Elisha Emerges

2 Kings 2:19-2519 The men of the city said to Elisha, “Look, our lord, this town is well situated, as you can see, but the water is bad and the land is unproductive.”
20 “Bring me a new bowl,” he said, “and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him.
21 Then he went out to the spring and threw the salt into it, saying, “This is what the Lord says: ‘I have healed this water. Never again will it cause death or make the land unproductive.’ ” 22 And the water has remained wholesome to this day, according to the word Elisha had spoken.
23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. “Go on up, you baldhead!” they said. “Go on up, you baldhead!” 24 He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria. 

Elisha's ministry to the people gets off to an odd start. First, he brings healing to a city (Jericho) that has been struggling since the Children of Israel defeated it in the days of Joshua (about 600 years earlier). When the walls came down, so did a curse from God, which apparently affected the water supply to Jericho. Elisha (moved by God) heals that situation. Then there is a wierd tale about some teenage boys taunting Elisha. On it's surface, this looks like a very vindictive and angry man is unleashing his anger on some boys who are not really hurting anyone. That is not really the case. These boys were coming from the center of worship for the idols of Jeroboam. This was not a taunt of Elisha but of God Himself. The punishment was warranted and served to let the people know that God was serious and the Elisha was His man.

We are all aware of the lack of respect that flows through the culture today. Our reading from 2 Kings proves that our times are not much different from those 2,500 years ago! They faced the same issues. A group of teenagers taunting a person who doesn't think the way they do is nothing new. The difference is the response! A couple of bears emerge from the forest and maul the boys! God will not be mocked. While His mercy is keeping the bears at bay for today, we must be aware of the grief that kind of dishonor causes Him. While Elisha was the one who called down the curse on the boys, God was the one who meted out the judgment. God defends Himself; we are not the ones who rise up and take revenge on God's behalf. As Christians, we bear the scars of those who have tried to defend God by hurting the people around them who didn't agree with them. Whenever we take up violence to avenge God, we are standing on shaky ground. God can take care of Himself!