I am reading in 2 Kings now. I am a bit behind in my reading, but I am still moving forward. It is crazy how life can get busy and scripture becomes harder to fit in. Clearly this is a priority issue I need to work on. But I must admit that even though I haven’t gotten my full days reading in I have read 1/3 to 1/2 of the reading I am supposed to do in a day.
What I want to write about today is Elisha. I have just been reading about Elijah. The prophet that didn’t die but was swept up in a whirlwind or tornado to be with God. (crazy stuff and if you are interested you can read the end of 1 Kings and the beginning of 2 Kings to learn more about Elijah.) And Elisha was Elijah’s servant that received the holy spirit from Elijah and continued the ministry that Elijah was doing. However, there has always been one incident that I have always struggled with, and after reading it this time I still struggle with this.
Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of boys from the town began mocking and making fun of him. Go away, baldy! they chanted. Go away, baldy! Elisha turned around and looked at them, and he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them. From there Elisha went to Mount Carmel and finally returned to Samaria. — 2 Kings 2:23-25
42 boys were making fun of Elisha because he was bald. Not the nicest thing they could have been saying to Elisha, but it could have been worse, they could have been throwing stones or cursing him to die. I mean these are basically kids since the scripture is calling them boys. But Elisha curses them and two bears came out and killed the 42 boys. Unbelievable! I would have expected God to tell Elisha how displeased he was with him, but this doesn’t happen.
How could name calling by some young boys be worthy of being mauled by a bear? That sounds like a really bad way to leave this world.
Now I know Elisha is God’s prophet and these boys should have listened to him. But I keep thinking “But they were just boys.” Due to my confusion on this matter I realize that I consider young people, kids, to be innocent. I appear to have the same issue with this as I have shared about my past beliefs regarding the entire Old Testament. (That it seems to be more about the wrath of God than the grace of God, yet I am now seeing that this was based on my initial idea that people are basically good, rather than being basically wicked.) It appears that my understanding about kids is not true. They are not innocent. They too are wicked, and if you are wicked then death is deserved. And it is only by God’s grace that we are not all destroyed, children included. And the Old Testament is overall describing how God provides grace to those who he should destroy. These kids were old enough to understand that Elisha was God’s prophet yet they made fun of him. I guess this was sort of like making fun of God, so God allowed Elisha to curse them.
Once again my assumptions have been challenged, and I have to admit that my stomach still turns each time I read this. I am still shocked, that these boys were mauled to death for asking Elisha to leave and calling him baldy.
Maybe the lesson here is to not make fun of bald people? Or a much greater lesson could be to not ask a Prophet of God to leave.