Wednesday, 14 May 2014

(135) May 15: 2 Kings 9-11 & John 5:1-24

Ask God to open your mind, heart and will to understand, delight in and obey what you read.

To discover:­­
As you read consider how the prophecy of 1 Kings 21 is being fulfilled.

To ponder:
Elisha’s commission of a prophet to anoint Jehu (Joram’s commander) does what Elijah should have done himself (see 1 Kgs 19v16). Elisha’s instruction for the prophet to run as soon as finished suggests it was a dangerous task. The oil symbolised kings being chosen and set-apart for God’s service (Ex 30v29-30). And so the prophet affirmed Jehu’s particular role was to destroy Ahab’s house according to God’s word through Elijah (1 Kgs 21v20-29). It seems Jehu is reticent, but his men eager, perhaps dissatisfied with king Joram. They therefore give Jehu their allegiance and proclaim him king. Jehu’s first test of their allegiance is his command that they don’t tell Joram, who is recovering from war wounds (9v14-15, see 8v11-15, 28-29).
            Tension builds as Joram asks if Jehu comes in peace, and his messengers fall in behind Jehu. And so on the very plot of ground where Ahab so sinned (1 Kgs 21), Jehu kills Joram (Ahab’s son), quoting detail from Elijah’s original prophecy not previously mentioned (9v26, 1 Kgs 21v19). King Ahaziah of Judah is also killed, being linked to Ahab’s house via marriage (8v27). Jezebel is then killed in fulfilment of Elijah’s specific words (1 Kgs 21v23), again with added detail (9v37). Her wickedness is seen in dressing as a prostitute before addressing Jehu, perhaps to allure him and save herself. Her reference to Zimri refers to 1 Kgs 16v8-20. Once, more the deed is done as people transfer their allegiance to Jehu.
            Jehu’s offer to the key men in charge of Ahab’s sons to put the best on the throne and defend themselves is rejected. Rather, terrified, they give their allegiance to Jehu too, obeying his command to decapitate the seventy princes. Jehu puts them in piles at the city gate. This is gruesome, but seems intended to show the people Ahab’s line is no more and that his key men were now serving Jehu (10v9). Indeed, his affirmation of the people’s innocence was probably to keep them from feeling they should get involved. He then declares “not a word” of the prophecy about “the house of Ahab” will fail, before killing his chief men, friends and priests who would have been considered members of that “house” (10v11, 17) and no doubt shared Ahab’s idolatry. He also killed Ahaziah’s relatives who were also friends to Ahab (10v12-14). Moreover, after gathering all the prophets of Baal on the pretence he wanted to benefit them (10v22) and sacrifice to Baal, he had them killed too, destroying their temple, which was then used as a loo.
            Throughout we see a foreshadowing of the absolute nature of God’s final judgement that Christ will execute (Rev 18-20). In the light of that we also see the importance of transferring our allegiance to Christ’s “side,” as God’s anointed (1 Thess 1v9-10).
            But Jehu was not “careful to keep God’s law” and didn’t reject the idolatry of the golden calves. So despite being commended for doing “what is right” for God, and having descendents reign for four generations, he experienced hostility from Hazael too (8v12). God looks for consistency in our faithfulness and service.
            With Ahaziah dead, his mum (Athalia) sought to gain the throne in Judah, destroying the rest of the royal family. This threatened God’s promise to always have a descendent of David on the throne. However, Ahaziah’s sister managed to hide one son, Joash, in the temple for six years. Jehoida the priest, then ensured his protection (11v4-11) before crowning and anointing him in the temple, giving him a “copy” of the Mosaic “covenant” (Deut 17v18-20). Athaliah was then executed outside the temple, and Jehoida oversaw two covenants to bind the king and people in right relationship to one-another and God. Joash was then enthroned, aged seven, and everyone rejoiced. Here we see the huge impact a well placed faithful man like Jehoida can have, and the details raise hope a new era of godly rule in which Joash might even restore the kingdom.

Praying it home:
Praise God that turning to Christ saves us from the judgement to come. Pray that your service of Christ would be consistent, and for the influence of ministers in bringing reform within the church.

Thinking further:
None today.

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