“For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” – Acts 2:39
It is a sad, but not unexpected event. Bethel had a long and hallowed tradition as a place of worship. But things weren’t like they used to be in Bethel. It had become notorious for sin and idolatry. This sin affected young and old alike. Remember, the man who rebuilt Jericho at the cost of his sons was from Bethel. In Bethel, children were sacrificed on the altar of their parents’ godlessness. That’s what’s happening in this story. The parents hate God and their children mock the Lord and His anointed servant Elisha. The Lord responds as promised. He told them He would let loose wild beasts against them that would bereave them of their children (Leviticus 26:22). And so He did.
This story should make us tremble at the display of God’s wrath in response to the scandalous nature of sin. But we should remember that this story follows the previous one in which God displays grace to the cursed. Bethel sounds the note of the ferocity of God’s judgement. But thankfully, that is not the only note sounded.
Later, in Jerusalem, God shows mercy to sinners who rejected the Lord and His anointed servant in clamouring for the death of Jesus. Though they called for Christ’s blood to be on them and their children (Matthew 27:25), the Spirit-filled ambassador of the ascended Christ retaliates with promised grace for them and their children. What a glorious reminder that grace reverses the curses and that Jesus comes to make His blessings flow far as the curse is found.
Suggestions for prayer
Ask the Lord to remind us as parents of the solemn repercussions our spiritual carelessness might have on our children. Thank the Lord that His grace reverses the curse.
Reverend John van Eyk has served as Senior Pastor of Trinity Reformed Church (United Reformed) in Lethbridge, Alberta since 2017.