A Single Jar of Oil

Travis West

READ : Isaiah 61:1-3

Your servant has nothing in the house except a jar of oil. (2 Kings 4:2)

The modern industrialized West is not the only oil economy history has known. In fact, many ancient cultures—Israel included—put a premium on oil. It just so happens that our oil is petroleum; theirs was olive. One of my mentors once said: “To Israel, olive oil was seen as a distillation of the glory of God in a jar.”

The glory of the sun fell down from heaven on the tree, empowering its growth. The glory of the heavens fell down as rain, nourishing its budding fruit. The glory of the tree fell to the earth in the form of olives. When pressed, the glory of the olives was released in its most concentrated form. This glory of the olive tree—oil—was used for cooking, healing, and burning in lamps. Olive oil literally sustained the life of the community by filling people’s bellies, healing their wounds, and lighting their homes.

Elisha was sensitive to the spiritual power of oil. When the widow revealed to him that she had a jar of oil, Elisha foresaw what God could do with it. Elisha knew the power that animated the oil was ultimately the power of God and that nothing—not the greatness of her need, not the emptiness of the vessels, not the threat of enslavement, not the weakness of her faith—could prevent the power of God from moving in accordance with God’s purposes. It’s the same today.


Thank you for your provision.