Be Nice to the Prophet

The other day I read a section in 2 Kings that I had to stop and think about for a long time. It's the part where Elisha, a prophet of God, is being harassed by a gang of teenagers. (Okay, the Bible doesn't say gang and it doesn't say teengers. I assume they were a pretty big gang, and I know how nasty some teenagers can be when they get together and feed off each other. So I picture a gang of teenagers.)

Elisha is on his way up to the town of Bethel, walking down the road, minding his own business, and the Bible says, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" Apparently Elisha wasn't fond of being called a baldhead. (For the record - I think bald is beautiful!) He wasn't crazy about being told to "go on up" either. I'm not sure whether the youth were saying, "Get out of here. Go on up to Bethel," or if they were referring to the previous prophet, Elijah, who was taken up into heaven in chariots of fire. If the first, then they were probably saying, "Get out of our town! Go bug someone else!" If the second, they were saying, "We wish you would disppear from the face of the earth."

Regardless, Elisha didn't take it well. He called down a curse on them in the name of the Lord. Two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths.

Yikes! That was one ticked off prophet!

When I first read that account, I couldn't figure out why in the world a prophet would call for attack bears against youths, which is why I figure they were probably older teenagers running in a gang. (Picture the gangs on the streets of New York City.)

Then I followed the cross reference back to Leviticus 26, which is where Moses was telling the Israelites about the blessings of keeping the convenent they'd made with Him, and the curses that would happen if they didn't. The Lord clearly told them, "If you're hostile toward me and refuse to listen to me, wild animals will attack you."

After considering this, I decided that Elisha, the prophet, represented God to His people. And that gang of youth weren't just calling him names and harrassing him - their behavior was indicative of the entire attitude of God's people toward Him. He was letting them know, "You'd better watch your P's and Q's, folks. You were warned a long time ago what will happen if you disregard your covenant with God. You might have forgotten, but He hasn't."

A sobering lesson. It makes you want to do something extra specially nice for your pastor, huh?