Death In The Pot

Introduction

‘Elisha returned to Gilgal and there was a famine in that region.’ 2 Kings 4:38

When Elisha returns to Gilgal, he finds there is a famine in the region. I have never experienced a famine, but I do know that many countries have including the UK.

Between 1845-52 Ireland suffered a period of starvation, disease and emigration that became known as the Great Famine. The main cause was a disease which affected the potato crop, upon which a third of Ireland’s population was dependent for food. It was devastating, illness and disease spread and one million lives were lost, it was awful.

In the UK at the moment, we have a huge homeless problem, and many people are really feeling the burden of food and energy prices going through the roof.

And so, in one sense, we’re not going through a famine in terms of having no food.

1. A Spiritual Famine.

In another sense, we are going through a famine, but a different kind of famine, it’s a spiritual famine.

In the last census taken here in the UK, experts tell us that less than half of the population in the UK identifies themselves as Christian for the first time since the Dark Ages of 476 A.D.

The proportion of people in England and Wales describing themselves as Christian dropped below 50 per cent in the 2021 census for the first time.

At the time of the previous census in 2011, 59.3 per cent of people, that is, 33.3 million people identified themselves as Christian, but now in 2021, the figure is 46.2 per cent or 27.5 million people.

The number of people claiming to have no religion has risen from 25.5 per cent in 2011 to 37.2 per cent in 2021.

Whether we are willing to admit this or not, there’s no denying we are going through a spiritual famine, Amos 8:11. And we know we’re going through a spiritual famine because it’s happening before our very eyes.

Sadly, when it comes to God, they either ignore Him or don’t acknowledge Him. Society isn’t only trying to squeeze God out of existence, society is also trying to silence His Word.

It’s not that God is preventing people from hearing His Word or that people can’t access it, it’s about people choosing not to listen to anything God has to say.

People are no longer interested in God or His word. They would rather go to a medium or read their horoscope for direction. They would rather trust what an atheist has to say than the creator of the world. People are more concerned about climate change and human rights than they are about their salvation.

We see all of this being played out before our very eyes and the world wonders, why murder, rape and addiction are spiralling out of control. They wonder why child pornography, human trafficking and war continue to go on.

But there are those who do hunger and thirst for righteousness, Matthew 5:6. And it’s those people who recognise the spiritual famine they are going through that we must reach out to.

2. Feeding The Spiritually Hungry.

We need to be aware that there are people out there who are spiritually hungry.

‘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 prophets.’ 2 Kings 4:38

Elisha knew there was a famine, he knew there was no food available, but he still told his servant to put the cooker on and cook some stew. In much the same way, God knows there is a spiritual famine right now but we, as His people must still offer the spiritual food.

Notice that Elisha provided for the other prophets’ physical needs and by doing so, he is about to open the door for God to perform a miracle through him.

Remember that Matthew was a tax collector and sometimes he’s called Levi in our Bible. Jesus said, ‘Come follow me’ and he did. Read what he did in, Luke 5:29.

Now let me tell you what Matthew did, he had some new friends in Christ called disciples of Jesus, Peter, and John, those guys but he also had his old tax-collecting mates.

So as soon as he followed Christ, do you know what he did? He threw a party, and he intentionally mixed the two crowds. He said, ‘I want all my new mates that follow Christ and I want my old tax-collecting mates at my house, I’m going to throw a big party and I’m going to let them mingle.’

Most people know how to throw a party and that may your thing, to have some of your friends who don’t know Christ and some of your friends who do know Christ, get them together in your home and let them mix.

In other words, providing some physical bread for people often opens the way to providing some of the bread of life for people, John 6:35.

Larry Petton says the following.

‘The people are hungry, and the empty religionist offers them some ceremony or empty words that can never satisfy.’ ‘The people are hungry, and the atheists and sceptics try to convince them that they aren’t hungry at all.’

‘The people are hungry, and the religious showman gives them video and special lighting and cutting-edge music.’ ‘The people are hungry, and the entertainer gives them loud, fast action, so loud and fast that they don’t have a moment to think.’

‘The people are hungry, who will give them the bread of life?’

3. Make Sure It’s The Right Food.

It’s one thing offering to feed to the hungry, but we need to be careful we’re not poising people with the wrong food.

‘One of them went out into the fields to gather herbs and found a wild vine and picked as many of its gourds as his garment could hold. When he returned, he cut them up into the pot of stew, though no one knew what they were. The stew was poured out for the men, but as they began to eat it, they cried out, “Man of God, there is death in the pot!” And they could not eat it.’ 2 Kings 4:39-40

It appears that the famine was so bad that the company of prophets were cooking anything that could be found in order to eat. They found some herbs and a wild vine, which wasn’t meant for human consumption.

After preparing the stew, they soon realise there is something not right with it and cry out, ‘there is death in the pot!’ It’s clear that this wild vine was extremely toxic and if they had fully consumed it, they would have died.

As I mentioned earlier, people are hungry and in the religious world today, people are being fed all kinds of dangerous food, masquerading as real spiritual food, Matthew 7:15.

They go out searching for food in the field of religion not realising the dangers which lay within. They hear preachers say, ‘once saved always saved’, ‘come to Jesus and you will get rich’ and they present the food in such a way that it sounds plausible that what they are saying is true.

They offer dangerous food from a poisoned vine, instead of the life-giving food from the true vine John 15:1. On the day of judgment, there will be a lot of people who will say exactly what Jesus said would happen Matthew 7:22-23.

The reason they won’t make it to heaven is because they ate the poisoned vine. They thought they could do anything in the Name of Jesus and be accepted. Sadly, they will be rejected, not for doing things in His Name, but because Jesus never knew them.

In other words, they never had a relationship with Him, they never ate from the true vine.

4. The Cure For Poisoned Food.

The cure for poisoned food can only come from God.

‘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.’ 2 Kings 4:41

Notice that Elisha didn’t throw the stew away, he simply added some flour to the mix. The miracle here is seen in the fact that the contents of the pot couldn’t be eaten, but now they are edible.

Because Elisha performed this miracle, this tells us that the other prophets didn’t have the same miraculous abilities as him. This miracle would have let the other prophets know that Elisha was God’s ‘special’ prophet, in terms of him taking the lead role after Elijah.

And the miracle would also let other people know that Elisha was God’s true prophet and God was working through him.

Just as the prophets realised the food was poisoned, we too need to be alert to some of the poisonous teachings which may enter the Lord’s church.

And just as Elisha provided the cure for the poisoned food, we too must be ready to offer a cure.

The only way to know if you are being fed the right spiritual food is to be like the Bereans, Acts 17:11. You must examine the Scriptures for yourself, to see if what you are being taught is true.

Studying the Scriptures for yourself is the cure, testing what you have been taught in the past with what the Scriptures actually say is the cure.

Jesus is the living bread, John 6:51, and He and only He is the source of real spiritual food, and He is the only one who can meet our daily needs if we feed on His word.

Let me encourage you not to take things at face value, don’t believe every word that any preacher tells you because things may not always be as they appear.

The Gospel may be presented in a way which looks good and sounds good, but it may be poisonous and could cost you your soul, Proverbs 14:12.

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