jehu's bow

Dangerous Zeal

Then he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” So they had him ride in his chariot. (2 Kings 10:16)

One of the strangest kings of ancient Israel was a man named Jehu. After he was anointed as king of the 10 northern tribes, Jehu took a bow and arrows and got busy. As an agent of God’s judgment, Jehu not only killed Joram the King of Israel (2 Kings 9:24), but he also killed Ahaziah the King of Judah (2 Kings 9:27). If that wasn’t enough, he then killed the wicked wife of Ahab, old Queen Jezebel (2 Kings 9:33). He then killed everyone he could from the family of Ahab (2 Kings 10). He did this as a unique instrument of God’s judgement against the House of Ahab, and there was a lot of blood on Jehu’s hands.

jehu's bow

This was the man who said to Jehonadab, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” It’s true that God gave Jehu a mission of judgement and Jehu carried it out with great zeal. In this work of judgment against the House of Ahab he had a complete and energetic obedience to the LORD, even to the disregard of his own safety and comfort.

Zeal is good. In many ways, we want to see more zeal among Christians today and not less. Paul said that “it is good to be zealous in a good thing always” (Galatians 4:18). Jesus told the Christians of Laodicea to be zealous (Revelation 3:19).

Still, the zeal of Jehu was dangerous in several ways.

First, Jehu had zeal only for confrontation and violence. Some people only feel energized by conflict. They seem to always want confrontation and violence, even if it is only verbal or social media violence. Make sure your zeal isn’t only against others.

Second, Jehu’s zeal did not result in obedience. 2 Kings 10:29-31 describes some of the disobedience of King Jehu. It’s possible today to see some Christians who seem to be full of zeal, but somehow that zeal doesn’t lead to basic obedience in the Christian life. When that is true, something is wrong.

Third, Jehu’s zeal was corrupted by pride. A humble man doesn’t say, “see my zeal for the LORD.” Zeal isn’t something we put on to show off. When I am proud of my zeal, I am in a bad place – because my zeal becomes a show that I display to impress others. It shows that our zeal is not in the service of God’s glory, but in the service of making me look good.

I wish that more Christians had more zeal. The disciples of Jesus noticed the Savior’s great zeal (John 2:17). But zeal has its dangers, and it seems that many people fall into the trap of an ungodly zeal, failing in the same ways Jehu did.

Let’s make this our prayer: “Lord, make me a zealous Christian – in the very best way.”

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 10

Sake of Another

Um jemand anderes willen

Und er wandelte auf dem Weg der Könige von Israel, wie es das Haus Ahabs tat, was böse war in den Augen des HERRN. Aber der HERR wollte Juda nicht verderben um seines Knechtes Davids willen, wie er ihm verheißen hatte, ihm unter seinen Söhnen allezeit eine Leuchte zu geben. (2. Könige 8,18-19) Diese Verse […]

the lord reigns

The LORD Still Reigns

Now when you arrive at that place, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, and go in and make him rise up from among his associates, and take him to an inner room. Then take the flask of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, “Thus says the LORD: ‘I have anointed you king over Israel.’” Then open the door and flee, and do not delay. (2 Kings 9:2-3)

In the days of Elijah and Elisha, there was some kind of association for the training of young men in the service of the LORD. It was something of a “school of the prophets” and the men who were part of the association were called “sons of the prophets.”

the lord reigns

The words of 2 Kings 9:2-3 are from the Prophet Elisha to one of these sons of the prophets. The elder prophet gave this young man something of a class assignment: go to Ramoth Gilead and find Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat.

After he found Jehu, he was to take him to an inner room and, in a ceremony of anointing for leadership, pour oil upon the head of Jehu. As the oil flowed down Jehu’s head, the young prophet was to say: “Thus says the LORD: ‘I have anointed you king over Israel.’”

Now at that time, there was already a king over Israel – a man named Joram, the son of Ahab. But as far as God was concerned, the reign of Joram and the dynasty he represented was over. Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat would be the next king.

I think this is remarkable. The kingdom of Israel – the ten northern tribes – had thoroughly rejected God. It was hard to think of a worse king than Ahab, and his son Joram would be just as bad. Even though they had abandoned God, God had not abandoned them. The LORD would still raise up kings and cast down kings as He pleased.

Sometimes people think that they can really get away from God. They think that if they ignore God and pretend He doesn’t exist, that God will ignore them and pretend they don’t exist. It doesn’t work that way. The LORD God reigns over all the earth. We can accept it or reject it; we can believe it or deny it; but He will still reign no matter what we do.

Let that truth give you some peace today. Why do we struggle against God? Why are we so discouraged when others seem to resist Him? We need a greater confidence in the truth that God refuses to leave His throne just because some people don’t recognize His reign.

Who was that young prophet that Elisha sent to Jehu? We don’t know. Some old Jewish traditions say that it was Jonah, but we don’t know for certain. What we do know is that God was still showing that He was and is God.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 9

Still Chosen

Still Chosen, Still Called

Dear Pastor, Preacher, or Bible Teacher –

I hope your weekend was blessed in the service of God, His people, and a needy world! Here’s a thought for the start of this week from Isaiah 14:1:

For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob,
and will still choose Israel,
and settle them in their own land.
The strangers will be joined with them,
and they will cling to the house of Jacob. 
(Isaiah 14:1)

Still Chosen

Sometimes God’s work is gloomy work, and many of God’s prophets have labored in gloomy times. God told Isaiah to tell the people of God that the mighty Babylonian Empire would crush them as an act of God’s judgment – not a cheerful message! Yet, God gave hope in the midst of gloom, and the gloom of Isaiah 13 turns into the hope of Isaiah 14, where it says: For the LORD will have mercy on Jacob, and will still choose Israel.

Did you notice those four words? “Will still choose Israel.” Sometimes we feel that we know God chose us, but if He had to choose again, He would change His choice! He chose you for salvation and will still choose you. God chose you for ministry and will still choose you.

God’s love hasn’t changed since the days of Isaiah. He would still choose you. Sometimes sin, defeat, and discouragement make us think that God is almost “stuck” with us now and would choose differently if He could. That isn’t the case. His love towards you remains the same. He loved you all along, knowing how you would fail Him – but God’s love to you is based in who He is, not in who you are. Rest assured: He will still choose you.

Remember the great promise of Romans 11:29: “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” It’s true that there may be seasons when we step back to strengthen our discipleship or character, but the fundaments gifts and calling of God are not taken back.

He chose you, and He still chooses you. Take some rest in that today!

Blessings to You in Jesus’ Name – David Guzik

Click Here to Receive Email from David for Pastors, Preachers, and Bible Teachers

Sake of Another

For the Sake of Another

And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, just as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife; and he did evil in the sight of the LORD. Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah, for the sake of his servant David, as He promised him to give a lamp to him and his sons forever. (2 Kings 8:18-19)

These verses describe the reign of King Jehoram of Judah, who reigned over the two southern tribes among the children of Israel. When it says he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, it was not a compliment. While the Southern Kingdom of Judah had a mixture of godly and wicked kings, the Northern Kingdom of Israel had nothing but evil, God-rejecting kings.

Sake of Another

If it was bad that he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, in the book of Chronicles it even says that he followed in the ways of the Canaanites whom God cast out of the land. 2 Chronicles 21:11 says that Jehoram made all Judah to sin according to the religion of the Canaanites.

2 Kings 8:18 tells us part of the reason so much wickedness came from King Jehoram: for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. The evil influence of the house of Abab was strong in Jehoram’s life. Perhaps this marriage made sense politically or socially, but it was a spiritual disaster for Judah. This daughter of Ahab’s name was Athaliah, and she turned out to be a terrible, evil woman.

When Jehoram came to power he murdered his many brothers and many other leaders (1 Chronicles 21:1-6). According to the Jewish historian Josephus, King Jehoram did this at the prompting of his wife, Athaliah.

Perhaps some people thought that the marriage between the royal families of the kingdom of Judah and the kingdom of Israel would lift up the kingdom of Israel spiritually. It didn’t work that way. Instead, it brought the kingdom of Judah down spiritually.

So, the story of Jehoram is bad – really bad. But don’t miss the good news found in 2 Kings 8:19: Yet the LORD would not destroy Judah, for the sake of his servant David. The implication is that Jehoram’s evil was great enough to justify such judgment. If God worked only on the basis of cause-and-effect judgment, then God would have destroyed the kingdom of Judah, and King Jehoram along with it.

Though Judah and her king deserved such judgment, God withheld it because of covenant faithfulness to his ancestor David.

Do you realize that our salvation is real based on the same principle? We aren’t rescued from God’s wrath because we suddenly started being good enough, or because God changed His mind about the judgment our sin deserves. We are rescued because of God’s covenant faithfulness to the Son of David – Jesus Christ Himself.

That’s something to be happy about today – God’s faithfulness to you is based in Jesus, not in you.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 8

Prophets Pain

Der Schmerz des Propheten

Da sprach Hasael: Warum weint mein Herr? Und er sprach: Weil ich weiß, was für Unheil du den Kindern Israels antun wirst! Du wirst ihre festen Städte mit Feuer verbrennen und ihre junge Mannschaft mit dem Schwert töten und ihre Kindlein zerschmettern und die schwangeren Frauen aufschlitzen!

Dies war ein seltsames Ereignis im Leben des Elisa. Der König von Syrien war krank, und er schickte einen Boten namens Hasael zu Elisa, um zu fragen, ob er wieder gesund werden würde. Als Hasael dies fragte, sagte der Prophet ihm, er solle wieder zurückgehen und dem König sagen, er werde genesen – doch in Wirklichkeit würde er sterben.

Prophets Pain

Als Elisa das sagte, begann er zu weinen. Gott ließ Elisa mehr wissen als nur den Gesundheitszustand des Königs von Syrien. Er sah auch die unausweichlichen und letztendlich von Gott bestimmten politischen Wendungen, die kommen sollten.

Elisa sagte, dass sich der König von seiner Krankheit erholen würde, und das tat er auch. Doch er sah auch, dass genau der Knecht, der die Botschaft überbringen würde, den König töten und den Thron an sich reißen sollte.

Als Elisa das sagte, schaute er Hasael direkt in die Augen und teilte ihm unter Tränen mit: „Ich weiß, was für Unheil du tun wirst.“ Es war eine dramatische persönliche Konfrontation zwischen dem Propheten und dem hohen Beamten des Königs von Syrien. Elisa blickte ihn an und hatte ein prophetisches Wissen über zukünftige Ereignisse und wusste, wie dieser Mann Israel in Bedrängnis bringen würde.

Darumweinte der Mann Gottes. Gott erzählte Elisa mehr über die Zukunft als dieser wissen wollte. Er zeigte dem Propheten, dass Hasael den Kindern Israels Unheil bringen wird, wenn er König ist.

Elisas prophetische Gabe war manchmal eher eine Last als ein Segen. Er wusste genau, dass Hasael für Israel ein Desaster war, und er konnte nichts dagegen tun.

Manchmal ist es schmerzhaft Gottes Wort zu kennen und anderen davon zu erzählen. Die Tatsache, dass viele Sein Wort ablehnen, tut weh. Dass Hasael im Vorfeld gewarnt wurde, machte keinen Unterscheid.

Wenn unser Glaube an Gottes Wort und Seine Treue uns Schmerz bringt, sollten wir das so sehen, dass wir teilhaben an der Gemeinschaft seiner Leiden(Philipper 3,10). Der Schmerz wird zu etwas von großem Wert, wenn er uns näher zu Jesus bringt. Wie F.B. Meyer es sagte: „Je näher wir Gott sind, je mehr wir als Männer und Frauen Gottes bekannt sind, desto mehr Tränen werden wir um getöteten Söhne und Töchter unseres Volkes vergießen.“

Prophets Pain

The Prophet’s Pain

And Hazael said, “Why is my lord weeping?” He answered, “Because I know the evil that you will do to the children of Israel: Their strongholds you will set on fire, and their young men you will kill with the sword; and you will dash their children, and rip open their women with child.” (2 Kings 8:12)

This was a strange event in the life of Elisha. The king of Syria was sick, and he sent a messenger named Hazael to ask Elisha if the king would recover. When Hazael asked, the prophet told the messenger to go back and tell the king he would recover – but he would really die.

Prophets Pain

When Elisha said this strange thing, he began to weep. You see, God gave Elisha insight into more than the health of the king of Syria. He also saw the inevitable and ultimately God-ordained political plots to come. Elisha rightly said that the king would recoverfrom his illness, and he did. However, he also saw that the same servant who took the message would assassinate the king and take the throne.

When Elisha said this, he stared right at Hazael and through tears, he told the messenger, “I know the evil that you will do.” This was a dramatic, personal confrontation between this prophet and the high official of the king of Syria. Elisha stared at him so because he had prophetic knowledge of future events, and how this man would trouble Israel in the future.

Therefore, the man of God wept. God told Elisha more about the coming situation than he wanted to know. He showed the prophet that Hazael, when he became king, would do evil to the children of Israel.

Elisha’s prophetic calling and gift was at times more of a burden than a blessing. He could clearly see that disaster would come to Israel through Hazael, but he was powerless to prevent it.

Sometimes knowing God’s word and speaking God’s word to others brings pain. We hurt over the fact that many people hear and reject. What could have been a helpful warning to Hazael really made no difference.

When belief in God’s word and faithfulness to His message brings pain, we should regard it as a way that we share in the fellowship of His sufferings (Philippians 3:10). The pain becomes something of great value if it draws us closer to Jesus. As F.B. Meyer said, “The nearer we live to God, the more we deserve to be known as men and women of God, the more will our tears flow for the slain of the daughters of our people.”

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 8