Elijah, the prototypical prophet of God, was nearing the end of his mission. “Do you know,” Elijah said to Elisha, “that today the Lord will take away your master from over you?” (2Kings 2:3). Elisha would be his successor.
Three times Elijah said to Elisha, “Stay put,” to test him, and three times Elisha didn’t stay put, but followed Elijah instead. Elisha determined, “As the Lord lives, and as you yourself live, I will not leave you” (2Kings 2:2, 4, 6). If Elisha was to pick up Elijah’s prophetic mantle, then Elisha would follow closely to the end. At the very end, fifty sons of the prophets watched Elijah part the Jordan River, then walk across on dry land with Elisha. Some time later, the fifty watched Elisha, like Elijah, part the Jordan River and return alone. I know it’s confusing, Elijah and Elisha. Pay attention to the names. Elijah parted the Jordan River on the way across, Elisha on the way back. The mantle of the prophet had passed to the next generation.
Two miracles followed. The first was simple and basic, the water of Jericho was bad, literally, the Bible says, it was “evil.” Spend time in a third-world country and you know what evil water can do to you. It could not be drunk and it would not nourish crops. Symbolically, Elisha threw salt in the water, but what healed the evil was “the word that Elisha spoke” (2Kings 2:22). It was a miracle that returned life to a parched city, and it was a miracle that endured. Elisha wore the mantle of Elijah.
The second miracle was of an odd sort. Elisha came out of Bethel, and “some small boys jeered at him, saying, ‘Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!’” (2Kings 2:23). Small boys may be better translated young men, and there were at minimum 42 of the them. “Go up, you baldhead!” would be an insult today, and it was meant to be then. “Go up” means “Keep on going,” and so this gang of youth was telling Elisha he was not welcome in Bethel. “Get out of town, Baldy!” They wanted nothing to do with a prophet. They wanted nothing to do with the word of the Lord.
What happens to a nation that wants nothing to do with a word from God?“Can the liberties of a nation be sure when we remove their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God?” ~Thomas Jefferson, 1782 “God governs in the affairs of man. And if a sparrow cannot fall to the ground without his notice, is it probable that an empire can rise without His aid?” ~Benjamin Franklin, Constitutional Convention of 1787 “Whereas it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey his will, to be grateful for his benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor.” ~George Washington, October 3, 1789 “In God We Trust.” ~The National Motto of the United States of America
Elisha cursed them and two female bears tore into the boys. His name is Elisha, heir of the prophet Elijah, and he speaks the word of God. Listen to him.
My Lord and Creator, I believe fully in You, loving You with all of my being. I will stand for You and confess You before men. You are King of kings and Lord of lords. I pray, God, that I will be a bright light, that my faith will not be hidden, but will shine in the darkness. That by all my actions people will know that You are God.
May I live the way all should live, under God, knowing and proclaiming that you are the source of all of life and all that is good. God, I pray that the land in which I live will acknowledge You and trust in You. I pray that we will be good people under a great God.