The Widowed Woman .... Bob Moore

According to Origen Proverbs 22:21 originally said, "And do thou portray them [the scriptures] in a threefold manner." The three manners he referred to are the historical application, the spiritual application and the prophetic one. Each issue of Pilgrims Promise will discuss the prophetic meaning of one of the episodes in the Bible. This issue examines the widowed woman.

The account reads, "Now there cried a certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets unto Elisha, saying, Thy servant my husband is dead; and thou knowest that thy servant did fear the Lord: and the creditor is come to take unto him my two sons as bondsmen. And Elisha said unto her, What shall I do for thee? tell me, what hast thou in the house? And she said, Thine handmaid hath not any thing in the house, save a pot of oil. Then he said, Go, borrow thee vessels abroad of all thy neighbors, even empty vessels; borrow not a few. And when thou art come in, thou shalt shut the door upon thee and upon thy sons, and shalt pour out into all those vessels, and thou shalt set aside that which is full. So she went from him, and shut the door upon her and upon her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured out. And it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said unto her son, Bring me yet another vessel. And he said unto her, There is not a vessel more. And the oil stayed. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, Go, sell the oil, and pay thy debt, and live thou and thy children of the rest" (2 K 4:1-7).

Elisha, a prophet of God, told a widow to pay the debt she owed by pouring oil, the only possession she had, into all the vessels she could find and selling it to raise the necessary funds. The miracle was that the amount of oil the widow had, which was contained in only one vessel, was multiplied so that it filled every vessel found. After pouring, she still had the same amount of oil left as she had when she started, for the Bible says, "And the oil stayed."

The widow represents the Hebrew nation. God spoke to Israel through Isaiah, saying, "Thy Maker is thine husband. For the Lord hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God" (Is 54:5-6). He said the same thing through Ezekiel. After recounting their earlier poverty as a people, He went on to say, "Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold thy time was the time of love; and I spread my skirt over thee, and covered thy nakedness: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest mine"(Ez 16:8). After lamenting her transgressions He goes on to say, "But as a wife that committeth adultery, which taketh strangers instead of her husband!" (Ez 16:32). Although Israel was as a wife, she forsook God. He, in turn, gave her up, making her a widow. Jeremiah referred to this relationship. After God abandoned the Jews, when Babylon destroyed Jerusalem, he lamented, "How doth the city sit solitary, that was full of people! How is she become as a widow!" (Lam 1:1).

The two sons represent the two Hebrew nations. After the reign of Solomon the Israelites divided into two kingdoms. The southern one was called Judah and was ruled by descendants of David, an offspring of Judah. Thenorthern kingdom was called Ephraim or Israel. The reason it was called Ephraim was because its first leader, Jeroboam, was of the tribe of Ephraim. It was also called Israel because it governed ten of the twelve tribes. The northern kingdom was defeated and captured by Assyria in 721 BC. Its citizens were transported to a region in Persia. The Jews were taken to Babylon about 130 years later, in 588 B C. After the Baby-lonian captivity both groups were freed. Only the Jews returned to the promised land. The ten tribes left Persia to undisclosed places. By the time of Jesus the Jews called them the dispersed of Israel (Jn 7:35). Scripture prophesies the eventual union of these two nations. Ezekiel wrote, "They shall be no more two nations, neither shall they be divided into two kingdoms any more at all" (Ez 37:22). Isaiah wrote, "Ephraim shall not envy Judah, and Judah shall not vex Ephraim" (Is 11:13).

The oil represents the Holy Ghost. The title of Jesus, "Messiah in Hebrew and Christ in Greek, means "anointed". Peter said, "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost" (Acts 10:38). That same spirit anoints his disciples. John said, "Ye have an unction from the Holy One" (1 J 2:20). Unction means "oint-ment", something with which one anoints. John goes on to say about this unction, "The same anointing teacheth you of all things" (1 J 2:27). One of the tasks of the Holy Ghost is to teach all things (Jn 14:26). The anointing that makes believers Christians is the Holy Ghost.

Some people do not think that the Holy Ghost anointed people prior to the advent of the Savior. Eusebius, the Christian historian of the third century, calls the righteous patriarchs of the Old Testament Christians. After writing about these men, David shows that they were anointed when he wrote, "Touch not mine anointed" (Ps 105:15). David must have known the Holy Spirit, for after being reproved by Nathan the prophet he prayed, "Cast me not away from thy holy presence; and take not thy holy spirit from me" Ps 51:11). Isaiah said that the Holy Spirit was given to the Hebrews when they left Egyptian bondage (Is 63:11). While the Old Testament never uses the term Holy Ghost, and only writes Holy Spirit twice, it frequently speaks of the Spirit of the Lord. The verse Jesus quoted to announce his Messiahship (Lu 4:16-21) says, "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me: because the Lord hath anointed me" (Is 61:1). Since the New Testament says that Jesus was anointed with the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Lord mentioned by Isaiah that Jesus indicated came upon him must be the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost christened the prophets and people of God before and after the advent of the Savior.

When the Hebrews were dispersed from their promised land, whether at the time Ephraim was led away by the Assyrians or the Jews were dispersed by the Romans, they became the subjects of other lands. God promised to restore both of them. He said, "I will strengthen the house of Judah, and I will save the house of Joseph, and I will bring them again to place them; for I have mercy upon them: and they shall be as though I had not cast them off" (Zech 10 :6). He promised to hiss for Ephraim in far counties (Zech 10:7-9) and to save Judah (Zech 12:7-8).

The Hebrews were driven into other countries because they had sold themselves to pagan practices. They had traded the liberty of the true religion for servitude to foreigners so that they could observe the false religion. Isaiah wrote, "Ye have sold yourselves for naught" (Is 52:3). Because they had indebted themselves to heathen nations, they were obligated to serve them through time. They were as the widow whose two sons were to be indentured because of the debts owed.

For God to restore all of Israel He must first make restitution to those purchasing them. The heathen nations had bought the Hebrews. Before releasing them they should be reimbursed for their loss. God promised to ransom His two nations. He said, "Ye shall be redeemed without money" (Is 52:3). The only possession the Hebrews had was the Holy Spirit. It had anointed the patriarchs, the prophets, the Savior, the apostles and all those following him. As the Gentiles believed the gospel they received the gift of the Holy Ghost. Every human vessel that could be found was filled with the unction from God. This is the payment that God gave through Christ to the Gentiles among whom the Hebrews were dispersed. Through the gospel, God offered them a place in His kingdom in exchange for the return of His two nations.

The time is fast approaching for the complete restoration of the descendants of Jacob. This includes both the southern and northern kingdoms. They will gather from every corner of the earth. Gentile leaders will help them. Their freedom was purchased by Jesus on the cross, for by his redemption the Holy Ghost can descend on every believing person throughout the world. Despite the multiplication of the Holy Ghost around the globe, The Holy Ghost can still anoint the Israelites. God promised them that in the last days, "I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you" (Ez 36:26-27).

The miracle in which the widow saved her sons from bondage because her oil was multiplied has a prophetic meaning. God multiplied the gift of His Spirit, first given by His covenant with Abraham to the Hebrews, to every faithful believer. Reception of this gift frees Jacob's descendants from their servitude so that He can gather them in the last days and make them His again.