The Next Miracle of Elisha--Part 1
May 15, 2009
In the days leading up to the Salt Company meetings in Nebraska, the Lord revealed a number of things to each of us, which we put together at the meetings themselves. Most of these revelations are too detailed to give here, but they tied together a number of biblical prophecies that relate to the coming ministry.
We received little or no revelation about the next miracle-sign of Elisha until we had completed the Salt Covenant decree that I mentioned yesterday. Once that work was completed, then the Lord immediately began to reveal the meaning of the next sign--the two bears in 2 Kings 2:23 and 24,
" (23) Then he went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up by the way, young lads came out from the city and mocked him and said to him, 'Go up, you baldhead; go up, you baldhead!' (24) When he looked behind him and saw them, he cursed them in the name of the Lord. Then two female bears came out of the woods and tore up forty-two lads of their number."
Our first reaction may be one of horror, and perhaps one might find fault with Elisha for cursing children who were just having a bit of fun at his expense. But first, let us get a proper view of the scene. A lot of children do foolish things without realizing the consequences of their actions. (How well I remember those days.) But first of all, these were not ten-year-old children.
Dr. Bullinger's notes in The Companion Bible tell us that the Hebrew term for "young lads" is na'ar, a word used to describe Isaac in Gen. 22:5 when his father was told to make him a living sacrifice. Bullinger says that Isaac was 28 at the time, but the book of Jasher says that he was actually 37 years old.
Likewise, the term is used of Joseph in Gen. 41:12, when the butler told Pharaoh that a "young man" was in the prison who could interpret his dream. Joseph was 30 at the time. Finally, Jeroboam was called a "young man" (na'ar) in 1 Kings 11:28. We do not know how old he was, but in the same verse he was called "a mighty man of valor," and he was old enough to become Israel's king after the death of Solomon.
Bullinger also lists Rehoboam, son of Solomon as being a na'ar, but does not give the reference. I do not have time to find the reference now, but 1 Kings 14:21 says that he was 41 years old when he began to rule in Jerusalem.
The point is that the 42 young men who mocked Elisha were not necessarily little children. In fact, Elisha's reaction is a good indication that these were men in their prime who were lawfully responsible for their actions. They were obviously from the town of Bethel, where Jeroboam had set up one of the golden calves nearly a century earlier (1 Kings 12:28, 29).
Bethel was therefore one of the two "high places" or places of idolatrous worship. And because Bethel was situated more centrally, it was the primary place of worship and is mentioned far more often in the biblical narrative than Dan, the city to the far north where the other golden calf had been placed.
The actual meaning of the words "go up, you baldhead" are largely a matter of speculation. No one can say for sure why this was a mockery. The most common view is that it was a reference to Elijah's ascension earlier, and that these young men were taunting Elisha, telling him to ascend in a chariot of fire as well. This was also my own view until the recent meetings gave us a different revelation on it.
Our revelation is that these young men knew full well that Elisha was not coming to Bethel to worship the golden calves, for his (and Elijah's) opposition to such idols must have been common knowledge. But now that Elijah was gone, here was Elisha coming to Bethel, and the young men were suggesting that he "go up" to the high place and worship the golden calf.
The fact that Elisha was bald may also be the occasion of mocking. Perhaps they were equating him to one of the eunuchs who were often employed by both kings and priests. Eunuchs, of course, were totally bald. Thus, the mockery was in their suggestion that Elisha was one of the idolatrous eunuchs going up to Bethel to worship the golden calf.
At any rate, the divine law in Deut. 13:6-10 forbids anyone from enticing another to worship false gods. Verse 9 prescribes the death penalty for such a sin. Under the Old Covenant, Elisha' curse (of the law) was the penalty for these young men suggesting this to Elisha, even if their idolatrous evangelism was being done as a mocking gesture.
Of course, the New Covenant employs a different way of law enforcement, so it is unlikely that Elisha would have cursed them if he had lived under the New Covenant. What is death under the Old Covenant is life under the New. The worship of the golden calf at the Mount in Exodus 32:28 resulted in 3,000 being subtracted from the church in the wilderness by use of a physical sword; but under the New Covenant, 3,000 were added to the church by the sword of the Spirit given on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2:41.
The Old Covenant is conditional by nature, because it obligates both God and man to do their part in order to keep it in force. Israel's violation of the Old Covenant is precisely what invalidated that covenant and created the need for the New Covenant. See Heb. 8:9. The New Covenant is a covenant of one party--God Himself. It does not ask man to do something, but puts all responsibility upon God alone to write His laws in our hearts and to teach us His ways as a Father would teach his sons.
In the days of Elisha, he spoke appropriate divine judgment upon those 42 young men for their violation of the law. But today, under the New Covenant, we have spoken words of healing and reconciliation to Jericho and to the world. God intends to turn the hearts of the people to Himself, rather than to kill them. The law's application is well illustrated in Luke 9:53-56,
" (53) And they [the Samaritans] did not receive Him, because He was journeying with His face toward Jerusalem. (54) And when His disciples James and John saw this, they said, 'Lord, do you want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?' (55)But He turned and rebuked them, and said, 'You do not know what kind of spirit you are of;(56) for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men's lives, but to save them'."
Calling down fire from heaven was appropriate for Elijah under the Old Covenant (1 Kings 1:10), but not for us under the New Covenant. The Two Witnesses in Revelation 11:5 are said to do this as well, but we must understand this with New Covenant eyes and not make the mistake that James and John made in the incident with the Samaritans (above). It is the baptism of the Holy Spirit that we call down from heaven today. This "fire" certainly kills the flesh, but does not burn the body. It is a cleansing fire, not a torture pit.
So Elisha's application of the law brought a curse upon those 42 young men. But having already applied the New Covenant to Jericho (the world), the curse is turned into a blessing. The blessing is that God will turn every man from his iniquities (Acts 3:25, 26), because the obligation is now upon God, not upon man.
This is the first part of a series titled "The Next Miracle of Elisha." To view all parts, click the link below.
Dr. Stephen Jones