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Posts Tagged ‘elisha’

thirst

Hunger is a strange feeling.  It is a wanting after waiting; a need that becomes louder and louder until it is satisfied.

Often, we try to fill our spiritual hunger with physical food (or other things.)  It is when I am spiritually hungry that I tend to “stress eat.”  I find myself losing control of my diet when I hunger and thirst most for righteousness.  Nothing proves this truer than fasting because fasting reveals to us all the things we are wanting that eating physical food is substituting for.

I have recently felt a strong spiritual need to become physically hungry again.  Self-control is a fruit of the Holy Spirit and I am praying that the Lord helps me with this struggle.

In doing so, the first place I turned was to Matthew 5 – to the beatitudes.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied… “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. 12 Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” ~Matthew 5:6, 11-12

We are blessed – living in the favor of God – when we are hungry for the right things.  Unfortunately, as history makes abundantly clear, those who were most hungry for righteousness (the prophets) were also most hated by men.

I began to study about some specific incidences of when prophets were hated and abused and I landed at 2 Kings 2:23-25.

 “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.25 From there he went on to Mount Carmel, and from there he returned to Samaria.” ~2 Kings 2:23-25

There is a lot to be said about this brief interaction which conveys many insights as to God’s character.

Earlier in this chapter, we find that there was a problem with the water supply in Jericho where the prophet Elisha was.

19 Now the men of the city said to Elisha, “Behold, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees, but the water is bad, and the land is unfruitful.” 20 He said, “Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it.” So they brought it to him. 21 Then he went to the spring of water and threw salt in it and said, “Thus says the Lord, I have healed this water; from now on neither death nor miscarriage shall come from it.” 22 So the water has been healed to this day, according to the word that Elisha spoke.” ~2 Kings 2:19-22

Interestingly, Jericho was the city where walls had been built and the people had isolated themselves – locked themselves in so they would not be ruled by God or by His people.  God used unorthodox methods to both bring down the walls and to prove the faith of His people.

So there’s a lesson for us.  It doesn’t matter how strong and tall your walls are, if they are made to resist God, they will soon be broken down.

Later, God cursed the man who rebuilt Jericho and killed his children.  Now, years later, we find Jericho still having problems.  The water supply was tainted and unusable.  The prophet Elisha was asked to help and the Lord healed the water through him.  That brings us to the incident at hand.

Apparently, it was commonplace in this area to mock and scoff at the prophets.  These people hated reproof and correction – so much so that they taught their children to upbraid them.  So common this practice had become of hating and mocking the prophets that even the children had no fear or respect for them.

If it had been the first time, the punishment likely would not have been so severe.  But it was doubtless commonplace to tear down the character of God’s prophets because they so hated correction.

Though the boys were small, they were not afraid or ashamed before God’s prophet.  Matthew Henry says this:

“Elisha heard their taunts, a good while, with patience; but at length the fire of holy zeal for God was kindled in his breast by the continued provocation, and he turned and looked upon them, to try if a grave and severe look would put them out of countenance and oblige them to retire, to see if he could discern in their faces any marks of ingenuousness; but they were not ashamed, neither could they blush; and therefore he cursed them in the name of the Lord, both imprecated and denounced the following judgment, not in personal revenge for the indignity done to himself, but as the mouth of divine justice to punish the dishonor done to God…We may think it would have been better to have called for two rods for the correction of these children than two bears for the destruction of them.  But Elisha knew, by the Spirit, the bad character of these children.  He knew what a generation of vipers those were, and what mischievous enemies they would be to God’s prophets if they should live to be men, who began so early to be abusive to them.  He intended hereby to punish the parents and to make them afraid of God’s judgments.” 

So then, 42 children died for their unruly disobedience and unwillingness to respect and love the prophet and his godly correction.  It was a judgment and a punishment for the parents who allowed such brazen disrespect and abuse to be heaped upon the one chosen to be God’s voice to them.

So my question for myself and for everyone else today is are you hungry for righteousness?  For truth?  For justice?  How hungry?  If you are, expect to be treated poorly – misrepresented, mocked, made fun of, rejected, and even hated.  God says it is all a blessing, though.

On the other hand, if you are the one mocking and hating a person of God for the truth they tell you, be warned.  God is sending that person for your good, because he loves you so much.  His patience will run out eventually and, as the scripture says, at that time there is no remedy.

15 The Lord, the God of their fathers, sent persistently to them by his messengers, because he had compassion on his people and on his dwelling place. 16 But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the Lord rose against his people, until there was no remedy. ~2 Chronicles 36:15-16

 

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