Elisha’s Short Fuse


Here is a comment I posted on another blog. The blog accuses God (and the Bible) of cruelty as a basis to reject the Scriptures:

And he [Elisha] went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them. 2 Kings 2:23-24

Hello Steve

Interesting site. Though with all due respect, you unbelievers are like 2D creatures trying to make sense of a 3D object as it passes through your world. The Bible, like Jesus’ parables, was written to be wrestled with. If you believe, the Spirit will guide you to make sense of it. If you don’t, it will confuse you. It is a sword that divides the sheep from the goats.

There is a lot more going in this passage than is immediately apparent. Those who are offended by the events it records seem to ignore the context. This is not a game of totem tennis. It’s part of a cricket test match.

Firstly, it takes place within the Covenant. Israel was a nation of priests mediating before God for the rest of humanity. Depending on their obedience, this would bring great blessings or great curses (read Deut 28 and Lev 26). Judgment begins at the house of God. God’s people are MORE accountable to Him, and when they rebel, their sin is high-handed because they have more to rebel against.

Secondly, after the showdown between Ahab and Jezebel’s Baalism, and Elijah, Ahab still did not repent. Elijah became a new Moses. He did not run away as many suppose, but walked straight to the same mountain, the same cave, where Moses saw the glory of God. Elijah became the Moses of a new interim covenant with a remnant of believers (Paul and Revelation refer to this 7000 remnant as the pattern repeats itself in the first century). That is why, in the passage in question, there are two ‘water crossings’. Covenant makings always follow a seven point pattern, which not only corresponds to the seven days of the Creation week, but also the annual feasts as recorded in Leviticus 23. You also see the ‘head and body’ of the sacrifice ritual from Leviticus 1:


Sabbath - God’s word comes as initiator
The prophets are told that Elijah will ascend

Passover - Elisha follows Elijah into the wilderness. Elijah parts the Jordan with his cloak, and the two parts of the “sacrifice” are washed (Leviticus 1)

Firstfruits - Elijah, who is the flaming chariot, ascends to heaven as the head of the “sacrifice”

Pentecost - Elisha receives Elijah’s robe (the skin of the sacrifice given to the priest), and a “double mouthful” of the Spirit

Trumpets - Elisha’s house is established when Elijah cannot be found

Atonement - Elisha tips a bowl of salt water into the bitter spring of Jericho and lifts the curse of barrenness from the Land. False prophet interns (or children) threaten Elisha and are eaten by beasts (bears) as the ‘scapegoat’ sent to destruction

Booths - Elisha returns ‘home’ as a new Joshua (Booths)

So, you can see the entire Exodus, wilderness, Jordan, promised Land pattern here. The pattern is also the deep structure of the entire New Testament, where Jesus as Moses and Elijah ascends to God (as head of the church – the Adam captain) and sends the Spirit upon the church (Elisha – the body – the Eve army). In this case, Jericho was the corrupted religion of Herod’s temple, and Jesus came in judgment in AD70, vindicating His predictions. This explains a lot of the symbols used in Revelation, which predicted these events.

Regarding the insult, perhaps this had to do with the ascension of Elijah as the ‘head.’

Regarding the bears, being torn in two by scavenging birds and wild beasts was a curse of the Covenant that is often repeated throughout the Bible, beginning with the raven sent out by Noah, that fed on the floating bodies until the waters went down. Tearing one’s robes symbolised this also. If you remember, Jezebel was eaten by dogs, Saul’s sons were hung high but one of their mothers chased the birds away. Abraham chased the birds away from the divided animals that purified the Land, etc. There are many more examples.

The Lord’s throne is often described as coming from the north (Ezek. 1). In the stars, His throne is polar north, and there are two bears guarding it (I would also mention that the woman and the dragon of Rev 12 are also in the stars, and that the order of the tribes around the Tabernacle followed the 12 constellations, the ones that bowed to Joseph). Elisha is simply extending the dominion of God’s throne over the Covenant breakers. In AD70, 6000 women and children died when cloisters collapsed at the end of the Roman seige. Like the Amorites in Canaan, Jezebel’s time was up. The curses of the Old Covenant fell for the last time.

There is a spiritual war going on. One thing you must understand is that committing one sin brings the death penalty. God is within His rights to destroy us instantly – and He does this a few times in the Bible to remind us. The miracle is that He doesn’t. Our problem is that we use His mercy and patience to compound our sin.

So these children or youths are the “children of Jezebel”, and the point is that the idolatrous/adulterous woman will have no children (read Numbers 5), but the faithful woman will have many. God applied this test to Israel when they worshipped the golden calf. The generations of the wicked will be cut off. Israel’s time had run out, and the attack by the bears simply prefigured God’s use of the Assyrian and later the Babylonian invaders to ‘flood in’ and wipe out the unfaithful ‘sons of God’ (Gen 6) who should have been faithful priests.

I hope that helps. If we use peace-time morality to judge war-time measures (ie. sticking a knife in someone is bad unless you are cutting out cancer) we will misinterpret the Scriptures.

We are free to reject the Scriptures, but I think we ought to do our homework first.

[Previous to this post, there was discussion about the merit for the argument that the 'little children' were actually young men, interns in the worship of Baal. It is possible, but cannot be proven. The argument above makes this irrelevant anyway.]

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