Elisha and the Widow at Zarephath
2 Kings 4: 1-8
The first American Thanksgiving was celebrated less than a year after the Christian Plymouth colonists had settled in the new land of America. The first Thanksgiving Day, set aside for the special purpose of prayer as well as celebration, was decreed by Governor William Bradford on July 30, 1623. There were harvest festivals or days of thanking God for plentiful crops. During the Revolutionary War, eight special days of thanks were observed for victories and for being saved from dangers. On November 26, 1789, President George Washington issued a general proclamation for a day of thanks. Our national day of thanksgiving was proclaimed by President Lincoln in 1863 with these words, "A Day of Thanksgiving and Praise to our beneficent Father."
During this week of thanksgiving, we turn to a bible story of the Widow Women of Zarephath, or Sarepta., which belonged to Zidon. After the death of King Solomon, the kingdom of Israel plunged into a civil war. Elisha often found comfort in the home of an Israel prophet and his wife and away from the bitter conflict in Israel. Coincidentally, the land was also the birthplace of his lethal enemy, Jezebel, daughter of King Eth-Baal of the Zidonians, who married King Ahab.
The widow’s homeland was rife with Idol worshipers and strange gods. However, she assimilated to the Hebrew faith, through her husband the prophet of God. All prior to Elisha the prophet came her way. She came to wholly accept the faith as the outcome of what she saw and heard due to Elijah’s stopovers in her meager home. She herself was most likely inborn of the area.
Now, along with her two young boys, was subject to slavery (or worse) due to indebtedness to a collector. Acting as a mother, she gathered her strength to confront the ‘Man of God’ by issuing a dossier in hopes of garnering support to survive. She wastes no time in reminding Elisha that her husband was in his network of being a voice of (his) God and his servitude was unto death. Elisha responds by asking her request. The widow asked for relief from her debtor. Elisha does not dismiss the debt, rather conveys that faith without works is dead (James 2:17). He asks what is in the house. She responds with menial items. Elisha uses the jar of oil to carry out God’s miracle. He orders her to gather as many pots as possible. Today, God is asking the same of you as your blessings go as far as you allow God to give to you. One should gather as many pots in their lives for God to fill for His supply is limitless.
Elisha carries out God’s orders by providing the oil as an agent to complete the task. Only after every pot is full did the jar of oil stay (v.6). The widow could pay off her creditors AND provide enough for her and her two sons to live.
Supporting Scriptures on Thanksgiving:
"Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever." 1 Chronicles 16:34
"Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful." Colossians 3:15
"Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful." Colossians 4:2
"I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus."
1 Corinthians 1:4
"You will be enriched in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God." 2 Corinthians 9:11
"For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, because it is consecrated by the word of God and prayer." 1 Timothy 4:4-5
Thanksgiving Day Traditionally, it has been a time to give thanks for a bountiful harvest.
When should we give thanks? In every circumstance:
Psalms 57:2 I will cry out to God Most High, To God who performs all things for me.
The Widow of Zarephath