We say it in different ways, and when we do, it is generally met with approving nods, and maybe even a polite AMEN or two.
But do we really believe what we are saying? Do we even slightly begin to know what we are speaking? Or are they by now simply feel good cliches that are cute and comforting but have little basis in fact? Let alone impact on our personal lives.
For instance, there is the popular contemporary song that puts it this way:
“LITTLE IS MUCH WHEN GOD IS IN IT.”
There it is! I am sure you have heard before, and maybe even spoke it yourself.
It certainly has a soothing ring to it, especially if you are of humble means and have very little 💰money. Maybe God will miraculously multiply it like He did the widow lady’s little jar of oil!
Remember her? How could we ever forget? You should meet her, the dear lady with her sons down the street. The Bible tells us that pure and undefined religion is visiting the widow in her affliction.
Yes, the dead prophet’s wife, poverty stricken, with only a jar of cooking oil to her name. Creditors knocking at her door, threatening to take her sons as slaves in payment. It was the bleakest of times for the preacher’s widow?
Elisha the prophet of God was a friend of the family. Under the prophet Elisha’s divine guidance, and through one small bottle of oil and the vessels she had to collect, she hit a geyser of oil through which she could pay her creditors and keep her sons out of slavery. II Kings 4:1-7! Little is indeed much when God is in the middle of it!
It begs the question:
“DO WE EVEN BEGIN TO REALIZE HOW LITTLE WE ARE, AND HOW MUCH GOD REALLY IS?”
The answer would and must be unequivocally no! All men overestimate themselves and underestimate God. Especially in modern day ideologies, when HUMANISM has now transcended THEISM, even in many churches! And FAITH in God has topped the GOD of faith.
At the same time, over and over we find in the Bible and in experience that God includes little-us in His much-miracles. We are co-participants with Almighty God, even though we are but secondary and thirdary support actors and actresses on the stage of life. The Bible movie screen is filled with credits to small cast members in the great Divine Drama of life! Too many to mention.
Why? Because, the Bible is a COVENANT BOOK, and because God is the COVENANT GOD. The Old Testament is really the OLD COVENANT, and the New Testament is really the NEW COVENANT. That is what we must get deep into our hearts! All covenants contain two parts, God’s and man’s, the MUCH and the LITTLE.
The widow was commanded by the man of God to do the following:
1. Give to him the only jar of oil she had.
2. Order her sons to round up from the neighborhood as many empty containers as they could find.
3. Bring them all into her house and shut the door. She did it all exactly as she was instructed! God is in the details, even though we ascribe the details to the devil. (THE devil is in the details.)
It was when she began to pour the oil into the first container that the artesian well of oil began to flow. It was from the LITTLE that the MUCH came. Stand there with her, as from the little the oil continued to pour forth. Imagine if you can the LITTLE unendingly becoming the MUCH. From her jar container after container gets filled up! What a sight!
Shocking and even scary at the same time. We all know what happens when oil is struck and oil wells blow. Maybe she should turn the jar of oil straight up again before they all drown in oil!
But then we read in II Kings 4:6,
“AND WHEN THERE WERE NO MORE VESSELS, THE OIL STOPPED.”
So it was that her LITTLE JAR OF OIL STARTED THE MIRACLE, AND HER LIMITED NUMBER OF RECEPTACLES STOPPED THE MIRACLE. So we can safely say this:
“MUCH WOULD NOT BE MUCH WITHOUT THE LITTLE.”
Some Rabbis once counted, and found that there are at least 613 commands in the Old Testament. Among them were Elisha’s commands to the widow 🚺 woman.They didn’t make much sense in the beginning, and transcended all sense in the end.
“BECAUSE IT WAS OBEDIENCE IN THE SIMPLY NATURAL THAT LED TO THE SOLUTION IN THE MIRACULOUS SUPERNATURAL.”
Throughout the Bible it always does! I have seen it, lived it, experienced it, and I was dumbfounded by it! The God of the MUCH miraculously basis His supernatural on the natural LITTLE! THE COVENANT GOD. This cannot be over emphasized!
We have another way of stating the same powerful truth, and it simply goes like this:
“ONE PLUS GOD IS A MAJORITY.”
Very catchy with a clever ring to it, but is it based on fact? Or is it just another cliche meant to give hope to the hopeless like a Hallmark greeting card.
Do you recall the Bible story of the young boy and his lunch which consisted of 5 small barley loaves of bread 🍞 and 2 fish 🐟? It is better known to us as JESUS FEEDING THE 5000 in John 6:1-13.
It reminds me of the student opening with prayer in the student dining hall as he said, “Lord, bless this bunch as they munch on their lunch.” Trouble is, here in John 6 the bunch is 5000 and the lunch is a diminutive 1.
The astounding episode finds Jesus taking the boy’s lunch and multiplying it so that 5000 hungry people could eat to their stomach’s contentment. Even more awesome was that the multitude could not eat anymore, and still there were 12 surplus baskets of bread and fish left over. At Jesus’ eatery that day, seconds and thirds were on the house – ALL YOU CAN EAT!!!
We read in John 6:11,
“THAT JESUS TOOK THE BREAD AND GAVE THANKS. ”
That is when the miracle distribution began to take place 5000 times over and over. I’ve heard of bread lines as they are called, but this is mass production born out of an attitude of gratitude in our Savior. He was thankful for the LITTLE 👦 BOY’S LUNCH.
Andrew had pooh poohed the lad’s lunch as amounting to nothing, for He had not yet learned that ONE PLUS GOD IS A SUPER MAJORITY. Gratitude for the little escaped him, as it does all of us so often.
“THE MAJORITY WHO IS GOD WAS SO BECAUSE OF THE MINORITY WHO WAS THE BOY.”
I KNOW THAT SUCH A TEACHING SHAKES UP A LOT OF STUDENTS AND TEACHERS IN THE STALE SEMINARY BREAD LINES OF TODAY.
But that boy unknowingly became a co-partner with Jesus in this spur of the moment FISH AND CHIPS EATERY, which on this day specialized in FISH FILLET SANDWICHES. PINERA BREAD AND LONG JOHN SILVER’S eat your heart out!
It may be a CUP OF COLD WATER, it may be a SMILE, it may be a HUMBLE PRAYER, it may be MUSTARD SEED FAITH, it may be a WORD OF ENCOURAGEMENT, it may be a BOX LUNCH, it may be a WARM GREETING, and you may become the minority partner with majority God in a miracle!
“DOING NOTHING AND GIVING NOTHING ENDS UP IN NOTHING.”
For there to be a FALL there must be a SPRING. For there to be a HARVEST there must be a PLANTING. For there to be a MAJORITY, there must be a MINORITY. THEN IT IS THAT GOD GIVES THE INCREASE. (I Corinthians 3:6)
“NO MAN CAN BE USED FOR THE GREATER GOOD 👍 WHEN HE IS GOOD ONLY TO HIMSELF.”
The young lad 👦 could have taken his lunch and ran and eaten it all by himself. He didn’t. He allowed himself and his lunch to be used for the greater good. ONE PLUS GOD IS THE MAJORITY, IF WE ALLOW OURSELVES TO BE THE GIVING MINORITY.
Before we move on, we must remember that for the widow and the boy, what they had was not little, it was MUCH! Why? Because it was ALL THEY HAD! Therein is the miracle! It wasn’t little becoming much. It was much becoming much more!
Jesus gave His whole life that the whole world 🌎 could be saved! He held nothing back. He emptied Himself! He gave His all. People are still being saved today, as the BREAD OF LIFE is still being multiplied. It is the greatest miracle ever! Bar none!
It could if not should be restated:
“MUCH IS MUCH MORE WHEN GOD IS IN IT, AND MUCH PLUS GOD IS A MAJORITY.”
There is a third way of stating the same principle that we are dealing with, and it is this:
“THE BATTLE IS NOT ALWAYS TO THE STRONG.”
That is a quote from Ecclesiastes 6:11. It is another way of saying the same truth. It is, like the other renditions, seemingly totally illogical.
With God, never underestimate the small, the weak, the understated, and the over-matched. Goliath learned that the hard way, as a mere shepherd boy with a slingshot drove that stone-cold-truth home hard between his eyes. He couldn’t think about it very long, for the next thing we know is that Goliath lost his head. The diminutive shepherd boy decapitated him. THE BATTLE IS NOT ALWAYS TO THE STRONG!!! God again and again fries the brains of the Las Vegas odds-makers!
Under wicked King Jehoahaz of Israel, the Israelites were in a terribly backslidden and idolatrous mess. He reigned for 17 APOSTATE years. The Lord was greatly angered, and as the Lord of the nations He unleashed the Syrians under King Hazael and His son Benhadad against the Israelites. Hazel reigned for 37 long years, and his vast and powerful empire swallowed up Syria and Palestine. It was a brutal regime.
The Israelites were devastated, and their armed forces were ground into the dust of a threshing floor. Their 🐎 horsemen were reduced to 50, their chariots reduced to 10, and their foot soldiers reduced to about 10,000. All of which made their armed forces microscopic compared to their cruel conquerors the Syrians. It was a harsh and miserable time in Israel’s history.
Now then fast forward, there has been a change and JOASH (also called Jehoash), son of Jehoahaz, is now King 👑 of Israel. Like his predecessors, he left standing the groves and shrines to the gods of the Canaanites, Baal and Asherah. Idolatry continued to run rampant.
But now something remarkable and transformative is about to happen! In this harsh and cruel Syrian devastation and occupation, King Joash, this idolatrous king, goes to the very ill prophet Elisha for help.
I am told that even a blind man can tell when a candle has been lit in his room. Joash now stumbles in the darkness toward the light. That is how it begins, an inner illumination is happening!
God’s prophet is sick onto death. King Joash bows and weeps over the face of Elisha, and cries out in II Kings 13:14,
“O MY FATHER, MY FATHER, THE CHARIOT OF ISRAEL AND THE HORSEMEN THEREOF.”
Remarkable! The King 👑 of Israel Joash sobs over his now gravely ill spiritual FATHER, with no doubt his tears falling on Elisha’s face. What sights and sounds are these!? p
There is more to those tears 😢 than we know. Elisha recognizes the depth of Joash’s sobbing, as now leaning over him is a broken hearted son. I am reminded of the return of the prodigal to his father.
Powerful that the King now calls Elisha his FATHER. MY FATHER, MY FATHER! That also means the King now views himself as Elisha’s son! No longer the prophet that He should have obeyed but did not, but now the father whom the son loves! Something powerful and deeply spiritual is happening here! We must not miss it!
“YOU CANNOT VIEW YOURSELF AS THE PROPHET’S SON WITHOUT WEEPING OVER YOUR OWN SIN!”
Even though Joash had done evil in God’s sight, something of God had taken root in Joash’s heart, and Elisha had planted that seed. The flood of tears 😢 is evidence of a broken spirit and a contrite heart. Penitential tears are now raining down upon Joash’s spiritual daddy!
It is one of the most moving scenes in all of the Bible. Everyone of God’s children can point to a pastor or preacher or evangelist who he considers to be his FATHER IN THE FAITH. A man of God who the Holy Spirit used to birth spiritual life within him. I have mine and no doubt you have your’s!
The cry,”THE CHARIOT OF ISRAEL AND THE HORSEMEN THEREOF,” is an echo of what Elisha spoke over Elijah and his blazing entrance into Heaven. But it is more! Here is a remorseful lament that the armies of Israel have been reduced to a skeleton, a chariot and a few horsemen! Joash and Israel now are in a beleaguered and defenseless state against the overpowering forces of the Syrian occupation.
“JOASH IS CRYING OUT IN THE MIDST OF A STORM THAT HIS OWN DISOBEDIENCE HAS RAISED.”
“IT MUST BE AN AWAKENED AND STRICKEN CONSCIENCE THAT LEADS TO A SOFTENED AND REPENTANT HEART.”
ELISHA’S LAST PROPHECY
ELISHA was one of God’s more dramatic SHOW AND TELL PROPHETS. With what strength he has left, he suddenly turns his sick room into a WAR ROOM. The prophet on his death bed becomes the commanding General Elisha. No time to waste, as his weakened voice now commands weeping King Joash with an unmistakable tone of fiery urgency.
In II Kings 13:15-17, he orders the King to do the following,
1. Get yourself a bow and arrows. King Joash obeys, as Elisha turns him from a weeping King into a warrior King.
2. Then Elisha orders King Joash to put his hand upon the bow. He does, and when he does the Prophet puts his hand on the Kings hand. Whatever was to happen next, the prophets hand had to seal the deal. Here we have church and state joining hands. Prophet and king joining hands! That has always been God’s design!
3. Then the Prophet tells the King to open the EAST WINDOW. This was not to let in some fresh air. This was to signify the dawning of a new day in Israel! A window of hope had opened in the midst a dismal and dark Syrian onslaught.
4. Then the King is ordered to shoot.
And shoot he did, and as that arrow flew out the EAST WINDOW, Elisha spoke these words in II Kings 13:17,
“THE ARROW OF THE LORD’S DELIVERANCE, THE ARROW OF DELIVERANCE FROM SYRIA, FOR THOU SHALT SMITE THE SYRIANS IN APHEK, TILL THOU HAS CONSUMED THEM.”
TRY to get the picture if you can, both from the inside and the outside! It is remarkable as the room becomes an archery range, and the arrow of the Lord flies out of the window! The history of an entire nation is about to dramatically change!
Never was an arrow sent forth like that arrow. Robinhood never shot an arrow like this arrow! Cupid never shot an arrow like this arrow. Roman Armies in their heyday never shot an arrow like this arrow. Legolas of The Lord of the Rings never shot an arrow like this arrow.
With one shot and one arrow, King Joash became the most famous ARCHER in Jewish history. Surreal if not totally unreal, Israel, completely overmatched and out-arrowed, with one OMNIPOTENT ARROW under King Joash was delivered and set free from Syrian captivity. It is true:
“WITH GOD LITTLE IS MUCH, AND THE BATTLE IS NOT ALWAYS TO THE STRONG.”
The ARROW OF GOD’S DELIVERANCE.
FIRST of the all, I don’t know where that arrow landed. But this we can be assured of, it was not an accidental or lucky hit! It found it’s mark, and thus began the miracle DIVINE DELIVERANCE! Never did an arrow fly so true!
SECOND, this was a deliverance to be carried out against a far superior and unbeatable enemy! Nothing and no one below ALMIGHTY GOD could set Israel free! Nothing and no one could break the bars of imprisonment but the ARMS OF OMNIPOTENCE.
Most of us, if not all of us, have a loved one or loved ones, who have been taken captive by Satan. Whether it be unbelief, drugs, alcohol, homosexuality, witchcraft, or false religion. The odds seem unbeatable, and we are tempted to give up praying and let our faith slowly unravel.
NO! Open your east window. Yes, in faith, do it now. This day, send your prayer arrow forth out of the EAST WINDOW, and see for yourself a mighty deliverance:
“FOR THE STRONG DEVIL IS NOTHING COMPARED TO THE STRONGEST GOD.”
“GREATER IS HE THAT IS IN US THAN HE THAT IS IN THE WORLD.”
To powerfully punctuate it all, Elisha orders Joash to take his remaining arrows and strike the ground with them. Joash hits the ground with his arrows 3 times, and Elisha rebukes him for not doing it 5 or 6 times.
Why? Because in the future, Joash will defeat the Syrians only 3 times when he could have pounded them into submission 6 times. The point being:
“WE MUST NEVER EVER UNDERESTIMATE OUR ROLE IN GOD’S MIRACLE DELIVERANCES.”
ABIMELECH was the tyrannical king of Israel! He mind you killed all of his brothers to secure his position on the throne. He murdered entire cities who opposed him. He was the modern Bashar al-Assad of Syria.
In one of his onslaughts, he was going to burn down a tower in which people had barricaded themselves. As he approached the tower door to burn it, a woman at the top of the tower threw down a piece of a millstone, and brained Abimelech. He was mortally wounded.
He then asked his armour bearer to kill him with the sword, so that it would not be reported that a woman killed him! You can read it all in Judges 9.
“THE BATTLE IS NOT ALWAYS TO THE STRONG!”