Cultural differences aside, Old Testament prophets were, um…a little weird. I say that respectfully, but I can only imagine they may not have been at the top of an invitation list to any aspiring social event. Things like walking around naked, burying underwear in the dirt (and retrieving it some time later!), marrying a prostitute, and a list of the bizarre continues—it certainly caught the people’s attention.
It would’ve caught my eye, to say the least.
Not respected, rarely believed, probably ridiculed, and usually hunted down, the job description was not for the faint of heart. Clearly, one was not chosen by Yahweh to become a social climber.
But God never has one of His chosen messengers do something without purpose. Here’s another example. The water of a particular town was causing some serious health problems. Hoping the prophet of Yahweh could help, the townspeople brought the issue up with Elisha:
“Elisha said, ‘Bring me a new bowl with salt in it.’ So they brought it to him. Then he went out to the spring that supplied the town with water and threw the salt into it.”
New bowl with salt. Now there’s an interesting concept. Case in point, our small Midwestern town had a breach in our water system this past year, and we were under a boil order for quite some time. You might imagine what this meant for our school system where I work, not to mention the hospital and any of the restaurants in the area. WHAT A PAIN! But you know, it’s better than getting sick from any of the squiggly things you can only see under the microscope. It took quite a while and several man-hours to get that situation back into safe working order.
Too bad Elisha wasn’t around…
My thought is that maybe God was making a point, one far beyond fixing the town’s much polluted water.
Let’s face it, the water flowing from our lives is polluted, even deadly. Our words, our thoughts, our motives; it doesn’t take long in front of the TV to find another shooting, another act of hate and general vindictiveness. Of looting, selfishness, deceit, and pride. No one can convince me that humankind is capable of evolving into a better society on our own. We’ve tried, and we are failing miserably.
Enter the notion of the new bowl, (not one washed from last night’s fig and goat cheese soup, mind you), with salt. We all know that salt provided both seasoning, and more importantly, preservation. The new bowl signified that God was doing something, well,…new.
Jesus was that new bowl, coming in human flesh (looking like all the other human bowls walking around, trying to clean ourselves out again and again, and doing about as well as we are today, I might add.) And He was also the salt, both the salvation AND the sanctification. The amazing part is that He transfers that life-giving water into us. Proof? Here’s “the rest of the story”, with His people in mind—
“And he said, ‘This is what the LORD says: I have purified this water. It will no longer cause death or infertility.’ And the water has remained pure ever since, just as Elisha said.”
Period. (Exclamation point!)
2 Kings 2:20-22 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.