A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.” So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” (2 Kings 4:1-4)
Blessings Come From How Many Vessels You Have
The northern kingdom of Israel never had a righteous king. From Jeroboam to the final king, Hoshea, the land of Israel was filled with evil, ungodliness, immorality, human sacrifice, and all the trappings of idolatry. God sent His prophets to warn the people of His wrath if they did not repent. Two of the great prophets of the northern kingdom were Elijah and Elisha. During great times of world conflict, the Lord would send His messengers with the power of the Holy Spirit to work miracles and signs among the people showing His judgment on sin. Elisha was a prophet sent by God to show the people the way of truth.
There was a widow in the land who, like many of the day, suffered under the hand of God’s judgment on the wicked nation. The widow was left destitute when her husband died with two sons to raise. Evil men did not pity the widow, declaring her sons would become enslaved to pay the debt she owed. Pleading to Elisha for help, she asked for blessings on the sons of her husband, a prophet. All the widow had to sustain her was a jar of oil. Elisha could have made money appear, or he could have persuaded the creditors to leave her family alone. There were many things the prophet could have done to alleviate the woman’s plight. He tells her to gather as many vessels as possible from friends and neighbors. Elisha exhorts her to gather many vessels and not just a few. The widow follows the prophet’s instructions with little idea of how that would help her cause.
Elisha instructs the widow to gather all the vessels in the room and shut the door. She is to take the one jar of oil and begin pouring it into all the empty vessels until they are full and set them aside. Pouring the oil into the vessels, she fills all the containers until there are no more jars to fill, and the oil ceases. The widow takes some of the oil, pays her creditors, and uses the remaining oil to live on. Elisha instructed the widow to gather as many vessels as she could. The amount of her blessings was dependent on how many vessels she could secure. If she had gathered a few, her blessings would have been few. Collecting as much as she could, her blessings abounded.
The story of the widow’s oil is a story about the blessings of God. All men are impoverished and subject to the slavery of sin. Jesus came to give the abundant life, but the blessings can only be measured by how much a man is willing to seek the blessings of God. Too often, only a few vessels are gathered or none at all. So many blessings are waiting for the child of God that go unused and unasked for. The storehouse of God’s blessings is endless, and all a man has to do is to gather all the vessels of his life he can find and ask God to fill them. And the Lord will fill them. Seeking the blessings of God is where the joy of the Christian life is.
God is willing and able to fill the vessels of life with the abundance of heavenly oil. He could give His blessings without any effort on our part, but we have to gather those vessels. Proportionate to our seeking vessels to fill is where our blessings come. If we gather little, we are blessed little. When we gather much, we are blessed much. Examine how often you seek the empty vessels of life for God to fill. Those vessels represent our faith, our marriages, our families, our jobs, and the work of sharing the gospel with others. Jesus said those who seek, find, and those who ask, receive. How many vessels do you have?