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Blog Series - The Work of ElishaView All Parts
The distance from Jericho to Bethel was about the same as from Jericho to Jerusalem. Jerusalem was southwest of Jericho, while Bethel was almost due west. To get to Bethel along the main road, Elisha would have had to pass through the town of Ai, which was situated a short distance east of Bethel. On Bible maps, Ai was the only town between Jericho and Bethel.
Recall that Ai was the small town that defeated the Israelites in battle after Achan’s sin in the battle of Jericho (Joshua 7:1, 2). The battle of Ai was disastrous for Israel, because 36 Israelites died on account of Achan’s sin (Joshua 7:5). Ai itself was turned into a ruin “unto this day” (Joshua 8:28), but a new town had sprung up near its ruins. We know this because many years later, after the Babylonian captivity, there were men of Judah who returned to their land inheritance at Bethel and Ai (Ezra 2:28; Nehemiah 7:32).
It is likely, then, that the young men who mocked Elisha were actually from Ai. Achan had stolen gold, silver, and a Babylonian garment (Joshua 7:21). I believe that in Elisha’s day, the golden calf at nearby Bethel again represented the love of money (gold) in the hearts of the people. It is almost as if the battle of Ai was repeated in a new setting when the two bears “tore up” (wounded?) the 42 young men.
The connection to Ai suggests that the golden calf in nearby Bethel—as well as the golden calf in the wilderness—was a spiritual problem that manifested itself in the 42 young men who mocked Elisha. As in the days of Moses, the people had again proclaimed, “This is your god, O Israel, who brought you up from the land of Egypt” (Exodus 32:4).
On another prophetic level, the men of Ai (and their children) who worshiped the golden calf also represented those who would worship the image of gold that the Babylonian king set up in the plains of Dura (Daniel 3:1). Again, in Daniel 2:38, King Nebuchadnezzar’s dream showed that he (and Babylon itself) was the head of gold. The next empire in the succession was Persia, pictured as arms of silver. Persia was destined to overthrow Babylon.
But in another vision, these empires were pictured as beasts, rather than as metals (Daniel 7:3). There Persia was pictured as a bear (Daniel 7:5), rather than as arms of silver. The bear of Persia overcomes the winged lion of Babylon. So also the bears in the story of Elisha “tore up” the young men who worshiped the golden calf. By worshiping the golden calf, the men of Ai identified prophetically with Babylon and were vulnerable to the Persian bears.
The Two Sheepfolds
On our trip from Minneapolis to Seattle, we gained much insight into the meaning and purpose of the third sign of Elisha (2 Kings 2:23-25). Scripture gives us very few details and does not directly explain the meaning of this sign. Our trip itself gave us the revelation, so that we would be able to reverse the curse upon the children. It was reversed by dealing with the heart problem of golden calf worship in Bethel, the “house of God.”
We also learned that the two bears represented the “bear” signs (constellations) in the heavens. We call them Ursa Major and Ursa Minor, also known as the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. These constellations originally were not bears at all. They were the Greater Sheepfold and the Lesser Sheepfold, both in the sign of Cancer. Cancer is Latin, but the name was derived from the Arabic word Khan, “an inn” and Ker (Cer), “encircling.” It thus describes a sheepfold that encircles the sheep for their protection while they rest.
The various stars in Cancer also describe sheepfolds. The brightest star in Ursa Major is Dubeh, “a herd.” In Arabic, Dubah means “cattle.” In Hebrew, Dober means “a fold” and is derived from the word Dobe, “rest or security.”
So how did sheepfolds turn into bears? The Hebrew word for bear is dob. So instead of seeing the constellation as a sheepfold (Dober), they ended up picturing it as a bear (Dob). This was all in the divine plan, of course, because this mistake prophesied how the Persian bear would continue to dominate the sheepfolds after Persia conquered Babylon. In other words, after the Babylonian captivity, Jerusalem was rebuilt under the dominion of Persia. Their status was changed from an iron yoke under Babylon to a wooden yoke under Persia.
The two sheepfolds themselves prophesied on more than one level. On one level, primarily in the Old Testament, they represented Israel and Judah. The New Testament shows that these sheepfolds represent the church and the overcomers. The Greater Sheepfold is the larger of the two—the church. The Lesser Sheepfold is the smaller group—the overcomers.
Overthrowing the First Bear
We arrived in Seattle on June 11, 2009 and remained until June 16. We held various meetings in the area, but the main work of overthrowing the beast occurred in Mount Vernon on June 15. By this time, we had learned that this beast was called Lamar, and that in Revelation 13, he was the beast rising from the sea. La is “the,” and mare is “sea.”
Most of the work had already been done in the course of our trip as we drove to Seattle. It only required a simple prayer to finish the work in Mount Vernon, Washington.
As we left Seattle, heading south on Interstate 5 into Oregon, our attention turned toward the second bear, and we wondered how we would have to deal with this one.
We had an extra day in which to see Crater Lake (Oregon) and Mount Shasta (California). I always try to break up long trips by doing something fun and to see some of the sites that our country has to offer. So when we arrived in northern California on June 17, we decided to stop and to take a tour of Shasta Caverns the next day.
In the cavern itself, we walked through an underground room which, no doubt, had been used since ancient times for religious ceremonies. As the tour guide explained the significance of the room, we saw it as representing the Grotto of Pan at the old city of Dan (later Caesarea Philippi). So there we engaged in spiritual warfare against Pan.
Darla then stepped over a smooth rock jutting up from the flood. It was perhaps a foot and a half high, and somehow she stepped wrong and fell. She got up quickly and seemed to be alright, so I gave it no further thought until later, when I discovered that her entire heel was bruised. That brought us back to Genesis 3:15, where God told the serpent,
15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.
The bruise on her heel gave us confirmation of the spiritual battle being waged. It was the price she had to pay for bruising the serpent’s head!
We continued our journey the next day, arriving in Sacramento on our 38th wedding anniversary, June 19, 2009.
Blog Series - The Work of ElishaView All Parts