Fatal Food on the Fire

Bible Book: 2 Kings  4 : 39-40
Subject: Falsehood; Lies; Truth
[Editor's Note: This message was developed and preached when the movie, The DaVinci  Code, was popular. The point of this message is that truth defeats error and lies. That fact never goes out of date.]

Not too many years ago, a law was passed which dealt with truth in advertising. That law required companies not to make false or misleading claims about their products. But in spite of that law, consumers must still be on guard. They simply cannot believe every claim made in advertisements.

Some companies make the boast that their product is “all natural.” But the truth of the matter is that the government will allow a company to advertise a product as “all natural,” even if it contains only ten percent natural fibers.

Other companies have advertised artificial stones that are supposed to look and sparkle just like real diamonds. But many who buy some of these artificial stones find that they don’t even compare to the real thing.

The cold, hard fact of the matter is that we must be careful of being too gullible these days. So much of our present-day world is colored by half-truths. This is especially true in the area of many of the philosophies of the day. There are many voices clamoring for our attention these days. Not all of them deserve our confidence, however. We must be careful of what we feed our minds and hearts. Ingesting the wrong thing could be detrimental to one’s spiritual health. Such an idea is illustrated for us in our text today. We will notice the importance of truth, as set forth in God’s Word, via this biblical illustration. The importance of following truth is illustrated by:

I. The Calamity Of Scarcity

A. The Situation Caused By Sin

The children of Israel had once again forsaken God. Though Jehoshaphat was a godly king, the people of Judah still worshipped false gods.

We read in 1 Kings 22: 43-44, “And he (Jehoshaphat) walked in all the ways of Asa his father; he turned not aside from it, doing that which was right in the eyes of the Lord: nevertheless the high places were not taken away; for the people offered and burnt incense yet in the high places. And Jehoshaphat made peace with the king of Israel.”

Jehoram, king of the Northern Kingdom, was a very wicked man.

Then we read 2 Kings 3:1-3, “Now Jehoram the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria the eighteenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and reigned twelve years. 2 And he wrought evil in the sight of the Lord; but not like his father, and like his mother: for he put away the image of Baal that his father had made. 3 Nevertheless he cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which made Israel to sin; he departed not therefrom.”

Famine was one of the consequences predicted to befall God’s people when they turned from God. Deuteronomy 28:45, 48a, “Moreover all these curses shall come upon thee, and shall pursue thee, and overtake thee, till thou be destroyed; because thou hearkenedst not unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded thee; 48a Therefore shalt thou serve thine enemies which the Lord shall send against thee, in hunger, and in thirst, and in nakedness, and in want of all things…”

Read 2 Kings 4:38a, “And Elisha came again to Gilgal: and there was a dearth in the land…”

The idea of God actually judging sin seems to be foreign to many in America today. How about this lady? The idea of hell and judgment are nowhere to be found [in Betty Eadie’s bestseller, Embraced By The Light, on the N.Y. Times bestseller list for more than 40 weeks, including 5 weeks as #1]. In November 1973 Eadie allegedly died after undergoing a hysterectomy, and returned five hours later with the secrets of heaven revealed by Jesus. Eadie says that Jesus “never wanted to do or say anything that would offend me” while she visited heaven. Indeed, Jesus seems to be relegated to the role of a happy tour guide in heaven, not the Savior of the world who died on the cross. Richard Abanes, in Christianity Today, March 7, 1994, p. 53.

Some seem to think that since God doesn’t always judge sin immediately, He probably won’t judge it at all. They tend to think a little like our nation’s former A.I.D.S. czar.

President Clinton named Kristine Gebbie, a lesbian, as the new AIDS czar. Four months later she spelled out her perceptions on traditional morality. She said, [The United States] “needs to view human sexuality as an essentially important and pleasurable thing. [Until it does so], we will continue to be a repressed, Victorian society that misrepresents information, denies homosexual sexuality, particularly in teens, and leaves people abandoned with no place to go. I can help just a little bit in my job, standing on the White House lawn talking about sex with no lightning bolts falling on my head” Associated Press, October 29, 1993

B. The Search For Sustenance

Note 2 Kings 4:38b-39a, “…and the sons of the prophets were sitting before him (Elisha): and he said unto his servant, Set on the great pot, and see the pottage for the sons of the prophets. 39a And one went out into the field to gather herbs…”

There was a famine in progress, and food was scarce. The prophets usually depended on donations and the land for their sustenance. But due to the famine, donations were practically non- existent. They were reduced to eating whatever they could scrape together.

Even though a person may have a legitimate spiritual hunger for truth, he or she must realize that Satan is often aware of that hunger, and will seek to use it to infiltrate life with heresy. Sometimes the spiritually hungry person will ingest the first thing that looks and sounds good. But the Word of God must judge every doctrine.

There is a spiritual void that pervades our land. People on the whole feel unfulfilled. They’re looking for something meaningful out of life but keep coming up empty. Their frustrations are much like what Boris Becker, world-famous tennis star, felt. Boris Becker was at the very top of the tennis world, yet he was on the brink of suicide. He said, “I had won Wimbledon twice before, once as the youngest player. I was rich. I had all the material possessions I needed…It’s the old song of movie stars and pop stars who commit suicide. They have everything, and yet they are so unhappy. I had no inner peace. I was a puppet on a string.”

Becker is not the only one to feel that sense of emptiness. The echoes of a hollow life pervade our culture. One doesn’t have to read many contemporary biographies to find the same frustration and disappointment. Jack Higgens, author of such successful novels as The Eagle Has Landed, was asked what he would like to have known as a boy. His answer: “That when you get to the top, there’s nothing there.” Our Daily Bread, July 9, 1994

II. The Carelessness Of A Seeker

A. This Man Gathered Something Wild

Read 2 Kings 4:39a, “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…” The “wild gourds” mentioned here, are actually wild cucumbers. They no doubt looked similar to an edible variety, but caused colic and violent diarrhea when eaten.

In younger days I did a lot of camping and backpacking. I studied herbs during that time so I could live off the land, should I ever get lost or stranded in the wilderness. However, learning about edible herbs isn’t something you do by trial and error. An error could be fatal. Some edible plants look very similar to poisonous plants. I carried a packet of cards with me in the wild on which was a picture of the edible plant and its description.

The same sort of caution must be taken with the teachings and philosophies of our day. Some folks seem to have the idea that any old religious beliefs will do. They tend to lump them all together with the idea that one is as good as another. But the religious pottage they wind up with is likely to be spiritually fatal. Any philosophy that contradicts the Word of God is spiritual poison. Don’t be careless. Know the truth.

B. This Man Gathered Something Wrong

Read 2 Kings 4:39b, “…they knew them not.” What this man gathered was hazardous to his health. It may have looked good, but it was deadly just the same. A strychnine laced candy bar is no less deadly. The same is true today of many of the world’s philosophies. Some of them look good on the surface. But when examined closely, they are contrary to God’s Word, as well as spiritually harmful.

There was a great stir over the movie, “The DaVinci Code.” Let me be very clear about this today: The DaVinci Code is strictly fiction; and it’s not even good fiction. Its supposed backdrop of historicity is pure fantasy. Let me give you a few facts about this blasphemous work:

“Sony is spending a reported 100 million USD on promoting this film on top of the $125,000,000 spent on production.” http://www.kinnon.tv/2006/05/imonk_reviews_d.html

George Barna of The Barna Group, has made the following statements concerning The DaVinci Code.

The book makes many claims that are at odds with Christian teachings. Author Dan Brown’s engaging conspiracy fantasy has Jesus Christ married to Mary Magdalene and the father of children; the Bible being doctored by church leaders in 325 A.D. in order to control the Roman Empire and oppress women; claims that the idea of Jesus’ divinity was fabricated for political reasons; and asserts the Roman Catholic church has conspired for centuries to keep the documentation of such religious scandals a secret.

Many Christians recognize that the book is a fictional tale and that its religious principles are not to be taken seriously. Conveying that point to the 80 million adults who consider themselves Christian but who do not crack open the Bible may be more difficult than usual. After all, many adults (24 %) who have read The DaVinci Code from cover to cover stated that the book had been helpful in their “personal spiritual growth and understanding.” http://www.barna.org

III. The Cry Of The Sensitive

A. The Contamination Was Recognized

2 Kings 4: 40a&b “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 thou man of God, there is death in the pot…”

In studying about survival, I learned that if I became stranded in unknown territory without food, that certain rules should be observed when seeking food. Some of the basics are as follows:

(1) One should never eat any kind of red berries unless they can be positively identified,

(2) One should never attempt to eat any plant that issues a milky substance,

(3) If one is uncertain about the edibility of any plant, a small portion should be chewed and held in the mouth for a few moments. If a burning sensation or bitterness is detected, it should be rejected.

In this particular case, whoever collected the food for the pot, had mistakenly picked up colocynth, a plant similar to wild cucumbers. However, the colocynth is extremely bitter and poisonous.

B. The Contamination Was Rejected

2 Kings 4:40c, “…And they could not eat thereof.”

The idea of this statement, as found in the Hebrew, is not only that they “could not eat” (KJV), but that they “would not eat” (Holy Bible—New Living Translation, Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Wheaton, Illinois; pg. 392). Oh that God’s people would be so familiar with the truth of God’s Word that they would reject all that does not agree with its standard.

The Scriptures warn us about false teachers and false doctrine.

Jesus warned His disciples about the false doctrine of the Pharisees and Sadducees (Matt.16: 11, 12).

Paul warned Timothy about “giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1b). This preacher exhorts you today to stay away from:

(1) Philosophies and theologies built on mere emotionalism, or

(2) Health and wealth themes;

(3) Teachings that tend toward “Burger King Religion” (“Have it your way.”), or

(4) That which is centered around any man other than Jesus Christ the Son of God. By the way, just because a group uses the name of Jesus or God doesn’t mean their doctrine lines up with the Word of God.

IV. The Cure For A Spoiled Stew

2 Kings 4:41a, “But he said, Then bring meal. And he cast it into the pot…”

A. Truth Has Power Over Error

2 Kings 4: 41b, “…and he said, Pour out for the people, that they may eat.”

The meal, symbolic of truth, dispelled the poison, which is symbolic of error. The Word of God, if studied and practiced, will ward off the errors of our day. God’s Word says it best when it says, “Thy word is a lamp unto my feet, and a light unto my path” (Ps.119: 105).

Weighing in on the lies propounded by The DaVinci Code concerning Christ, Evangelist Billy Graham said the following:

I know of no reputable Bible scholar or historian (Christian or non-Christian) who would agree with its claims about Jesus or take it seriously. There simply is no historical evidence to support its alleged ‘discoveries’ about Jesus: nor is there any evidence at all that Christians have ‘covered up’ the truth about Jesus…In the last days before Christ’s return, according to Paul, people ‘will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths’ (2 Timothy 4:4). Taken from an article by Phil Boatwright entitled, “Movie Heretical, But Also Just Plain Bad,” The Baptist Record, Journal Of The Mississippi Baptist Convention, May 25, 2006, pg. 2.

B. Truth Will Purge Error’s Effects

2 Kings 4:41c, “…And there was no harm in the pot.”

One of the most dangerous things in the world is partial truth. Actually, partial truth is a whole lie in disguise.


Once the Devil was walking along with one of his cohorts. They saw a man ahead of them pick up something shiny.

“What did he find?” asked the cohort. “A piece of the truth,” the Devil replied. “Doesn’t it bother you that he found a piece of the truth? asked the cohort. “No,” said the Devil, “I will see to it that he makes a religion out of it.”

Klyne Snodgrass, Between Two Truths-Living with Biblical Tensions, 1990, Zondervan Publishing House, p. 35.