2 Kings 10

Jehu (continued)

Jehu sends a message to Samaria, whose rulers, the elders and great ones, were bringing up Ahab's seventy sons. "And now,' he says, "when this letter comes to you, seeing your master's sons are with you, and there are with you chariots, and horses, and a fortified city, and armor, look out the best and worthiest of your master's sons, and set him on his father's throne, and fight for your master's house" (vv. 2‑3). This letter, beneath its generous appearance, breathes forth the threatening of a man sure of himself, or at least wishing to appear so. As we continue on we discover several character traits of this remarkable man, at least remarkable according to the world's thoughts. Impetuousness, promptness of decision, a political eye, a knowledge of and a disdain for men, skillfulness in taking advantage of situations or in bringing them about, an imposing of himself on others or a using of them for his own purposes, an absolute absence of all scruples when it is a matter of surmounting obstacles, and all this basing itself upon the consciousness of being an instrument of the Lord in His work of destruction.

The rulers of Samaria become frightened and show that they are ready for treachery and murder that the Lord had not commanded them. They obey Jehu when he says to them, "If ye are mine, and will hearken to my voice, take the heads of the men your master's sons, and come to me to Jizreel tomorrow at this time" (v. 6). Always the same thought as before: Who is for me? Who is mine? Jehu thus obtains the advantage of having this massacre accom­plished by others, whose act justifies him before the inhabi­tants of Jizreel. "Ye are righteous! behold, I conspired against my master and killed him; but who smote all these?" (v. 9). He proudly proclaims his conspiracy and crime, but he has as accomplices all the great ones and cap­tains of Israel whom he had constrained to serve him by his boldness and arrogance. It is he who by his skillfulness gets all the leaders of this people on his side. Then he adds: "Know now that nothing shall fall to the earth of the word of Jehovah, which Jehovah spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for Jehovah has done that which he said through his servant Elijah" (v. 10). He invokes the infallibility of the word of God to justify his conduct; then he "slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jizreel, and all his great men, and his acquaintances, and his priests, until he left him none remaining" (v. 11). This was not properly what the Lord had said (1 Kings 21: 21‑26). Jehu goes beyond his orders and his commission, but it was in the interest of his dominion that all who sympathized with Ahab should disappear from Israel.

When the Word portrays such characters for us, let us remember that God is far from always expressing to us His approval or disapproval of the instruments that serve his purposes. He tells us of that in which Jehu discharged his task well, and goes no further, leaving the evaluation of his conduct to our spiritual judgment, in order that we may draw instruction for ourselves. Let the reader recall the his­tory of the judges and the manner in which the deeds of Israel's liberators are recalled to us there. We might mul­tiply examples by taking Jacob's history and that of so many others. That God should use a Jehu or a Samson to accomplish His judgments in no wise signifies that there is living faith in these men, or that their heart's condition had His approval. Samson and Barak are named in Hebrews 11, because in this chapter it is not a matter of faith in itself, but of the activity of faith, which is another thing Their conduct, I repeat, is discerned spiritually, and that is why the world does not understand anything of these examples given us by the Word. In other cases, especially that of a king, God usually tells us how He feels. In him He judges the state of the things of which he is the respon­sible representative; if God would not do this, the righte­ousness of His judgments could well be questioned, if it were left up to our fallible evaluation of them.

This remark has a very practical application in Jehu's case, who at the same time is both the instrument of God's wrath against the house of Ahab and he to whom the reign is entrusted. On the one hand he receives the testimony of the Lord's approval for having executed that which was right in His eyes (v. 30), and that without any reservation as to his moral character; on the other hand, in the follow­ing verse (v. 31) his conduct as king is severely blamed by the Lord. With regard to the massacre of Jizreel, we find in Hosea 1: 4‑5 what God thinks of it and what its conse­quences are: "For yet a little while, and I will visit the blood of Jizreel upon the house of Jehu, and will cause the king­dom of the house of Israel to cease. And it shall come to pass in that day, that I will break the bow of Israel in the valley of Jizreel.

Near the shepherds' meeting‑place, the brothers of Ahazi­ah, king of Judah (vv. 12‑14), undergo the same fate he also had met. In comparing 2 Kings 9: 27‑29 with 2 Chronicles 22: 7‑9, we learn that before being smitten near Megiddo, Ahaziah had fled to Samaria for refuge and had not yet been forced from his retreat when his brothers came to visit the sons of the king It was not until after the extermina­tion of his brethren that Ahaziah was brought to Jehu and suffered "from God" this "complete ruin" at the ascent of Gur, only to flee to Megiddo to die there, and then to be carried to Jerusalem and be buried there.

If Jehu's action had not been ordered of the Lord, it is no less true that God had decreed it. This passage affords us a serious lesson. To ally oneself, as did Ahaziah, to a world over which divine wrath is suspended, is to expose oneself to the sudden ruin which will overtake it. But those who without thought for the holiness of God go, be it but to strengthen the bonds of friendship with the same world, suffer a similar fate. Ahaziah's brothers suffer fatal conse­quences. There cannot, there must not be, for those whom God calls to lead His people, any fellowship whatsoever with that which He condemns.

In contrast, we find a striking example of separation from evil in Jehonadab the son of Rechab (Jer. 35), who comes to meet Jehu (v. 15). Jehonadab was of the race of the Kenites, who had entered into Canaan with Israel. They were divided into several branches: the least of these in the extreme north at Kedesh in Naphtali (Judges 4: 11), the stron­gest in the desert of Judah to the south of Arad (Judges 1: 16), and lastly, a third branch, subdivided into several families in the vicinity of Jabez, which belonged to Judah (1 Chr. 2: 55). We do not know what led Jehonadab from the king­dom of Judah to that of Israel. Was he part of those follow­ing Ahaziah's brethren, as Jehu's abrupt question might suggest? Whatever the case may have been, he had no link with the evil which surrounded him. His principles were those of absolute separation to God as a true Nazarite and, being unable to teach these principles here in this corrupt sphere that surrounded him, he had at least taught them in his family and in his house. The circle of his testimony was a limited one in the presence of the infidelity flowing like a rising tide over the two houses of Israel, but it was nonetheless a testimony, and God approved it. We know these details from Jeremiah 35. Jehonadab's principles were those of every true Nazarite. Firstly, to ab­stain from wine, which represents the intoxicating coveteousness of the world. Secondly, to refrain from building a house, that is, to refrain from establishing oneself upon the earth in a permanent way. Thirdly, to refrain from sowing grain, as if one were expecting something, even if it were only a year of harvest. Fourthly, to refrain from planting a vineyard, that is to say, to refrain from cultivating that which would sooner or later lead to the abandoning of one's Nazariteship-and how many believers have lost their Nazariteship through failure to watch over this point! Fifth­ly, to dwell in tents, as true sons of Abraham, as pilgrims and sojourners in the land of promise. Jehonadab under­stood that this land given to God's people was in no wise a present possession, as long as the moral ruin of the peo­ple existed along with the material disorder which was its consequence. His faith was still waiting for a rest for the people of God. He and his sons testified to this by their attitude.

We are not told on what occasion Jehonadab had taught these commands to his own, but as the one and only histor­ical mention of him that is made is found in our chapter, we may infer from this that the sight of the evil and of the general ruin after the glorious reigns of David and Solo­mon had made him feel the necessity of a very narrow walk, and of a return to "that which was from the beginning," taught by the patriarchs, in contrast to the laxity which surrounded him. May we also at this time of the end be true children of Jehonadab the son of Rechab, not in out­ward practices which leave the heart far from God and through which Satan deceives souls, as is so common today, but by the moral conduct which these practices symbolized during the dispensation of the law!

Jehu greets Jehonadab and says to him, "Is thy heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?" Jehonadab can an­swer, "It is." But there is a difference here. His heart was upright with respect to the Lord; his principles have shown us this. Jehu's heart was upright with respect to Jehonadab to whom he confided his plans, but could one say that it was upright in respect to God? That which follows will show us: "Come with me, and see my zeal for Jehovah" (v. 16). Yet nevertheless, how greatly divided was this zeal! If zeal for the Lord is wholehearted, the servant of God barely speaks of it, but rather is disposed to exclaim, "I am an unprofitable servant." That Jehu was zealous need not be doubted, but in what proportion was this for the Lord? Saul of Tarsus was an ardent zealot for the traditions of his fathers; concerning zeal, he persecuted the Church, believ­ing that he was serving God. Paul said of the Jews, his brethren according to the flesh, that they had a "zeal for God, but not according to knowledge." There was more true zeal, more understanding, more power in Jehonadab's holy separation than in the impetuous walk of Jehu. Verse 31 informs us about the value and measure of the zeal of this latter.

After having slain "all that remained to Ahab in Samar­ia, until he had destroyed him, according to the word of Je­hovah, which he spoke to Elijah" (v. 17), Jehu moves against the priests of Baal. Here too we see human caution, a leav­ing nothing to chance, joined with a craftiness which, however, is not the dominant trait of his character (v. 19). In any case, it is not the simple and courageous walk of faith according to the truth. How greatly Jehu's attitude differs from that of Elijah who stood alone in unshakeable confidence in the Lord, over against the hostile power of the king, of all the priests of Baal, and of a people halting "between two opinions" standing alone against all, be­cause the God in whom he trusted was with him. No sub­tlety in this scene at the brook of Kishon! The authority of the prophet's word alone was enough to destroy all the priests of the false god!

It is not that Jehu did not appreciate the word of God spoken by Elijah, but he went no further. Beyond the prophet's word concerning himself he had no real under­standing of the thoughts of God. He quotes only Elijah (2 Kings 9: 25, 36; 2 Kings 10: 17); he does not know anything save the judg­ments of God. He does not even mention Elisha, whose career he had been able to follow from its beginning Grace has no hold upon his heart. Nothing is more dangerous than a partial understanding of divine principles. This al­ways leads to a false application of these principles and a bad walk. Jehu thought he had accomplished everything by his work of extermination, and did not understand that all the zeal imaginable was not worth a single act of obe­dience which would have separated him from the religion of Jeroboam, the son of Nebat, by which he made Israel to sin.

At the time of the extermination of the priests of Baal, of their temple, and of their idol, when Jehu assigned his captain and his servants their roles with such great strategic sense (vv. 18‑27), Jehonadab the son of Rechab's manner of acting brings out the character of this man of God. Jehu had confided his plan to him; he accompanied Jehu, but did not appear (v. 23) except to verify that no servant of the Lord was confounded with the servants of Baal. Is not this a beautiful role, similar to that of Jeremiah: "If thou take forth the precious from the vile, thou shalt be as my mouth" (Jer. 15: 19)? Jehonadab was as the mouth of the Lord in separating first of all his own house, then all the true servants of the Lord from the corrupt and idolatrous mass.

Today, as then, the work which separates from the world and gathers together all the children of God, for these two functions are but one, has the full approbation of the Lord, whatever the world may say, or even those Christians who wish to keep up relationships with the world. It is also there that power is found (Jer. 15: 20). Elijah possessed the Spirit of God who effected a complete separation from evil in him, and whose power animated the prophet with a holy zeal for the Lord. Jehu had zeal without the Spirit, a zeal using human means to answer to God's commands. What then will happen? If in appearance the result, the extermination of the priests of Baal, is the same with both Elijah and Jehu, it is completely otherwise in reality. Elijah, (all the while he is being disciplined) continues on his pathway in the power of the Spirit, resembling at the end of his career the Christ, whom in type he represents, and he ends gloriously, taken up to heaven by the chariot and horsemen of Israel. Jehu, fiery executor of judgment upon others, does not exercise it in any way upon himself, and does not turn aside from evil and idolatry to serve God alone The calves of Jeroboam, that national religion consecrated by usage, do not give offense to him, for unquestionably his politics and the human interests of his reign accommodate themselves to them perfectly. In spite of that, what a fair appraisal on God's part! He credits Jehu with the fact that he had "executed well that which is right in my sight" in judging the house of Ahab, and on this account gives him a posterity upon the throne unto the fourth generation.

On the other hand, what righteousness and what perfect holiness in God. He uses Hazael, His rod, to smite Jehu. "In those days Jehovah began to cut Israel short; and Hazael smote them in all the borders of Israel; from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, both Gilead and Bashan" (vv. 32‑33). During Jehu's lifetime his kingdom is cut short on all sides, and especially in the region of the tribes beyond Jordan. These woes are God's judgment upon his conduct. Here God expresses His discontent, not by words, but by acts, which do not seem to have reached the conscience of the king

The chronicles of the kings of Israel (v. 34), if they would ever be found, contain the acts and all the might of Jehu, but not what he was before God, nor the judgment of God upon his conduct as king

Jehoahaz, his son, then reigned in his stead.