2 Kings 4:1-7 (Part 2) – God is God of Both Compassion and Justice

Posted: April 15, 2019 in 12-2 Kings

2 Kings 4:1-7 (Part 2 of 3)

Elisha Helps a Poor Widow

You often heard it said in today’s world, “Oh, I am a New Testament Christian!” or you hear those that are far from God who say that they like and maybe even believe in Jesus but all that Old Testament stuff I just cannot buy into to all that smiting and zapping stuff. Why is that that we as Christians and many non-believers often overlook the Old Testament. Many of us are at times embarrassed, in our modern sensibilities, of the minutia of details of social order regulations and of the smiting and zapping that goes on in the Old Testament. Somehow, we see the Old Testament as a testament of a different God from that of the New Testament. Why is it that we do that? The God of the Old Testament is the same exact God as the God of the New Testament. God has not changed.

The Old Testament demonstrates God’s love and God’s righteous judgment. The Old Testament shows us God’s love for His people just as much as it shows His judgment upon unrepentant sinners. In that sense, the Old Testament shows us a complete picture of God that we must see. The Old Testament shows us ourselves, both the rebellious part of us and the faithful servant of God part of us. The Old Testament is a picture of us and how God interacts with His created beings to whom He gave free will. The Old Testament shows us his longsuffering with His rebellious children, his faithfulness toward His children who seek to follow His commands, and his ultimate justice for unrepentant sinners. There is a message of evangelism in the story and progression of the Old Testament.

Here, today, in this passage, we see God’s compassion for those who seek Him. He provides for His people. Those who seek after Him and fully believe and depend on Him as the Creator and Sustainer of All Things. He provides for those who love Him. He provides for those who seek to do His will. He provides for those who obey His Word. Since we live in a fallen world filled with sin that has spiraled in outward ripples since Adam and Eve, our lives are filled with trouble. Our own sins, the sins of others, and the reactions of all these sins against each other, all cause us to have trouble in life. It is not a matter of “if” but rather “when”. So, in this passage, a widow and her boys are in economic trouble and because of their faith, they approach Elisha seeking help. God knows the heart. He must have known that this family was seeking to serve the Lord and He provided for them. How often in my own life since salvation that I have been able to see God provide for me just when I needed it the most. God does provide for those who love Him and seeks after Him. It may not be in the way that we define it and in the timing that we prescribe to it, but God provides for us just in time, right on time, and in the right proportion to our current situation and to our maturity in Christ.

So, we see here, the compassion of God in the Old Testament and it is as ever-present in the Old Testament as is God’s justice upon the unrepentant. This is real God. We either focus only on His love and forget His justice or we focus only on His justice and forget His love. The God of the Old Testament is just as loving in the Old Testament as He is in the New Testament and He is just as just in the New Testament as He is in the Old Testament. The loving compassion God shows to the widower here is evidence of His love. His longsuffering with His rebellious children, the Israelites, over centuries and centuries shows us His amazing capacity of love – waiting and waiting for us to return to Him and quit shaking our fist at Him. Ultimately, though, there is justice coming to us all. Only those who love God, seek God with all their heart, mind and soul, and obey Him will find shelter in His arms. Righteous judgment against sin will come to us all. Unrepentant sinners just as in the Old Testament days will pay the ultimate price for having ignored, disobeyed, and outright rebelled against God. God is a longsuffering God just like a parent with a rebellious child. However, at some point, judgment must and will come. Therein lies the thing that struck me this morning!

This passage reminds of how passionately God loves each and everyone of us. He wants to have a relationship with us. He wants to provide for us. He wants to protect us just as He does for the widow in this passage. Thus, God is equal parts love and justice. Thus, as Christ followers, we must remember that God is a God of love but He is also a God of justice. Therefore, when we think of God as only a God of love then it takes the pressure off of us to evangelize our neighbors, friends and co-workers. With that idea of God being equally loving, as evidenced here, and equally just, as evidenced in both the Old and New Testament, let’s read the passage now:

Chapter 4

1 One day the widow of a member of the group of prophets came to Elisha and cried out, “My husband who served you is dead, and you know how he feared the Lord. But now a creditor has come, threatening to take my two sons as slaves.”

2 “What can I do to help you?” Elisha asked. “Tell me, what do you have in the house?”

“Nothing at all, except a flask of olive oil,” she replied.

3 And Elisha said, “Borrow as many empty jars as you can from your friends and neighbors. 4 Then go into your house with your sons and shut the door behind you. Pour olive oil from your flask into the jars, setting each one aside when it is filled.”

5 So she did as she was told. Her sons kept bringing jars to her, and she filled one after another. 6 Soon every container was full to the brim!

“Bring me another jar,” she said to one of her sons.

“There aren’t any more!” he told her. And then the olive oil stopped flowing.

7 When she told the man of God what had happened, he said to her, “Now sell the olive oil and pay your debts, and you and your sons can live on what is left over.”

In this passage, we see the first of four miracles God performs through Elisha in this chapter of the book of 2 Kings: providing money for a poverty-stricken widow, raising a dead boy to life, purifying poisonous food, and providing food for 100 men. These miracles show God’s tenderness and care for those who are faithful to Him. When reading the Old Testament, it is easy to focus on God’s harsh judgment of the rebellious and to minimize His tender care for those who love and serve Him. Seeing God at work providing for His followers helps us keep His severe justice toward the unrepentant in proper perspective. It is also impetus to us to reach those who are far from God so that they do not experience the justice of a very real and righteous judge.

That’s the takeaway this morning. Let us show the world that God is a God of love and that He wants to provide for you and me and He wants to have a relationship with His children. He wants to protect them. But let us be able to demonstrate that God is a righteous judge and because of sin, we need Jesus and His substitutionary sacrifice for our sins. Help us to demonstrate that in the absence of Jesus that we are destined to stand before a righteous Judge with no recourse, no excuse, just our naked sins to be examined and judged. The Old Testament teaches us that we need Jesus. The failures of the people of Israel to keep the law and turning their back on God is a picture of us. We are them and they are us. The Old Testament points out of need for Jesus. Outside of Jesus, there will be judgment. God loves us so He provided us a way out of our deserved judgment through Jesus. Jesus is not some optional self-help guru. The Old Testament points us to Him as a necessity. The Old Testament points us both to God’s compassionate love for us and His justice against sin.

Compassion and justice. That is God. Our job is to demonstrate God’s compassion on every sinner through His Son Jesus Christ and to demonstrate the necessity of Jesus so that a longsuffering God will not have to exact His justice against sin.

Amen and Amen.

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