Saturday, April 7, 2012

2 Kings 10 - Jehu Fulfills Prophecy but Falls Short

LINK: 2 Kings 10 
Parallel chapter: 2 Chronicles 22

BACKGROUND 

Jehu of Israel - 2 Kings 9:1-10:36

Reigned: 841-814 B.C. for 28 years 

Character: Bad mostly 
Jehu "destroyed Baal worship in Israel. However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam . . . the worship of the golden calves(2 Kings 9:28).  

Overlap with Judah's King: Athaliah (841-835) and her son Joash (835-796)

Manner of Death: Natural

Parallel Story: 2 Chronicles 22:7-12

The incidents in this chapter fulfilled Elijah's prophecy that not one of Ahab's male descendants would survive (1 Kings 21:17-24). This mission was also given to Jehu by God in 2 Kings 9:6-10. 

The city of Samaria was a great walled city. So, Jehu employed strategy by intimidating the leaders of the city. It is a gruesome thing to think that the people assigned to rearing the descendants of Ahab would slaughter them out of fear of Jehu (10:6-7), but they did. The heads were sent from Samaria to Jezreel (25 miles north of Samaria) and piled high at the entrance. This was apparently common in the ancient Near East as a sign of the power of the conquering king or dynasty. 

Jehu convinced the people that he had nothing to do with the murder of the descendants of Ahab, but the Lord's prophecy through Elijah had been fulfilled. Jehu went too far by killing Ahab's friends, chief officers, and priests. We will read through Hosea soon, but that prophet announces punishment for Jehu's house because of this:
And the Lord said to him, “Name him Jezreel; for yet a little while, and I will punish the house of Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. On that day I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jezreel.” (Hosea 1:4-5) 
Continuing with his power trip, he slaughtered forty-two men who were relatives of the already slain, King Ahaziah of Judah.  By this, he was attacking the descendants of David (2 Chronicles 22). 

There is a little section on Jehonadab son of Recab who joined with Jehu. Jeremiah 35 indicates that he and his descendants were followers of God. Jehu probably knew that this man of influence would help him in his cause for the Lord. The joining of hands was symbolic of a striking of a covenant and giving an obligation of fidelity from a subject to a sovereign. 

Then, through cunning, Jehu destroyed the Baal worshipers and the two "stones" (two different Hebrew words are used here for stones) of Baal worship: perhaps a wooden idol and the stone containing the main image of Baal. Elijah had started the destruction of Baal worship in Israel and Jehu completed it. 

Even though Jehu killed the prophets of Baal (Deuteronomy 13), he did not completely obey the Lord by not completely turning away from the "sins of Jeroboam" with worship of golden calves and not keeping the law of the LORD with all His heart. Commentators speculate that not destroying the golden calves was probably political since destroying those calves would cause people to travel to the temple in the southern kingdom of Judah to worship. This is why Jeroboam set up the golden calves in the first place (1 Kings 12:25-33; 13:33, 34). Also, the golden calves were believed to be a visible manifestation of the one true God and had been in Dan and Bethel for a very long time. We know they were not a manifestation of God because this was idolatrous and forbidden (Exodus 20:3-6). 

Despite this, God promised to preserve his kingly line to the fourth generation. The judgment by God for Jehu's lack of full devotion came through the reduction of the size of Israel (10:32). During Jehu's reign, Hazael, the king of Aram (c. 842 BC-805 BC) took away land. Shalmaneser of Assyria had also forced Jehu to bow before him, and there is a "Black Obelisk" that shows him doing just that. 


Jehu-Obelisk-cropped
Depiction of Jehu King of Israel giving tribute to King Shalmaneser III of Assyria,
on the Black Obelisk of Shalmaneser III from Nimrud (circa 827 BC) 

in the British Museum (London).Photo by: Steven G. Johnson
To sum up Jehu's reign: he fulfilled prophecy and the Lord's commands (1 Kings 21:17-24; Deuteronomy 13) but he went too far with the bloodbath in Jezreel (2 Kings 10:11) and not far enough in his devotion to the Lord (10:31).

REFLECTION /APPLICATION 

How are you in the wholehearted devotion department? 

Consider this: 

Here is a one-question quiz. Place a check by the most correct answer. Spiritual change in a Christian life is:  
___ a. all right if you don't overdo it.
___ b. very beneficial for my friends.
___ c. something to be pursued wholeheartedly.  
Although "b" is a true statement, the best response is "c": something to be pursued diligently. God desires continual, wholehearted conformity "to the likeness of his son" (Romans 8:29). It's not enough merely to begin a program of change. God wants to complete what He begins. That's why Jehu, though he started out well in handling his God-given assignment, lost God's full commendation because he did a mediocre job (10:28-29). 
Think back to the last major area of change you began to work on in your life: a habit, new priority, neglected relationship. Did you approach the assignment wholeheartedly? Are there still unwritten chapters in your story of "How God Helped Me to Change"? If so, what needs to be written -- today? 
Many Christians have enough religion to make them decent, but not enough to make them dynamic. (The Daily Walk, April 10, 2008, p. 16) 
It may sound obvious that the answer is "c", yet so many believers are living in the "a" and "b" realm. In fact, when I was beginning a more wholehearted kind of life in my early 20's, I had a family member imply that "a" is really the way to live  by saying,  "Carol, you know you can get too fanatical about  these things." She was a nominal believer, but there are many people who would even call themselves committed believers, some even in leadership positions, that are in the "a" or "b" category. That leaves the "c" people often alone and a misfit in the church. 

I recently received a letter from a Bible Book Club member whose eyes have been opened to "c" kind of living, and she has no one in her realm to talk to that really understands. She is alone, and she is also feeling great attack from the enemy in her wholehearted pursuit of God (If you aren't wholehearted, consider yourself a "low-maintenance" project for the enemy.). 

I pray we all make the enemy shake (not arrogantly though), and we find other "misfits" for fellowship. :)

PRAYER

Lord, there is a reason why this post has been so hard to write. The message of wholeheartedness is one that the enemy would like to keep under wraps, lulling Your church into complacency in such a subtle way that no one realizes that they are falling asleep. 

Lord, wake us, knowing You do not forsake us (2 Chronicles 16:9), and make the enemy shake in his boots! The same power that caused Jesus to rise from the dead is available to us. May we use it for Your glory! Amen. 

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