There is no right or wrong way to study the Bible; yet following a pattern can help us find gold in the stories. Finding these treasures will help us apply truth to our own lives. An omer was a biblical unit of measure for dry grain. During their wilderness travels, an omer of manna was God’s provision for each person each day.
Debt and poverty are not pleasant situations to find ourselves. They are often surrounded by shame, embarrassment, and sometimes ridicule. Sometimes the debt or poverty come from poor choices we have made; other times they are the result of circumstances beyond our control. No matter what has caused us to be in poverty, we can identify with this widow.
We don’t know what caused the debt of her deceased husband. Yet, as his widow, it is now her responsibility. Unless she comes up with money quickly, her sons will be sold to her creditor. Without a husband who can work to bring in money and without sons to help ease the burden, she would find herself alone. What is she to do?
She goes to someone who knew her deceased husband. Elisha asks her, “What do you want me to do? What do you have in your house?”
Money is tight, but she has some oil in her house. Elisha tells her to gather all her empty vessels and borrow some from her neighbors and kindred.
She and her sons are to go into the house, lock the door, and fill the empty vessels with oil.
The Omer of Oil
When the last jar is filled, the oil is depleted. It is just enough.
Elisha’s further instructions are to sell the oil, use the money to pay off the debt, and then live on the rest. God provides an omer. It is enough for the day.
To study this scripture on your own, look at the following questions and take note of the answers. Every story in the Bible is full of the grace and glory of God. Sometimes we have to dig deep to get the message, but it’s there. Begin by answering the questions after reading the verses.
- What is the Setting? A widow in duress; her sons will be sold unless she pays her husband’s debt.
- Who is Speaking? Elisha
- Who is Spoken to? The widow
- What Vessel is to be used? Her jar of oil and other empty jars
- What Action is to be taken? Obedience, for starters. Borrow and fill the jars. She is to sell the oil and use the money to pay the debt.
- What is the Result? Her container of oil fills every empty jar before it runs dry. She sells the oil and pays her debt. It’s a miracle. The oil in her house was not enough to fill all those jars, but through her obedience, God provided.
- What is the Omer of His goodness in this story? God starts with what the widow already has. The oil is used to dissolve the problem as her oil fills all the other jars. God provides by using her obedience and her oil.
- How does God want to use you? Are you willing to be the empty vessel that is filled? Are you willing to be the oil that is poured out to fill another vessel?
- Does this story remind you of times God has been enough for you? Have you written it down so that you don’t forget?
- Is God using you as a vessel in Kingdom work?
- What is He asking you to do in obedience to a need someone has?
- Are you willing to use what you already have instead of expecting something to be handed-out to you?
This story reminds us again that God is practical. He also performs miracles – but those miracles come after our obedience. What is He asking you to say Yes to today?