Sunday, April 24, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 77. Ahaziah King Of Judah, Jehu Anointed King Of Israel, Part 1

Prophets And Kings
Day 77
Ahaziah King Of Judah
Jehu Anointed King Of Israel
Part 1

Today we study King Ahaziah, the son of Jehoram and grandson of Jehoshaphat. We also meet the man who will be the next king of Israel. 

2 CHRONICLES 22:1-6, 2 KINGS 8:25-27, 2 KINGS 9:1-13
"The people of Jerusalem made Ahaziah, Jehoram's youngest son, king in his place, since the raiders, who came with the Arabs into the camp, had killed all the older sons. So Ahaziah son of Jehoram began to reign." (2 Chronicles 22:1) Yesterday we learned that some scholars speculate that Ahaziah was already co-reigning with his father during the last year of his father's life because Jehoram had a terminal illness. This could help explain why Ahaziah was not with the other sons when they were killed. But from the verse above we can't tell whether Ahaziah already held any power in Jerusalem or whether the people confirmed him as king because he was the only man left of the royal family.

"In the twelfth year of Joram son of Ahab king of Israel, Ahaziah began to reign. Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother's name was Athaliah, a granddaughter of Omri king of Israel. He followed the ways of the house of Ahab and did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was related by marriage to Ahab's family." (2 Kings 8:25-27) Joram, the second son of Ahab, had reigned over the northern king of Israel twelve years when Ahaziah was crowned king of Judah. These two kings are related by marriage because Ahaziah's mother is a daughter of Ahab, which makes Ahaziah a nephew of Joram.

Ahaziah is not a good king. "He too followed the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother encouraged him to act wickedly. He did evil in the eyes of the Lord, as the house of Ahab had done, for after his father's death they became his advisers, to his undoing. He also followed their counsel when he went with Joram son of Ahab king of Israel to wage war against Hazael king of Aram at Ramoth Gilead." (2 Chronicles 22:3-5a) Ahaziah allows his mother and advisers from her side of the family to control him. 

"The Arameans wounded Joram; so he returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds they had inflicted on him at Ramoth in his battle with Hazael king of Aram. Then Ahaziah son of Jehoram king of Judah went down to Jezreel to see Joram son of Ahab because he had been wounded." (2 Chronicles 22:5b-6) Ahaziah's alliance with Joram is going to prove fateful. A man is coming to kill Joram and because Ahaziah is with him, he too will be killed. 

"The prophet Elisha summoned a man from the company of the prophets and said to him, 'Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of olive oil with you and go to Ramoth Gilead. When you get there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi." (2 Kings 9:1-2a) It would help me a great deal if the Israelites didn't have so many names in common. I'm easily confused when more than one person in the Bible has the same name, but the Jehoshaphat mentioned here is not King Jehoshaphat the son of Asa but a man of the northern kingdom whose father was called Nimshi. 

We have heard of Jehu once before, after Elijah fled to the cave at Horeb and the Lord spoke to him there. As part of Elijah's final commision on earth he was to "anoint Jehu son of Nimshi king over Israel". (1 Kings 19:16a) Some time has passed since Jehu was anointed. Elijah has been taken to heaven in a whirlwind and Elisha has been ministering to the nation as a prophet for a while now. Since his anointing, Jehu has continued his work as a captain in Israel's army. This reminds me of King David. After Samuel called David from the sheepfold and anointed him king, David went right back to his duties until God gave him the throne.

Elisha continues his instructions to the messenger, "Go to him, get him away from his companions and take him into an inner room. Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, 'This is what the Lord says: I anoint you king over Israel!' Then open the door and run; don't delay!" (2 Kings 9:2b-3) The Lord confirms His choice of Jehu as king over Israel. This goes along with an article I read last week which had to do with knowing whether or not an opportunity is from God. One of the signs of this is that God will confirm His word to us more than once. During the years since Elijah anointed him, Jehu may have begun to doubt his calling. He may have told himself, "Well, Elijah was getting up in years. Maybe he was senile when he anointed me and wasn't really getting a message from God. Nothing has happened since then to get me any closer to the throne." Being anointed as king for a second time is intended to confirm God's calling on his life.

"So the young prophet went to Ramoth Gilead. When he arrived, he found the army officers sitting together. 'I have a message for you, commander,' he said. 'For which of us?' asked Jehu. 'For you, commander.' he replied. Jehu got up and went into the house. Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu's head and declared, 'I anoint you king over the Lord's people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord's servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel---slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.' Then he opened the door and ran." (2 Kings 9:4-10) We previously saw this prophecy in 1st Kings. Ahab has died since then but Jezebel is still alive, along with their male descendants. The prophecy is about to come true and the dynasty of Ahab is coming to an end. A new king from a different family will take the throne.

"When Jehu went out to his fellow officers, one of them asked him, 'Is everything all right? Why did this maniac come to you?'" (2 Kings 9:11a) The men of Israel don't have a high regard for prophets at this time in history. The young man who came running into the army camp, red-faced and sweating, must have looked a bit demented. When he demanded to speak to Jehu in private, the other officers probably sat outside wondering what the young prophet was saying. Then suddenly the man flings the door open and runs back the way he came, with Jehu emerging from the house with oil running off his head. These are some strange happenings and the men naturally want to know what was said to Jehu in private.

He tries to dismiss their questions, "'You know the man and the sort of things he says,' Jehu replied." Jehu is reluctant to tell the men what has just happened. This is his second anointing as king but it seems he's kept the first anointing to himself all these years. Now he wants to keep the second anointing a secret. I can see his point because he's not related to the royal family. He's not in a position to assume the throne at this very moment. Plus, most people in Israel at the time have gone after other gods and have begun to consider prophets as nutcases roaming about the countryside, much as it's beginning to seem the USA is starting to regard Christians as nutcases roaming about the countryside. If I were Jehu, I might have had to think twice about saying, "So, it seems I'm to be the future king of Israel. The man you just called a maniac says so. He says that another man you consider a maniac, Elisha, told him to anoint me."

But the men insist Jehu tell them what the young prophet said, "'That's not true!' they said. 'Tell us.' Jehu said, 'Here is what he told me: 'This is what the Lord says: I anoint you king over Israel.'" (2 Kings 9:12)

The men may not put much stock in what prophets say, or in what the Lord says, but they aren't happy with the current administration. We know this by how quickly they jump on the bandwagon. As officers in Joram's army, they have to deal with the king face to face on a regular basis, and they do not care for him. They do not care for him personally or as their commander in chief. "They quickly took their cloaks and spread them under him on the bare steps. Then they blew the trumpet and shouted, 'Jehu is king!'" (2 Kings 9:13) 

The winds of change are blowing in Israel. The Lord is about to remove Joram and set up a man He has chosen. Even the name of the new king indicates who is the true Leader of Israel, for his name means "Yahweh is He", or in more modern terms, "The Lord is He". 

You may or may not be happy with the current leaders of our government. You may or may not be happy with the leaders who get elected this fall. But always, above all kingdoms and all thrones and all principalities, there is a King of kings. The Lord is He. Jesus Christ our Savior is seated on the only throne that will ever truly matter and the best way to gain grace for our nation is to make Him the King of our hearts. We must appeal to our Lord for help, with humble hearts. I believe He will hear the cry of His people. Spiritually speaking, let's spread our cloaks on the ground before Him and declare, "Jesus is King! Jesus is King! Jesus is King!" 

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