Saturday, September 19, 2009

Elijah and the Rude Children

Elijah's treatment of the rude children has gained a lot of bad press.

Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some youths came out of the town and jeered at him. "Go on up, you baldhead!" they said. "Go on up, you baldhead!" He turned around, looked at them and called down a curse on them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths (2 Kings 2:23-24).
This account does not say that Elijah was correct in his actions. The incident is recorded without comment, so we do not need to defend it.

Elijah was not perfect, he just did his best with the knowledge that he had. With knowledge of Jesus and his teaching, it is clear that Elijah misused his gifting. The boys who mocked him were irrelevant. He should have just turned the other cheek and ignored them.

James and John acted in the same way when they wanted to call down fire from heaven on those who opposed them (Luke 9:53-56). Jesus warned that they were acting in the wrong spirit. I think he would have said the same to Elijah.

The Elijah incident demonstrates that prophets can misuse their power. Prophets must not use their gifting to protect their role or their reputation.

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