Have you ever been reading your Bible and suddenly a sentence jumps out at you that you never noticed before?
This seems to happen to me more than I care to admit. Perhaps it’s because I’m guilty of skimming rather than really studying the Scriptures. That’s something I hope to rectify in 2021.
I recently started a three-week devotional study about Elisha from the book of 2 Kings. Elisha was a prophet who became Elijah’s successor after Elijah was carried away by a whirlwind to heaven by God. (That’s a whole study right there!)
I’ve read this account many times, but never paid attention to the end of Chapter 2. Elisha has just performed his first miracle of purifying poisonous water making it safe to drink. Shortly thereafter he is accosted by a large group of obnoxious boys.
In verse 24, the boys are teasing Elisha and calling him names. Elisha deals with them by cursing them in the name of the Lord. As soon as Elisha utters this curse, two bears come out of the woods and maul all of his tormentors.
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. 2 Kings 2:23-24 (NLT)
As someone who was bullied throughout childhood, this story is a sort of poetic justice for bullying victims. There have been times that I would have loved a couple of heaven-sent bears.
We are told we are to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5:44) so asking God to send in the bears is probably not the most Christ-like prayer. My takeaway from Elisha’s story is that the Name of the Lord is mighty (Proverbs 18:10). When we pray, we know God hears us (1 John 5:14). God doesn’t have to explain to us how he chooses to answer our prayers. If bears are what’s needed, that is entirely up to Him.
The lesson to be gleaned is the Bible is more than just a collection of words. Some of the stories may seem too farfetched to be believed, but we know that God’s Word is not a work of fiction, but rather the God-breathed, inspired Word of our Lord. It’s also more than a breakdown of lineage, a bunch of statistics or a slew of “Thou shalt NOTs.”
The Bible is meant to be savored like a choice morsel of delicious food. Scripture is nutrition for our soul and a detailed instruction manual for navigating life in an uncertain world.
We can’t expect God to send in the bears if we don’t even know that bears are an option for lack of knowledge. It’s still early in the New Year. Why not make this your year to dig into the Word and see what you can unearth.
Blessings in Christ,