Thursday, November 19, 2020

Sister's Supporting Sisters: The Unknown Woman

Sister's Supporting Sisters: The Unknown Woman

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:"
Ecclesiastes 3:1

    There are many different types of seasons and times in our lives. Some of these seasons are filled with joy, peace, and rest. These times are often associated with prosperity manifesting in our lives spiritually, mentally and physically. Things are going well with us. We are in an environment that is compatible to growth. There are also given to each of us seasons not so pleasant, and these too cause us to grow in ways we cannot even imaging. Those times that are filled with sorrow, fear and unrest. Where circumstances and events impact us in what seems to be in a negative manner, seemingly detrimental to our health, wellbeing, and state of mind. Sometimes the threat is so great we can fear for our very existence and that of our families.   We can find ourselves in a place where we may feel like there is no one who truly care about us. and we may even go as far to say that there is no one who is truly sympathetic to our hardships and plights. 

   As individuals, women alone, we are faced with many difficult ongoing challenges. These struggles are daily and may include the responsibility of family care, self care, working in and outside of home, financial stress, home schooling, COVID, state of national affairs, the collapse of societies, the killing of our people, starvation, food shortage and homelessness, just to name a few. These are the very real pressures that we the people of the earth are facing. This is the season where judgement has come across the lands. The time in which we live in 2020 is a season where humanity cannot deny the truth, something is happening. something has changed. We are forced to face the consequences of our collective actions and face the truth about our situation. When we truthy look are where we are it can be overwhelming. The constant pressure to survive, the meeting our daily expectations and cultural requirements often converges into what seems like a single epic event that stress us to the point of change. To the point of recognizing the dire state of our affairs and that they are outside of our control. To the point of where we are forced to seek help and assistance.

Now let's look at the text. 2 Kings 4:1-7

"A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, “Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the Lord. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.” So Elisha said to her, “What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?” And she said, “Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.” Then he said, “Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors—empty vessels; do not gather just a few.  And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.” So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, “Bring me another vessel.” And he said to her, “There is not another vessel.” So the oil ceased. Then 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.”

  The Hebrew text does not even mention this amazing woman by name, she is known throughout the history of her people by the place where she lived. A small village named Shunem. This unnamed woman could be a composite of at lease three different women of this town or a single person, chaptered in history by recording different events that occurred in her life, the text is unclear. She was probably from the Tribe of Issachar, we learn this from Joshua 19:17-18"And the fourth lot came out to Issachar, for the children of Issachar according to their families. And their border was toward Jezreel, and Chesulloth, and Shunem,"

  In the Second Book of Kings, chapter 4 tells, us this village of Shunaam was located between Samaria and Carmel. The and of the town has been associated with the Hebrew word "peace". It is the masculine form of Solomon. Tradition hold that the "Songs of Solomon" which are often read at Passover, which marks the beginning of the grain harvest and commemorating the exodus from Egypt. This song is an allegory of the relationship between Yahweh and his people Israel. Shunammite thus means "double resting place".*(Strong's 07767)

  The woman of our text has been simple called the "Shunamite" woman. She lived during the reign of Jeroboam the son of King Ahab around 850BC. King Jeroboam gave lip service to the the God of Israel but his heart was far from him. He allow the evil to thrive in his kingdom. The Bible tells us that he did evil in the sight of the Lord. He allow pagan religions to thrive while allowing the prophet Elisha the freedom to preach truth in the mists of spiritual corruption. Merging evil principles and compromising righteous is never a good idea. This practice led to the destruction of the people and their land. Second Kings 8:1-6 tells us that there was a famine in the land and a certain woman was forced to moves from her home and land. 

Now what is impressive about this woman written of in the Old Testament is the fact that she was considered to be a noble person, a woman of great character and status. But what makes her distinct and set her apart for her peers was her ability to believe in the goodness of her Creator. Her legacy was was her gift of hospitality coupled with her ability to believe in the unbelievable. In her own way she displayed an amazing response to the most difficult and impossible situations that she faced during her life. By understanding what her journey to freedom, her walk of faith we are given the opportunity to learn many valuable lessons of our father's faithfulness. One being, the importance of remembering, referencing what God has already done for us to increase our faith so that we can move and act in a prompt and obedient manner concerning what he has told us to do. In the "Shunammite woman's testimony we read that her beliefs prompted her to live out a life of generosity, courage, and hope. What we will see  is  this,  her beliefs working through her actions, Now let's get some background history.

When we look at this famine in the Bible we see that God called for this seven year famine during the days of Elisha.

 2 Kings 8:1 tells us:
"Then Elisha spoke to the woman whose son he had restored to life, saying, “Arise and go, you and your household, and stay wherever you can; for the LORD has called for a famine, and furthermore, it will come upon the land for seven years.”

   I dare say it was because of her relationship with the prophet, the living representative of God word, and her relationship to Spirit of the Living God, that placed her in a position to receive the warning of impending days of trouble. With this knowledge she was able to make a decision to prepare and seek refuge to find a place of safety because she was warned about the terrible times where coming on the land, a judgement of God. This woman had a prior history with the prophet and with the God of Israel. A history filled with miracles; the  birth of her son, and later to witness the death and the resurrection of her son. This woman who told the prophet that "All is well." even when her child lay lifeless in his bed. This same woman was told by the prophet of a great famine that would come upon the land and the this famine was sent as an direct effect of God's anger against a guilty people.

Amos 8:11 "Behold, the days come, saith the Lord God, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord:

It has been recorded in scriptures that the Prophet Elisha travel through her village on many occasion and had numerous encounter with this women, we can read of them throughout the different stages of her life cycle. We can read of at least three accounts expressed in Old Testament of there interaction. In reading of the text we learn that this village was a place where some of Yahweh's prophets and their families lived. Shunam was a small village mentioned in the Bible in the possession of the Tribe of Issachar. It was located near the Jezreel Valley, north of Mount Gilboa. The name of the town according to the "Strong's concordance "7766" means, "Double Peace". Shunam another name for "Peace" the masculine form of the name is "Solomon". Tradition holds that the "Songs of Solomon" are read during the "Passover". The Passover marks the beginning of the "grain harvest" and commemorate the "Exodus" of God's people from bondage in Egypt. We also are aware the the Creator uses his creation to accomplish his will, we can read of these undeniable accounts in Exodus chapter 10. As a result of his judgement against this wicked governmental system and it's people, we read of great natural disaster that breakdown and destroy the economic stability of that land. Those that oppressed his people spiritually and physically also faced oppression spiritually and physically, and was seen through the events that where manifest on the earth in direct relationship to his people. There was famine, sickness, and an atmosphere of death in the nation of Egypt. But this woman we are studying does not worry, dread, or show fear. She has a godly kingdom mentality. She known that she cannot save her self, she has learned to view things from a kingdom perspective. God moving of her behalf. The element of worry, fear and dread have been removed by looking at God and his word. Having a heavenly vison of the end of our difficult or impossibilities situations, by seeing what the solutions is from a different lenses. What the end truly is according to God word.
With this in mind let's direct our thoughts to the "Shunammite woman", a Hebrew; how does her story help us understand a different viewpoint of what God's judgment looks like from the perspective of an unnamed woman? These encounters can be viewed as allegories of the relationship between the creator and his people Israel. We observe through these accounts the ability of our Heavenly Father to provide and protect his children when danger and uncertainty is all around. We should really take note of what is written because we are living in historical times, our current world situation is in chaos, and things seen to be coming apart.
Each of us have been effected in some way by the current events we see today. World wide there are many who are experiencing unheard of hardship.

We must honestly examine our situation as a people who are living on a planet that is currently under the judgement by a holy and just God. We know that there are worldwide fires, earthquakes, and devastating weather events.  There are currently famines, plaques, political and civil failures and unrest all our the world.  Financial markets are collapsing and there is unrest all over the world. Death and destruction is every where...War is on the horizon here and now in 2020. All these events and more are told to Yeshua's disciples in the book of Matthew. There is no hope for us unless that hope is found in the only one who can truly help us.
The composite of the "Shunammite woman showcase many important precepts about relying on the promise and character of an unfailing God during trouble and distress. These simple accounts give us an insight into the hardships of everyday life  this women faced during challenging periods in Hebrew history. When we look closely we can find valuable and practical insights to learn and then use in times of our own troubles and distress. When we look our present circumstances those that mimics the things that were written of in the past we can be thankful for the real and practical wisdom left to us in these precious pages when we learn to identify and apply by studying the events of this woman's life. The "Shunammite woman's experiences embodies a few important facts that can often be overlooked. We must observe closely her interaction with the Prophet Elisha and the intimate relationship she had with her creator. We read of her unwavering faith in a trustworthy God. We can read of the importance of her place she held within her household, how throughout her life she embodied hospitality and grace.  Her famous words "All is well." echoes through time as a reminder that Yah is good even in bad times. The gift of hospitality that was evident in her life made a way for her through some of the most difficult situations she lived through. We also see the necessity of believing in the divine power of God and believing in his goodness and then extending to others. We also read of her obedience that fills her with the presence the "oil" of God, his presence, his peace, that supersedes all else that is going on around her. I am reminded of a scripture in Psalms 91:1 "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty." This unnamed woman found shelter and source of refuge under the protection of the Almighty". 

Now for the remainder of the study we will examine the portion of text from Second King.

We can read from the text about this women is how as she identifies her need for help, individualized and specific for her particular troubles. This is big, sometime sadly don't recognize that we are in trouble and the trouble is bigger than themselves, and will take heavenly intervention for an earthly resolution.  Secondly she recognized  who was actually able and willing to assist her and provide the help that was needed. Thirdly,  beyond the need for immediate help she  turns her attention to the only source of help. She is not divided in her thoughts on where her hope is anchored. She is aware that there is no help from her government or any other man or natural and spiritual resources that can solves her problems and fill her needs. She moves swiftly into a posture of faith so that she is able to receive from the Lord her God. Fourthly, she calls for the word and power of God to become active in her situation. She stands on the promises of God's word. This woman calls on the wisdom of the prophet Elisha. She seek heavenly help for her earthly situation. 
 We also read in this text that she was facing these troubled times alone, the text tells us her husband was dead and she alone was caring for the well being of her sons. Many of us may be feeling this type of weight and responsible of handling our burdens alone. Like this woman we may be at the of end of natural our capabilities, and we understand that the situation around us is beyond our personal control.

The jewel of knowledge we can get from this portion of text is that we see that when she recognized the direness of her situation she sought help from a source that could actually help her, one that she was familiar with, that had shown her in many ways his ability and power to help.

We are facing times now in 2020, that will make us think and act outside of the box.  How many times have we sought help from people and things that are unable, not capable of tending and filling our needs. Often we seek help from people and things that cannot give us assistance, we must be wise and not put our trust in sources that are bankrupt. They which have no resources, and cannot be of a to help others. The principle we gather from this is that we should evaluate our situation honestly and seek help, suitable help. We must learn who we are and whom is our God. We need to know his name and what he said he would do for his people. We will find that the only source we can draw on is the unlimited source and resource in the ways of our Heavenly Father, and in the way he has provided. He has already placed his provisions for each us before us we just need to accept and follow his instructions. We must learn to hear the message he has given for the now and act on it. Your word is specific to your situation. 

Let's continue with the text. Next we read that her finances are non-existent. Her creditor was coming to place her sons in slavery because of her depts. When she approaches the prophet, he asked her plainly "What can I do for you? Tell me: what do yo have in your house?" So wait!  Reading his response to her request we find thst the answer, that what she needs is already in her house. This woman replies was "I only have a pot of oil".
Sometime we cannot see how valuable the oil is in which we have been given. This reminds me of another historical character where the Father told him to use the rod or stick in his hand, we know this servant as Moses and we can read of many miraculous events and deliverance that occurred involving this simple tool Yah told Moses to use. How this rod was used to deliver and guide a nation to freedom and then to the promise land. So I need to stop here and ask you, "What do you have in your house that God can use and work through?" It may seem small and insignificant to you, but still present it to the Lord so he can have a means to bless you.
The woman has oil. This woman who said "All is well." even when her son lay dead, in her home on a bed. What trust we see in this statement. How many of us can look at the death of our situations, the lose of our dreams, the change of things, and can say the same. Not many I am assured, but we can now learn to seek change in ourselves how we perceive and see things. This simple change will affect how we endure the times and the things that we are facing.

Matthew 25:1-10
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut."

We maybe familiar with this passage in the book of Matthew it is full of golden nuggets of truth, one of these I would like to look at is the importance of having the necessary oil for our lamps. In this parable given to us by Yeshua tells us in summary, that all were virgins, all were waiting, some had oil they could not share, and some run out of oil and had none. They were all drowsy and awaken to the coming of the bridegroom. Those that had no oil went away, seeking oil, and missed the wedding.

Our unnamed woman has oil! 

Oil is good, but we see that she also had to follow the prophets instructions. He tells her to borrow as many jars she can from her neighbors. That was what they had, empty jars, and take these empty jars into her house. She was to do this with her family, her sons. Once in her house close the door behind them and pour out her little oil she has  into the empty jars shared and borrowed. She and her son's poured out oil until there were no more jars. The oils continued to flow as long as she had empty vessels to fill. This tells us that there is a unlimited resources in the presence, the oil, of God. In this one act her situation changed. Who would have imagine the change of events that happen that day. She and her family was saved from their troubles and sure death by the miracle of the oil. We see she did not worry and she did not fret. The text tells us that she sold the oil, she set up a business, paid her depts. She then went on with her life. She and her son were able to live off the proceeds from the sale of the oil. She and her family lived in the promise.

Well, what can I say? Positive change can come in a day! How important is it to you to have the oil flowing in your life! Yes, there is help for your situation and for the situations happening in our world. Our Father is on the throne, everything is under his feet! There is a hope, be encouraged!