Elijah and Elisha Message #21 “Multiplied Loaves/The Shunammite’s Inheritance” Ed Miller, May 30, 2023

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

Before we look in the word of the Lord, I want to remind our hearts about the indispensable principle, and I want to share two verses from Ezekiel 2, and they’re the first two verses, “Then He said to me, ‘Son of man, stand on your feet, that I may speak with you.’  And as He spoke to me, the Spirit entered me and set me on my feet, and I heard Him speaking with me.”  The principle is pretty clear.  In the first verse He commands Ezekiel to stand up and hear the word of God, but he can’t do it.  So, the next verse says, “The Spirit, as He spoke to me, entered me, and set me on my feet.”  Everything God commands, God provides.  He’ll tell us to do something, and then He’ll enable us to do it.  Now, in this verse it’s about hearing the word of God.  So, I’ll say, “I want everybody to stand and hear the word of God,” and then the Spirit of God says, “I’ll make them stand in their heart, and they’ll hear the word of God because I will instruct them.”  With that in mind, let’s pray together…

Heavenly Father, thank You for allowing us to gather in this wonderful place.  We just ask that the indwelling Holy Spirit would once again turn our eyes to the Lord Jesus.  We do desire to see Him.  We know it’s not as great as Your desire to manifest Yourself to us, but we just pray that we would behold the Lord.  We thank You in advance that You are going to meet with us because Jesus deserves it, and we come claiming it in His matchless name.  Amen.

The Lord has given us another opportunity to draw near to Him in the Person of our Lord Jesus.  We’re at the end of our meditation of the Lord in 2 Kings 4.  I remind you that there are five miracles in 2 Kings 4—the miracle of the multiplied oil, the two miracles connected to the Shunammite woman, the supernatural birth of her son, and then the restoration to life after he died, and last week we focused on 2 Kings 4:38-41, the poison in the stew.  So, there’s one final miracle that we’ll look at this morning in the end of the chapter, 42-44, the multiplying of the loaves to feed one hundred.

When we left off last week, we were meditating on the Lord Jesus pictured by the meal offering, the flour offering.  That was put in the stew to make the poisoned stew healthy again.  2 Kings 4:1, “He said, ‘Now, bring meal,’ and he threw it into the pot and said, ‘Pour it out for the people, that they may eat.’  Then there was no harm in the pot.” 

I shared with you last session that the meal, that flour, that meal offering was God’s inspired picture of the perfect humanity of our Lord Jesus.  There were five offerings in the Jewish economy.  Four of them pictured Jesus on the cross, pictured His death.  The meal offering was the only bloodless offering, and it didn’t picture His death.  It pictured His life, His perfect life.  That was God’s provision to heal the poisoned stew. 

I’m not going to go through it again.  I showed you last time how that was so, that His perfect life healed the poisoned stew, but for a short review I want to refocus on that revelation of our Lord Jesus in verse 39, “One went out to the field to gather herbs, and he found a wild vine and gathered from it, and his lap was full of wild gourds.  He came and sliced them into the pot of stew.  They did not know what they were.”  That son of the prophet, that man of God, that child of God who found that wild gourd and cut it up and threw it into the stew, thought it was edible; he did not know that it was poisoned.  He would not have tried to poison his classmates.  It was not on purpose.  It was an error, a mistake, an honest mistake, but still it affected others.

Verse 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.”  Even though it was a mistake, it did damage.  Some people ate it, and some people were poisoned.  They had food poisoning.  That’s the wonder of picturing our Lord Jesus by the meal, because the meal not only heals our sin, His righteousness, but our mistakes.  Usually, as I said last time, we connect it with sin.  For example, 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.”  His righteousness is for my sin.  Theologians call that “imputed righteousness”.  Imputation is when you attribute something to somebody else.  He took my sin, and I took His righteousness.  When God sees me now, or when God sees you….  If you look in the mirror, you see yourself.   If you look into your heart, you see what a terrible thing it is.  But when God looks at you, if you’re a Christian, He doesn’t see you as a sinner.  He sees you as perfect as Christ.  We say “justification”, “just as if I never sinned,” “justified”.  But it’s also true that it’s just as if I’d always been Jesus.  That’s how perfect I am when God sees me. 

I love Isaiah 61:10, “I will rejoice greatly in the Lord; my soul will exalt in my God; He has clothed me with the garments of salvation; He has wrapped me with a roble of righteousness, as a bridegroom decks himself with a garland, as a bride adorns herself with jewels.”  But His righteousness does more than cover my sin; it also covers my mistakes.  That’s what this story is all about.  The man in the story, as I said, didn’t sin, and he wasn’t rebellious, and he’s not a backslider; he’s just somebody that’s made a terrible mistake, and it affected others. 

Is there a cure for mistakes, as well as for my sin?  I’m happy to tell you and proclaim to you that there is, and it’s the righteousness of our Lord Jesus Christ.  That’s God’s provision.  Jesus was so righteous, He never sinned.  He was also so righteous that He never made a mistake.  That righteousness can be applied to our mistakes.  The reason I’m calling attention to this, last week and now as I review, is because many people are free, and they’re not under condemnation because Jesus is the righteousness for my sin.  And even though they’re not under condemnation, because He’s the righteousness for their sin, they’re under a great burden because of their mistakes.  They’ve never applied the righteousness of Christ to their mistakes.

As a teacher of the word of God, I say it with sort of a blush, a shame, but as a teacher of the word of God, more than once I have unintentionally poisoned the stew.  I’ve put in things that perhaps I shouldn’t have said, and then other people hear that, and they ingest it and take it in.  For many years I’ve regretted some of the poison that I put in the stew.  I went through a season when I almost quit teaching because I looked back and saw some of the things I taught, and I said, “I just know that what I’m going to learn tomorrow is going to show that this was a poison gourd.”  I was about to give up teaching altogether, because I didn’t want to poison anybody.  I didn’t want to hurt anybody.  I think you’ve often heard me when I pray, I ask God to protect you.  That’s in terms of the stew, because I don’t want to say anything that’s going to hurt you or that’s going to poison you.  The last thing I want to do is chop up some false teaching and hurt the people of God.

In the story the pot was filled with nourishing vegetables, and a little bit of poison, but the little leaven leavened the whole lump.  Everything that was good, now was spoiled because of that gourd.  So, if by mistake I throw some error in the pot, I think I’ve contaminated everything.  I’m so glad for the righteousness of Christ, because it set me free, so I didn’t have to be under condemnation.

I’m going to state up front the great truth that I’m going to emphasize as I close the review, and it’s from Deuteronomy 23:5, the last portion, “The Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you.”  Isn’t that a great verse!  The Lord turns the curse into a blessing because He loves you.  So, no matter, anyone looks at that verse, it’s a blessing, that God rules the good, and then He overrules the evil.  In our discussion, the poison in the stew, God overrules the poison and makes even the poison gourd edible, and He turns even that into something that is nourishing.

I don’t want to spend a lot of time here, but I don’t want you to get just a general idea, so I’m going to give a testimony, as I said, that I’m ashamed of, on how I’ve poisoned the stew in the past.  That’s going to show you how free I’ve become, but it’s also going to warn you about a certain kind of poison that might harm you.  So, I want to give a couple of illustrations.

There are two pots in this story.  2 Kings 4:41, “’Now bring meal,’ and he threw it into the pot, and he said, ‘Pour it out for the people, that they may eat,’ and there was no harm in the pot.”  I know that the meal that pictures our Lord Jesus healed the large pot that contained all the stew, but notice in verse 40, “As they were eating the stew, they cried out and said, ‘Oh, man of God, there’s death in the pot.’”  There’s another pot.  We call it a pot belly.  So, there’s a pot on the fire, but then they ate it, and then it was in their pot.  My question is that I know the meal was thrown into the pot on the fire, and that healed that, but did that also take care of what they had already eaten?  It’s not distinctly stated, but it’s seems to be implied.  I don’t see any funeral services taking place in this story.  So, I want to illustrate how I poisoned the stew, because at that time in my ministry I had not yet understood Galatians 3:2&3, “The only thing I want to find out from you, did you receive the Spirit by the works of the law or by the hearing with faith?  Are you so foolish, having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?”  The poison I threw into the pot was that I mixed the pure grace of God with a teaching that was a salvation by works.  Actually, that poisoned the pot twice because there’s two ways to give you poison by works.  One is external, and one is internal, and I did both.

Don’t misunderstand me; when I say that I taught salvation by works, I’m not suggesting that I believed or taught that a person could earn salvation by works.  He had shown me that, and I didn’t teach that.  I never taught that if you’re a good person, you can go to heaven.  I never taught that.  That’s not what I mean by salvation from works.  Ephesians 2:8&9, “By grace you’ve been saved through faith, and that, not of yourselves; it’s the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.”  I never taught that.

The salvation by works that I threw in the pot wasn’t, “How do you become a Christian,” but I was teaching, “How can you be a good Christian.”  It wasn’t how to become a Christian; it was how to grow, how to mature, and I was feeding them poison.  By external works, I didn’t understand the difference between the works of man and the fruit of the Holy Spirit.  Sometimes they look alike, a lot alike on the outside, but the source becomes so important.  It sounded so good.  So, I was teaching, “If you want to be a good Christian,” and I actually judged people, if they didn’t live this way, I had bad thoughts about them, and they got on my prayer list.  “If you’re a good Christian, you’re going to have a family altar; every day you’re going to meet with your family and you’re going to pray.  You should be getting up early in the morning and having a quiet time.”  I would teach that and encourage that, and almost make a rule out of that.

Then I would encourage everybody, “Every time the doors of the church are open, you ought to be there.”  If I heard some father went to a Little League game instead of prayer meeting, oh my, I got pretty tough on him because he should be at prayer meeting.  I taught that.  I taught that you should get involved, and you should be busy, and everyone should have some kind of a ministry.  “You should be supporting missions.  You should be involved in these things, and evangelism.”  Then I had a whole section on tithing, and on giving and stewardship, and you’ve got to make sure you’re giving your money, first to the church, and then if there’s extra you give to somebody else.  And you ought to know all about the devil and about spiritual warfare, and you ought to understand cults, and you ought to know what other people believe, so you can witness to them.  Don’t you dare go to bed without confessing your sin.  1 John 1:9, and on and on I went.

Then I did the separation from.  A good Christian doesn’t go here, and doesn’t eat that, and doesn’t do that, and doesn’t associate with those people.  What kind of music are you listening to?  What does your hair look like?  Where is the hemline on your skirt and your shirt, and all of that kind of stuff?  I was into that, and we call that “legalism”.  I was killing people with that.  At the very least, I was making them quite anemic.  Do you know what I thought was the cure?  Eat more stew; you didn’t eat enough.  So, I kept pushing the poison on these people.  Again, I’m not saying that family and fellowship and ministry and stewardship and prayer and spiritual warfare and Bible study is wrong, but it’s got to be a by-product of a union with Jesus.  It’s got to be an out-working.  It’s got to be a fruit.  I didn’t teach that, and by not teaching that, I was poisoning the people of God.  If it’s not a product of union with Christ, don’t eat it.

Let me show you the other form salvation by works takes.  By external works, legalism, once God opened my eyes to how poison that was, I thought victory in Christ was absence of legalism.  I didn’t know it was Christ.  So, I quit everything, and now I’m encouraging people to stop everything, and you don’t have to do this, and you don’t have to do that, because I thought victory was absence of legalism.  But what was I going to teach?  In my life I turned from legalism to mysticism.  When I turned to mysticism, I didn’t know, because it’s internal, it’s not external and you can’t see it.  It’s not what you’re doing out there; it’s in here.  So, I began to teach internal works.  I taught them, “What you need to do is have more meditation, and you ought to do inward prayer and focused prayer and visualization and picture what your life could be like, and have positive thinking, and move by intuition.  Because it was internal, I thought it was spiritual, but it wasn’t.  It was a more subtle form of works.  Instead of doing this, now do this, and it was still works; it was internal work.  I was teaching Christians to be passive, “Don’t be legalists; be passive, and put your brain in neutral, and get into a room and have it quiet and wait until God speaks to you, and sends a special inner life.”  I called that “rest”; I thought that was rest.  That was before God opened my eyes to what rest really was. 

I thought, “It’s not legalism; it’s motives; it has to do with the heart—motives.  If you love Jesus, stop sinning.”  Is that going to make you stop sinning?  You are as helpless loving Jesus against sin as you were when you tried to do it by works.  If you really serve the Lord from your heart, you will count it all joy when you fall into diverse temptations and affliction.  If you’re obeying from the heart, you’ll love your enemies, and you’ll turn the other cheek.  What you need is to be thankful.  If you are thankful, be perfect as He is perfect.  Did you ever try it?  Internal works are just as bad as external works.  Christian life is Christ; it’s relationship with a Person.  It’s not having the right motives and loving Jesus more and worshipping Him, and, “I’m going to do it for His glory.”  Those are just internal works.

All of that to say that I was feeding people that.  Romans 8:1 is very precious to me now, “There is now, therefore, no condemnation to those in Christ.”  I’m not condemned because of my sin because of Jesus, and I’m not condemned because of the poison I put in the stew.  I didn’t do it on purpose, and His righteousness has covered my sin, and He’s cleansed both pots; the pot on the fire, and everything they ate, and I know that God has turned that curse to a blessing.  That much for review, but I wanted you to be clear on how wonderful Christ the meal offering is.

Let’s look at the last miracle together, 2 Kings 4:42-44, “Now a man came from Baal-shallishah and brought the man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack.  And he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat.’  His attendant said, ‘What, will I set this before a hundred men?’ But he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, “They shall eat and have some left over.”’ So, he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.”  Of course, we look at every story and ask the same question, “How does this reveal the Lord Jesus?”  That’s why we’re here, and that’s what we’ve come to see.

I told you last week that these stories are not in chronological order.  The famine helps put it in chronological order.  In 2 Kings 8:1 we read about an announcement of a seven-year famine.  The miracle of the death in the pot that we looked at last time was somewhere in the middle of that famine, somewhere deep into the famine.  So, the famine is announced in chapter 8, but in chapter 4 we’re already in the famine.  This last miracle appears to be at the end of the famine, because this man now is bringing the first fruits of the harvest, so the famine is over now, and the harvest, but they’re not in chronological order.

This unnamed man from Baal-shallishah—by the way, no one knows his name, and no one knows where that place is.  There are some guesses, but no one knows for certain.  He’s bringing the first fruits of the harvest, and it’s actually a rather meager offering.  2 Kings 4:42 says that he brought twenty loaves of barley.  That sounds like a lot, if you grow up here in the west, but a loaf is not a loaf.  He’s not talking about a loaf you can slice pieces of bread off of.  These are biscuits; these are little biscuits.  In the feeding of the five thousand in John 6:9, “There’s a lad here who has five barley loaves and a few fish, but what are these among so many?”  Five barley loaves; that’s a little boy’s lunch, five little biscuits that were in his lunch.  So, twenty loaves would satisfy four little boys.

2 Kings 4:43, “His attenant said,’What, will I set this before a hundred men?’  But he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, “They shall eat and have some left over.”’”  And, like the miracle in the New Testament, in may have been men plus women and children.  It’s not clear.  Anyway, it was not a lot of food.  One illustration of that is meal for a hundred people was carried by one man, so one man is not going to carry enough to feed one hundred people.  So, this miracle, like the feeding of the five thousand, has many parallels, and there are some differences.  There were no fish in Elisha’s miracle.  There were a couple of heads of roasted grain.  We know that by the law of Moses, Leviticus 2:14 tells us that’s what he brought.

I want to get closer to the revelation of Christ.  How does this story reveal our Lord Jesus?  This man, this tither, this guy who brought the first fruits, I want to focus on him for a moment, because what this man did, if you were a good Jew, you would look at what this man did and say, “You did wrong; you disobeyed the Law of Moses.”  Over and over again in the Law of Moses the first fruits, the offering of the harvest was to be brought to the priests, and there’s no exception.  If you go through the Old Testament, you will not find an exception; it is always brought to the priest, and not to the prophet, the man of God.

Elisha is called a man of God; he’s a prophet, and he’s not a priest.  Of course, in his heart he’s a priest.  We know that.  Verse 42, “A man came from Baal-shallishah and brought this man of God bread of the first fruits, twenty loaves of barley and fresh ears of grain in his sack.  And he said, ‘Give to the people.’”  This man had no right to bring, on the level of earth, anything to the prophet, no legal right.  He broke the rule.  He’s illustrating a great truth.  This man is bringing to the Lord, by grace.  He’s not interested in the letter of the Law. He’s interested in the spirit of the Law. 

When we introduced Elisha’s ministry, I told you how the ten tribes had turned apostate; they turned away from the Lord.  Ahab and Jezebel kicked Jehovah right out of the nation, and they began to worship Baal and Asherah, and their wicked sons followed suit.  Jehoram, the son of Ahab and Jezebel, was probably king at this time.  Most people believe he was the king.  2 Kings 3:2-3, “He did evil in the sight of the Lord…Nevertheless, he clung to the sins of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin; he did not depart from it.”  What was that sin?  1 Kings 12:28, “The king consulted, and made two golden calves, and he said to them, ‘It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem; behold your gods, O Israel, that brought you up from the land of Egypt.”  He became a calf worshipper; they made a golden calf, worshipping a cow. 

Then in 1 Kings 12:31, “And he made houses on high places, and made priests from among all the people who were not of the sons of Levi.”  This wicked king kicked out all the Godly priests, and he set up ungodly priests.  The command is, according to the Law of Moses, to bring it to the priest.  Well, he’s not going to give it to these ungodly, cow worshipping priests.  He can’t do that.  He wants to worship the Lord.  So, he’s going to break the Law of Moses in the letter, but he’s going to keep it in the spirit, because he didn’t identify with these ungodly priests.  So, this unnamed owner illustrates the great truth of grace; he’s doing it by grace; he didn’t follow the letter of the Law; he obeyed from the heart.

In our day he would be called a backslider.  If you don’t keep the rules, you’re a backslider, outside the camp, parachurch.  Heart obedience often looks like disobedience.  If you follow the Lord in your heart, you will probably be accused of disobeying the Lord.  If you set your heart to follow the Lord against the natural heart, you’re going to look like a backslider.  Let a man, for example, start to live by grace, he’s going to be called a backslider because let’s say he decides, “My life is just too busy, and I can’t enjoy the Lord,” and he drops out of some programs.  Somebody is going to look at him and say, “Uh-oh, he dropped out of some programs.”  Or, like I suggested earlier, if somebody dares to go to an athletic event, a Little League game, and miss prayer meeting, you’re going to get on somebody’s prayer list, because you’re a backslider.  If you really follow the Lord in your heart, and God leads you to give to somebody down the street, and you’re not able to give to the church, they’re going to say, “We’ve got to pray for him.  He’s fallen away from the Lord, and I’ve heard that he’s actually fellowshipping with somebody from a different church.  Can you imagine?  We need to pray for them.”  You are going to be quickly put on some prayer list.  Heart obedience resembles disobedience.  So, when you really serve the Lord in the spirit and you depart from the letter, you better believe you’re going to be under the gun.

Understand this, that this man who is living by grace, is a step toward showing the revelation of Christ.  Hold that for a moment.  I want to show you another picture.  Verse 42, the last part, Elisha gives a command, “Give the people that they may eat.”  The attendant’s response to that command is also going to show you how to take a forward step to see Jesus.  Verse 43, “His attendant said, ‘What, will I set this before a hundred men?’  But he said, ‘Give them to the people that they may eat, for thus says the Lord, “They shall eat and have some left over.”’”

This attendant, it could have been Gahazi (we’re not sure), was looking and living by sight and not by faith.  Elisha was living by faith and not by sight.  That becomes an important thing.  Elisha’s attendant was applying worldly wisdom, “Look at what we have!  We only have a couple of loaves, a couple of biscuits, and a few ears of corn.  It’s not going to work.  There’s a hundred people.  Count them, take out your calculator.  That’s not going to work.”  Everything was reason, everything was mind, everything was logic.  They would say, “We’re being practical; you’re not being practical.”  God hasn’t called you to try to figure it out.  He’s called us to obey, “Give to the people that they may eat.  Thus says the Lord.  They’re going to be fed and they’re going to be some left over.  The command is repeated twice to this unbelieving attendant.  This time it was added, “Thus says the Lord.”  You’ve got to believe it because it’s from the Lord.

Alright, hold that a moment, those two things.  Now, what’s the revelation of the Lord?  The ministry by grace from the stranger, live by grace and not by law, live by faith and not by sight.  Those two things are illustrated in this story.  Now, I’ll bring up one other point; you’ve got a hundred hungry men.  Here’s the revelation of the Lord.  The Lord desires to feed the hungry, and He’s looking for someone who will live by grace and not by law, who will live by faith and not by sight.  When God finds somebody that lives by grace and not by law, lives by faith and not by sight, God can take that gift that’s dedicated to Him, as meager as it is and seems to be, and multiply it and feed the people.  We all want to feed the hungry, and I think we all feel inadequate; we all feel like we don’t have what it takes; we’re disqualified.  But if God sees you living by grace and not by law, and He sees you living by faith and not by works, don’t ever underestimate what the Lord can do with that which is dedicated to Him.  You give it to the Lord. This guy didn’t give it to the people; he gave it to the Lord, through Elisha.  Elisha is representing the Lord.  He gives it to the Lord.  The Lord gave it to the people; the guy didn’t give it to the people.  We give it to the Lord, and He assumes the responsibility to feed the hungry.

As we close this lesson, hopefully to resume after Labor Day, if it’s in the will of the Lord, there’s one final unveiling of Jesus that I want us to see, and we’ll close with this.  It wraps up the famine stories, not only the famine story with the poison in the stew, not only the one where God feeds the hungry, but now we come to the end of the famine, 2 Kings 8:1, “Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, ‘Arise, and go with your household, and sojourn wherever you can sojourn; the Lord has called for a famine, and it will come on the land for seven years.’”  There’s an announcement of a famine for seven years, just like there was the famine at Gilgal, and so on.  We return to this last mention of the Shunammite woman.  We read about her in chapter 4, and God doesn’t mention her again until chapter 8.  Why does he mention her again, and what is the revelation that we need to see?

Let me describe the occasion of the story and make a couple of observations that will give us yet another look at our Lord Jesus.  Elisha received a word from the Lord in verse 8:1 that there is going to be a famine for seven years.  The Bible says he shared this with the Shunammite woman.  I personally, there’s no record, don’t think he shared it because he was a prophet.  I think he shared it because they were friends.  He was close friends with this Shunammite woman and the family, and he went to her and said, “Hey, God revealed to me there’s going to be a famine.  I think you ought to think about leaving.  The father is not mentioned.  The first record we have, he was old, and now we’ve got at least another seven years, and probably more than that, so this kid that was raised from the dead is probably in his upper teens now, and since the husband is not mentioned, we assume that he died, and he went to be with the Lord.

This woman knows and has come to believe what Elisha says is true.  So, when he tells her to arise and leave, he doesn’t tell her where to go.  He leaves that up to her; go anywhere, use your head.  “There’s famine in the land, it’s under chastening.”  Famine was a chastening from the Lord.  There’s no specific guidance.  The Lord is going to guide her, no matter where she goes.  I want to jump over much that we could discuss.  In fact, in the review in the Fall I’ll pick up some of this, but the turning point of the story is chapter 8:5, “As he was relating to the king,” and that’s Gahazi, “how he had restored to life the one who is dead, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and her field.  Gahazi said, ‘My lord, oh king, this is the woman, and this is her son whom Elisha restored to life.’” 

After the seven-year famine, this woman returns to her home, to her inheritance, to her land, to her property, and when she arrived, she found it was occupied by others.  By whom?  Probably not her servants, because of chapter 8:1 when he said, “Arise and take your household,” we know she had servants and maybe she took them with her.  It was probably not her neighbors, because remember that earlier she said, “I live at peace with my neighbors.”  They aren’t going to take over her property.  And it probably wasn’t an enemy because at this time there was relative peace in the kingdom.  It’s not going to last very long; we’re going to have a war very soon.  From chapter 8:6 we assume that her property was confiscated by the king.  2 Kings 8:6, “When the king asked the woman, she related it to him.  So, the king appointed for her a certain offricer, saying, ‘Restore all that was hers and all the produce of the field from the day that she left the land even until now.’”

When he said to restore the property, the property was probably annexed to the royal domain.  When it was abandoned, the government took over.  This is the first observation, and I’ll give it to you as a principle.  If you obey the Lord like she did, you lose nothing.  In fact, you gain.  The safest place you could ever be is in the will of God.  If you obey the Lord, you aren’t going to be a loser; you are going to be gainer, and you are not going to lose one thing.  2 Kings 8:6, “Restore all that was hers, and all the produce of the field, from the day she left the land until now.”  She got everything that she had left, and she got the produce of that seven-year famine, and it’s a royal produce, and I’m sure there was a lot more.  Actually, it was a blessing that someone took over her property, because when she got back, she didn’t have to mow the lawn, and she didn’t have to pull weeds, because they were taking care of it for her.  That’s how the Lord was watching over her.

The second observation that sheds light on the revelation of Christ is from verse 4, “Now the king was talking with Gehazi, the servant of the man of God…”  Now, here’s an amazing scene.  In the same room you have this king, and most reliable commentators say it’s Jehoram, the king of Ahab.  If that’s true, and it looks like it is, it’s a wicked cat-worshipping king, and he’s in the same room as Gahazi.  We have not yet studied the story that reveals the heart of Gahazi, but Gahazi was not a great guy.  The same king that confiscated her land, 2 Kings 3:14, this is the last record we have of Elisha talking to him, “Elisha said, ‘As the Lord of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you.’”   The last time Elisha saw him, he looked him in the eye and said, “You cat-worshipping heathen, I wouldn’t even look at you, I wouldn’t even talk to you.”  Now, he’s in the oval office saying, “Tell me some of the things that Elisha did.”  That’s an amazing change.  What has happened in his heart?  What would prompt him to want to know? 

Then, it’s Gahazi who is telling him these wonderful things.  May I remind you, and this is what this story is about, the Lord loves that cat-worshipper, and the Lord wants to win Jehoram to Himself.  The Lord loves Gahazi, that materialistic person, and the Lord wants to win him back to Himself.  All that happened through Elisha and to and through this woman is to bring us to the place where God is trying to reach out to these two wicked men.  It’s redemptive.  All she went through was redemptive.  God guided her.  It’s redemptive, because God loves Jehoram, and God loves Gahazi. 

Gahazi, like Judas, was blessed.  Judas was with the servants of the Lord, and he witnessed many things.  It’s God giving him an opportunity.  Gahazi is now rehearsing all of the wonderful things that he had seen.  Again, we haven’t yet met the real Gahazi; we’ll do that in the Fall, but I want you to see two wicked men in the same room discussing the works of God.  What an amazing thing that is!  Without explaining why or how they came together, understand that what’s going on is redemptive.  It’s not about Elisha and it’s not about the woman.  It’s about the Lord reaching out for these two men.  Those two observations, let me repeat them, because it’s going to shed light on who Jesus is; #1 those who obey the Lord are not losers; they’re gainers.  #2 The Lord not only guides them, but it’s redemptive guidance.  It’s not for them; it’s for others.  By looking at those two observations, how the Lord watches over His obedient children, and how He works redemptively, gives us a picture of our Lord.  So, let me now share with you how this story reveals Christ.  I want to sort of home in on it, and I’m going to start way back here, and then move down, and down and down until we see it.

The grand revelation, you can’t read this story and not think about the sovereignty of God.  Psalm 103:19, “The Lord has established His throne is the heavens, and His sovereignty rules overall.  You can’t read this and not see that God is in control.  We sing, “Our God reigns,” well, He certainly does!  But now I ask this question; I’m going to home in.  It’s His sovereignty, God on the throne, but what aspect of His sovereignty?  His providence, that’s an aspect of His sovereignty.  What is providence?  Providence is the invisible hand of the Lord behind the scene.  It’s Got working and causing all things to work together for good to those that love the Lord and are called according to His purpose to conform them to the image of Christ.  It’s not God doing miracles, overruling the natural, so that fire doesn’t burn, so that a man can walk on water, so that the dead are raised.  It’s not God contradicting the natural; it’s God using the natural, controlling the natural.  They make their own decisions—no, they don’t; God is controlling without violating the volition of man, the will of man.  Providence is God’s ruling and overruling circumstances, and orchestrating things.  Sovereignty, providence, but even that is too general.  I want to go down again.

What aspect of His providence?  I want to give a Bible verse, and I hope at the end you’ll see how it ties in.  Psalm 31:15, just this phrase, “My times are in Your hands.”  Apart from the teaching, do you believe that?  “My times are in Your hands.”  The special aspect in this story is not only that “My times are in His hands,” but my timings are in His hands.  Everything in this story depends on perfect timing. 

I tried to follow that story “Mission Impossible”, and I couldn’t even get it on the TV.  I was trying to get “Mission Impossible” and I ended up with the “Life Story of Queen Elizabeth”.  I wanted to see if I could follow the logic of “Mission Impossible” and I couldn’t even get it on the TV.  I went in a read a book, and Lillian watched it. 

Everything about this story is perfect timing.  God reveals to Elisha a seven-year famine; that’s timing.  When did it begin, and when did it end?  Then he decides, “I think I’ll share this with her,” so she shares it with her.  So, she gets up to leave.  It was necessary, or you wouldn’t have a story, that the king took her property, and took care of it.  Now, she was allowed to go anywhere, but the Lord was guiding her, because if she were in this place, the timing would be off, so she went down to the land of the Philistines, based on her own choice.  How long did it take her to get there, and how long did she stay there?  She begins to calculate that the famine must be over.  He said seven years.  Was that to the day?  Was that to the moment?  She decides to return.  When?  Was it January, was it March, was it August?  Did she go on Monday, or Tuesday, or Friday?  When did she go?  That all takes time.  God is behind the scene.  It doesn’t matter.  When she arrived at home, did she try to get her land back?  Did she try to kick the usurpers off her land?  If so, how long did that take?  And you don’t just walk into the Oval Office and say, “Here I am.”  There is some protocol, and she had to go through channels.  How long did that take? 

When she finally walked in, what are they talking about?  2 Kings 8:5, “As he was relating to the king how he had restored to life the one who was dead, behold, the woman whose son he had restored to life appealed to the king for her house and for her field.  And Gehazi said, ‘My lord, O king, this is the woman, and this is her son, whom Elisha restored to life.’”  What timing, what amazing, impeccable timing that at that moment he would be talking to the king about her and about the son, and in that moment, she walks in, and in that moment, he said, “Look, that’s them; that’s the one I was just telling you about!”  And now you’ve got a teenager who had been risen from the dead, you talk about the Lord reaching out to dead people and trying to help, and now you’ve got a resurrection miracle standing right in front of this calf-worshipping king, this wicked man and Gahazi.  The testimony is tremendous, what God is doing, because God had a heart for them.

When we obey the Lord, we lose nothing; we’re gainers.  He will use everything redemptively to reach those who are needy.  Every detail of these last seven years fell together perfectly because God was behind the scenes engineering and orchestrating the timing.  The revelation of Christ; He’s the God of providence, and your times, as well as hers, are in His hands.  Pull out all the stops, brothers and sisters in Christ, and believe that with all of your heart.  From the time you came out of the womb until this moment, every day and every hour and every second of every hour, the Lord has been there orchestrating, timing and this very moment, what brought you here.  He thinks of you more than the grains of the sands that are on the earth.  He has every hair on your head numbered.  He loves you, and He never takes His eyes off of you.  I see a couple of bald guys looking at each other. 

Seven years before Elisha shared a revelation, “The Lord has called for a famine…”  Seven years and Elisha is out of the picture.  Seven years later his name comes up.  He’s not there.  Maybe he never even knew it.  His name comes up.  Our sister gave her testimony the other day.  Two days ago I was with two of her cousins, and I shared her testimony.  She doesn’t even know it.  Now she does!  How God is in control!  Daniel walked into Nebuchadnezzar’s life, and spent five minutes, and seven years later God took what he said and brought Nebuchadnezzar to repentance.  Brothers and sisters in Christ, lay hold of this wonderful providence of the Lord.

My Lillian and I had a wonderful time of worship as I was sharing this, and we were going back and forth.  She said, “Let’s just reflect back, just the timing, when you met me, when I met you, when we went to school, when we got a deaf child, when we left, how this door opened, and how that door…,” and we had a wonderful time of worship.  Lillian said to me, “Please don’t teach this lesson unless you encourage them to reflect back in their lives and think about the times of providence, of what God has done.”  So, I want to do that.

I want to close with a clincher, and that is Psalm 136.  I handed out that Psalm.  You’ll notice that there’s twenty-six verses in that Psalm, and every verse contains the same expression, “His mercy endures forever,” twenty-six verses, twenty-six times.  If you have the NAS, “His loving kindness endures forever.”  It’s the same thing.  If you read this Psalm and you omit those words, “His mercy endures forever,” what’s left?  If you take that out, what’s left?  The answer is history.  You read this story and it’s the history of Israel.  Look at verses 10-15, they’re delivered from Egypt.  Look at verse 16, that’s the wilderness.  Look at verse 17 and on, that’s their life in Canaan.  It’s history.  The Holy Spirit has given a graphic picture of history with mercy written between the lines.  You have a history, and there’s mercy written between the lines.  Every step you take, in between the lines, the providence of the Lord, the mercy of the Lord, the hand of the Lord!  That’s Israel’s history, and that’s yours, and it’s my history.

When the Lord first dawned this truth on my heart, it so thrilled my heart.  When I get really blessed, I vent in poetry.  I’m going to ask you to turn that page over and we’re going to just read what was brought to my heart from this Psalm.


(Psalm 136)

His mercy endures forever

The fearful of heart resigns.

Your life is a book

And wherever you look

There’s mercy between the lines

Give thanks to the God of Heaven

For all that the Lord has done;

His mercy endures forever;

Your life and His heart are one!

He’s working all things together;

Consider His wise designs;

He’s written into your history,

His mercy between the lines!

His mercy endures forever!

Your life like the ancient psalm,

Is laced with His loving kindness,

And soothed by His Spirit’s balm.

Don’t misinterpret the furnace;

The hottest of flames refines!

The real record is written,

In mercy, between the lines!

The writing of books is endless,

Devotion to books is vain.

But there is a book in progress,

It’s theme is eternal gain.

The Author is God Almighty,

The Writing is all divine.

He pens, in your living history,

His mercy between each line.

Let’s pray together.  Father, thank You for Your word, for the revelation of Your providence, how wonderfully You would guide us if we would obey You.  We’re not losers; we’re gainers, and You will use us redemptively, so that Your heart can reach those who are lost.  Thank You for this marvelous story.  We know You heal the stew, we know You feed the hungry, and we know that You want to use our lives redemptively.  Lord, we want to also thank You for the privilege we have now to fellowship together and to feed together.  We want to thank You for Your provision of food and nourishment, and guide our fellowship, and help us edify one another.  Thank You for Pat and Janet for opening their home.  We give the rest of this afternoon to You, and thank You that You are overseeing it and orchestrating our lives.  We pray in Jesus’ name.  Amen.