Crazy Bible Stories: Part 1
In case you haven’t noticed, the Bible is absolutely crazy. It is filled with bizarre and crazy Bible stories. Some of these crazy Bible stories we might have actually heard in Sunday School class or in church or perhaps through some kind of children’s video series. After all, everyone knows the story of Samson’s strength or David’s slaying of Goliath, and these would qualify in some ways as crazy Bible stories. However, these are not the crazy Bible stories that I am thinking of. I am thinking of stories that did not make the Sunday school cut. Some stories are nearly impossible to believe that they are in the Bible (I can think of two instances where “zombies” are mentioned in the Bible). Others are so bizarre that they have fallen into the realm of “unpreachable.” I would like to take some of these forgotten, crazy Bible stories, and bring them to light. This is the first part of what I hope will become an enjoyable series of lost Sunday School stories. Let’s have some fun.
Elisha: Bear Summoner
Elisha seems to take after his crazy master right from the beginning. Most people in the church have heard about Elijah and how he got taken up to heaven in a whirlwind and a chariot of fire. However, what they do not know is what happens to Elisha right after seeing this spectacle. This story is found in the book of 2 Kings.
23 From there Elisha went up to Bethel. As he was walking along the road, some boys came out of the town and jeered at him. “Get out of here, baldy!” they said. “Get out of here, baldy!” 24 He 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 boys. 25 And he went on to Mount Carmel and from there returned to Samaria.
(2 Kings 2:23-25)
Go ahead, read that a few times. If that does not fall into the category of crazy Bible stories, I do not know what does. This takes the whole “respect your elders” thing to a whole new level. This has actually become one of my favorite stories in the Bible. Most people probably would not believe that this passage would preach very well. However, I think they are wrong. I think it would work really well in an older church where most of the members are over 60. Those pesky teenagers listening to their devil music too loudly? A simple prayer should fix that problem right away.
Being that this is one of my favorite stories, I have done some research on the passage. At one point I read that despite the passage saying “boys” here the actually age of the children could have been as old as the late 20’s. These “she-bears” as the King James Bible calls them, would have had their work cut out for them is they had to maul forty-two 25 year olds. I would like to think that me and 41 friends could take on two bears and win, but these are no ordinary bears. These are bears summoned from the prayers of a bald man. It is probably a good thing that God does not seem to grant all of the curses that people claim on each other. I think my personal preference would be for God to summon a giant toad to crush my enemies. Yea, that would be pretty awesome.
Either way this story is crazy. It does not make sense the punishment for simply calling someone name would be so severe. To some extent it is showing that God is with Elisha and that the passing on of leadership from Elijah to Elisha is sanctioned by God, but there could have been other ways. As Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible puts it “42 small boys are expendable … when a man of God is at stake.”1Eerdmans Commentary on the Bible
Tips for Teaching Crazy Bible Stories in Sunday School
This section of these posts will be reserved for an attempt to turn these crazy Bible stories into a Sunday School lesson. For this story these seems to be two obvious conclusions that we can teach to children and adults alike. First, we need to respect God’s anointed. These are modern-day pastors and perhaps even leaders in the church. God has chosen these people for His work. If we try to get in the way God might summon a great toad… uh… couple of bears to take care of those getting in His way. Second, we need to respect our elders. It is not right to make fun of someone because they have lost their hair. This is a natural course of life. Bald hair should be a sign of maturity, not a point of humor. We all thought that is was beards that led to power in the Bible, perhaps it is really the bald head! If the way to bear summoning is bald hair, sign me up. However, in the story, Elisha is both. He is both God’s chosen leader and has a bald head. Be extra cautious around these people.
I have tried to explain this to the teenagers in my youth group. I have tried to threaten them with bear summoning but for some reason it does not work. They just laugh at me. It must be the hair. I have too much of it. I guess I’ll have to focus on being an awesome youth leader in other ways. Part 2 of the crazy Bible stories series will come out sometime in the future.
As a side note, it can be fun and even useful to share crazy Bible stories to children and especially teenagers. It shows them that there are still mysteries in the Bible that they have not heard of and are still enjoyable.