Nov 1 2020 Lessons from the Zeal of Jehu
1st November 2020
Thank You for the opportunity to worship You – thank You for Your mercy – it is so vast and there is enough room for all – all that we could throw on there, there is enough to cover it. It will never be taken away – it can be counted on. Your Mercy and Grace – thank You for Your great compassion. You are sympathetic and can come to our aid. Speak to our hearts – as I share this story from Your word – may You speak and not a person, but the Lord. In Your name we pray.
2 Kings 9:1 Now Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets and said to him, "Gird up your loins, and take this flask of oil in your hand and go to Ramoth-gilead. 2 "When you arrive there, search out Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in and bid him arise from among his brothers, and bring him to an inner room. 3 "Then take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say, 'Thus says the LORD, "I have anointed you king over Israel."' Then open the door and flee and do not wait."
Jehu – he is a man – strong personality – passion – charisma – strong sense of justice! Because of that, he is admired by those with similar personalities – the young and the zealous – but he is a conflicted individual – He will do some good stuff, but he will do some bad stuff.
All personality types have positive and negative characteristics. Jehu tends to be on the extreme end, so the traits are apparent and easy to recognize. Others are more moderate, so our positive and negative things may be less obvious – but know this for sure – they are always there and are just as difficult to address. We will look how that plays out in Jehu’s life.
4 So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead. 5 When he came, behold, the captains of the army were sitting, and he said, "I have a word for you, O captain." And Jehu said, "For which one of us?" And he said, "For you, O captain." 6 He arose and went into the house, and he poured the oil on his head and said to him, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'I have anointed you king over the people of the LORD, even over Israel.7 'You shall strike the house of Ahab your 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.
Ahab and Jezebel created a culture of violence and bloodshed in northern Israel.
8 'For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male person both bond and free in Israel. 9 '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. 10 'The dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and none shall bury her.'" Then he opened the door and fled.
Wow! It gets worse! Much worse.
Jehu is charged with executing God’s judgment on the house of Ahab. First – the idolatry – the worship of Baal has infiltrated and filled the northern kingdom of Israel – the second reason – this culture of violence that they have initiated.
We sometimes want a charge from God like that – to be the one to execute judgment! I’d be cautious about that – because, well, we’ll see with Jehu…
16 Then Jehu rode in a chariot and went to Jezreel, for Joram was lying there. Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to see Joram. 17 Now the watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel and he saw the company of Jehu as he came, and said, "I see a company." And Joram said, "Take a horseman and send him to meet them and let him say, 'Is it peace?'" 18 So a horseman went to meet him and said, "Thus says the king, 'Is it peace?'" And Jehu said, "What have you to do with peace? Turn behind me." And the watchman reported, "The messenger came to them, but he did not return." 19 Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them and said, "Thus says the king, 'Is it peace?'" And Jehu answered, "What have you to do with peace? Turn behind me."
20 The watchman reported, "He came even to them, and he did not return; and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously."
Now, we probably all know someone who drives furiously! But Jehu is KNOWN for his ZEAL – all Israel knows him for his zeal. You can see it from a mile away. Today, we don’t use the term that much – except in church language. You might say an athlete hustles – or a person at work is dedicated, or a workaholic. Zeal is a good thing ONLY when it is connected with wisdom and self-control. We all know athletes who have tremendous zeal, but lack self-control – that person will foul out every game. Or that football player always being flagged for unnecessary roughness.
We have a grandson who is filled with zeal! We call it roughhousing! He will see his dad and a brother tussling, and he will just DIVE IN! But it usually ends in pain! It needs to be tempered with wisdom!
21 Then Joram said, "Get ready." And they made his chariot ready. Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out to meet Jehu and found him in the property of Naboth the Jezreelite.22 When Joram saw Jehu, he said, "Is it peace, Jehu?" And he answered, "What peace, so long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?" 23 So Joram reined about and fled and said to Ahaziah, "There is treachery, O Ahaziah!" 24 And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength and shot Joram between his arms; and the arrow went through his heart and he sank in his chariot. 27 When Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu pursued him and said, "Shoot him too, in the chariot." So they shot him at the ascent of Gur, which is at Ibleam. But he fled to Megiddo and died there. 28 Then his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem and buried him in his grave with his fathers in the city of David. 30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it, and she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out the window. 31 As Jehu entered the gate, she said, "Is it well, Zimri, your master's murderer?" 32 Then he lifted up his face to the window and said, "Who is on my side? Who?" And two or three officials looked down at him. 33 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 trampled her under foot. 34 When he came in, he ate and drank; and he said, "See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king's daughter." 35 They went to bury her, but they found nothing more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.
Wow! This is a little extreme! In January, I’m going to be doing a study on violence in the Bible and how to look at that. What we see here, God hates idolatry! We also see how much God hates violence and oppression to those who are innocent and helpless.
36 Therefore they returned and told him. And he said, "This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, 'In the property of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37 and the corpse of Jezebel will be as dung on the face of the field in the property of Jezreel, so they cannot say, "This is Jezebel.
Two biggest issues of judgment are these two: Idolatry, and violence. God’s judgment comes upon them. Start with Adam and Eve – Idolatry – you will become like God, Himself. Replacing God with someone else – and as a result – judgment comes on humanity.
The second sin that brings judgment – violence and bloodshed – Cain and Abel – Abel’s blood cries out to God – and it results in judgment upon humanity.
The next time we see judgment on humanity – Genesis 6 – the Flood. Why is God judging the world at that point? Wickedness? Let’s see what it says:
Genesis 6: 11 The earth was ruined (destroyed/corrupted/more destroyed) in the sight of God; the earth was filled with violence. 12 God saw the earth, and indeed it was ruined, for all living creatures had corrupted their way upon the earth. 13 So God said to Noah, "I have decided that all living creatures must die, for the earth is filled with violence because of them. Now I am about to destroy them and the earth.
Jesus then – we come to Him – and as He is coming into Jerusalem – in Luke – Jerusalem, if only you knew those things that make for peace. Israel was into revolution. And we see this theology and teaching of Jesus about how flawed the theology of violence and revolution is – and He teaches loving your enemy. If only you knew peace, Jerusalem, but they didn’t – then judgment came.
2 Kings 10: 18 Then Jehu gathered all the people and said to them, "Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu will serve him much. 19 "Now, summon all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers and all his priests; let no one be missing, for I have a great sacrifice for Baal; whoever is missing shall not live." But Jehu did it in cunning, so that he might destroy the worshipers of Baal. 20 And Jehu said, "Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal." And they proclaimed it. 21 Then Jehu sent throughout Israel and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And when they went into the house of Baal, the house of Baal was filled from one end to the other. 22 He said to the one who was in charge of the wardrobe, "Bring out garments for all the worshipers of Baal." So he brought out garments for them. 23 Jehu went into the house of Baal with Jehonadab the son of Rechab; and he said to the worshipers of Baal, "Search and see that there is here with you none of the servants of the LORD, but only the worshipers of Baal." 24 Then they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings. Now Jehu had stationed for himself eighty men outside, and he had said, "The one who permits any of the men whom I bring into your hands to escape shall give up his life in exchange." 25 Then it came about, as soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the royal officers, "Go in, kill them; let none come out." And they killed them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the royal officers threw them out and went to the inner room of the house of Baal. 26 They brought out the sacred pillars of the house of Baal and burned them. 27 They also broke down the sacred pillar of Baal and broke down the house of Baal and made it a latrine to this day. 28 Thus Jehu eradicated Baal out of Israel.
His mission is accomplished. One thing we must understand. As a result of worshiping Baal, the northern kingdom is utterly ruined.
Jehu – if we stopped his story there – the Israelites would have revered him as a hero – but we have to go to the next verse to get the full story – However… we all have our however, don’t we?? We have this good side and this bad stuff going on – and we will see Jehu’s bad side:
29 However, as for the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin, from these Jehu did not depart, even the golden calves that were at Bethel and that were at Dan.
So the golden calves are a hyperlink to Exodus – and Moses – they became impatient – Moses is gone – and the people say – what are you going to do, Aaron – and he took their gold jewelry and threw it into the fire and out came this golden calf – and Aaron says – this is Yahweh! And God says in the Ten Commandments – don’t make graven images. This is a connecting of the worshiping of Yahweh with the ways of the world. Blending faith and worldliness into one form of worship. This will ultimately lead to Israel’s demise – and it will only take 100 years…
30 The LORD said to Jehu, "Because you have done well in executing what is right in My eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in My heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel." 31 But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel sin.
He leads the entire nation astray – so he goes from this incredible thing to doing this.
Here is the thing: he was worshiping the calf. They were worshiping Baal. Jehu thought the calf was just an image of Yahweh. Baal’s image was a bull – so it is a little ironic that he eliminated every person who worshiped the bull – yet they were worshiping the calf.
The thing we judge and condemn the most – we are most at-risk to do – only we do it in a way that is most subtle.
That is why Jesus said – do not judge, lest you be judged – and in the manner you judge – what you judge and condemn, you will be condemned for. That does not mean there it not a time to correct others. But when we do, first, take the log out of your own eye – what you are judging is in you also – and deal with it first.
So, what do we do practically, application-wise? We all have practices and beliefs that are flawed – because of our tradition – we have held them so long that we believe that they are right, true, and biblical. That is Jehu and the golden calf. It is critical that we are aware – at best, they are not helpful. At worst, they are harmful. If we don’t recognize the flaws, we are stuck and in danger – so, I will give three practical applications.
John Ference is doing a study every other Tuesday on the spiritual beings in the Bible. First – we must learn to read the Bible BETTER – not just more – but better – or more better! Normally, we read devotionally, and that is good – but John said this: we need to put on our best ancient Israelite – and read it through their eyes. We tend to read things through our presuppositions and assumptions – as 21st century Americans. But the Bible was written by ancient people and we need to read it as from them – if I say, 1 fish 2 fish red fish blue fish – you know what we are talking about. But if we said that to the apostle Paul – it would make no sense. We need to learn to read the Bible through those eyes.
I’ll give you a simple, practical thing to do – the Bible Project has a series of how to read the Bible. It might take 2-3 hours to do that! It might seem like a long time – but it is shorter than a football game or binge watching something else. Then listen to the podcasts while you drive or mow the grass.
Cross training – Exercising other muscles – need to implement new disciplines –
The Good and Beautiful God – James Bryan Smith – there are sequels.
Richard Foster – the Celebration of Discipline
Sacred Pauses – April Yamasaki
Keep doing what you are doing and add these.
Fourth – I want to close with HOPE – 100 years after Jehu, Israel is gone – taken away to Assyria. 130 years later, Judah is captured as slaves to Babylon – and when they begin to return – there is no sign of idolatry – and they prepare the way for the coming Messiah – they begin waiting for the Messiah – looking for God.
The same can be true for us – yes, we have our good and bad and do great things and not so great things – but there is hope that God is working through us and not finished with us.
He is always working for Good in us.
Lord, these stories are as relevant today as we could ever imagine. Jehu lived so many thousands of years ago, but we can see him in our own lives today. You have not changed – and ultimately, Your mercy and compassion will come through, even in our weaknesses and failures.