2 Kings 2
This chapter includes two views of Elisha, the prophet who followed Elijah. First we see his great loyalty to his mentor, following him about, knowing that Elijah was soon to leave this world, but staying with him to the very end. We get a glimpse of his emotional attachment as he tells the prophets who feel compelled to repeatedly tell him Elijah is leaving to “be quiet” or “say no more.”
Then we see a very different side when he is confronted by a mob of youths (the word translated as young boys is the same word used for soldiers and for Isaac at age 28). Although at first glance, it appears they are just mocking him for having no hair, a fuller understanding of the context is needed. First, their admonition to “go on up” is a reference to Elijah – think something along the lines of “drop dead” or “you can get sucked up in a whirlwind, too!” The appellation of “baldy” is likely not a reference to him having no hair as much as an insult suggesting he’s a leper or otherwise diseased. The size and age of the crowd and their comments appear much more menacing in the proper cultural context, and some sources suggest that they were likely students and proselytes of the prophets of Baal who Elijah had destroyed. These were young men who were actively opposing the work of God and threatening the Man of God.
The two situations present a dichotomy that faces each of us: We are either devoted to and obedient to the One True God, or we are actively working in opposition to His purpose and plans and deserving of His judgment. While we would like to think that we are sitting on the sidelines and waiting to pick sides, or that we are on God’s team, but riding the bench, those are simply not options. Each one God calls, He calls for His purpose, and He equips for that calling. “So, my dear friends, just as you have always obeyed when I was with you, it is even more important that you obey now when I am away from you: keep working out your deliverance with fear and trembling, for God is the one working among you both the willing and the working for what pleases him.” Philippians 2:12-13