It is an easy answer to give when someone asks how you are doing. “I’m fine.” “I’m good.” But sometimes we really do not mean what we are saying. We feel like we are compelled to say we are fine when someone asks out of a courtesy even if we are not what we say we are. But God wants us to have a faith so that no matter the circumstances, we can say, “All is well.” Open your copies of God’s word to 2 Kings 4 and we are going to see what this faith looks like.
Pays Your Debts (4:1-7)
A wife’s husband has died and he was one of the prophets who has served under Elisha. But now a creditor has come to take her two children to be his slaves. Now the Law of Moses did allow for wives and children to be sold for nonpayment of debts (Exodus 21:7). But we get the picture that this creditor is coming to forcibly take her children. Remember that her sons would be the only way she could be taken care of in ancient Near Eastern times. We get a picture that widow’s homes are being devoured, as Jesus condemned even in the first century when he was teaching Israel (cf. Mark 12:40; Luke 20:47). So this widow goes to Elisha, crying out for relief. She is completely helpless in her circumstance. Her debts are real and payment needs to be made. But there is nothing she can do.
I love Elisha’s response because it truly represents the heart of God. Elisha wants to know what he can do to help. Then he asks what she has in the house. He is going to use whatever this widow has to give her relief. She responds that she has nothing except a small jar of oil. So Elisha tells her to gather as many empty jars from her neighbors as she can. Then pour your oil into each jar until they are all full. After she does this, she comes back to Elisha and tells him that she has done what he has asked. She is then instructed to sell the oil to pay all her debts and still live on the rest.
You might have noticed that this is very similar to what Elijah did for the widow recorded in 1 Kings 17:8-16. In her case, the flour did not run out through the whole time of the famine because she listened to the voice of Elijah. Elisha is pictured as carrying the spirit of Elijah and continuing God’s saving work in Israel. This is also a picture of our God and the redemptive work of Jesus. Jesus has come to pay our debts that we are not enslaved. She simply showed faith and enjoyed the benefits of trusting in Elisha’s words.
Gives Life (4:8-17)
The next picture is a woman who appears to be in the opposite condition. She is a prominent woman with financial means. But what she does with her wealth is feed Elisha every time he passes by. Notice her understanding regarding Elisha. She knows that Elisha is a holy man of God (4:9). So she determines to make a room for Elisha so he has a place to stay when he passes by. Notice that Elisha did not ask for any of these things. She is willingly providing for the prophet of Israel. It is interesting to see a woman providing for Elisha because it is foreshadowing what we see happening in the days of Jesus when it was the women who financially provided for him (cf. Luke 8:3; Matthew 27:55).
So Elisha wants to know what he can do for this woman who is using her resources and time to provide for him. She indicates that she does not need anything. She was not looking for the man of God to do something back for her. She is doing this simply because she knows he is a holy man of God. Elisha’s servant, Gehazi, notes that she does not have a son and her husband is old. The implication is that it will not be long before she will be in need. When her husband dies, she has no children and therefore does not have anyone to care for her once he dies. So Elisha announces to her that about this time next year, she is going to hold a son in her arms (4:16). She is amazed by the declaration. Clearly, they have been unable to have children but now life is going to be given to this family. God seeks to give life to his people.
Reverses Conditions (4:18-37)
But then something unexpected happens. The promised child suddenly has pain in his head and then dies (4:19-20). The woman takes her dead son and lays him on the bed that Elisha used when he stayed at her house. She calls for her husband to prepare a donkey and get a servant ready so she can quickly to the man of God and then come back. He asks why she would be going to him now. It is not a festival day or Sabbath. She simply responds that all is well (4:23). So she sets out to see the man of God at Mount Carmel. It is interesting to see that Elisha is at Mount Carmel, the place where the fire of God came down with Elijah calling for the people to turn to the true and living God. In the distance, Elisha is able to see the woman coming and sends Gehazi to meet her to see if everything is all right. She tells Gehazi that all is well just as she had told her husband.
But when she gets to Elisha, she falls at his feet. Gehazi is about to push her off of him, but Elisha tells him to leave her alone because he can see that she is in great distress. But the Lord has not told Elisha what the problem is. She says that she did not ask for a son but also said to not get her hopes up when Elisha did promise a son. Elisha tells Gehazi to go with his staff and place the staff on the face of the child. However, the woman will not go with Gehazi but makes an oath that she will not leave him. So Elisha follows the woman while Gehazi runs ahead to the house where the dead son lies.
Gehazi gets to the house first and does what Elisha said to do. He puts the staff on the son’s face but there was no sound or sign of life. So Gehazi runs back to Elisha who is still on his way and tells him that the child has not awakened. When Elisha arrives, he stretches himself out over the child until the child awakens and sneezes seven times. They call for the woman, who falls at the feet of Elisha, and then takes her son into her arms.
You might have noticed that this also parallels Elijah raising the widow’s son as recorded in 1 Kings 17:17-24. Again we are seeing that Elisha is carrying on the work of Elijah, possessing the authority and the spirit of Elijah as he continues God’s redemptive work in Israel. But we are also seeing another picture of our God who reverses conditions. God is able to override the power of death and give life to the dead. We see this power in Jesus who also raises a daughter from the dead (Matthew 9:24), a son from the dead (Luke 7:14), as well as raises Lazarus from the dead (John 11:40-44). Also notice the point that Gehazi fails to raise the child but Elisha is able to raise the child. This also happens with Jesus and his disciples. His disciples are unable to cast out a powerful demon but Jesus is able to do so (Matthew 17:14-21).
Heals His People (4:38-41)
The fourth picture is a picture of the healing power of Elisha. Elisha returns to Gilgal during a famine. The famine in the region yet again indicates God’s displeasure with Israel. Elisha is meeting with a company of prophets and has Gehazi put on a pot of stew for them. But once the stew was made, the men began to eat and declared that there was death in the pot. Something poisonous had accidentally been gathered while collecting gourds for the stew. Elisha puts some flour in the pot and there was no longer harm in the pot. What appear to be strange miracles are declarations about the power of God and what God has come to do through Elisha. Elisha has come to heal Israel. Yet again we see a picture of Jesus who is able to remove the death from the pot. Jesus came to heal his people.
Feeds His People (4:42-44)
The final picture shows Elisha feeding his people. A man comes from a town called Baal-shalishah. This name should be striking to us considering it seems that this man is coming from a town in Israel. Imagine this: a town in Israel is named for the false god, Baal. This is how wicked things have become in Israel. But he brings Elisha 20 loaves of barley bread. Elisha says to give this to the people to eat. Gehazi retorts, “How can I set this before a hundred men?” The point is that this is not close to enough food to feed one hundred men. But Elisha repeats the command to give it to the people to eat and there will be some left over. So they ate and there was bread left over, just as the word of the Lord had declared.
Our God can satisfy his people and give them what they need. It is not hard for us to see the parallel to Jesus in this activity of Elisha. Jesus feeds 5000 people and 4000 people. Remember the disciples also said that the loaves and fish were not enough to feed the multitude. But the multitude was fed and there was plenty of food left remaining after they were full.
God wants us to have an “all is well” faith. Did you see that in this woman when her son dies? She tells her husband, “All is well.” She tells Gehazi when he comes to her, “All is well.” Was she lying to each of them? I do not think so. I believe she is showing an “all is well” faith. Why does she tell her husband that all is well? Because she knows that all will be well when she gets to Elisha. Why does she tell Gehazi that all is well? Because she knows that all will be well when she gets to Elisha. Why does she not go with Gehazi but stays with Elisha, even though Gehazi has gone on to heal his son? Because she knows that all will be well if she is with Elisha.
How did she come to having this kind of calming, all is well faith? She knew this God. She this God pays our debts, brings us life, reverses our condition, gives us healing, and feeds us till we are more than satisfied. She can put her life in God’s hands because she knows this God and she knows the man of God. This is why she has taken care of him and will not leave him. Because he pays our debts, brings us life, reverses our condition of death, gives us healing, and feeds us till we are satisfied. No matter what happens, we can be free from life crippling anxiety because we serve a God who cares for us. Did you see this in the chapter? God keeps wanting to do for his people. No one is having to beg for God to act. God is acting for his people, actively seeking their well-being and blessing them as no one else can. Nor does God ask for what you do not have. “All is well” faith understands that God is not asking too much of us. He just wants us to rest in him, trusting him with whatever circumstance we face. Perhaps this is why we gravitate to the song, “It Is Well With My Soul.” The song speaks about our difficulties but after each verse declares, “It is well with my soul.” God is with you no matter what happens. Bold faith says “all is well” because I have my Savior and he will take care of whatever is happening to me today.