After speaking for Hillsong at the Dominion Theater in London on Sunday, I was honored to speak on Monday night for a large audience including several hundred associates of the Genistar Corporation, UK, at the London Chamber of Commerce. Walking to this event, I passed the imposing St. Paul’s Cathedral, which amazingly survived the bombing blitz the Nazis unleashed on the city of London at the end of 1940.
During those dark days, Winston Churchill issued a directive that St Paul’s Cathedral must be saved. The prime minister knew that St Paul’s survival was vital for civilian morale. During the third-last night of 1940 that entire part of London was set ablaze by Nazi incendiary bombs.
Virtually every building was destroyed and hundreds of civilians, soldiers, and firemen were killed. Londoners endured one of their worst nights of World War II, but when morning came, they gazed upon St Paul’s Cathedral—largely undamaged; and were filled with resolve that England would prevail.
I don’t know if Churchill prayed for a miracle that night but he did assign to St Paul’s the very last few firemen he had available. He also prepared for how he would use the building’s survival to help boost morale.
A poor, impoverished widow approached the prophet Elisha for help. (II Kings 4:1) He asked her what she had in her house. Ancient Jewish wisdom indicates that he sent her to search her house several times until she finally discovered a previously overlooked tiny bottle of oil.
The next requirement necessary for a miracle to occur, said Elisha, was that she should borrow many containers, which she did. He directed her to pour oil from her small bottle into the large drums. Miraculously, the oil continued to pour from the miniature bottle until all the borrowed containers were filled with oil.
We know that Elisha wanted to help the widow and that he could summon Divine aid–a miracle. So why did he force her to search her home repeatedly until she found the tiny bottle of oil? Once he was going to use a miracle, why didn’t he just make oil flow from a tree or other source? Furthermore, why make her borrow containers? Couldn’t the same God who supplied plenty oil also have supplied many containers?
We study Scripture to extract specific life-lessons we must learn from each story. These seven verses teach us two things about miracles. First, in order to trigger a miracle that can transform your life you have to find within your ‘house’ which is to say, within yourself, some small reserve of resources. Maybe it is one last bit of energy and optimism. Perhaps it is the last bit of capital you still possess. You have to search until you find your tiny bottle of oil.
Second, you must have ‘containers’ into which the blessings brought by the miracle can flow.
Imagine a man praying to meet a woman with whom to share his life. But other than prayer, he takes no steps to trigger an encounter. Furthermore, he has no job and no home and is nowhere near ready to get married. He has violated the rules of Elisha. He has failed to find within himself even a small catalyst for transformation. Even if God brings him the woman of his dreams, he isn’t ready to do anything about it. He has failed to have ready ‘containers’ for the blessing.
We want so many things: love, financial security, health, abundance, fulfillment and more. Yet, too often, we fail to reach deep enough inside ourselves and offer even more than we think we possibly can. Sometimes, we forget to ready enough containers so that our blessings don’t go to waste.
Every part of Scripture contains practical application for our lives. My wife and I love sharing these messages in depth on our TV show Ancient Jewish Wisdom. We have gathered four of our favorite shows on DVD so that you, family, and friends can watch, absorb and discuss them. Please invest in this valuable resource, on sale right now, and put God’s word to work in your life.
This week’s Susan’s Musings: When Society Doesn’t Fit?
Sometimes, approaching a familiar topic from an unexpected angle provides perspective. When a writer presents a peek into an unfamiliar culture and he is motivated by interest rather than by an agenda, he offers that opportunity. A book I recently read…READ MORE
Read the most recent Ask the Rabbi question and answer here
Do Jewish people believe in life after death? Since I was a little girl I have been terrified of death. As I have gotten older, the hope of heaven seems more and more like a scam. Did God really create us to share eternity with Him, or our own egos and pride unable to accept oblivion?
My faith in any God seems tied up in this paradox. So many religions have so many answers that make no sense to me.
Read Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin’s ANSWER HERE