The God of Left-overs

The One Year Chronological Bible, NKJV (Tyndale, 2013), June 15

UnknownElisha could be called, the prophet of leftovers! “She came and told the man of God. And he said, “Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest” (2 Kings 4:7). To resolve the widow woman’s financial crisis, Elisha instructs her to collect empty containers from all of her neighbors. He blesses the little oil that she has, and she begins filling the jars from her meager supply until they are all full. He then commands her to sell the oil to cover her debt. What’s left over provides for the livelihood of the widow and her two sons.

Later, during a lengthy famine in the region, a man presents Elisha with twenty loaves of bread, which is not nearly enough to feed the one hundred prophets. At Elisha’s command, however, the prophets distribute the bread, and somehow it feeds every one of them, with some left over (2 Kings 6:24-7:2).

Jesus demonstrates that God is indeed the God of Leftovers. Jesus blesses a boy’s meager lunch of bread and fish to feed several thousand people. John 6:13 records the final details, “Therefore they gathered them up, and filled twelve baskets with the fragments of the five barley loaves which were left over by those who had eaten.”

What do these three stories teach us about God’s supply and man’s need?

  • God is not limited by our meager resources (a little oil, a few loaves of bread, a few fish).

  • God is not limited by our circumstances (Israel was in the midst of a seven-year famine, and the multitude of 5,000 were out on the mountainside).

  • The little that we presently have testifies to the LORD’s provision for the future.

  • We don’t have to know how the Lord will provide in order to trust Him.

  • Sometimes we end up with more than we originally had.

  • It is far better to have a bare pantry and to experience God’s provisions than to have a a well-stocked pantry without experiencing God. God’s leftovers are better than the world’s best stocked kitchen.

Questions from today’s chronological Bible reading (2 Kings 2, 4):
How does the LORD affirm Elisha’s ministry?
Three periods of Israel’s history are characterized by miracles: the forty year period wilderness wanderings, the time during Elijah and Elisha, and in the Gospels and early church. What do Elisha’s miracles reveal about Israel?