A vehicle for venting on philosophy, religion, and the general state of things. Proprietor: C. W. Powell

Friday, October 17, 2008

The Bears of God.

"And he went up from thence unto Bethel: and as he was going up by the way, there came forth little children out of the city, and mocked him, and said unto him, Go up, thou bald head; go up, thou bald head. And he turned back, and looked on them, and cursed them in the name of the LORD. And there came forth two she bears out of the wood, and tare forty and two children of them." 2Kings 2:23,24

This is a favorite passage for those who seek to discredit the Bible. They say things like, “How could a loving God…?”

But I would make some comments for those who believe the Bible is God’s word, know that God is a consuming fire, that He takes vengeance [yes vengeance] in flaming fire on the ungodly, and that it will be well with the godly but it will not be well with the ungodly.

1. The prophet did not curse the young people [“children” can mean any immature youth, and “little” can be “small” in a figurative sense] in his own will and strength, but “in the name of the Lord.” This was a judgment from God upon the parents of Bethel who had not trained their children to be generous and large of heart, but had allowed them to grow up mean, self-centered, small-minded and pagan. They were a bunch of punks that were too big for their britches. [But even if we take the KJV translation "little children" the following comments are still valid, for God's judgments can be very harsh against the ungodly.]

2. All the beasts of the forest belong to God and are often used in Scripture to slay and destroy men who are under the wrath of God, These "beasts" become symbols of angelic or demonic powers under the control and service of the wrath of God.

3. These female bears did not tear the parents of the children, nor did they tear the prophet, but they tore these youths for their arrogance and mocking of the prophet of God. Elijah, Elisha's predecessor, had gone up to heaven in a whirlwind [2Kings 2]. These blasphemous and insolent youths mocked the prophet Elisha with his bald head and paid a dear price for it.

4. The men who are appointed by God to govern the church have a dignity that are given to them by God Himself, and it is a great sin to mock or to disregard their lawful government. This is the reason that the Heidelberg Catechism Question 101 states:

Q104: What does God require in the fifth Commandment?
A104: That I show all honor, love and faithfulness to my father and mother,[1] and to all in authority over me,[2] submit myself with due obedience to all their good instruction and correction, and also bear patiently with their infirmities, since it is God's will to govern us by their hand.[3]

1. Eph. 6:1-6, 22; Col. 3:18, 20-24; Prov. 1:8-9; 4:1; 15:20; 20:20; Exod. 21:17; Gen. 9:24-25

2. Rom. 13:1-7; I Peter 2:18; Matt. 22:21
3. Eph. 6:4, 9; Col. 3:19, 21; Prov. 13:24; 30:17; Deut. 27:16; 32:24; I Tim. 2:1-2; 5:17; Heb. 13:17-18

5. The wise Solomon knew this, and wrote in Proverbs 30:17: “The eye that mocketh at his father, and despiseth to obey his mother, the ravens of the valley shall pick it out, and the young eagles shall eat it.” Faithful ministers will warn their congregations of the serious dangers that the insolent bring upon themselves in such defiance, for “rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.” 1Sam 15:23.

6. God has more ways of bringing shame to the ungodly than you and I can possibly imagine. Who had ever heard of she-bears used in this manner? It is the only instance like this in the Bible, but it carries a powerful message. God used lions to tear disobedient prophets [1Kings 13] but this seems to be a unique use of she-bears.

7. It is a terrible thing for fathers not to teach their wives and children the duty of obedience and honor for their own authority and to model this submission before their wives in submitting themselves to the authority of elders and ministers. Those who fail to do so may indeed pay a heavy price. The insolence and irreverence that characterized the city of Bethel exacted a heavy cost in the blood of insolent youth.

8. If not bears, then certainly God will certainly vindicate Himself in other ways. If not in one way, then certainly in another.

9. We must teach our wives and children to stay away from such people, or they will be overcome also by the bears of God’s chastening. Solomon put it this way: “Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee.” (Pr 4:24) Those who speak “distorted and crooked” things [this is the meaning of “froward”] will be a snare to us if we do not mark them and avoid them.

Paul put it this way: “Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.” (Ro 16:171)

10. It is also true that God is long suffering and forbearing with us. But His goodness must not lull us to sleep in our insolence and forwardness, for His terrible works, though slow in coming, will surely come, at such a time as we think not.

“He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy." (Pr 29:1)


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