1. WE MUST SHOW RESPECT FOR THE ELDERLY & GOD'S SPOKESMEN.
II Kings 2:23,24 - "Then he [Elisha] went up from there to Bethel; and as he was going up the road, some youths came from the city and mocked him, and said to him, 'Go up, you baldhead! Go up, you baldhead!' So he turned around and looked at them, and pronounced a curse on them in the name of the LORD. And two female bears came out of the woods and mauled forty-two of the youths."
Tragically, our culture tolerates disrespect towards parents, the elderly, and anyone in a position of authority. Flagrant disrespect was not to be tolerated in ancient Israel, however (cf. Deut. 21:18-21). These young people mocked and ridiculed a prophet of God, and it proved to be a serious offense against God Himself. How so? To reject a man of God is to reject God Himself who selected the man for a particular work (e.g., Num. 12; 16). May we always give honor to whom it is due (cf. Rom. 13:7), especially the elderly and spokesmen for God (i.e., preachers who declare the Scriptures).
2. ONCE SIN IS NORMALIZED, IT BECOMES THAT MUCH HARDER TO REMOVE.
II Kings 3:2,3 - "And he [Jehoram] did evil in the sight of the LORD, but not like his father and mother; for he put away the sacred pillar of Baal that his father had made. Nevertheless he persisted in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin; he did not depart from them."
Baal worship was still relatively new to that group of people and was more easily recognized as wrong. The golden calves, however, had been around so long that they were deeply ingrained into their way of thinking. The idolatrous calves were considered "normal" by the people. Their appropriateness may not have even been questioned at that point. Although the issues have changed, normalization still happens today. A curse word in a movie for adults was scandalous back in the 1930s, but now cursing is expected in movies. The same thing is sadly happening regarding the issue of homosexuality in our culture. What was once taboo is gradually becoming more and more tolerated, accepted, and even defended. Once a large ball (or social issue) starts picking up speed, it's hard to reverse it because of normalization.
3. THE BEST BENEVOLENCE IS THE TYPE THAT HELPS THE NEEDY HELP THEMSELVES.
II Kings 4:1-7:
"A certain woman of the wives of the sons of the prophets cried out to Elisha, saying, 'Your servant my husband is dead, and you know that your servant feared the LORD. And the creditor is coming to take my two sons to be his slaves.' So Elisha said to her, 'What shall I do for you? Tell me, what do you have in the house?' And she said, 'Your maidservant has nothing in the house but a jar of oil.' Then he said, 'Go, borrow vessels from everywhere, from all your neighbors--empty vessels; do not gather just a few. And when you have come in, you shall shut the door behind you and your sons; then pour it into all those vessels, and set aside the full ones.' So she went from him and shut the door behind her and her sons, who brought the vessels to her; and she poured it out. Now it came to pass, when the vessels were full, that she said to her son, 'Bring me another vessel.' And he said to her, 'There is not another vessel.' So the oil ceased. Then she came and told the man of God. And he said, 'Go, sell the oil and pay your debt; and you and your sons live on the rest.'"There is a place for handouts (cf. Eph. 4:28), but if those in need can be involved in some way in contributing toward their own help, that is preferred. It gives them something to do, rather than be completely passive as recipients. In this case, the woman had to gather as many vessels as she could, and her blessing was in direct proportion to her faith and diligence in this regard. This could be categorized as a miracle of compassion. It does not appear that its primary function was to confirm God's word (cf. Mark 16:20). We will have more to say about this type of miracle when we get to II Kings 6.