Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Jars of Clay

If you're not careful you could miss it. If you don't pay particular attention it could escape your keen and observant eye. I'm talking about the story behind the story of the widow woman in 2 Kings chapter 4. On the surface it may appear as if her miracle may have been contingent upon her obedience to the prophet Elisha's instructions, as obtuse as the instructions may have sounded. Okay, if you don't believe me check this out: She tells Elisha that her dear departed husband's creditors have now focused their attention on ensuring that she repays his loan. They have determined that they are taking her two sons into slavery to pay off his debt. We're not told how much the debt is or how old the boys are. All we know is that she is in panic mode so she "cried out to Elisha." His response: "Go around and ask all your neighbors for empty jars. Don't ask for just a few."


Huh? Excuse me??? It's my son's lives in danger here and we're talking about starting a jars of clay collection (pun intended)!?! Before we miss the point of the story though, do you see what I see? (I'm full of cliches today). She had to borrow empty jars from her neighbors! And, according to the story she didn't borrow a few. So here are my questions: How many neighbors did she have to go to in order to get all the jars she collected? Since she didn't know what the prophet's intentions were, what did she tell them she needed the jars for? And finally, the really big question: What if she had lived a poor witness in front of her neighbors, would she have even been able to approach them to ask for the jars? You see, the first thing we are told at the start of the chapter is she said to Elijah, "Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that he revered the Lord."

Evidently everyone on their cul-de-sac knew that Mr and Mrs "Oil-Jar" were believers, and so would have watched the way they lived their lives, really closely. If the neighbors hadn't consented to loan her the jars she would have been in a rather tight spot, because, according to the story, the minute she ran out of jars, the oil stopped flowing. By that time though, she had filled enough jars with oil that she could pay off her husbands debt and live off the rest of the money from the sale of the jars of oil. Which tells me something else: If you're selling jars of oil, clearly you're not returning the "borrowed" jars to your neighbors, so the jars were probably given to her and not loaned. So, the moral of this story is: husbands don't leave debts for your wives! Seriously though, the real moral of the story can be summed up in my final question: How's your relationship with your neighbors?

3 comments:

Marci said...

I love how you take a story from the Bible and you just sit back and ponder. You always look at things from all these different angles and even put yourself into the 'shoes of the story.' Out pours (pun intended) this incredible insite and completely refreshing message. THANK YOU!

Marci in Colorado, who is humbly reflecting about which neighbor is in the greatest need today.

Joseph said...

Precious Marci, it's so good to hear from you and see that you're no longer a "silent" reader. How's the family? Give my best regards to Thaine. Thanks for your kind words.

Joey said...

Good word Joseph on our testimony wit our neighbors. I've been so convicted, literally, about how bad our yard looks on our street. It's a poor example of stewardship. I know when I drive by a poorly kept yard, I wonder about the inhabitants. Gotta go rake something...