Monday, April 25, 2016

Prophets And Kings, Day 78. Ahaziah King Of Judah, Jehu Anointed King Of Israel, Part 2

Prophets And Kings
Day 78
Ahaziah King Of Judah
Jehu Anointed King Of Israel
Part 2

Yesterday Elisha directed one of the young prophets to run and anoint an army commander, Jehu, as king of Israel. Currently King Joram of Israel is recovering from a battle wound and Ahaziah, king of Judah, is with him.

2 KINGS 9:14-28, 2 CHRONICLES 22:7a
"So Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Joram. (Now Joram and all Israel had been defending Ramoth Gilead against Hazael king of Aram, but King Joram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him in the battle with Hazael king of Aram.) Jehu said, 'If you desire to make me king, don't let anyone slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.'" (2 Kings 9:14-15) Jehu warns the men who have just declared him king not to let anyone run and tell the news to Joram. He doesn't want the king to get advance warning because he intends to catch him off guard.

"Then he got into his chariot and rode to Jezreel, because Joram was resting there and Ahaziah king of Judah had gone down to see him." (2 Kings 9:16) Because of their family connection, Ahaziah has gone to visit his wounded uncle. Jehu is going to end up "killing two birds with one stone", so to speak.

"When the lookout standing on the tower in Jezreel saw Jehu's troops approaching, he called out, 'I see some troops coming.' 'Get a horseman,' Joram ordered. 'Send him to meet them and ask, 'Do you come in peace?'" (2 Kings 9:17) The lookout can't tell from this distance whether the men are friends or foes, so the horseman rides out to meet them.

"The horseman rode off to meet Jehu and said, 'This is what the king says: 'Do you come in peace?' 'What do you have to do with peace?' Jehu replied. 'Fall in behind me.'" (2 Kings 9:18) This is not a time for peace but a time for changing the status quo in Israel. The horseman understands what Jehu is saying and he joins up with him.

The lookout finds this strange and reports it. "The lookout reported, 'The messenger has reached them, but he isn't coming back.' The king sent out a second horseman. When he came to them he said, 'This is what the king says: 'Do you come in peace?' Jehu replied, 'What do you have to do with peace? Fall in behind me.'" (2 Kings 9:19) The second man now joins with Jehu and his men.

"The lookout reported, 'He has reached them, but he isn't coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi---he drives like a maniac." (2 Kings 9:20) The lookout is concerned that the two horsemen have fallen in behind the chariot driver and his troops, but he recognizes the style of driving to be that of Jehu, one of Israel's army commanders. Jehu is evidently known for driving like a madman.

"'Hitch up my chariot,' Joram ordered. And when it was hitched up, Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite." (2 Kings 9:21) The author of 2nd Chronicles adds this detail, "Through Ahaziah's visit to Joram, God brought about Ahaziah's downfall." (2 Chronicles 22:7a) Ordinarily I don't think these kings would have ridden out personally to meet a group of men, but perhaps they think Jehu is bringing news of a victory against Aram. Since he is one of Joram's top commanders, they must think it more likely than not that he comes in peace, but they do have some doubts as we will see. It's ironic that Joram meets his foe on the plot of ground his mother took from an innocent man. Naboth refused to sell his family heritage to Ahab and so Jezebel had Naboth killed.

"When Joram saw Jehu he asked, 'Have you come in peace, Jehu?' 'How can there be peace,' Jehu replied, 'as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of Jezebel your mother abound?'" (2 Kings 9:22) There is no peace when we are not at peace with God. When our hearts are rebellious toward Him, nothing in this world can satisfy us. There is no peace in our hearts when we push God away. Jehu wants to know how Israel can ever be at peace with herself or with her neighbors as long as she lives in rebellion against her Maker.

This reply is all Joram needs to hear to know his life is in danger. "Joram turned about and fled, calling out to Ahaziah, 'Treachery, Ahaziah!'" (2 Kings 9:23) Joram wheels his chariot around swiftly, calling the news to his nephew so he too can flee.

"Then Jehu drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and he slumped down in his chariot. Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, 'Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. Remember how you and I were riding together in chariots behind Ahab his father when the Lord spoke this prophecy against him: 'Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, declares the Lord, and I will surely make you pay for it on this plot of ground, declares the Lord. Now then, pick him up and throw him on that plot, in accordance with the word of the Lord.'" (2 Kings 9:24-26) Jehu tells his officer that the prophecy of 1st Kings against the house of Ahab is coming true before his very eyes. The blood of Ahab's son will now soak the same ground that once witnessed the blood of Naboth and his sons.

"When Ahaziah king of Judah saw what had happened, he fled up the road to Beth Haggan. Jehu chased him, shouting, 'Kill him too!' They wounded him in his chariot on the way up to Gur near Ibleam, but he escaped to Megiddo and died there. His servants took him by chariot to Jerusalem and buried him with his ancestors in his tomb in the City of David." (2 Kings 9:27-28) One commentary I consulted points out that Ahaziah died in the territory of the northern kingdom, where his idolatrous heart was, instead of in the territory of Judah.

Tomorrow we will see the prophecy about Jezebel fulfilled as she meets her death. Later in the week Jehu will carry out the remainder of the prophecy against the descendants of Ahab. King Ahaziah's wicked mother, daughter of Jezebel, will seize the throne of Judah for herself, putting to death as many rivals as she can. But one son of Ahaziah will be hidden and will escape her wrath. The Lord will keep His promise to David by protecting the royal line of Judah.

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