Good morning everyone, it is truly a blessing to be providing God’s word for you this morning. I think it’ll be best if we just got started and got inspired from the word of God, so if you would like to open your Bible apps and head on over to 2 Kings chapter 2, and we can then begin to breathe in God’s word, we shall start from verse 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!” 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. From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria. – 2 Kgs. 2:23-25
Right, so this doesn’t tend to be the standard passage read on a Sunday and tends to be more of those odd, obscure verses you read and say ‘Yep, that’s in the Bible!’ But I would like to think that with everything that’s been written and put in the Bible, it can be used for us to learn and to be better representatives of Christ to not just the outside world, but to each of us also that are already in the race. So let’s have a closer look at this odd passage and see what God wants us to take away from it.
Elisha Didn’t Change
To begin with, let’s have a close look at our main protagonist in the story, Elisha. Now at this point in the story, Elisha has gone through a lot, he has seen his father figure of Elijah being sent up to heaven in a whirlwind via flaming chariot. He makes the water of Jericho pure, and now he is making his journey back to Bethel and he bumps into these ‘boys’. In the Hebrew word used (which is na.ar, everyone say ‘na.ar!’) it is more likely to be translated as ‘youth’ and youth in this context could mean as young as 20, Isaac for instance is referred to as a na.ar in Genesis when he was 24 years old. What I want to try and bring out is that Elisha blessed the people in Jericho and these guys respond with belittling and making fun out of God’s prophet.
This is something today that we’re blessed to know is not an issue for us. We’re blessed that we can walk around and talk about our faith, we can sit in a café and read our Bible knowing that no one is going to come out and persecute us for our faith. What may be an issue however for us today, is the fear of being ‘relevant’ or ‘hip’. Now don’t hear what I am not saying, I think it’s crucial that we reach out to all backgrounds at every opportunity. What I am trying to say is that we shouldn’t change who we are to fit in. Last year for an example, me and Ellis went out shopping whilst we were in Czech for my birthday, and I got myself a denim jacket. When we were getting ready to go out for the birthday meal, I was instructed to wear everything in a certain way, fold my jeans, my socks, be sure to wear some fresh crepes, style my hair in a completely different way and all of that jazz. Now I can imagine for people like Ellis, this is normal making an effort in how you dress. Whereas for me, I don’t normally tend to make such an effort. I’m not sure why, but I don’t.
I can imagine the same being for Elisha, I can imagine he puts on his robe in the morning and combs whatever hair he has left and makes his way to do his God given duties. When these guys then start forming a mob and begin yelling at Elisha and commenting on his lack of hair, what did Elisha do? He didn’t run off to the local Primark, got himself a wig and come running back hoping that he would be accepted. No! He stood his ground, because his identity wasn’t in what he wore, or how much hair he had but it was in who he was in God. His anointed prophet. I want to encourage you this morning that more than what we wear on the outside and how we look, God sees us on the inside and he wants us to be comfortable who we are as his people.
Responsible for Their Response
But that brings us now to these guys that jeered at Elisha. As I have already mentioned Elisha was in Jericho and has just blessed the water and is now beginning to make his way to Bethel, and these guys begin making fun out of God’s prophet. This is very much the equivalent to biting the hand that has fed you. Whenever we read this, we tend to focus on two aspects of the passage, the first is the use of the word ‘baldy’ (baldy is a word that is used in the Bible), and the second is the bear attack which God has seemed to have initiated and we tend to focus on God being a bit mean sending out bears on this mob. But also sometimes in our own lives we can make silly choices or mess up somewhere along the line and we could very easily look to God and blame him for this.
For example, if I have my student finance and I know I have to pay my fees but I spend it all on trips to Wetherspoons and Costa, and then I have no money to pay my fees I then don’t begin wondering why God has put me in this circumstance!? Another example is Naomi in the book of Ruth, she leaves her nation and loses all of her family and she comes back wanting to be called ‘Mara’ which means bitter, saying that ‘The Lord has made me bitter!’ God doesn’t make us bitter in any way, there are some instances when stuff happens and that’s beyond our control, there are rare occurrences when we’re in a Job situation and God challenges us, but most of the time we put ourselves in situations and it is no one else’s responsibility but ours and sometimes it’s really hard to say that we have messed up, it’s very easy to point the blame on somebody else as I think this clip can prove.
None of the Meeseeks accepted responsibility and so they had what I call ‘Rope Culture’ and it was incredibly easy for them put the blame on someone else. We can see examples in the Bible of this, with Adam and Eve there is ‘Rope Culture’ in regards to the fruit. ‘Why did you eat the fruit? ‘Well she roped me into this!’ ‘What about me? That snake over there, he roped me into this!’ But as we see in this particular story, as well as with the young men with Elisha, they are responsible for their own actions and God doesn’t hold back in his justice.
What is great though is that when we do make a mistake or mess up along the line, we always have that opportunity to turn back to the loving Father and ask for all of our wrongdoings to be washed away. I’m not sure what situation you guys are in this morning, but I know that no matter what we have done, there is nothing that can separate us from the love of God. The only thing that we have to do, is accept what we have done, turnaround from our sin and begin walking on the right road. I understand that it can be really hard to do, but if we stay determined and focus on the end goal that being Christ, then we can be sure to do it.