“The Bear Facts” – One Year Bible Reading – June 21

Old Testament: 2 Kings 1:1-2:25

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2 Kings 1:1-18  That Burns Me Up!

King Ahaziah of Israel, son of Ahab, fell through the lattice of his upstairs room and wasn’t feeling so well.  He sent messengers to ask the god of Ekron, Baal-zebub, if he’d get better.  The angel of the Lord, most likely Jesus in the OT,  was sent to Elijah to meet those messengers and ask, “What’s going on?  Is there not a God in Israel that you can ask questions that you have to go to the god of Ekron?  Well, now you can save your trip because Yahweh says you’re not going to get up from your bed again.”  Then Elijah left.

Ahaziah’s messengers told him what had happened.  “What’d the guy look like?” asked Ahaziah.  “Hairy with a big leather belt,” they replied.  “Great,”said,  Ahaziah, sullenly, “it was Elijah.”

The king sent out fifty men to Elijah to bring him before the throne.  Elijah said to them, “If I’m a man of God, fire will come down and vaporize you.”  As it happened to turn out, he was a man of God.

Another fifty came.  Same thing happened.  Even another fifty came to fetch Elijah.  The captain of that fifty begged for his life.  The angel of the Lord told Elijah to go ahead with him so they were shown mercy.  Then Elijah told the king what he had already been told, that he was going to die for attempting to inquire of a pagan god.

So Ahaziah died but had no son so Jehoram became king as Jehosophat’s son, Jehoram, was in the second year of his reign.

2 Kings 2:1-2:25   Going Up?

The prophets used to hang together and Elisha knew that Elijah was going to depart for Heaven. The other prophets kept reminding Elisha what was going to happen and he just told them to shut up.  Elisha was accompanying Elijah to the Jordan.  Elijah kept telling Elisha he didn’t have to make the trip but Elisha insisted on going with him.

Three miracles occurred.  First, Elijah parted the Jordan by striking it with his mantle so he and Elisha could cross on dry ground.  Elijah told Elisha to ask him for something as a parting gift.  Elisha asked for double amount of Elijah’s spirit.  He was not asking for double the power or prestige of Elijah but only to carry on his ministry (cf. Dt. 21: 17 for usage of the term “double portion” for an heir).  Elijah said that was a tough one, because it would have to be God’s decision, but if Elisha could see him as he departed, he’d have his wish.  As they were talking, a chariot of fire and horses of fire came between them.  Elijah went to heaven in a whirlwind (cf. v. 1) to Heaven.  Elisha observed it and knew he had obtained his wish of a double portion of Elijah’s spirit.  He picked up Elijah’s mantle that had been left behind and used it to strike the Jordan and it separated for him just as it had for Elijah. Note the chariot and the horses did not take Elijah to Heaven, the whirlwind did.  The whirlwind was a storm with thunder and lightning representing the presence elf Yahweh Himself (cf. Ex. 13:21 and the pillar of cloud for something similar).

Only one other man had gone to Heaven without dying, Enoch in Gen. 5: 24.  Some believe that Elijah and Enoch going straight to heaven is an illustration of Christians being Raptured directly to Heaven before the Tribulation (cf. 1 Cor. 15:51; 1 Thess. 4:17).

2 Kings 2:15-25  The Bear Facts

Elisha took over for Elijah but the rest of the prophets didn’t understand what had happened.  They wanted to go out and look for Elijah and find him.  They thought the Lord had picked him up and deposited him somewhere.   They kept pressing Elisha to let them send out a search party.  Finally, he relented.  After three days, the fifty that went out gave up.   When they returned, Elisha said to them, “I told you it was a waste of time.”

The men of the city, Jericho (cf. 18), came to Elisha with a problem:  their water was unclean and they couldn’t drink it or use it for irrigation.  So Elisha had them bring him a jar with salt in it and he fetched some water out of the spring.  Then he put some more salt in it.  So the water became pure.  Salt is symbolic of purification (cf. Mat. 5: 13).  Wiersbe says on tours of Israel, the tour guide shows the fountain of Elisha and invites people to taste the water.  This was Elisha’s second miracle.

Elisha’s third miracle involved a gang of thugs that threatened Elisha’s life.  Some mockers have used this story and misinterpreted it to try to show how dumb the Bible is.  They should heed the warning in the story!  Here is the proper interpretation:  the “young lads” were actually a street gang from the city, cult worshippers from Bethel who opposed Elijah and now wanted to end Elisha’s ministry.  They weren’t just little kids, they were young adults.  There was a lot of them, more than forty-two (cf. 24).  They mocked Elisha because he was bald but what they were actually doing was mocking him as a prophet of Yahweh and thus mocking Yahweh Himself.  A full head of hair was a sign of power and baldness was rare so they were in essence calling Elisha powerless.  You know this is not going to end well!  You should not tug on Superman’s cape!  Elisha cursed them in the name of the Lord (cf. curse for those disobeying the covenant, Lev. 26: 21-22).  That meant something really bad was going to happen to them if they didn’t back off and change their minds about what they were doing.  Sure enough, two bears came out of the woods and ripped them to shreds.

This should be a lesson for some, who like the former SNL comedienne, who use the Bible as their main source of material!  I saw part of an entire cable-only special based on the mocking of God’s Word.  I couldn’t finish watching it.  It was a travesty but a sign of the times we live in.

Back to our story, Elisha left for Mount Carmel and then went back to Samaria.

New Testament:  Acts 13:42-14: 7

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Acts 13:42-14: 7     Some Believers And Some Turkeys

The next Sabbath everyone turned up at the Temple to hear Paul preach.  When the religious leaders saw the crowds that had come to hear Paul, they were jealous and starting heckling Paul and blaspheming.

Paul and Barnabas got intense and said, “We came to you Jews first because God has decided to let you know the Good News first (cf. Rom. 1: 16).  But since you are rejecting it and showing yourselves unworthy, we’re leaving and going to the Gentiles.”  Then Paul quoted Is. 49: 6 to show that the message must go out to non-Jews as well as Jews.  The Gentiles listening to Paul broke out in joy and praise to God and the word of God spread throughout the region.  This ticked off the Jews in the area who started attacking Paul and Barnabas.  They drove them out of the area.  Paul and Barnabas were glad to see that group in their rear-view mirror and scraped the dust from the town off their sandals.  The disciples were actually ecstatic at the response they got and were filled with the Holy Spirit (v. 52).

Paul and Barbabas moved on to Iconium in present day Turkey.  They were so powerful that many people trusted Christ, Jews and non-Jews.  However, the unbelieving Jews raised a ruckus and stirred up the non-Jews.  Paul and Barnabas spent a long time there leading people to the Lord with God confirming their words with signs and wonders.  The whole city was divided.  Some were on the side of the Jews and some on the side of the apostles.  When those who opposed them tried to stone them, the apostles found out and absconded for Lycaonia, Lystra and Derbe, which were other cities in Turkey.  They were continuing to preach the Gospel.

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