Photo by Amritanshu Sikdar
Then go in and shut the door behind yourself and your sons and pour into all these vessels. And when one is full, set it aside.” 2 Kings 4:4
In 2 Kings 4, a widow comes to Elisha frantic because her husband had died and left her in debt. The prophet doesn’t solve all her problems. He makes her part of the solution. He asks her what she has in her house. The only thing she had was oil. In God’s hand, this was more than enough for her miracle. He gives her an instruction to go find empty vessels, as many as she could find, and to fill them with oil, then go use that oil to pay her debt.
Even though this story is about a woman receiving a miracle for her predicament, it is also an allegory of how God fills us with His oil. The Holy Spirit who represents oil will fill any empty vessel that He finds available.
Let us look at how we can become empty vessels that God can fill with His oil.
God will only fill empty vessels
The instruction for the woman is to go find empty vessels. This was a requirement for the miracle. It is also a requirement for our infilling with the anointing. God has to take us through an emptying season before He can fill us with His oil. Before we can carry the anointing; before we can carry the gifting, we have to be completely emptied.
We often hate the season of emptying because it feels like God is stripping us of everything. He will empty us of this world. He will empty us of selfish ambitions. He will get rid of our love for self. He will empty us of our self-will. He will keep emptying us until we become vessels that can be filled with His oil.
Some of us are going through a season of emptying. I want to encourage you it’s a good thing because it means God is preparing you to carry His oil. Don’t give up, keep going until you are a vessel He can use.
We often pray, “God I want to be anointed.” Not knowing that emptying precedes the season of being filled with His oil. Many people want to carry the anointing but few will submit to the season of becoming an empty vessel for the anointing. Most people will ask for the anointing but God will ignore them because He knows they will never go through the process of being emptied.
Our prayer needs to be, “God make me an empty vessel that can carry your anointing.”
It’s a private affair
Elisha gives her another instruction, to go in and shut the door behind her and start pouring the oil into the vessels. Anointing only happens in separation. God will lead us into a season where we become separated from our friends, family, and those around us because he wants us alone to fill us with his oil. Oil will never be poured into a person in public. It has to be in private. It has to flow out of the secret place. It has to flow out of our seeking God and out of our pursuit of His presence.
Sometimes we are chasing after gatherings looking for anointed men and women to impart on us the anointing. But, the only place we receive the anointing is in the secret place. Nobody will impart on you what only an intimate relationship with God will give to you because you will replace the need for God in your life. We want the impartation so we can bypass the procedure put in place by God. We don’t want to become empty. We also don’t want to go through a season of separation and seeking after God. We just want to be anointed. God will say no because He can only give himself to those who have paid the price for it.
Before oil can be poured on us, there has to be a going in and shutting doors behind us for a season so we can get alone with God.
What do you have?
Elisha asks the woman, “What do you have in your house?” She replies, “I have nothing but a little oil.” Sometimes this is how we come to God. God isn’t asking much from us, He is only asking for us to make what we have available. Sometimes what we have doesn’t look like it’s much but in His hands, it’s more than enough. Maybe we only have but a little talent. Maybe we only have just ourselves. Maybe we only have but one gift. God can take that and multiply it to become something that blesses the whole world.
I remember beginning my journey as a writer. I wasn’t good at it. In fact, the only thing I had where writing was concerned was that I loved to read. This was what I brought before God. He took my love for words and put oil on it so that I could write in a way that brought God to others.
Maybe all you have is your love for music, or you have a love for numbers, or you just have a love for art, or you enjoy organizing things or you love to cook. If you put it in the hands of God, God can put His anointing on it and it can become something that brings glory to God and blesses those around you.
God doesn’t choose what He puts His oil on. He will pour His anointing on whatever we submit into His hands to use. Sometimes, we think that being anointed only relates to preaching or singing, but it can be anything that reveals God to those around us. We don’t need the anointing to be on platforms we need the anointing to bring God to every part of our world. We can be anointed mothers. Anointed teachers. Anointed managers. Anointed painters. Anointed business owners.
Oil will flow out of broken vessels.
It’s not only important that we become empty vessels, but also important we become vessels that oil can overflow out of. Only broken vessels release oil. There has to be death on our part to release the anointing. So even though we are anointed, God has to take us through a process of breaking to make us vessels that release oil.
We go through difficult things and on the other side we become broken vessels that oil flows out of. We go through heartache; on the other side, we become vessels overflowing with His oil. The places that have brought us the most pain will be the avenue through which oil flows from us.
Some of us have had incredibly hard private battles but those battles have only made us broken vessels to release His oil. Don’t despise the difficulties in your life, people will be healed by the oil flowing out of all your broken places.
Some of us have had great difficulties where family relationships are concerned. This is a sign that God wants oil to flow out of you to heal others in this area. Some of us relationships have broken us, but only so we can bring healing to others through our pain. Some of us have faced difficulties in our careers. For others, it’s ministry and carrying the gifts that are on our life. For others, it’s in our health, whatever it is we can look at our lives and see the areas that God is preparing oil to flow out of.
Difficulties are important where carrying His anointing is concerned because it brings humility out of us. If we carry oil without being broken, pride will take us out. So, God protects His anointing and us by allowing us to go through seasons of brokenness.
2 thoughts on “Empty Vessels”
Loved this. I have never looked at these verses through this perspective. Thank you for sharing.
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Thank you, Manu! Sometimes, the old Testament can come alive when we see it through the lens of the New Covenant, other times it’s the literal stories that inspire and encourage us in our faith. I’m glad you were blessed.
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