Empty or Filled? (Thought for Sept 2021)

September 12, 2021

in Uncategorized

In the message of last Sunday (29/08) morning we were looking at a few incidents in the life of Elisha, the prophet. One occasion concerned the widow of a prophet (‘a man from the community of prophets’) in 2 Kings 4: 1-7, who, in dire straits, had only a small jar of oil left and two sons who were about to be taken into slavery to pay off her debts. Such was the situation in those days when nothing in the way of social security existed. Her late husband had obviously been one who served God, and maybe had been under Elisha’s mentoring. But he had died, presumably leaving debts and perhaps this one small jar of olive oil, that she had treasured.

We read of Elisha’s instruction to ‘Go round and ask all your neighbours for empty jars. Don’t ask for just a few.’ – or in KJV language ‘empty vessels, not a few’. After the service last week, as I went out the back I saw a large box full of empty jam jars being carried out. They were left from the wedding a week or two ago and were probably going to be dumped (for recycling, of course). Mm,

I thought, I could have used those as a visual aid. But it did get me thinking a bit more about those empty vessels, not a few. Firstly, note that they were not to ask for oil from their neighbours, just empty vessels – the supply of olive oil, needful for the lady to sell and pay off her debts, would be entirely provided by the Lord Himself. If a kind neighbour had offered a jar with oil already in it, that would not have been acceptable – the vessels needed to be completely empty. Now the old saying: ‘Empty vessels make the most noise’ may be true, applied to people who talk and promise a lot and nothing comes of it. (don’t know how the word ‘politicians’ nearly got on the paper just then … oh! Too late!) But empty vessels are available for filling or for putting things in.

Do you remember when dear old Pooh, in Winnie the Pooh, brought Eeyore a birthday present – a jar of honey, but sadly the honey had been eaten already on the way, so Pooh tells him that he has brought him a Useful Pot, and that Eeyore can use it to put things in. It seems to me that we can see that God wants us to bring ourselves (our vessels) to him, emptied of that of our own abilities, achievements, our own ideas, and to present them to him that he might put something precious in them – i.e. to fill us with his Holy Spirit to live entirely for his use, and thus for his glory – so that it’s none of self, but all of his grace. Somehow, by God’s miraculous power, the oil was poured from that precious vessel into jar after jar until they were filled and useful. So with us if we come to him empty. Of course, the other thought around this whole incident is surely, just how very much God cares about us when we are at our lowest ebb, through whatever experiences we may be going through.

The widow ‘cried out to Elisha’, for help, but really as she recognised him as the ‘man of God’ her cry was to the Lord himself. And that’s for each of us today. The verse hadn’t been written when her need was met, but Philippians 4:19, coming from Paul’s pen some 850 years later, summed up what he did for her – and does for us today: ‘my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus’

Steve Piggott

Sept 2021

Comments on this entry are closed.

Previous post:

Next post: