Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Quiet Time w/ Elisha

The books of Kings contain many incredible accounts, some applicable to history --- stories of David, Solomon, Elijah, the schisms between the kingdoms of Israel and Judah, --- and many accounts that defy logic or reason. Among these snippets of wisdom we find mass murders by our god himself, god creating droughts due to sin, the value of Pi equaling 3, Solomon having 700 wives and 300 concubines, the fact that you BETTER not pisseth against a wall, and if your father has sinned against god you’d better watch your back -- to name a few. All of which could be discussed in their own context. Although my cynicism is obvious, the intentions of these posts are quite sincere. I actually sat down and re-read both books and they are quite intriguing despite some of the untenable stories.

One quaint tale that I present for discussion can be found in the second chapter of 2 Kings.

19 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.

I admit -- I posted this story first because it’s so bizarre. The impact of the tale, though, raises some serious questions as to the balance of god’s justice and the contradictions of morality in the Old and New Testament.

Also an Islamic prophet, Elisha (not Cuthbert) was Elijah’s main man up until the time Elijah ascended up into heaven on a chariot. It was said that he was a more peaceful and personal prophet than his predecessor. After the mantle was passed he soon began winning over the people of Jericho when he performs this miracle in verse 19. Elisha then heads to the city of Bethel where he encountered a flock of unruly miscreants.

Apologetics will go to great lengths here to justify the actions of the prophet and of god as acceptable.

So goes the rationalization:

· Elisha was a prophet of god and as such, he was a man specifically ‘chosen’ by god to communicate his will or message. And if you mock them -- you mock god.
· These youths [little children (KJV), small boys (RSV), young lads (NASB)] were actually young men. The Hebrew word for lads ‘naar’ is used and the translation is not totally agreed upon. Perhaps false prophets of Baal, perhaps idolaters, perhaps just rogue thugs.
· These miscreants were not just mocking Elisha in the way we perceive today. Obviously under satan’s influence, they were cursing him in a very scornful, degrading way. Baldness in that day was a disgrace upon man similar to leprosy. And you don’t treat a man of god like that.
· Go on up... refers to Elijah and his ascension and that was seen as a denial/mocking of god’s work.
· Under god’s authority, Elisha issued the judgment in the name of the LORD
· Thus, god taught them a lesson on respect and obedience.

Regardless of the age of the youth, the take-away is apparently: respect people, especially those in positions of higher religious authority. If I believed this to be anything other than myth, I would seriously question why god needed to massacre 42 youths to convey this message.

Moreover, if Jesus and god are one being, how is this not a violation of his moral instruction to (Matt 5:44) love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you?

What does this tell us about god’s justice in relation to today’s world?
Does this point to an answer for the capriciousness of evil that occurs in our world?
Judgments from god?
Has Pat Robertson been right all along?


Jared said...

John 3:13 says:

13 No one has ever gone into heaven except the one who came from heaven—the Son of Man.

Ugh. Now I'm reaaally confused. What happened to the chariot, Elijah?

Stacy said...

Maybe Pastor David Reagan can help you out...

"The Bible does not say that Elijah ascended to heaven. It says that he was taken up. The word 'ascend' means to go up. It pictures someone or something that goes up of its own strength. The word 'ascend' comes from the Latin word for 'climb' and it literally means to climb up. We speak of someone ascending the stairs....

...John 3:13 does not teach that no one has ever seen or entered heaven. It teaches that no man ever climbed up into heaven by his own power. The only one who has ever ascended to heaven in His own strength is the One who originated in heaven and came down to earth before He ascended. I hope this helps explain the verse to you."

Learn the Bible!

Jared said...

it sure seems...
this could be argued, but...
this might be...
Perhaps these men...
Obviously, I am not certain here. But the Bible seems...

Well, it could be argued but..Mr Reagan seems/perhaps/might be right here.