Devotional Week 37 Wednesday
“Then Jesus called His disciples to Him and said, ‘I have pity and sympathy and am deeply moved for the crowd, because they have been with Me now three days and they have nothing at all left to eat; and I am not willing to send them away hungry, lest they faint or become exhausted on the way.’”
Matthew 15: 32
“’Lest they faint in the way,’ words of tender compassion!
Not fasting – the Saviour would send them away:
They hungered! He ordered, in sovereign – like fashion,
A meal that would be both a strength and a stay.
‘Lest they faint in the way!’ Is He not still as tender?
With pitying eye doth He not read our care?
And will He forget sovereign help to us render,
Since all that concerns us He truly doth share?
‘Lest they faint in the way!’ Blessed music to charm us
When, jaded and way-worn, and drooping, we sink:
Our need He full knows, - dare we let it alarm us?
Will He not command for us food, yea, and drink?
‘Lest they faint in the way!’ Blessed comfort in sorrow;
His grace He will send to support and sustain:
Thus, down through the years, through each unknown tomorrow,
‘Lest they faint in the way,’ we can make our refrain.”
J. Danson Smith
Today’s Study Text:
“But he (Elisha) said, ‘Then bring meal.’ And he cast it into the pot; and he said, ‘Pour out for the people, that they may eat.’ And there was no harm in the pot.”
II Kings 4: 41
“Faith is never put to shame. Those only are made ashamed who trust in their own strength; but faith shall see the glory of God.”
F. W. Krummacher
How have I witnessed God providing for my most basic needs?
What visible signs have I seen God display in my behalf?
“It is because God has promised certain things that we can ask for them with the full assurance of faith.”
A. W. Pink
“A man or woman at their wit’s end is not at their faith’s end.”
I take great encouragement from the words above, penned by the great Bible student, Matthew Henry. I am certain it is not an exaggeration to say that each of us, at one time or another in our lives, has felt as though we were at our “wit’s end!” This oft used phrase means to be at the limit of “one’s mental resources.” This is why it is so appropriately linked by Henry to faith, because having faith requires a mental decision to trust – and in the case of having a well-established trust, the person one may be counting as worthy of our trust makes all the difference in the world.
It would seem that as the students at the School of the Prophets recognized they were “ill unto death,” their faith in the “man of God,” Elisha, shown brightly, for they had no other realistic place to turn for help.
Without hesitation, Elisha called out, "Bring me some meal." A rather strange appeal, which required faith from those who believed in what the prophet was doing. It might do our own faith well to look at some of the ways "meal” is talked about in the Bible -- not just in the situation Elisha found himself in. Here are several enlightening points for us to ponder.
In 1 Kings 17, we studied about a widow who lived in Zarephath. She opened her heart and home to the prophet Elijah, when in fact, she had, by her own admission, only “an handful of meal in a barrel.” Certainly this meager supply wasn’t enough to take care of her families’ needs let alone an additional guest. But what we learned as we studied this story was that, “The barrel of meal,” according to the prophet Elijah, would “not waste.” The meal did not run out!
Just a few years later, we find that same word for “meal” in the Hebrew, “qemach,” meaning to grind flour, was used in the story of the poison pot. Both miracles, in Zarephath and Gilgal had at their core the use of meal.
But lest we get the idea that this was “miracle” flour, I’d like us to take a look at the Greek word, “aleuron,” which is found in Matthew 13: 33 as well as Luke 13: 21, where Jesus shares a parable about “meal – ground flour.”
It is in this story we find Jesus telling what happens when the “leaven” of His Kingdom, the power of Jesus’ transforming life, is put into insignificant, ground flour. As Matthew Henry describes, “A little leaven, leaveneth the whole lump of flour.” As Henry notes “the doctrine of Christ will diffuse its relish into our world…the whole will be leavened.”
Now let’s go back to Elijah’s experience with the widow of Zarephath. This woman who lived in a Baal-worshipping country, chose to believe the words of the prophet Elijah, who spoke on behalf of the God of heaven and earth. The result: these living words brought life, not only to the oil and meal she used, but back into her son, after he took sick and died. Then just one book over, in II Kings 4, we find that again, life for the students at the School of the Prophets was introduced into a poison pottage when Elisha took meal and put it into the pot.
I share these examples that are tied from the Old Testament to the New Testament. From God’s prophets during the reign of earthly kings, to the coming to earth of the heavenly King of Kings, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.
It wasn’t miracle flour that became the “antidote” to the poison in the pot. Instead, it was the heavenly power that infused that pot and saved the lives of those who chose to have faith in God and believe the words of His prophet, Elisha.
In the 1800’s, the great poet Alfred Lloyd Tennyson, in his famed work “The Ancient Sage,” penned this beautiful thought about faith.”
“Cling to ‘Faith’ beyond the forms of ‘Faith!’
She reels not in the storm of warring words…
She sees the best that glimmers thro’ the worst
She feels the sun is hid but for a night,
She spies the summer thro’ the winter bud,
She tastes the fruit before the blossom falls,
She hears the lark within the songless egg,
She finds the fountain where they wailed ‘Mirage!’”
This is the same “Faith” that took the meal, nothing but ground flour, and allowed it to go to work, reversing the affects of a poison gourd. But it is also the same “Faith” that takes in the life of Christ, our antidote to the toxic poison of sin, and lets it transform us as the King of Kings and Lord of Lord does His work within our hearts. In exchange for what is lethal in our earthly lives we find it replaced with everlasting life from above.
In the words of F. W. Krammacher, “Thus a handful of meal, in the hand of the Almighty, sufficed to disarm death, to disappoint hell, to preserve the salt of the earth…Oh! The blessed security of the children of God…Whatever would hurt or destroy them, shall turn unto their salvation through prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ.”
“How blest thy saints! How safely led!
How surely kept! How richly fed!
Saviour of all in earth and sea,
How happy they who rest in Thee!”
Henry Francis Lyte
“We desire, O Lord, that You will, to all Your other mercies, add that gift by which we shall trust in You – faith that works by love; faith that abides with us; faith that transforms material things, and gives them to us in spiritual meanings; faith that illumines the world by a light that never sets, that shines brighter than the day, and that clears the night quite out of our experience…We beg You to grant us this faith, that shall give us victory over the world and over ourselves; that shall make us valiant in all temptation and bring us off conquerors and more than conquerors through Him that loves us. Amen”
Henry Ward Beecher
Dorothy Valcàrcel, Author