Don’t Join the Crowd!

Forty-two children make quite a crowd. And when they all shout the same thing, it makes lots of noise, and it’s fun. But when they are shouting words that are mocking someone, that is wrong! Do you know what the word “mocking” means? It means to make fun of someone or to insult the person. You may know what it feels like to have someone make fun of you. It makes you unhappy and want to run away. And if it’s a big group of children all making fun of you, that makes it even worse!
Now listen to this story about Elisha. He had just seen a wonderful sight. He had seen his dear friend Elijah go up to heaven in a whirlwind, with a chariot of fire and horses of fire. Fifty men had gone to search for him, but, of course, they couldn’t find him  ...  Elijah was in heaven.
I wonder what those forty-two children had heard about Elijah and Elisha. There were no telephones or cell phones or e-mail to pass the news around, but everybody had heard the story. And to some, it was just a story.
What is it to you? If God tells a story, is it just another tale, and it doesn’t matter if you get it all wrong? We are very sure that God’s Word is true, and we don’t dare change it or laugh at what God has said.
To those forty-two children at Bethel, it was just a funny story about Elijah going up to heaven. When they saw Elisha go by, they shouted at him to go up too. They said, Go up, bald head! And they said it again, mocking Elisha. Maybe Elisha had lost the hair on his head, but God tells us to respect old age.
Would you have joined in their shouting if you had been there? God says, “Thou shalt not follow a [crowd] to do evil” (Exodus 23:22Thou shalt not follow a multitude to do evil; neither shalt thou speak in a cause to decline after many to wrest judgment: (Exodus 23:2)). It is important to obey the Word of God, and even if you must stand alone, God stands with you!
Elisha knew that this was a serious thing for children to do, and he turned and cursed them in the name of the Lord. Those children very suddenly stopped their mocking, and they probably started screaming instead. God controls what animals do, and God sent two mother bears out of the forest to attack them. Those two angry bears had claws, and they tore those forty-two children. There’s nothing so angry as a mother bear, and this time God directed the bears’ anger against the mocking children.
Maybe as you and I read this story, we can remember when we were as bad as those children. God hates sin now just as He hated it then. Should I be afraid? Will bears or something else attack me? Listen to the good news.
“Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners” (1 Timothy 1:15). He also tells us, “Perfect love [casts] out fear” (1 John 4:1818For thou hast had five husbands; and he whom thou now hast is not thy husband: in that saidst thou truly. (John 4:18)). I don’t know where those children could have run for safety, but I know where you can run. Right now there is refuge and safety in Jesus Himself. He took all the anger of God against sin — all of it — so completely that He could say, “It is finished” (John 19:3030When Jesus therefore had received the vinegar, he said, It is finished: and he bowed his head, and gave up the ghost. (John 19:30)). His love casts out fear, forever!
I don’t know what may happen in your life before He comes, but I know you will never have to bear your troubles alone. His promise is, “I will never leave [you], nor forsake [you]” (Hebrews 13:55Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee. (Hebrews 13:5)). If you are afraid, come closer to Him and see how His perfect love casts out fear.
Think About God’s Word!
1. What happened to the forty-two children who mocked Elisha?
2. Proverbs 1 has verses that warn against the peer pressure of bad companions. What verses are they?
Project: The good king Jehoshaphat had a very bad friend. How did that bad friend have a bad affect on Jehoshaphat’s life?