As parents we all have certain things that we find difficult to let go of as our children age… I cherished the nightly bedtime reading ritual that I shared with Lee and Briana. We read through many a story and several children’s series when they were young.
One of the Bible story books was told through the words of animals in the Bible. The ravens that fed Elijah, the donkey that talked to Balaam, the animals in the stable when Jesus was born helped make the stories come alive to my preschooler.
One story was not included though – the story found in 2 Kings 2:24: “He (Elisha) 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.” Oops! Not great bed time reading unless you want the little ones to wake you up in the middle of the night with nightmares!
Let’s explore the story… Elisha had just watched Elijah ascend to Heaven in a whirlwind and had accepted the mantle of responsibility as the next prophet of God. As he begins this new phase of his life, a gang of teenagers begin to make fun of him. They “mock the man of God.” Because of their choices the Bible tells us that 42 of them were mauled by bears.
I found it interesting that the Bible does not say they were killed. To be mauled by an animal means that you are attacked and wounded and often severely injured, but it does not necessarily mean death.
Maybe we should share this story with our kids when they are old enough to understand that their choices in life will have consequences. Like the youths in 2 Kings 2, many of us made stupid choices when we were young that mocked God and His Word. We bear the scars of those choices on our hearts and in our minds to this day… The sinful things we choose to do as young adults may not kill us, but the wounds go deep and it is only by the grace of God that we find healing and peace.
“Goldilocks and the Three Bears” may teach our little ones to honor the property of others, but “Elisha and the Two Bears” will teach our kids the importance of honoring God.
“Therefore, the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I will honor those who honor me, and I will despise those who think lightly of me.” (1 Samuel 2:30)
For such a time as this…