Summary: It teaches how the life of Elisha is applicable to us
2 Kings 2: 19 - 25 - the third sermon on the life of Elisha
Below is the outline of the sermon, I preached on 18 September 2011 at West Ewell Evangelical Church, Surrey:
We are continuing the occasional sermon series on Elisha (‘God saves’).
The second narrative of the two , in particular, is difficult to understand; however: as 1 Timothy 3: 16 states: ‘All scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness.’
In his prophetic ministry, Elisha brought not only blessing but also curse from God –as seen in these two narratives.
The water was, in the original Hebrew, ‘evil.’
Jericho rebuilt by Hiel of Bethel in the reign of Ahab (1 Kings 16: 34) at the cost of the lives of the builder’s two sons.
This situation can be seen in society, where the bad news of materialism and self has replaced the good news of God reaching out to people.
The evil can also be seen in the Church with issues such as false doctrines (including rejecting virgin birth, the sufficiency of Jesus’ work on the cross, the resurrection of Christ, heaven and hell), not weeping over the sin in God’s house.
In middle class suburbia, the effect is more subtle where we can observe consumerism which can be seen in what I want from church, and it is how easy to see that we are owed holidays, nice cars, etc. which can be a block to God being predominant in our lives.
The men recognised that Elisha was prophet of God and that they needed God’s blessing.
It was the Lord who healed (verse 20), not the water changing in response to Elisha.
Salt represented purity, which is equated to the holiness of God coming on the area which had been cursed (see Leviticus 2: 13 – where told to add salt to all offerings).
People had to step out in faith in providing the salt in obeying what God had said. Society needs to do step out in faith today, as we need to do as well.
The action showed God’s mercy to a community in time of stress
In verse 22, the cure was lasting as the water was cleared from impurity.
Only God can
- Bring broken sinners to Himself
- Restore the members of the broken Church so that they can step out in His anointing and enable them to be sanctified by the power of His blood
The word 'youth' (naarim) literally means servants or men in the early years of life or in marriageable years - e.g. Absalom (2 Samuel 14: 21) to seventeen year-old Joseph (Genesis 37: 20 or trained soldiers in Abram’s army (Genesis 14: 24) –wide age range from a thirty year-old Joseph (cf. Genesis 41: 12, 40, 46) to Joshua when he was nearer forty-five to fifty (Exodus 33: 11, Joshua 24: 29).
It was not innocent childish behaviour, since same word appears in 2 Chronicles 36: 16, regarding the Lord warning Judah before they went into exile – ‘But they mocked God’s messengers, despised
His words and scoffed at His prophets until the wrath of the Lord was aroused against his people and there was no remedy.’
Bethel (literally ‘house of God’) had been given over to idolatry and worship of the Canaanite god Baal, so Hosea changed its name to ‘Bethaven’ (‘house of wickedness’ – 4: 15, 5: 8, 10: 5). In the same way, the UK has gone from worshipping God to nation of worshipping wealth, fame and fortune.
The young men may have been questioning Elisha’s claim to prophethood, despite the school of the prophets in Jericho (earlier in chapter) acknowledging him as successor to Elijah. The taunts for him to ‘go up,’ that is for him ascend into heaven (as Elijah, his master, had done).
The reference to baldness is:
- Not a sign that tonsure was a sign of a prophet
- However, we do know that youths used Elisha’s outward appearance to mock his prophetic status
Elisha did not – a) run from them, b) argue or plead with them, c) compromise his message, d) act or react in self-interest, anxiety or self-defence, e) complain to God or resign his commission as a prophet.
It is important to note that curse was in the name of the Lord and not Elisha getting the huff – ‘Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows.’ (Galatians 6: 7). We need to remember that only God had power over nature in sending the bears.