Summary: Why does God allow horrible things happen to innocent people? How often do people ask why would God do that or allow that to happen if He’s a loving God? I am going to do my best to answer those questions today, but I want to work through more of the stor
A three year old gets shot and killed in a gang crossfire. A six year old gets Leukemia and dies after a couple years of awful treatment. A loving mother of five gets hit and killed by a drunk driver. In the Bible Ananias and Sapphira get struck dead for lying in the book of Acts. Uzzah gets struck dead for touching the ark of the covenant even though he was trying to keep it from falling. Why does God allow these things, where is this just and loving God when these things happen?
Why would God do that at the end there? First he heals the water, then he has bears maul 42 young men. Why does God allow bad things to happen to innocent people? Mauled by bears for teasing? What’s that? Yeah, how often do people ask why would God do that or allow that to happen if He’s a loving God? Well, there’s a quote in your bulletin that I think has merit – why do good things happen to bad people? I am going to do my best to answer those questions today, but I want to work through more of the story of Elisha before I do.
Many people, even outside the church have heard of Elijah the prophet. He is one of the most famous people in the Bible. He was one of the guys with Jesus at his transfiguration on the mountain. He was one of two people, Jesus being the other that people actually saw be taken to heaven without dying. Enoch also disappeared at the end of his life, but no one actually saw where he went so we don’t know exactly what happened there.
Some have said that John the Baptist was Elijah come back from heaven, and when he was beheaded, he finally died a human death. Jesus even alludes to John the Baptist being a prophet like Elijah, but he does not mean that this is Elijah reincarnated. Many thought Jesus was Elijah. Anyway, Elijah is probably the premier prophet of the Old Testament, and certainly the most prominent miracle worker of the well known prophets.
But little bald Elisha is not so well known, and the truth is, he performed the same and even greater miracles than Elijah, and I think this story will show us the parallels between Elisha and Elijah and us and Jesus.
Elisha receives his call much like many of the disciples of Jesus. Elijah is just walking by, God has told him to choose Elisha as his successor, and Elijah pops by while Elisha is plowing a field, and throws his cloak upon him. The first thing I want you to see here is that Elisha comes from a wealthy family and leaving to be Elijah’s successor was a major sacrifice. Just as all of Jesus closest disciples left family and work to follow Him.
I want you to hear Elijah’s words back in 1 Kings 19:19-21. This family has twelve yoke of oxen, they are well off, it would be like having five combines. Elisha is going about his business when Elijah throws his cloak on him. Evidently Elisha knew what this meant, and immediately he left the oxen and ran after Elijah asking if he could say good-bye to his parents first.
Jesus said no to someone who asked that, but here Elijah’s response is so cool. Let me paraphrase: “Go ahead because I have just completely ruined your life forever”.
Elijah realizes what he is doing to this poor guy and says “go say good-bye to your parents, for what have I done to you”. He is basically telling Elisha that this is not an easy road as Jesus often said to his would be disciples. Do you ever wish someone would have warned you before you became a Christian? Jesus did, he said, “Count the cost”, and he never misled anyone about what was required of his followers, complete devotion and obedience. So the first point if you are a note taker, I. When we accept the call of God we put Him above everything else.
The other thing here is that this is a time of many wars for Israel and a major part of Elijah’s ministry is proclaiming God’s judgment on the kings and military leaders. That could be very dangerous. And if you recall earlier in Elijah’s ministry, he wanted no part of it because people wanted him dead, especially the wife of king Ahab, the notorious Jezebel. He ran away, but he couldn’t get away from God. And just like angels ministered to Jesus in the wilderness, they did the same for Elijah.
So when he calls Elisha, basically Elisha’s apprenticeship happens during these war filled times, and Elisha gets to witness Elijah doing his prophet thing with these kings. Not easy or glamorous work. Now it’s hard to figure out exactly how long Elisha served under Elijah, but in one reliable timeline I have seen, Elijah died about 850 BC, and Elisha started as a prophet about 853 BC. So I will have you notice that Elisha likely apprenticed under Elijah for about three years. Isn’t that interesting, the same amount of time that the disciples apprenticed with Jesus before he was taken away? Oh it gets better.