  You don’t claim the picture.  What’s the reality.  We read in the Bible about praying and fasting.  That’s a picture.  Some people have just claimed the picture.  What’s the reality?  We need to know what the reality is.  Being baptized is a picture.  Breaking bread; that’s a picture.  Sometimes you read in the Bible about strange things, like handling snakes and drinking poison and handing out handkerchiefs.  What’s the reality?  Find the principle behind all those things, and then claim the reality.  Underneath all of those wonderful pictures are precious realities, and I think this story illustrates it.

One other thing before we leave the Shunammite; words can be used in different ways, we’re stewards and not owners, don’t try to apply the picture but apply the reality, and my last observation before we leave that story is from chapter 4:10, “Please, let us make a little walled upper chamber, and let us set a bed for him there—a table, a chair and a lampstand, and it shall be when he comes to us that he can turn in.”  That verse, along with Matthew 10:41, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward.  He who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward.” 

The Shunammite and her husband received a prophet in the name of a prophet, “I perceive this as a man of God.”  She received a prophet in the name of a prophet.  The Bible says that she’s going to get a prophet’s reward.  What does that mean?  There’s so much in the Bible written about rewards.  When somebody dies and knows the Lord, we say that they’ve gone to their reward.  Heaven is called a reward.  Preaching the gospel is called a reward.  Your inheritance is called a reward.  My favorite Old Testament verse on rewards is from the King James in Genesis 15:1, “Fear not, Abraham, I am thy shield, thy exceeding great reward.”  The Lord is our reward.

Usually when Christians study rewards, they do it under the figure of crowns.  The Lord has promised certain crowns.  1 Corinthians 9 talks about an imperishable crown.  2 Timothy 4 talks about a crown of righteousness.  1 Thessalonians 4:8 talks about a soul winner’s crown.  James 1 talks about a martyr’s crown.  Revelation 2 talks about a crown of life.  1 Peter 5 talks about a crown of glory.  But they’re general.  What’s a crown of glory, what’s a crown life, what’s a martyr’s crown, what exactly do we get when we talk about reward?

My favorite reward verse is Revelation 4:10, “The twenty-four elders will fall down before Him who sits on the throne, and will worship Him who lives forever and ever, and will cast their crowns before the throne.”  We have the privilege of casting, whatever it means, our crowns.  Matthew 10:41, “He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet receives a prophet’s reward.”  I can only guess, but whenever the Lord hands out crowns or rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ, I’ll bet that Shunammite woman is going to get very surprised because she received a prophet in the name of a prophet, and I can picture the Lord….  This is not in the Bible; this is my dumb head.  I can picture Jesus saying to the woman, “Mr. and Mrs. Shunammite, come on up here.  I want to give you a reward because you parted the Jordan River.”  And she says, “I don’t remember parting the Jordan River.”  “Not only that, but you have a reward here because one day through your faith trenches were filled with water.  Not only that, but you actually are rewarded because you raised your child from the dead.”  She says, “I don’t remember doing that.  I think Elisha did all that.”  “You are getting rewarded because you made an ax that floated, and you cleansed the leper.”  She says, “I don’ t remember doing that.”  You had an influence in the prophet’s life, so you are going to get the prophet’s reward.  Everything I will do through the prophet because you had a part in his life, you are also going to be rewarded.  He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will get a prophet’s reward.

You see how wonderful this is.  You might feel like a nobody.  I’ve heard Christians say, “I never got the privilege to lead anybody to Jesus.  I’m not a pastor and I’m not a teacher and I’m not a Sunday school teacher, and I have no ministry and I have no influence.  I don’t think I’ve ever blessed anyone; I’m never going to get a reward.”  Every time you have had an influence in anybody—your husband, your wife, your child, your neighbor, somebody you work with—any influence you ever had, if God decides to use them in some way, you’re going to be rewarded.  The reverse is true.  If you have done anything, and you’ve had a part, then they will be rewarded for your life.  Until the last ripple of your influence dies out, your rewards continue. 

According to Hebrews 11, there’s not one person in heaven at the moment who has received their rewards yet.  They have not received their reward.  Hebrews 11 tells you why.  They’re still earning them.  Every now and then I’ll quote somebody from the past who have been dead for a century.  If anybody gets blessed by what I’ve quoted, that author gets a reward.  Many times people very generously give to our ministry, and we deliberately take that offering and put it in the mainstream of our ministry, making tapes or literature.  We do that on purpose because if God in some way uses the ministry, that they will be rewarded.  Many have been blessed through commentators that lived many, many years ago.  What about song writers—“Amazing Grace” and “Blessed Assurance” and “Because He Lives” and then “Can it Be”, Newton and Charles Wesley and Gloria Gaither and Fanny Crosby.  What ministry they’ve had in lives, and they’re going to be blessed, and all of those who have written—Moody and Spurgeon and Whitfield and Wesley and Luther and Calvin, and on and on. 

I just wanted to call attention to this because you might be one who thinks, “Oh, on that day of rewards I’ll have no reward to cast at the feet of my dear Jesus.”  That’s nonsense; you’re going to have hundreds of rewards, thousands of rewards, perhaps millions of rewards.  You are going to be wonderfully surprised because you have made an impact on your child and your child has grown up and your child has made an impact on their spouse, and their child on their child and their child, and generation after generation.  Any time you’ve touched any life, God keeps track of that and God is keeping track of rewards, and anyone who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward.  It’s going to be a glorious day when we all get to cast.  It’s all undeserved; we don’t keep the reward; we just say, “Here, Jesus, that’s what You did through me, and it belong to You.  All glory to You.”

So, those four things I wanted to share before we left the Shunammite.  Words are used in different ways, we’re not owners but we’re only stewards, be careful not to apply pictures but apply the reality and know that you’re going to have many rewards to lay at the blessed feet of our Lord Jesus.

We leave that now to go to the fourth miracle in 2 Kings 4, the healing of the contaminated pot of stew.  Let me begin with something that’s technical, to get you into this story.  2 Kings 4:38, “When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land.”  That expression “famine in the land”.  Chapter 8:1, “Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life saying, “Arise, go with your household; sojourn wherever you can sojourn, for the Lord has called for a famine, and it will even come on the land for seven years.”

So, you know that Elisha did twice as many miracles?  Well, the nation got twice as wicked.  Elijah called for a three-and-a-half-year famine, and now Elisha calls for a seven-year famine, because of the wickedness.  The point I’m trying to make is that the famine was announced in chapter 8, and in chapter 4 you are in the middle of the famine.  It was announced in chapter 8.  I’m calling attention to this because when you go through the historical books, especially Samuels, Kings and Chronicles, many parts of it are not in chronological order; it’s in logical order.  It’s in spiritual order, but it’s not in chronological order.  God is writing a Bible and He’s not trying to give you a timeline for everything.

Another illustration of that is in verse 27 of 2 Kings 5, “The leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.  So, he went out from his presence a leper, white as snow.”  That’s when Gahazi, the servant Elisha, was cursed with a full-blown leprosy.  Then look at chapter 8:4, “The king was talking with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God, saying, ‘Please, relate to me all the great things that Elisha has done.’”  The king was talking to Gehazi, the servant of Elisha.  Now, that wouldn’t be possible if he had leprosy.  A leper wouldn’t be allowed in the Oval Office.  So, I don’t want you to get confused.  We read that he became a leper in chapter 5, but then in chapter 8 he doesn’t have leprosy.  We know he didn’t get healed because of 2 Kings 5:27, “The leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and to your descendants forever.”  So, he didn’t get healed.  As you read through these chapters, one is never dead sure what block of time it is.  You’re going to notice especially in 2 Kings 4-10 “the king, the king, the king,” no name.  It just says that the king went, and the king said, and the king did.”  Which king?  We can guess, but we don’t know.  We know they’re wicked, because all the kings of Israel were wicked, but we don’t know exactly which one it was. 

When this story begins, we’re somewhere in the middle of a seven-year famine.   Elisha, as the obedient servant of the Lord, never did settle down in any one place or particular area.  He spent a lot of time at his retreat at Mt. Carmel, and he had a house in Samaria, we know that, but when the Lord called, Elijah obeyed.  This is one of those times.  He left his retreat at Mt. Carmel, he went through Samaria and down through the Jordan valley and came to a very barren area, chapter 4:38, “When Elisha returned to Gilgal, there was a famine in the land.”  Remember that was where the school of the prophets was.  He went to the school of the prophets.  We find out from another passage that there were probably a hundred students in this particular school of the prophets.

The famine was chastening from the Lord.  If you read Deuteronomy 28, it shows that God sends famine, and it shows that this is controlled by the Lord.  Here it was chastening.  The weather is under the control of the Lord.  It rains when God tells it to rain, and it doesn’t rain unless God gives it permission to rain.  He controls all things in history and in nature.  The wind stops when He said, “Stop,” and the wind doesn’t blow until He says, “Blow.” 

Israel is under chastening, and my point is that God’s people aren’t exempt.  These students at the Bible school are also suffering from this famine.  Elisha, the servant of the Lord, gives the students a command, 2 Kings 4:38, “As the sons of the prophets were sitting before him, he said to his servant, ‘Put on the large pot, boil stew for the sons of the prophets.’”  There wasn’t much in the way of vegetation in the land because of the famine.  He sent the students out and they went out and scoured the devastated land for some kind of edible vegetation.  2 Kings 4:39, “One went out to the field to gather herbs and found a wild vine and gathered from it his lap full of wild gourds and came and sliced them into the pot of stew, for they did not know what they were.”  This is the occasion of this miracle, and you know I always want to end up with the distinct revelation of our Lord Jesus—how does this reveal Jesus.

This is the occasion where we’re going to get the miracle, and then the special revelation of Jesus.  2 Kings 4:40, “So, they poured it out for the men to eat, and as they were eating of the stew, they cried out and said, ‘Oh, man of God, there’s death in the pot,’ and they were unable to eat.”  It came time to eat the stew, and I want you to notice from verse 40 that it’s plural, “They began to eat,” many men began to eat.  How much they ate, we’re not told.  How did they know there was death in the pot?  How did they know it was poison?  Was there some foul taste?  Did some who had ingested it become sick?  Did some start to vomit?  The Bible doesn’t tell us, but they cried out, “There’s death in the stew.

Food poisoning is not a good thing.  We almost lost our granddaughter when she was very young, because of food poisoning.  My own Lillian was in the hospital for several days because of food poisoning.  We just got a call that last week my firstborn son and his wife had been poisoned by food, and they’ve been very sick for about a week.  Food poisoning is not good.

Before I show you the distinctive revelation of Christ, I want to call attention to one important fact, and it’s easy to miss.  If you miss it, you miss the revelation of Christ.  So, don’t miss this one fact.  That is, whoever put that poison gourd into the stew, he didn’t do it on purpose.  It was an accident.  It was not deliberate.  He wasn’t trying to poison his classmates.  That was not in his mind.  It was an accident.  It was a time of famine, and edible vegetables and greens were hard to find.  I think he was probably excited when he saw that vine and gourds, “I have a contribution to make to the stew.” 

What he did was not a sin.  I want to emphasize that.  He didn’t know it was poison.  I’m not saying that he was wise.  He might not have been wise; he might have been foolish.  It might have been helpful to ask somebody, “Anybody know what this is?”  He could have been wise, I suppose.  I know he wasn’t malicious.  He didn’t do it on purpose.  There’s a problem.  They had already gathered what they could find, and what they gathered was now contaminated.  So, what are they supposed to do? 

Verse 40, “As they were eating the stew, they cried out and said, ‘Oh, man of God, there’s death in the pot.’  And they were unable to eat.”  How did Elisha, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, deal with this problem?  Verse 41, “He said, ‘Now bring meal,’ and he threw it into the pot, and poured it out for the people, that they may eat.  Then, there was no harm in the pot.”  There was nothing chemical in the meal that could counter the poison that was in the pot.  Why meal?  Is there some significance in the fact of the meal, or was it just another instrument?  God can use anything.  You know that.  He used mud and spit to make a blind man see.  He used salt to purify the waters of Jericho.  He used a stick, threw a stick in, to purify the bitter waters of Mara.  He could use any instrument. 

I’m inclined to think the meal was different, that there was a spiritual significance connected with the meal.  The reason I say that is because the Bible talks about the offerings that were in the Jewish economy that pictured Jesus.  There were five offerings, and one of them was the meal offering.  So, there’s a special significance to the meal.  In KJV it’s called “the meat offering”.  It’s not talking about the meat of a foul or of an animal, but like the meat of a nut, the center of it.  Actually, it’s just flour; it’s a flour offering.  One translation I have calls it a “grain offering”.  Another calls it a “cereal offering”.  Another calls it a “meal offering”.  There are different words, but it’s flour.  It was ground between two millstones, very fine until it was as fine as talcum.  It was just so smooth.  The meal offering of the five; you’ve got the burnt offering, you’ve got the peace offering, you’ve got the sin offering, you’ve got the trespass offering, and every one of those pictures the cross, the death of Christ.

The meal offering is the only bloodless offering; it does not picture the death of Christ.  The meal offering pictures something else.  There’s no question it pictures Jesus.  Let me give you a strong example of that.  The New Testament, Mary and Joseph, the birth of Jesus, Luke 2, “They brought Him to Jerusalem to present Him to the Lord, as it’s written in the Law of the Lord, every firstborn male that opens the womb shall be called holy to the Lord, and to offer a sacrifice, according to what was said in the Law of the Lord, a pair of turtle doves or two young pigeons.”  Why did Mary and Joseph bring birds?  Why didn’t they bring a lamb?  Leviticus 5:7, “If he cannot afford a lamb, he shall bring to the Lord his guilt offering and that which he has sinned, two turtle doves or two young pigeons.”  Mary and Joseph didn’t bring a lamb; they were too poor.  They didn’t have the money to buy a lamb.

Here’s the question; what if you were so poor that you couldn’t afford two birds?  They were pretty cheap.  Leviticus 5:11, “If his means are insufficient for two turtle doves or two pigeons, then for his offering, that which he has sinned, he shall bring a tenth of an ephah of fine flour for a sin offering.”  That was a pinch of flour, in between your index finger and your thumb, a pinch of flour.  You see, the Lord Jesus is God’s provision for the poorest of the poor; for everybody.  You can’t afford a lamb, bring a bird.  If you can’t afford a bird, bring a pinch of meal, a pinch of flour, because He wants everybody to come.  I know the meal pictured Jesus.

Symbolically, Jesus healed the stew; not only symbolically, but literally Jesus healed the stew.  Here is the question, what aspect of the that meal pictures the Lord Jesus?  There’s a special picture, a revelation of Jesus in this miracle that you don’t see in the other offering.  All the offerings picture Jesus, but this was the only bloodless offering.  This did not picture Jesus in His death; this pictured Jesus in His life, in His perfect life.  The powder ground so smooth, like talcum, He was that grain of wheat; He IS that bread of life, He IS that meal offering ground.  Even in His life He was pictured as perfect and beautiful humanity; He was ground to powder, He was tested, He was tempted, He was contradicted, He was resisted, He was rejected—in His life, not His death. 

Every part of the meal offering, and you’ll have to trust me on this, says that He had a perfect life.  For example, the meal offering had to have salt.  Salt prevents corruption.  He had a perfect life.  The meal offering had to be anointed with oil.  That’s a picture of the Holy Spirit.  He had a perfect life.  The meal offering had to have frankincense.  That was added to the offering to make it a sweet-smelling sacrifice, “This is My beloved Son in whom I am well-pleased.”  He had a perfect life. There’s a special command; no leaven in the meal offering.  Leaven is corruption.  He had a perfect life.  It couldn’t have natural sweetness, no honey, because it had frankincense instead of honey.  It had salt instead of leaven, and so on.  His life was perfect.  The meal offering, part of it, a portion was burnt on the altar because God said, “His life is pleasing to Me; I want some.”  What happened to the rest of it?  It was given to the priests, so that they could eat.  You’re the priest and I’m the priest; it’s given to us.  It’s for God and it’s for us, His perfect life.  The righteousness of Christ is pictured by the meal, His perfect life, His perfect obedience, His perfect dependence, His perfect meekness, His perfect sympathy.  God was pleased with that.

As we close, let’s close in on that distinctive emphasis.  When we think of the righteousness of Christ, almost always, we say, “The imputed righteousness,” we think of righteousness, sin.  We think of 2 Corinthians 5:21, “He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”  It’s His righteousness for my sin.  He was perfect, I’m a sinner, we change places, and now I’m as righteous as He is righteous.  He was so righteous that He never sinned. 

That’ only part of the truth.  Here’s the other part of the truth.  He was not only so righteous that He never sinned, He was so righteous that He never made a mistake.  You better underline that, because that’s what this story is about.  This guy made a mistake; he didn’t sin.  What’s God’s provision if I just make a mistake?   The answer is the righteousness of Christ, the meal of Christ.  The man in this story had a cure for his mistake.  He didn’t poison the stew intentionally; he didn’t try to hurt anybody. 

Christians, they have forgiveness, they have His righteousness for their sin.  I know some Christians that have made mistakes, and they’re living under a terrible burden.  “I didn’t mean to leave the stove on.”  And you know where that led.  “I didn’t mean to give him the wrong medicine.”  That’s a mistake; it’s not a sin.  “My Aunt, she didn’t mean to back her car over her little baby.”  She did; it’s a mistake.  “I didn’t mean to serve contaminated food.” 

I had a friend who had muscular dystrophy, and on a joyous occasion in February, this son now twenty years-old, wheelchair bound, is going to be part of the wedding of his sister.  They went to the church, and it had a lot of stairs, and the father at the top of stairs slipped with the wheelchair, and the wheelchair went tumbling over, and the child died.  He never got over it.  It was a mistake; it was no sin.  He didn’t try to kill his son.  It was a mistake.

Friends in Christ, you have the righteousness of Christ not only for your sin, but you can claim the imputed righteousness of Christ for your mistakes.  I think you are familiar with Fanny Crosby, the blind hymn writer, are you familiar with her?  She was six weeks old and she had an eye infection and her doctor was out of town.  Some other doctor came in.  There are many stories; you can look it up.  Some say that he was a quack, and some say he was drunk.  We don’t know.  Anyway, he put a mustard plaster in her eye, and it burnt out her little eyes.  Everyone seems to blame the doctor, but later when she grew up, Fanny Crosby didn’t blame the doctor.  She wrote her autobiography and I’ll quote from it.  “It seemed intended by the blessed providence of God, that I should be blind all my life, and I thank Him for that dispensation.  I heard that this physician never ceased expressing regret at the occurrence, that it became one of the sorrows of his life.  If I could meet him now, I would say, ‘Thank you, thank you,’ over and over again, “for making me blind if it was through your agency that I became blind.’”  When she was eight years-old she wrote this poem:

Oh, what a happy soul, am I, although I cannot see,                                                              

I am resolved that in this world, contented I will be.

How many blessings I enjoy, that other people don’t,

To weep and sigh because I’m blind, I cannot and I won’t.

A mistake: the righteousness of Christ covers mistakes.  Next week, Lord willing, I want to dive a little deeper into His righteousness for my mistakes.  More than once, as a Bible teacher, I put a poison gourd in the stew.  More than once, people have ingested it.  What’s my hope for that?  It’s the righteousness of Christ for my mistakes, and for anybody who has ever been hurt by my mistakes.  We are going to look into that a little closer next week.  I just wanted you to know that Jesus is your righteousness for all your sins and for all your mistakes.  Let’s pray…

Father, thank You for Your word, not what we think it means, but all You know it means.  Work in our lives.  We thank You, Lord, for that picture of the meal offering, and for the reality of our Lord Jesus, so righteous that He never sinned, and so righteous that He never made a mistake, and I can have that righteousness.  Thank You, Lord.  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.