The scene now shifts to Ramoth-Gilead where both the northern and southern kingdoms have joined forces to retake the city from the Syrians. One of the key military commanders of the northern kingdom was Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat. This is not the same Jehoshaphat who was the king of Judah and the father of Jehoram. I wasn’t kidding when I said all the names get confusing. Here we see the fulfillment of the third assignment the Lord gave to Elijah. One of the sons of the prophets was dispatched to anoint Jehu king over the northern kingdom of Israel. The circumstances were peculiar to say the least. Jehu was to be anointed privately and Elisha advised the young man to flee as soon as fast as he could once he had anointed Jehu.There was great danger here. This would involve the elimination of the rest of Ahab’s family and there was the queen, Athaliah to contend with as well. Jehu was having a staff meeting in the courtyard when the young man arrived and asked for a private audience. It is interesting to note that this young man referred to the people of the northern kingdom as the people of the Lord. Israel and Judah had been separate kingdoms for decades already, but they were still all the Lord’s chosen people. All of them had ancestors who had stood at Mount Sinai and made the covenant promise with Moses. And even though the majority of them had turned away from the Lord He had not turned away from them…not yet.
This young man didn’t just anoint Jehu. He also had instructions for him. This was the work the Lord wanted him to do. Jehu was to wipe out all of Ahab’s remaining family, executing God’s judgement on them for all the innocent blood they had shed. Jezebel’s crimes were mentioned specifically. No doubt there was speculation among Jehu’s staff as to who this young man was and what he wanted with their commander. When he fled perhaps, they thought he was crazy. You notice Jehu didn’t come right out and announce he was the new king. The officers had to pull the info out of him. But once they found out, they gave him their full support. His opportunity to serve came about suddenly. We see that Jehu is a man of faith, something sorely needed in that day and time and he served the Lord. Jehu was the tenth king of Israel and with his reign a new dynasty began. He reigned 28 years.
What follows is a tremendous amount of bloodshed. First to die was Joram, king of Israel. Next in line was Ahaziah, the king of Judah. This was followed by the death of Jezebel. It didn’t take her long to find our Jehu was in Jezreel, that Jehu was king, and that he had killed her son Joram. She put on her make up and watched for Jehu from an upper window. Her reference to Zimri went back nearly 50 years. Zimri had killed King Elah, made himself king and proceeded to exterminate the family of Baasha. But Zimri only reigned 7 days and then died by suicide. This was a thinly veiled warning to Jehu that his authority was weak,and his days were numbered. It could be she was suggesting an alliance with her to strengthen his throne. But Jehu knew his command was from the Lord. He called for loyalty from palace personal and Jezebel was tossed down from her upper window onto the courtyard below. Jehu rode his horse over her until he was sure she was dead and then went into the palace to get something to eat. While he was eating, he remembered she was a princess, the daughter of Ethbaal, ruler of Sidon. He ordered the servants to bury her body, but it was too late. The wild dogs had eaten her. It was exactly what the Lord had said would happen, gruesome as it was.
We next see Jehu methodically eliminate the rest of Ahab’s family, extended relatives, and all. But this extended into the house of the king of the southern kingdom because his wife was a daughter of Ahab. Jehu went way too far in his work. He had pride, lots of pride and not only did he eliminate all of Ahab’s relatives he also killed all of his associates, close friends and the priests who served in the palace. These deaths were coming from guilt by association. Jehu tricked all the priests of Baal and all the Baal worshipers to come to Baal’s temple for a worship service. When they all arrived, he made a show of worshiping Baal, even offering a sacrifice to the Canaanite god. As the worship was going strong, Jehu ordered all his men to kill everyone in Baal’s temple. Again, Jehu went way beyond what the Lord had asked him to do.
Next, we move to the southern kingdom where the throne was empty because Jehu had killed Ahaziah. The queen mother, Athaliah, was a daughter of Ahab and took this opportunity to seize the throne. She reigned for six years. She was part of the founding of Baal worship in the northern kingdom and she had no interest in seeing the Davidic line continue. She tried to kill all the royal princes but one survived. If it hadn’t been for the high priest Jehoiada and his wife Jehosheba the Davidic dynasty would have come to an end. Jehosheba was an aunt to little Joash and when it became clear what Athaliah was doing, the High priests wife took one year old Joash from the nursery and hid he and his nurse in a room in the temple. As he grew, he played with other children who were in the temple area and no one knew he was heir to the throne. The Lord watched over Joash, his nurse and the high priest and his wife until the time was right to announce Joash as king.
When the time was right Jehoiada concocted a simple plan. He recruited the five officers of the temple guard, each of whom commanded 100 men. Their new job was to guard the new king, Joash. Two companies were on guard at the temple. Another was guarding the palace where queen Athaliah was living, giving her a false sense of security. Another company guarded the city gate between the palace and the temple entrance, and the fifth company assembled at the guardhouse like they normally would. The guards were given the shields and spears that King David had had made. After everyone had taken their places Jehoiada brought out the new king and presented him to the people. The royal crown was placed on his head and he was given a copy of the law of God that he was to obey. He was anointed and they people hailed Joash as their new king. A descendant of King David was on the throne. The queen heard the noise and rushed out of her palace only to discover she was trapped. She went running to the temple to find Joash standing in the spot where kings normally stood. She was escorted out of the temple and killed with a sword.
As in the northern kingdom, Baal worship was eliminated in the southern kingdom. The temple was destroyed, the altar of Baal was destroyed along with the images inside. We also see that the temple of the Lord had been grossly neglected through all the Baal worship and Joash set about restoring it to its former glory. The priests and Levites were placed in charge of ensuring the repair work was completed. Joash appeared to be a faithful leader and as long as he had Jehoiada mentoring him he did great things for the Lord. But once Jehoiada died, Joash went his own way and disobeyed the Lord. Jehoiada died at the age of 130 and he was so beloved by the people he was buried with the kings. Jehoiada was like a religious prop for king Joash to lean on and when the prop was removed, the king fell. A good beginning is no guarantee of a good ending. It all depends on the relationship we have with the Lord.
In His Grip
Pastor Matt W