By Tom Moore
“And Elisha came again to Gilgal. And there was a dearth in the land; and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him; and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and boil pottage for the sons of the prophets. And one went out into the field to gather herbs, and found a wild vine, and gathered thereof wild gourds his lap full, and came and shred them into the pot of pottage; for they knew them not. So they poured out for the men to eat. And it came to pass, as they were eating of the pottage, that they cried out, and said, O man of God, there is death in the pot. And they could not eat thereof. But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot; and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat. And there was no harm in the pot” (2 Kgs. 4:38-41). There are many valuable lessons to be learned from this biblical event – let us consider a few.
As there was a famine in land during the days of Elisha, so is there a famine of the word of God in our day. Amos writes, “Behold, the days come, saith the Lord Jehovah, 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 Jehovah. And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east; they shall run to and fro to seek the word of Jehovah, and shall not find it.” (Amos 8:11-12). Friends, such seems to describe our day as well. In many places the word of God is not found. Many of pulpits are preaching more “philosophy” than they are the word of God – that’s a spiritual dearth! Can you hear the prophet’s cry, “My people are destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hos. 4:6). Will you heed the prophet’s cry? “If anyone speaks, let him speak as the oracles of God…” (1 Pt. 4:11).
The world, too, is starving without the gospel message. We need to provide the “bread of life” so the world will not hunger or thirst spiritually (Jn. 6:35). Friends, do you care enough for your family, your friends, and your neighbor down the road to help them in their spiritual famine? Will you be involved in teaching to help stop this terrible spiritual starvation?
But, let us beware lest we be as the servant of 2 Kings 4 and gather wild gourds and poison the pot. Many in our day think they are being fed good spiritual food – but in many places, “there is death in the pot!” There is “death in the pot” because false doctrine is being taught. It is the pure word of God that saves – not the doctrines of men. False doctrine is deadly whether it is a little or a lot. This is why Paul warned that “a little leaven leavens the whole lump” (1 Cor. 5:6). In rat poison, over 99% of the ingredients are good, but it is the other 1% that kills the rat. Friends, spiritually speaking, this is why we need to be concerned that we are true to the teaching of the Bible in every point.
But, consider this about the servant that gathered the poison gourds – he was sincere in what he did but still he poisoned his fellows. The servant “thought” he was doing the right thing, but he was fatally wrong. Many today are sincere in what they believe – but they are sincerely wrong. This is why it is so important that we examine ourselves (2 Cor. 13:5). What we think or what we feel in our hearts is not the test of truth – it is strictly what the Bible says.
We also need to be careful because just as the gourd looked good, and yet, was poisoned, so error can go around disguised as truth. Do you remember the warning of Jesus? – “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves” (Mt. 7:15). Things may not always be as they appear. Friends, if there is “death in the pot,” then let us use the “meal” of God’s word to remove the poison. Add the “meal” to the pot and “serve it to the people” and you will find nothing “harmful in the pot.” Be careful lest there be death in the pot!