2 Kings 2:19-25 NLTse One day the leaders of the town of Jericho visited Elisha. “We have a problem, my lord,” they told him. “This town is located in pleasant surroundings, as you can see. But the water is bad, and the land is unproductive.” (20) Elisha said, “Bring me a new bowl with salt in it.” So they brought it to him. (21) Then he went out to the spring that supplied the town with water and threw the salt into it. And he said, “This is what the LORD says: I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or infertility.” (22) And the water has remained pure ever since, just as Elisha said. (23) Elisha left Jericho and went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, a group of boys from the town began mocking and making fun of him. “Go away, baldy!” they chanted. “Go away, baldy!” (24) Elisha turned around and looked at them, and he cursed them in the name of the LORD. Then two bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of them. (25) From there Elisha went to Mount Carmel and finally returned to Samaria.
This was the beginning of Elijah’s ministry. It began at Jericho, the first city conquered by Joshua in the promised land. God brought down its walls after Israel marched around the city for seven days. There were a number of other delays before that walk around Jericho. So many delays, we can see how God gave people inside Jericho time to leave.
Rahab, the prostitute who hid Israel’s two spies, and her family were the only people spared. She told the spies what Jericho knew about Israel, God, what happened in Egypt, and how frightened the city was. But those people inside Jericho decided to trust in their leaders, who shut the gates, to keep Israel out, and their subjects and wealth inside.
Now God sent Elisha to Jericho to heal it. What a change. What a blessing. What a way to share Elijah’s double portion of Spirit. What a lesson for us. God healed the land and water around the first city conquered in the promised land.
The story about those two bears mauling forty-two children is a little difficult to understand. Why would Elisha heal a city, then suddenly kill forty-two children using two bears? Somehow the stories have to be linked.
Who was in Jericho at the time? Israel was. One of the most important things Israel was supposed to do in the promised land was teach their children. One of those things was to understand what a prophet from God was, what they stood for, and how to tell a good prophet from a false prophet. Those children had to die to show how their parents failed. You know those parents anguished over the death of their children, but many of them asked why, or took responsibility for their deaths.
Elisha’s First Miracle
One of the most important things we’re supposed to teaching today is that power of Elijah. A power men, women, and children are supposed to experience. But how many people know what that power is, where it comes from, and how to use it? How many people care? Elisha was disrespected, and look how many lives that cost. What price do we have to pay to disrespect God in the last days? How many children have to die because parents are too lazy to teach their children?