An atheists question

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makerofmyheart

Guest
#1
An atheist asked me this question today: "2 Kings 2:23-25 describes how God sent to a bear to kill 42 children for mocking Elisha's bald head. How can Christian's talk about a loving god?"

I know alot about the New Testament but not alot about the Old. I don't really know how to answer this question? Please help.
 
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Shwagga

Guest
#2
Could be a number of reasons, without examining the text myself just off the top of my head.. I would first say God never kills anyone unjustly.

One possible reason for killing children (God killing children, not us) would be, perhaps foreknowledge of what they would grow up to be?

I checked some Rashi commentary and for verse 23 in particular he said:

"Go away, baldy: Go away from here, for you have made the place bald for us, for until now we would hire ourselves out to bring sweet water from a distance, and we would earn our livelihood thereby. And when the water became sweet, they lost their livelihood. Thus it is explained in Sotah (46b)."

What do you think?
 
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Shwagga

Guest
#3
Also, I'd like to note don't be surprised if an atheist will show you some text you haven't heard anyone preach on before lol, there's a lot of stuff in the bible that is like "huh? that's in my bible??", at first glance but you have to understand the character of God to understand these type of things.
 

MaggieMye

Senior Member
May 19, 2009
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#4
The children were children of pagans. There destiny was hell and because of the idolatry of their parents, there was never any hope of them (especially since they were not Jews/Hebrews) of them turning from that wickedness. And this shows too, that because of the generational curse upon their heads, the iniquity of their parents, there was suffering.
God IS a loving God and will always have mercy on those that seek Him. Those children would never have sought Him because they would not be taught to do so. Hence, hell was always their destination. THey did not receive the prophet sent by God and so, before they could propogate any further evil, God removed them. Do not forget that God IS a merciful God. And while they were children and ignorant, He will consider that in the final judgment.
Maggie
 
Feb 9, 2010
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#5
God is a loving God.

God only touches people for good,never evil.

God said that all wars come from man because of the lust of the flesh.

The love that Jesus showed while on this earth is the same love that applies now.Jesus did not come to condemn the world but to save the world.Jeus took verbal and physical abuse and did not retaliate.
The love that Jesus showed while on earth is the same love that applies now.

God is not punishing anybody and God only touches people for good and never evil.

The Bible says that at the last days there will be many blasphemers,like saying God is punishing them,when God is a good God and not an evil God,and God only touches people for good and never evil.

The truth is that in the New Testament,the love that Jesus showed while on this earth is the same love that applies now,all wars come from man,God does not provoke any war between nations,God is not punishing people,God only touches people for good and never evil.

In the Old Testament God would sometimes pass judgment at that time physically while they were on earth.In the New Testament God does not judge like that while people are on earth.

God is not a warmonger because of the wars that Israel was involved in,but God protected Israel,because if God did not protect Israel the other nations would of wiped her out.

God had to protect Israel and put other nations down,because Jesus was to come through the nation of Israel,which is the salvation of the world.

If God did not put down nations,they would of wiped Israel out,and there goes the salvation of the world.

God also had to protect Israel from nations that would pervert her by the chance they might be carried away with idols and false gods,which if they were not in the truth God could not work with them to bring Jesus into the world.

God left nations alone that did not go against Israel or did not try to pervert her by idolatry.

It is not God that is cruel,but it is man that is cruel,that would try to wipe Israel out,or pervert her to turn form the truth,and God had to protect Israel,for they are the salvation of the world.

In the Old Testament God would sometimes judge people while on the earth.

In the New Testament God deos not judge people while on the earth,and God is not punishing anybody while on this earth.

Judgment for the world is postponed until the dead rise and are judged at the end of the millennial reign of Christ.

The 42 she bears went against the 42 children because they mocked the man of God.God judged them right there,but we will all be judged.God does not judge according to that fashion in the New Testament.

Don't say God is punishing you,for God only touches people for good and never evil.

Look at the cruelty of man that went against Israel,against the saints,trying to pervert the truth,trying to establish their own ways on earth.

God had to protect the salvation of the world,and had to put down the falsehood of nations who would pervert the truth,so that we can have eternal life.

It is not God that is cruel,it is man that is cruel,who would try to have their ways permeate the world,and cause people to perish spiritually.

We should be glad that God did step in,in the Old Testament,and put down nations and people that wold hinder people from seeing the truth,although we should never condone war but be against it,and God's will be done.


9And here is the mind which hath wisdom. The seven heads are seven mountains, on which the woman sitteth.
10And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space. 11And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition(Revelation 17:9-11).

These are the 8 world powers on earth until Jesus comes to rule.

The 5 which are fallen are 1.Egypt 2.Assyria. 3.Babylon 4.Medo-Persia 5.Greece.
The 1 that is,is the world power in operation when John received the book of Revelation 6.Roman Empire.
The 1 that is to come and will continue for a short space 7.10 horn kingdom,the world divided into 10 sections with a leader in each section,which will continue a short space,the first 3 and a half years of the tribulation.
The 8th king is the antichrist who will rule for the last 3 and one half years of the tribulation.
The Bible says the 8th king is of the 7 kings,which means that the devil influenced those 7 world powers.

God had to go against them in the Old Testament because the world powers were of the devil that would try to pervert God's ways and establish their ways on earth.

God is not cruel,man is cruel,that would try to take the salvation of God away from people.

In the New Testament,God does not provoke war,and God is not punishing people.

Matt
 
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Mal316

Guest
#6
Christians can talk about a loving God because there are many, many, many passages in Scripture that show God's love, His mercy, His grace, His compassion, His forgiveness, His kindness.

Yes, there are passages that show God as wrathful, vengeful, destructive. And if that were all the Bible told us about the nature of God, atheists could rightly question Christians' belief in a loving God.

Still, we must address the passage in question. 2 Kings 2:23-25 Let's look at "Go on up." This could be a reference to Elijah, who went up to heaven in a fiery chariot. "Go on up", as in, go on up, like your master Elijah. Perhaps they were mocking Elisha's status as a prophet? If the spirit of Elijah was indeed on Elisha (2 Kings 2:15) couldn't Elisha go on up also? What manner of prophet is he then?

"Thou bald head" does appear to be mocking Elisha's baldness. Scripture says not to curse the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind. It is sinful to mock another's infirmity or affliction. And if the person is sensitive about their condition, to make fun of them for it is wicked. We don't know if the children knew Elisha was sensitive about his baldness. But even if they weren't, why call attention to it? Further, if God had made Elisha bald (for whatever reason), then to mock Elisha's baldness was to mock God as well.

We have here God being jealous for the honor of His prophet. And also God listening to the words of a man, just as He did in Joshua. Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stand still and they did. Elisha called down a curse in the name of the Lord and two bears came from the woods and mauled the children.
 
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giantone

Guest
#7
Christians can talk about a loving God because there are many, many, many passages in Scripture that show God's love, His mercy, His grace, His compassion, His forgiveness, His kindness.

Yes, there are passages that show God as wrathful, vengeful, destructive. And if that were all the Bible told us about the nature of God, atheists could rightly question Christians' belief in a loving God.

Still, we must address the passage in question. 2 Kings 2:23-25 Let's look at "Go on up." This could be a reference to Elijah, who went up to heaven in a fiery chariot. "Go on up", as in, go on up, like your master Elijah. Perhaps they were mocking Elisha's status as a prophet? If the spirit of Elijah was indeed on Elisha (2 Kings 2:15) couldn't Elisha go on up also? What manner of prophet is he then?

"Thou bald head" does appear to be mocking Elisha's baldness. Scripture says not to curse the deaf nor put a stumbling block before the blind. It is sinful to mock another's infirmity or affliction. And if the person is sensitive about their condition, to make fun of them for it is wicked. We don't know if the children knew Elisha was sensitive about his baldness. But even if they weren't, why call attention to it? Further, if God had made Elisha bald (for whatever reason), then to mock Elisha's baldness was to mock God as well.

We have here God being jealous for the honor of His prophet. And also God listening to the words of a man, just as He did in Joshua. Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stand still and they did. Elisha called down a curse in the name of the Lord and two bears came from the woods and mauled the children.
I thought this was the best response so far.

One time my brother asked me why people got stoned to death just for gathering sticks on the sabbath, he asked me wasn't God a little bit harsh? And later they weren't as strict.

My answer to this was that God parted the red sea , had water out of the rock,wowed them all and all these miracles just happened that this guy likely saw with his own eyes and this guy disregards it all and does his own thing treating God like some common everyday thing. If they allowed that man to live they would have all become like that and everyone would have the attitude what is the point in being different from the rest of the world and following the true God? Someone gathering sticks today thousands of years later on the sabbath isn't spiting in the face of God because those things weren't done recently by God.

Those kids likely saw the power of God but decided to still make fun of the prophet.

Numbers 15

30 ¶But the soul that doeth ought presumptuously, whether he be born in the land, or a stranger, the same reproacheth the LORD; and that soul shall be cut off from among his people.
31 Because he hath despised the word of the LORD, and hath broken his commandment, that soul shall utterly be cut off; his iniquity shall be upon him.
32 And while the children of Israel were in the wilderness, they found a man that gathered sticks upon the sabbath day.
33 And they that found him gathering sticks brought him unto Moses and Aaron, and unto all the congregation.
34 And they put him in ward, because it was not declared what should be done to him.
35 And the LORD said unto Moses, The man shall be surely put to death: all the congregation shall stone him with stones without the camp.
36 And all the congregation brought him without the camp, and stoned him with stones, and he died; as the LORD commanded Moses.
 

eugenius

Senior Member
Jul 17, 2009
491
9
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#8
My idea about this is different than what people have said so far. If you believe that the bible is an account of things that have occurred, i.e. actual history, you have to understand the way people talked thousands of years ago, they gathered in groups, and a few people who saw or experienced something would try to remember it the best they could, and often enough exaggerated what they saw to impress their friends. This happens in modern times too.

So when you hear something like, God sent a bear to kill 42 children. I'm sure it wasn't 42, and maybe they died of natural causes or an accident happened to them, due to their sins for insulting a prophet.

Basically I'm in the club of not taking every word that the bible says 100% literally, especially the old testament. The new testament can and should be taken literally. The very important events in the old testament like the flood, passover, exodus, etc those are events that are pretty much solid. But many of the less important events have been changed by the story teller and twisted totally out of proportion.

The thing you should get from the old testament is the main moral of the story. Don't get hung up on details about, was it 42 children, were they children, etc. The point is, respect God and his prophets.

Regardless, what God does is always for the greater good. Its not something we can understand. Just trust in God, and if you seek him, he will only make your life better, not worse. Thats all I know.
 
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1still_waters

Guest
#9
I really don't try to find ways to make passages like these look like something other than what they are. No need for creative exegesis or Bible interpretation. God doesn't need a press secretary to refine his image. This passage is what it is.

The sinless son of God hanging on the cross, being punished for sinners, so sinners can have eternal life, is what it is too. When they want to look at some bears, point them to Jesus.
 

phil36

Senior Member
Feb 12, 2009
5,900
126
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#10
Spot on 1still.

God shows both His love and His Wrath at the cross. too often we have this poicture in our heads that God is no longer a wrathful God..Think again.

Anyhow. here is a snippet from the ESV Study Bible:


2 Kings 2:23–24 jeered at him. The focal point for Israel's apostasy was Bethel (see 1 Kings 12:25–13:34). Therefore, it is no surprise to find young people from this city adopting a disrespectful attitude toward a prophet of the Lord, and to treat a prophet with disrespect is to treat God himself with disrespect.

The reference to the baldhead is not clear, but Elisha might have already been so bald by nature that to youthful eyes he looked grotesque; or perhaps some prophets, like later Christian monks, shaved their heads as a mark of their vocation. he cursed them. . . . And two she-bears . . . tore forty-two of the boys.

Though this judgment may at first seem harsh, the group must have included over 50 boys old enough to be out running in a pack, and so they constituted something of a physical threat to Elisha. The authors of Kings regularly show that contempt toward divinely called prophets is disastrous for God's people.

Phil
 
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Slepsog4

Guest
#11
This group was not a bunch of preteens on the school play ground. This was more like a gang of thugs. They disrespected God's man and therefore God himself. This was not a mere teacher or preacher; this was an inspired prophet.
 
Jan 8, 2009
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#12
Christians have presented the love of God in false light, such that atheists such as this can accuse the Christian God or the Christian of being a hypocrite.

We must be clear to the non-christian that God's idea of love is not just the kind that our modern world has interpreted, as a cosy warm and comforting type of love that wouldn't hurt a fly. That is the Buddhist's definition of "universal unconditional love". Not necessarily the bible's.

I wish that similar punishment was allowed today for the gangs of teenagers some as young as 10 who go around and rob and beat people up to a pulp and rape old ladies such as happens here in a few areas. Usually they later die from their injuries particularly the elderly. They also rob and beat disabled people up in wheelchairs, then might pour petrol on them and light it. If a bear came out and ripped them to pieces honestly I wouldn't have a problem with it.
 
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HumbleSaint

Guest
#13
The problem with these atheists is that they have no understanding of the Bible, because they don't have the Holy Spirit to help them undersatand. So since they are walking according to the prince of this world; Who do you think is helping them get their false understanding of the Bible, by painfuly taking Scripture out of context. What does the Bible say about this?

And account that the longsuffering of our Lord is salvation; even as our beloved brother Paul also according to the wisdom given unto him hath written unto you; As also in all his epistles, speaking in them of these things; in which are some things hard to be understood, which they that are unlearned and unstable wrest,(twist) as they do also the other scriptures, unto their own destruction 2 Peter 3:15-16
 
May 21, 2009
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#14
If the children were young and not of consenting age they would be in heaven. They would have been spared the hell life that was before them. If they were old enough to be accountable then they would be in hell. The demon was Baal was in these people. They worshipped Baal not God. And Baal is still alive and well and in many people today.

God is a just God. Learn your bible well. Keep praying for the aithest God loves then just the same as you.