Being Elevated by God is not Enough

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Most Christians, upon being elevated by God, assume that they are on their way to bigger and better things and that their calling in some way vindicates them or is in itself a surety for them. The story of Jehu serves as a cautionary tale against such assumptions. He is called explicitly by God to the highest office in the land. He will in fact shepherd the very people of God. And he fulfills his commission with zeal and dedication. But what is God’s judgment of his reign?

2Ki 9:1 And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramothgilead:
2Ki 9:2 And when thou comest thither, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber;
2Ki 9:3 Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not.
2Ki 9:4 So the young man, even the young man the prophet, went to Ramothgilead.

Ramothgilead is where Ahab fell before Benhadad in an attempt to reclaim it from the Syrians. Note the inauspicious nature of Jehu’s anointing. He, like Saul before him, is to be anointed with oil from a flask. In contrast, David was anointed from a horn, a symbol of strength. Also, Elisha does not anoint him personally, but sends an a novice. Furthermore, Jehu is to be taken into an inner chamber. His anointing is done in secret and haste. And lastly, the young man is instructed to flee the scene upon the completion of his duties. Jehu, despite being singled out by God, seems not to be an object of glorification.

2Ki 9:5 And when he came, behold, the captains of the host were sitting; and he said, I have an errand to thee, O captain. And Jehu said, Unto which of all us? And he said, To thee, O captain.
2Ki 9:6 And he arose, and went into the house; and he poured the oil on his head, and said unto him, Thus saith the LORD God of Israel, I have anointed thee king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel.
2Ki 9:7 And thou shalt smite the house of Ahab thy master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD, at the hand of Jezebel.
2Ki 9:8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisseth against the wall, and him that is shut up and left in Israel:
2Ki 9:9 And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah:
2Ki 9:10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the portion of Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her. And he opened the door, and fled.

So Jehu is to be God’s instrument of retribution. He is to forcefully succeed Joram, the son of Ahab. Sure, Jehu is a usurper, but he seizes power at the commandment of God. His position and calling are clear and concise. On the surface, Jehu appears to be blessed by God. And indeed he is, but is his calling a glorious calling and a lasting one as most of us would assume in his position?

2Ki 9:11 Then Jehu came forth to the servants of his lord: and one said unto him, Is all well? wherefore came this mad fellow to thee? And he said unto them, Ye know the man, and his communication.
2Ki 9:12 And they said, It is false; tell us now. And he said, Thus and thus spake he to me, saying, Thus saith the LORD, I have anointed thee king over Israel.
2Ki 9:13 Then they hasted, and took every man his garment, and put it under him on the top of the stairs, and blew with trumpets, saying, Jehu is king.

Notice Jehu’s tentative response to the enquiry of his fellows. Naturally, they are curious about the bizarre behavior of this strange young man with a message for Jehu. See also how quickly and readily they acquiesce to Jehu’s claim of anointment. They claim not to know the man who commissioned Jehu, and yet they take both him and Jehu at their words and immediately “they hasted” to proclaim Jehu their king. Obviously Joram is a despised king whose time is up.

2Ki 9:14 So Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram had kept Ramothgilead, he and all Israel, because of Hazael king of Syria.
2Ki 9:15 But king Joram was returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds which the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) And Jehu said, If it be your minds, then let none go forth nor escape out of the city to go to tell it in Jezreel.
2Ki 9:16 So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there. And Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram.

Joram and his arch enemy, Hazael, king of Syria, have one bizarre thing in common; they both succeed a king who sought divine prophecy concerning his survival. However, their predecessors departed from their own traditions and, in so doing, confound our expectations. It was Benhadad, not Ahaziah (Joram’s brother and predecessor) who consulted the God of Israel. Ahaziah in fact thought it better to consult Baalzebub, the god of Ekron of the Philistines. In fact, between Hazael and Joram, only Hazael can be said to have been anointed by God as his succession was prophesied to him by Elisha. Thus we see how little difference there is between God’s people and those around them and in fact how Israel’s neighbors could even stand in judgment of them. Joram was wounded in the process of trying to reclaim Ramothgilead from the Syrians as his father before him had done. He succeeded, despite his grievous wounds, and stationed a garrison there to secure it from any retaliation from Hazael. And it is from the midst of this very force, appointed by Him, which God calls out the instrument of Joram’s destruction, Jehu.

2Ki 9:17 And there stood a watchman on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied the company of Jehu as he came, and said, I see a company. And Joram said, Take an horseman, and send to meet them, and let him say, Is it peace?
2Ki 9:18 So there went one on horseback to meet him, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu said, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me. And the watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he cometh not again.
2Ki 9:19 Then he sent out a second on horseback, which came to them, and said, Thus saith the king, Is it peace? And Jehu answered, What hast thou to do with peace? turn thee behind me.
2Ki 9:20 And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and cometh not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he driveth furiously.
2Ki 9:21 And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.

Twice, Joram sends to Jehu to enquire of peace. This of course is the number of witness. But he asks a third time, this time in person (three being indicative of judgment on the flesh).

2Ki 9:22 And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of thy mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?

Jehu addresses Joram with righteous indignation. He is an agent of wrath and destruction.

2Ki 9:23 And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.
2Ki 9:24 And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot.
2Ki 9:25 Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for remember how that, when I and thou rode together after Ahab his father, the LORD laid this burden upon him;
2Ki 9:26 Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, saith the LORD; and I will requite thee in this plat, saith the LORD. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the LORD.

Thus was Naboth avenged who the murdered one upon orders from Jezebel for a vineyard that Ahab desired and took gladly upon Naboth’s death. Notice that Jehu was even privy to the prophecies that he was fulfilling. He was no unwitting tool of God but a man with a full sense of his own purpose. We will see this demonstrated again.

2Ki 9:27 But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.
2Ki 9:28 And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David.
2Ki 9:29 And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.

Here Jehu oversteps his bounds. He had no instructions to kill the king of Judah, wicked though Ahaziah was.

2Ki 9:30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.
2Ki 9:31 And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?

Jezebel seems incapable of humility. She seems aware of her imminent doom, and yet all she can do is try to shame Jehu for his intentions. Notice her attention to her hair and make- up and the similarity to Israel depicted as a whore and the whore of Babylon.

2Ki 9:32 And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs.
2Ki 9:33 And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trode her under foot.

Jehu is even more trite than Jezebel. Again, the readiness of those around her to do Jehu’s bidding demonstrates how hated she was, just like her husband.

2Ki 9:34 And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king’s daughter.2Ki 9:35 And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.2Ki 9:36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the LORD, which he spake by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:2Ki 9:37 And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.

Again, Jehu demonstrates his knowledge of prophecy and awareness of his purpose. After each instance of executing God’s commandment, Jehu is able to readily justify it with the words of the Lord. In chapter 10, Jehu goes on to destroy seventy of Ahab’s sons, “all his great men, and his kinsfolks, and his priests, until he left him none remaining” (2Ki 10:11). And as if killing the king of Judah along with Joram wasn’t enough, Jehu wipes out a band of Ahaziah’s brethren who had come to salute Joram’s family. Finally, as the coup de grace, he gathers and executes all the devotees of Baal that are in Israel. Talk about an over- achiever! Jehu’s zeal is unquestionable. His accomplishments are more than considerable. His obedience is complete and without hesitation. All that we’ve seen thus far, other than that which can be gleaned from symbols and types, suggests that Jehu belongs amongst the ranks of the great Israelites to have served God well. If we have any doubt of this, there remains this statement from the Lord himself:

2Ki 10:30 And the LORD said unto Jehu, Because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.

And yet Jehu’s end was much like most of the kings of Israel; we’re told that, like so many before him, “he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.” The only examples we’re given pertain to golden calves in Bethel and Dan. But a token of this summation can also be seen in the fact that Syria again began to seriously encroach on Israel’s territory. Jehu, so accomplished in overcoming the foes within, was a failure when it came to the foes without. And the final word from the Lord on Jehu’s reign:

Hos 1:4 And the LORD said unto him, Call his name Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel.

After commanding Jehu to do what he did (and did well) and commending him for it, God then turns to avenge the very people whom he ordered Jehu to dispatch! And he will avenge them upon the house of Jehu himself. What are we to conclude? Remember, the anointing of Jehu foreshadowed this condemnation. God knew what he was going to do with the house of Jehu before he even called him. Is God destroying a faithful servant? Remember, Jehu, despite all his zeal and obedience, followed the path of the wicked Jeroboam at the last. It is apparent that Jehu was not called on account of his righteousness. Furthermore, it seems that Jehu was a perfect candidate for his particular calling precisely because of his lack of righteousness; God does not call the righteous to execute unrighteousness. So we see in this instance God as the author of evil. In his sovereignty, he brings evil upon Israel. Jehu was raised for just this purpose. Despite all indications of the prospect of glory, he ultimately is a vessel created for dishonor. In Jehu we can see how obedience to God does not, in itself, give us cause for pride or arrogance. We may find that our calling and work require humility and maybe even shame. We must always be prepared to obey God, our attitude towards God and ourselves must be such that they do not bring God’s wrath down on us.

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