Sermon delivered August 4, 2001 by Pastor Donald J. Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Biblical quotations are from the New International Version NIV unless otherwise noted. Divine pronouns and titles are capitalized.

Elisha: Death in the Pot

2 Kings 4:38-44

I would like to talk to you about Elisha. This will be the fifth in the series on this great godly prophet. It's called, "Death in the Pot." I had thought about talking about diet and cookbooks and things like that, but Death in the Pot has a lot more to do with something else: very important.

You know, I have always thought it would be neat to pastor a church in the Hawaiian Islands. I mean, they surely want me there, I know that. Or, maybe Cancun. I imagine Elisha may have preferred to minister on the beach somewhere. That would be neat: Beach evangelism. But God sent him to famine stricken Gilgal. You can read this over here in II Kings in your Bible.

Open your Bible to 2 Kings 4. Gilgal was in a mess. There was a big famine there. They were in a crisis. Look at verse 38. Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region. While the company of the prophets was meeting with him, he said to his servant, "Put on the large pot and cook some stew for these men."

Now, Elisha had sort of walked into a mess. They were starving there. They were in a famine, in a drought. As the eager students sat at his feet he could hear their stomachs growling. And he felt that this was not good. He could see their lean gaunt frames. They were starving. And he thought that they should do something about that. Elisha knew these trainees needed more than spiritual food. We have to eat. The seminary was in an agricultural location where they could raise their own food. That's why it was placed there. And it would help defray the tuition expenses. But like most schools, they were in hard times.

Notice that before Elisha fed their stomachs he fed their souls. There's a lesson it that, isn't there. When you eat breakfast, what's the first thing you need to do before you eat breakfast? You need to open the Bible before you eat breakfast. You need to feed your soul first. You need to put the priority first. The spiritual food must come first. Put Jesus first in your life. Don't ever attend a church that says anything else.

It is interesting that there were a hundred hungry men here, but not one good cook could be found among them. Men have a hard time. If they made a cherry pie it would be all runny and a woman could just walk right up and do special things. The impoverished school owned one large pot. Apparently they had a one-item menu. Elisha ordered Gehazi, his servant, to cook up a goodly quantity of vegetable stew.

It seemed like our family, during the early year, was always facing hard times. Have you been through some hard times in your family? I remember, often times when a guest would came to our church, I think it was my dad that would say, "Come on over and eat with us, we don't have much, but we will tie a string on the bean and drag it through the pot one more time to thicken the soup, and maybe it will hold you till you can get home." We had some hard times, but we always had food. And God always blessed us.

Look at 2 Kings 4:39. One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine. He gathered some of its gourds and filled the fold of his cloak. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were.

The school gardens were dried up, they didn't have an irrigation system, and they had to go out and forage in the wild for food. One of the "rookie" scholars wanted to play Chef Tel. This was kind of vanilla, it was a bland brew and he went to the back forty where he found some wild gourds. He looked at those cucumber-shaped things and he thought, "Humm, those looked good. I wonder what they are? They are bound to taste good and I'll bring them and we'll thicken the stew with them. "

They were wild gourds. They were uncultivated and they were not fit for food, obviously as we read on. Also I want you to notice something. I had missed this the first time I read this through. You need to read the story several times in several versions of the Bible. Notice that there seems to be a plentiful supply of poisonous gourds and a real famine of healthful food. The harmful is always available, isn't it? Satan makes sure that there is no shortage of that which is harmful. There are always outlets selling pornographic smut and eternal supplies of pot and loathsome literature. The internet abounds with nudity, filth and vulgarity which lead us away from Jesus. Somehow the quantities of evil are always well stocked. And the cupboards of spirituality are bare. Why is that? I don't know. But I will tell you it may be that we don't open the cupboard. Maybe those things are there and we're just looking for the colorful gourds of life.

This volunteer was unauthorized and ignorant. Sometimes an independent spirit can endanger those whom you love. Consult with someone you trust before rushing out to action. That's why we have boards and committees in our church.

These gourds looked tasty, so he gathered up a load of them in the folds of his garment, and brought them into the kitchen. They began to slice them up and no one else seemed to be knowledgeable about these cute little gourds so he started shredding them into the boiling pot. You've basically have the blind leading the blind here. Nobody knew what they were doing. Nobody even stopped to question. They just went on. He was well intentioned but he was wrong.

See how closely these harmful things resemble the healthful things. That's the way life is, isn't it. So often we think that is edible and it's not.

I was on the Appalachian Trail about four or five weeks ago up in Fredrick, Maryland, behind my sister's house. We were walking along and, Eddie was there. He's a Russian student and he said, "There's a mushroom. You can eat that. Oh, there's another mushroom of a different kind. That's edible. I know that. In Russia they're edible so I know they're edible here." Did I take a bite? No. Am I still standing here? Yes. Around mushrooms we need a little caution, don't we. So often that which is harmful looks like that which is healthful. So often there's a counterfeit. Do you know that the devil has a counterfeit for every one of God's special things? Where there's a Sabbath, there's a counterfeit. There's a counterfeit for everything the Lord has. Only the very elect will not be fooled.

One of our greatest needs as Christians is spiritual discernment. We need to know what is right and what is wrong. Knowledge of the truth can save you from eternal death. John 8:32. It makes a statement about discernment. Notice verse 32. "Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free." Only the truth will do that. It is our charge to know the truth. They didn't know the truth, did they. The school of the prophets was almost wiped out. 1 Thessalonians 5:21 (KJV) Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Find out if it is good or not. And if it is good, hold fast to it. If you have something good, don't leave it. Another interesting verse in Job 34:3,4 For the ear tests words as the tongue tastes food. Let us determine for ourselves what is right; let us learn together what is good. We are given our senses to determine what is right or what is wrong.

Now, let's go back to 2 Kings 4:40 The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, "O man of God, there is death in the pot!" And they could not eat it.

When was this lethal danger detected? When they started to taste it. Their sense of taste determined what was right. Oh that our spiritual palate could detect what is right. Friend, is your spiritual palate able to detect that which jeopardizes your life? Have you burned your taste buds on hot gourds and peppers of life and you are not able to discern the truth? Pray for spiritual discernment. Both the appearance of the gourd and its smell in cooking had deceived them all. They were finally warned only when they tasted it. How many of them were deceived? One hundred percent. They were totally deceived.

Death in the Pot. There's death all around us. There was Death where there should have been life. Death stalks us. Events like this remind us that we live in a sinful world. Sin brought a curse. Genesis 3:17-18 tell us that our world is very harmful. The results are in every quarter of the globe. There are thorns out there. There are poisonous, toxic, noxious substances. A child may walk up and say, "Well, what a pretty vine." And it's poison ivy. We don't know. So, you have to go by even more than your senses. You have to go by the sure word of God. You can't go wrong when you compare with the Bible, and that's what we need to do as Christians.

Is Toxic Poisoning threatening you today? That which smells ever so good and looks so attractive may be the door to death and hell. Sin seems so enchanting. Proverbs 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.

In the religious world there are many wild gourds out there. The fields of Christianity have sprouted many unwholesome and fatal doctrines. And they are taking hold in the religious world,. and you know that. And where do these things lead to? Come over to 2 Timothy 2 where there's an interesting commentary on falsehood. 2 Timothy 2:17. Their teaching will spread like gangrene. It going to spread like cancer, these false teachings. We need to recognize that.

Is there a famine today, Are we in Gilgal today? This happens simultaneously with a last day famine. Amos 8:11 tells us that we're living in a famine of the last days. The days are coming, declares the Sovereign Lord, when I will send a famine through the land, not a famine of food or a thirst for water, but a famine of hearing the words of the Lord. What you feed on determines your destiny. Feed on Jesus.

Is there a famine today? When you go to many modern churches today, do you know that too often they have become social clubs, political centers, religious playhouses and ecclesiastical theaters which serve coffee and cookies instead of the bread of life. More and more churches are being built as sound stages for entertainment with changing rooms. I believe that the church ought to have the preaching of the Word of God central in its pulpit. The church today needs to hear something from God. You don't need to hear from me, you need to hear from the Lord. The church should be a spiritual cafeteria dispensing tasty wholesome food for the soul. Avoid the synagogue of Satan.

Is there Death in your Pot? Do you know that more folks are killed in America by kitchen folks than by guns and bullets. Because that's where you get heart attacks and strokes and scores of illnesses. We're killing yourselves by what we eat. Consider eating healthfully. We need life in the pots of the people of God. Avoid eating largely of fats, sugars, and refined foods. If you are not a Vegetarian, consider being one. Eat to live.

A hundred hungry men stood around that pot. It smelled so good. It looked so good. But it was poison. They were famished. It was all the food they had. You can't throw out your only food. They didn't know what to do.

2 Kings 4:41 Elisha said, "Get some flour." He put it into the pot and said, "Serve it to the people to eat." And there was nothing harmful in the pot.

So, what was the antidote? The flour made the difference. God provides a remedy for every Poison. What is the remedy for sin? Jesus Christ and His righteousness. I think this flour, the bread of life, is certainly Jesus. I believe this meal represents Jesus Christ. The gospel of Jesus is the bread of life. Wholesome and purifying. I believe this flour meal was symbolic of Jesus. Jesus is the antidote to every form of death dealing evil, for our sin, for your sin. Only the Word of God can safeguard us from the appearance of evil.

TRUST. The men still had to eat the stew. "You go first!" "No, after you..." Do you think they had a hard time taking the first bite? They had to trust Elisha's word. Do we have a hard time trusting God's word? Trust is what Christianity is all about.

I like bread with my soup. Do you? Here they sat with a one item menu. The cupboards were bare. There was no bread. But just as they sat there about to eat their stew and it was poison- free, in walked the bread man. God sent the provision at just exactly the right time. This is so much like God!

I grew up in Indiana and I used to listen to Josephine Cunnington Edwards. I don't know if you've heard of her here in Collegedale. I think she's been all around. She's been here, too. She told story after story where, maybe in the mission field they needed a sewing machine, and they had a crisis, and it had been mailed from the United States five or six weeks before. There were all kinds of stories like this. And that's just like God to send the bread truck at the exact moment when you're ready to eat your soup. That is what God is like. God is so beautiful. God is so good. God is going to help you just at the right time. In fact, if your check book doesn't have enough money in it, you're struggling to pay your bills, God will send an answer just at the right time.

2 Kings 4:42 A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. "Give it to the people to eat," Elisha said. The gift was for Elisha, but He quickly shared it with those in need. It was blessed. The point here is: the gift for Elisha was shared to the people. He quickly shared it with those in need. And When a windfall comes, don't consume it upon yourself, share it with somebody in need.

Notice the name of this town. I think we need to consider this man, journeying along here. He was from Baal Shalishah, several miles North West of Gilgal. If the truth were known, it was in the Northern Kingdom of Israel. You know, the people were divided into the southern kingdom of Judah/Benjamin and the other ten tribes in the north. This man was bringing the first fruits, his offering, his tithe to the house of God, to the only faithful people who were still there. And he had journeyed 13 miles to the house of God to give of the first fruits of his harvest. This faithful man deserves some attention. The 26 mile trip took him a full day. It took a lot of effort for him to bring his first fruits to the house of the Lord. The Tithe belonged to God.

This man journeying with his offering had no thought that his act would contribute to a miracle. You never know the extent of how God multiplies your gifts. When you contribute your dollar to the children's story, you're contributing to a miracle. God blesses your faithful gifts.

This town was originally called Shalisha (almost like Elisha! But evil Jezebel got in that town and now they called it Baal Shalisha. She made it into a haven of idolatry and Baal worship. But not all there bowed to Baal. God had a remnant. He always had His remnant people, doesn't He. This man was faithful. He was led by the Holy Spirit and he arrived at just the right time with his gift. Psalm 37:23 (KJV) The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD God directed him there at the exact moment.

He left his donation and headed back home. I believe that God blessed him for his faithfulness. When someone brings a gift to you, look beyond him to the kindness of God Who sent him to you.

Last week a member of this church told me, "I gave a gift to the church last week and no sooner had I written the check when I went out and got the mail, and lo and behold, there was the same amount in the mail an I did not expect it. I had not idea it was coming." He said, "Do you call that a coincidence or a miracle?" It happened right here in this church. Miracles are still going on. God is still in the business of miraculous multiplication. That's what God does.

The rubber meets the road when you just barely have enough money to return your Tithe and then you try to figure out how much offering to give. It takes real faith to give away that which is barely sufficient for your own needs. Elisha considered those 20 loaves as a token for even greater bounties. God multiplied those loaves. You receive more by using well what God has given to you.

God reimburses us for our faithfulness. Malachi 3:8,9. Will a man rob God? Yet you rob me. But you ask, "How do we rob you?" "In tithes and offerings. You are under a curse--the whole nation of you--because you are robbing me. Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this," says the LORD Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it."

Notice how God opens the floodgates. What does this text say? Verse 10 says, "...test Me in this," says the Lord Almighty, "and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it." See how He opens them? "He throws them open." God is a bit extravagant, isn't He. That's how He blesses His people.

2 Kings 4:43 "How can I set this before a hundred men?" his servant asked.... In Jack Blanco's paraphrase, Clear Word, it says there would be about enough for one bite for each man. This was not very much bread. A stack of twenty small Barley loaves would be barely enough for ten men, but they had to feed 100. It seemed that another miracle was needed. When you've just had a miracle, don't think that the road will necessarily be smooth from then on. The fact is that we are constantly in need of a miracle. Life is nothing but a perpetual dependance on God. His string of miracles are what carry us through.

Verse 43, the last part. But Elisha answered, "Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the LORD says: 'They will eat and have some left over.'"

2 Kings 4:44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the LORD. There's always something left over. Jesus feed five thousand, He has left overs. Elisha feeds a hundred, he has left overs.

I believe that God's provisions are not confined to Poisonous Pots and inadequate barley loaves. God is just as able in the year, 2001, to supply your needs as He was to help Elisha. His supply will always meet your needs with enough left over to help His cause. You may have to get into a stew before you can realize it, but God's supernatural activity is standing ready to help you. God's supernatural activity is standing by ready to help you today. What a blessed experience when we can consider Elisha.

Next week we're going to talk about mud-wrestling in the Jordan. I think you're going to enjoy that.

Have faith in God; every word to heed.
Have faith in God; your hunger He will feed.
Have faith in God; He will supply all you need.


Hymn of Praise: #338, Redeemed!
Scripture: II Kings 4:38-41
Hymn of Response: #508, Anywhere with Jesus


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