Today’s Text and Thought of Encouragement:
“Arise, shine: for thy light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee.”
“Is your place a small place?
Tend it with care!
He set you there.
Is your place a large place?
Guard it with care!
He set you there.
Whatever your place, it is
Not yours alone, but His
Who set you there.”
Today’s Study Text:
“And he (Elisha) said, ‘Bring me a new cruse, and put salt therein.’ And they brought it to him (Elisha).”
“A New Cruse” Part 2
“They travel lightly whom grace carries.”
Thomas á Kempis
What does the word “grace” mean to me?
How does God’s gift of grace affect my life in the here and now?
“Grace strikes us when we are in great pain and restlessness. It strikes us when we walk through the dark valley of a meaningless and empty life. It strikes us when we feel that our separation is deeper than usual.”
“Grace is love that cares and stoops and rescues.”
It is apparent, by the actions of the men of Jericho, that after visually watching Elisha cross the Jordan River as well as finding out that the story he shared about Elijah’s sudden disappearance was rooted in truth, they decided in their own hearts that indeed, God’s mighty power was alive and well and moving in the life of Elisha.
And so they brought to this prophet of God, a dilemma they faced. II Kings 2: 19 begins with the residents of Jericho informing Elisha of a “situation” in the “pleasant,” city where they lived. The Hebrew translation gives us more information regarding the word that describes “situation” for it really means, “inhabited place or abode or dwelling place.” And the word “pleasant,” in Hebrew, means “beautiful and bountiful.” What these men conveyed to Elisha was that on the outside, their inhabited place, the city of Jericho, looked beautiful, it appeared prosperous and bountiful. But this was only an illusion.
As they continued, they shared with Elisha the real picture which included bitter water and barren ground. What fed the city was corrupted and foul. The result was land that couldn’t grow anything and water that was undrinkable.
This story reflects the tragic situation that is found in Puerto Rico right now, the island of the United States of America which was devastated by a hurricane called Maria. Right now people are still without housing and water. Yet, there are some wonderful people who have gone to cook food and to help with rebuilding, at their own cost, because they have hearts filled with concern for the people in distress. This is exactly the attitude we see in Elisha’s response. He didn’t blame the people for not taking care of the situation long before it became such an emergency. Instead, Elisha took action! Who says the Bible is old-fashioned and doesn’t relate to the problems that confront us in the 21st century.
After hearing about the plight these men found themselves in, Elisha asked them to bring him a new cruse and salt. A seemingly strange request. But this time, not wanting to continue with their skeptical behavior the men of Jericho, whom I might add were God’s children, complied with Elisha’s request.
Elisha took the new cruse containing the salt and “went forth unto the spring of water and cast the salt in there, and said, ‘Thus saith the Lord, I have healed these waters; there shall not be from thence any more death or barren land.’ So the waters were healed unto this day, according to the saying of Elisha which he spake” (II Kings 2: 20-22, K.J.V.).
I will freely admit that when I first read this story, it just appeared to be one, in a long list of miracles, performed by the prophet Elisha. But to come to this conclusion would show that I had completely missed the depth of truth buried, not only in this miracle, but clear into the New Testament where Jesus Himself talks about the ability of salt to change the power of something.
For the next few moments, I want to dig deeper here in the Garden into three specific spiritual insights which I found could be drawn from the new cruse, the salt, and the spring of water.
Insight #1 – The New Cruse. First we should note that Elisha asked for a new cruse. A cruse at this time in history was really nothing more than an earthenware jar, which was rather easy to break. These jars were common household items, fired in a kiln. When they were broken or shattered, they were tossed away as useless because they were inherently without value as cracked shards. Does this sound like there is something about your life and mine that makes us like an old cruse? It was the Apostle Paul, in writing to his Christian friends in Corinth, who likened us to “earthen vessels.” But then Paul goes on to enlighten his readers, right down to this very day, to the fact that something happens to us when God gets a hold of an earthen vessel and turns us into a new cruse, a new container, for he states that it is with this new cruse, that “the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us” (II Corinthians 4: 7, K.J.V.).
Now I ask you to hold that thought for a moment as we look at what was put into the new cruse. Oh, and just one more highlight. I love getting out my Hebrew dictionary to help us uncover more of the expansive truth that sometimes we leave buried when we only skim over God’s Word, and what I found really caught my attention for in Hebrew, “new cruse” or “châdâsh tselochiyth” means a fresh rebuilt tall vial or salt-cellar (salt-container). This motivated me to move on to the next insight I gained from this story.
Insight #2 – The Salt. We find in the New Testament that Jesus told His disciples in Matthew 5: 13, “Ye are the salt of the earth: but if the salt have lost his savour, thenceforth wherewith shall it be salted. It is good for nothing” As I contemplated the idea of salt being used by Elisha to purify a foul water supply, this lead me to consider the question: “What is this salt and where does it come from?”
I’d like to offer for your consideration several thoughtful observations I uncovered in my study. One author likened salt to God’s grace which is given to us as a free gift by our Saviour. We could call this “saving salt” which needs to pervade our entire being to work effectively. I love the way Brother Lawrence describes the work of grace in your life and mine, “Blind as we are, we hinder God and stop the current of His graces. But when He finds a soul penetrated with a lively faith, He pours into it His grace and favors plentifully; there they flow like a torrent which, after being forcibly stopped against its ordinary course, when it has found a passage, spreads itself with abundance.” As I think of God’s gift of grace flowing through our lives, it leads me to the next insight found in the miracle of the “cured” water.
Insight #3 – The Spring of Water. After Elisha received the salt, he didn’t just dump it into the creek any old place. Instead, he went to the heart of the problem – to the spring where the water supply began. What a lesson for us today for when we long for healing in the bitter water of our lives, be it the pain of past events or current problems, the transforming, flavor-enhancing, preserving power of God’s grace needs to start at the core of our being – our heart! The salt of God’s gift of grace, when it penetrates our hearts will renew our earthen vessel and prepare us to be containers, salt-cellars if you will, filled with healing to those hurting around us. No longer are we in a pleasant or beautiful position only to be filled with bitterness that leaves the earth around us barren. Instead, our earthen vessels, infused with heavenly grace becomes a resource filled with power from above. In the words of Johnny Foglander, “God does not give grace because there is a need, but God gives grace because He is a gracious God.” How thankful we can be for a new cruse, salt and a spring that teaches us about our Father’s gift of grace that purifies, cleanses and empowers the barren land of our lives today.
“Ah, the bridge of grace will bear your weight.”
C. H. Spurgeon
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me;
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind but now I see.
‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear,
The hour I first believed.”
“The grace of God is in my mind shaped like a key, that comes and unlocks the heavy doors.”
Dorothy Valcárcel, Author
When A Woman Meets Jesus
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