Successful Failure

The Successful Failure

However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan. And the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin. (2 Kings 10:29-31)

Jehu was one of the most complicated men to serve as king over the ten northern tribes of Israel, of what was known as the kingdom of Israel (the kingdom of Judah in the south was made up of the two southern tribes).

Successful Failure

All in all, we would probably say that Jehu was the best of all the bad kings of Israel. In many ways he was good, but Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam. Jehu aggressively worked against the worship of Baal in Israel. However, he promoted the false worship of the true God, after the pattern of Jeroboam who set up the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan. He obeyed God – up to a point.

– Jehu carried out God’s will, but he went too far and executed more people than God intended.

– Jehu carried out God’s will, but he did it for personal glory and out of pride.

– Jehu carried out God’s will, but he only did it partially. He stopped the idolatry of Baal, but he continued the sinful idolatry of Jeroboam.

We might see Jehu as a great Israeli patriot. He protested against Joram and the house of Ahab for the harm they did to Israel, and knew that to be strong, Israel had to be cleansed of Baal worship. He knew that Israel had to come back to the true God, but he didn’t care how they did it. To Jehu it was just as good to worship God at Dan or Bethel, even though God commanded otherwise.

When we compare Jehu to the other kings of Israel, we see that he was the best of a bad group. No other king in Israel fought against idolatry as much as Jehu did; sadly, even he did not fight against it with all his heart.

By not taking heed to walk in the law of the LORD God, Jehu showed that he did not live a life of fellowship with God. He was a success in some ways, but he was really a successful failure. God used Jehu as His instrument, but Jehu never really seemed to have a real relationship with God himself.

Don’t fall into the half-way trap. Don’t be a successful person who ends up failing in the most important things.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 10

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

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

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

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

Enjoy the feast

Enjoy the Feast, Tell the News

Then they said to one another, “We are not doing right. This day is a day of good news, and we remain silent. If we wait until morning light, some punishment will come upon us. Now therefore, come, let us go and tell the king’s household.” (2 Kings 7:9)

It’s one of my favorite scenes in the Bible. Four miserable lepers cautiously approached the camp of the mighty Syrian army, who had held the capital city of the northern tribes of Israel under siege and near complete starvation. As the lepers crept towards the camp, they noticed no guard was there to meet them. As they kept walking it became clear that the camp was empty, and all the soldiers had left suddenly.

Enjoy the feast

What the lepers only found out later was that God miraculous sent the sound of a big army approaching into the ears of the Syrian soldiers (2 Kings 7:6-7). Panicked, the soldiers ran for their lives, taking nothing with them, leaving everything in the camp.

The lepers peeked into tents and saw no one, but they saw tables covered in food and drink. They saw trunks and boxes filled with fancy clothing and treasure. They won the lottery of all the spoil of a huge army camp, and it was all theirs (2 Kings 7:8).

The starving men ate and drank until they couldn’t eat more. They tried on the fancy clothes and hid some of the treasure. It was a little piece of salvation, of heaven on earth, for four unlikely lepers.

Suddenly, something came to mind. They said, “we are not doing right.” They remembered there was a starving city, filled with people on the edge of death. They were rescued; the starving city was unaware. They battle was over, the victory won, all was provided, and the king and the people of Samaria didn’t even know it.

So they said, “come, let us go and tell.” The lepers rightly enjoyed God’s miracle. But they also realized that the gift gave them a responsibility to share it with others. They understood that to remain silent and to selfishly enjoy their blessings was a sin. They were responsible to share the good news, and it would be wrong if they did not tell others, “the battle is over, the victory won, and all is provided.”

Yet, make no mistake: they enjoyed the feast first before they told others about it.

Here’s a two-point plan for you: (1) Enjoy the feast of what God has given to you in the good news of who Jesus is and what He did for you. (2) Find a way to tell a starving world about it. Remember, this day is a day of good news.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 7

Perfect Logic

Perfect Logic

Now there were four leprous men at the entrance of the gate; and they said to one another, “Why are we sitting here until we die? If we say, ‘We will enter the city,’ the famine is in the city, and we shall die there. And if we sit here, we die also. Now therefore, come, let us surrender to the army of the Syrians. If they keep us alive, we shall live; and if they kill us, we shall only die.” (2 Kings 7:3-4)

The city of Samaria was under siege and near total starvation. God promised to turn the situation around within 24 hours, and these verses explain the start of how God did it. Remarkably, God used four lepers to change everything – but first something had to change in the lepers.

Perfect Logic

These four lepers stayed at the entrance of the gate because they were not welcome in the city. Their leprous condition made them outcasts and untouchables. Sitting there, they asked an important question: “Why are we sitting here until we die?

Their logic was perfect. They would soon die from the famine if they stayed by the city. If any food became available, they would certainly be the last to receive it. So they decided that their chances were better if they surrendered to the Syrian army.

The men understood that nothing would change until they changed something. If they stayed where they were, they would surely die. If they surrendered to the Syrian army, they might also die. But “might die” is a better chance than “will surely die.” In this case it was certainly better to do something instead of nothing.

This perfect logic applies in many situations, but in particular it applies spiritually and eternally. There are two possibilities for every human being. You can do nothing and you will certainly perish, and suffer the fate common to all who refuse to repent, believe, and seek God in Jesus Christ. Or, you can do something. Perhaps you fear that it won’t work to repent of your sins and put your trust in Jesus Christ for now and eternity. But remember: the other option – the option of doing nothing – means you will certainly perish.

The great news is that while the four lepers had no promise of rescue if they surrendered to the Syrian army, every person has the firm promise of Jesus Christ that they will be rescued if they surrender to the Savior. Jesus said in John 6:37, the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. The lepers didn’t have promise of being welcomed, but you do. Make use of some perfect logic.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 7

windows of heaven

The Price of Unbelief

So an officer on whose hand the king leaned answered the man of God and said, “Look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” And he said, “In fact, you shall see it with your eyes, but you shall not eat of it.” (2 Kings 7:2)

Samaria, the capital city of the kingdom of Israel, was under siege and near complete starvation. The surrounding Syrian army waited for their surrender.

windows of heaven

Then, God’s prophet Elisha proclaimed the promise of God: within 24 hours the starvation situation in Samaria would be completely reversed. Instead of scarcity, there would be such abundance that food prices would radically drop in the city.

That’s when the unnamed officer in Israel’s army said with sneering unbelief, “Look, if the LORD would make windows in heaven, could this thing be?” It’s true that we shouldn’t be quick to believe the big promises people make, but we should always believe God’s promises. Yet the king’s officer doubted the prophecy, and his doubt was faulty in many ways.

He doubted the power of God. If God willed it, He certainly could make windows in heaven and drop food from the sky for the hungry city.

He doubted the creativity of God. In the mind of the king’s officer, the only way food could come to the city was from above – from windows in heaven. He had no idea that God could provide in a completely unexpected way.

He doubted the messenger of God. The promise was big, but the officer should have believed it because it came from a man proved many times to be reliable.

The king’s officer was fluent in the language of unbelief.

– Unbelief says, “God’s promise may not be true.”
– Unbelief says, “This is a new thing and cannot be true.”
– Unbelief says, “This is a sudden thing and will not be true.”
– Unbelief says, “There is no way to accomplish this thing.”
– Unbelief says, “There is only one way God can meet this need.”
– Unbelief says, “Even if God does something, it won’t be enough.”

Through Elisha, God pronounced a harsh judgment upon the officer of unbelief. He would see the promise fulfilled and food supplied, but he would not eat of it.

Unbelief robs us of many things, but one of the worst is that we never enjoy the satisfaction and contentment found in God’s fulfilled promises.

Treat unbelief for the intruder, deceiver, and thief that it really is.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 7

cursed riches

Cursed Riches

Now he went in and stood before his master. Elisha said to him, “Where did you go, Gehazi?” And he said, “Your servant did not go anywhere.” Then he said to him, “Did not my heart go with you when the man turned back from his chariot to meet you? Is it time to receive money and to receive clothing, olive groves and vineyards, sheep and oxen, male and female servants? Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever.” And he went out from his presence leprous, as white as snow. (2 Kings 5:25-27)

God healed Naaman from a fatal disease, and they Syrian general was so grateful that he wanted to give Elisha a big reward. Elisha refused, but his servant Gehazi secretly followed Naaman and lied, saying Elisha now wanted to receive the large reward. Gehazi took what Naaman gave, intending to keep it for himself.

cursed riches

When Gehazi returned to Elisha, the prophet knew just what had happened. Elisha said, “Did not my heart go with you?” We don’t know if this was supernatural knowledge or simply gained from observation and knowing Gehazi’s character. One way or another, Elisha knew. All Gehazi’s attempts to cover his sin failed.

Elisha also knew that it was not time to receive money. It seems the prophet had no absolute law against receiving support from those who were touched by his ministry. Yet it was spiritually clear to Elisha, and should have been clear to Gehazi, that it was not appropriate at this time and circumstance.

Gehazi, Elisha’s servant, paid a great price for his greed and deception: Therefore the leprosy of Naaman shall cling to you and your descendants forever. This was a severe judgment, but as a man in ministry Gehazi was under a stricter judgment. When he allowed himself to covet what Naaman had, he thought only in terms of the moneyNaaman possessed. God allowed him to keep the riches, but also gave him the otherthing Naaman had – deadly leprosy.

I like what Adam Clarke wrote about this: “Gehazi is not the last who has got money in an unlawful way, and has got God’s curse with it.”

I suppose that all of us would rather have more than less. But how you gain things is important. If we gain through lies, deception, disobedience to God, or dishonor, we will probably find that what we can with our riches is worse than the wealth itself.

Remember Proverbs 10:22: The blessing of the LORD makes one rich, and He adds no sorrow with it. Gehazi became rich, but with great sorrow. Don’t put yourself in the same place.

Click here for David’s commentary on 2 Kings 5