Nick and I both have full heads of hair. However, I’m starting to get mixed signals from my hair. At times I wake up and look in the mirror and it looks like my hair wants nothing to do with me. It’s almost as if I caught it packing its bags and leaving, but it stays because I convince it that I’m not even 30 yet. I love my wife, but one thing that can get on my nerves is when she makes fun of my runways. Sometimes it makes me so mad that I call two she bears out from the woods to go maul her. Wait..what?? That seems a little malicious. Now imagine if I got frustrated at a group of kids making fun of my receding hair line, and I cursed them and sent my bear friends to go maul them. Even worse, right!? Well that’s exactly what your favorite prophet Elisha did in 2 Kings 2:23-24
23 He went up from there to Bethel, and while he was going up on the way, some small boys came out of the city and jeered at him, saying, “Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!” 24 And he turned around, and when he saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. And two she-bears came out of the woods and tore forty-two of the boys.
This portion of Scripture has really been a hot topic over the past few years. There are a couple ways to tackle what’s going on here. There is the way that is supported by the majority of the scholarly biblical community, and there is my way (Ryan). This is one of the few times I’m going to give my personal opinion, and then Nick will finish out the article next week with the more commonly accepted explanation.
The first two of the ten commandments deal directly with our tendency to create idols. Because of our sinful nature, we constantly elevate things in our hearts to god-like status. Think about it. You should be worshiping God and He should have your utmost affection and passion. If you’re honest with yourself though, do you think about your significant other more than you think about God? Do you get more passionate about your favorite sports team than you do about God? It’s because our sinful hearts replace God with things that are not worthy of our worship.
That leads me to believe that God very purposefully records sins and errors by the spiritual giants in our Bible so that we will not elevate them higher than God Himself. Noah was a drunk. Abraham didn’t trust God. Moses didn’t listen to God. David misused his God given authority to sleep with a man’s wife and have him killed. I can go on and on, but you get the idea.
I’d also like to note that God gave certain people in the Bible supernatural power, and many times that power had been abused. Take Moses as an example. God told him, “8Take the staff, and assemble the congregation, you and Aaron your brother, and tell the rock before their eyes to yield its water.” (Numbers 20:8a) Instead of doing as God told him to do, Moses disobeyed and struck the rock twice. This was so serious in God’s eyes, that He did not allow Moses to enter the promised land because of it. Numbers 20:12 And the Lord said to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe in me, to uphold me as holy in the eyes of the people of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land that I have given them.” However, the rock still spilled out water abundantly. God did not approve of this miracle, but it still happened because God allotted supernatural power to Moses in order to lead His people.
There is further evidence that people can use miraculous power against the will of God. If you stay in Numbers, you can read the story of Balaam in chapters 22-24 where he was on his way to curse Israel. God prevented the curse from happening. There would be no need for God to stop Balaam if he had no supernatural power. In Matthew, we see people that were performing miracles without having a relationship with God. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ (Matthew 7:22-23) As a matter of fact, you can just stay in the story of Moses. Whenever Moses attempted to prove that he was a messenger from God with miraculous signs, the magicians were able to perform the miracle as well.
(The sleight of hand argument for these events is silly to me).
The point is, I believe supernatural power can be used apart from God’s will.
Although this is an original idea without much support from other biblical commentators, I believe what happened in 2 Kings was a misuse of the power God gave to Elisha. Elisha is just a man, and men sin. I don’t think he was filled with righteous anger because they were mocking God. I think he was filled with anger, because they were making fun of his bald head. I think commentators are digging for a justification of Elisha’s action when saying the young men were ridiculing God in saying “Go up.” However, I don’t think the actions were justified. I believe God purposely included Elisha’s faults in this passage in order to prevent us from elevating him higher than we should. No one in sinless but God. No one deserves our worship but God.
With that being said, next week Nick is going to follow up with the probably correct interpretation of this passage.
Thank you beary much!