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159 - Judgment Comes Through Jehu

by Stephen Davey Scripture Reference: 2 Kings 9–10; 2 Chronicles 22:7–9

One of the remarkable things about the nature of God is an attribute we call immutability. That’s a long word, but immutability simply means that God does not change. He says what He means, and He does what He says.  

If you remember back in 1 Kings, the prophet Elijah had pronounced judgment on the house of Ahab and Jezebel because they had led Israel into the idolatrous worship of Baal. They had added to their evil deeds the cold-blooded murder of Naboth so they could steal his vineyard.

Well, in chapter 21 of 1 Kings, Elijah prophesied that Ahab’s dynasty would come to a violent end—every male descendant of his would die. Elijah also announced that Ahab would die a bloody death, and that his wife Jezebel would be eaten by dogs after she died.

By the time we get to chapter 9 in the book of 2 Kings, Ahab has long since died, but Jezebel is still alive. Her son Joram is now the king of Israel, and he is carrying on the evil legacy of his parents.

In our last study, we left King Joram in Jezreel, where he is recovering from wounds suffered in battle. His nephew, Ahaziah, the king of Judah, has come to visit him in Jezreel. God’s judgment on them both is about to take place.

God has not changed His mind; He is immutable, and His word always comes true.

Chapter 9 begins with Elisha appointing a young prophet to go to Jehu, one of Israel’s military commanders. Elisha wants him to anoint Jehu king over Israel. Verse 6 tells us:

The young [prophet] poured the oil on [Jehu’s] head, saying to him, “Thus says the Lord, the God of Israel, I anoint you king over the people of the Lord, over Israel. And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets.

After this takes place, Jehu’s fellow soldiers proclaim their allegiance to him as the new king. But there is this little problem—King Joram is still alive. He’s still the king. Well, the newly anointed King Jehu is going to ride over to Jezreel and take care of this little problem.

Now as Jehu approaches—verse 20 says, driving furiously—King Joram is notified. And Joram gets in his chariot and rides out to meet Jehu, along with Judah’s king, Ahaziah.

God providentially arranges that they meet up at the site of Naboth’s vineyard. When Joram asks if Jehu has come in peace, Jehu answers here in verse 22: “What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?” Jehu then draws his bow and sends an arrow straight through the heart of King Joram.

Jehu then tells his military aid here in verse 25:

“Take him up and throw him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. For remember, when you and I rode side by side behind Ahab his father, how the Lord made this pronouncement against him: ‘As surely as I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons—declares the Lord—I will repay you on this plot of ground.’”

God’s word has come true.

Now King Ahaziah of Judah finds himself in Jehu’s crosshairs. Ahaziah is hit with an arrow as well, but he manages to get away.

Over in the parallel account of 2 Chronicles 22:7-9, we learn he eventually makes it to Samaria and then later to Megiddo, where he dies.

Jehu now takes off for the city of Jezreel, where Jezebel is living. She is up in a tower of some sort, and she looks down and defiantly taunts Jehu. On his command, servants throw her from that upper window, and she dies immediately upon impact. And just as God said years earlier back in 1 Kings chapter 21, wild dogs come and consume her body before she can be buried.

This is not the end of the bloodshed, however, for there remains the prophecy regarding all the other wicked members of Ahab’s family. So, the killing continues here in 2 Kings 10. Seventy sons of Ahab are living in Samaria, and Jehu orders them put to death—and they face the firing squad, so to speak.

And Jehu is still not finished! Verse 18 down through the rest of chapter 10 tells us that Jehu now sets in motion a plan to wipe out all the false prophets and worshipers of Baal. He invites them all to join him, saying here in verse 19, “Call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers and all his priests. … for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal.” The author adds, however, “Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Baal.” When they all gather in the temple of Baal, Jehu sends in his men to destroy them all.

We are told in verse 28, “Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel.” He just cleaned it out of the nation of Israel. He effectively carried out God’s judgment in cleansing Israel of this false worship. God commends him for it here in verse 30, saying to him:

“Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”

Now it would be wonderful if we could read that Jehu went on to serve the Lord faithfully. But that is not the case at all. Verse 29 states:

Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin—that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan.

Jehu was more capable of wiping out the followers of Baal than in leading the people to follow God. As one writer put it, “Jehu . . . was more of an instrument than a servant of Jehovah, and was spiritually incapable of promoting the true worship of Israel’s God.”[1]

For the next twenty-five plus years, Jehu will reign as king of Israel, but his reign will be marked by conflict, defeat, and humiliation.

Our study through these two chapters has been a lot like the way Jehu drove his chariot. It’s been a wild ride. But there are some lessons we need to learn here that impact our lives to this very day.

First, don’t be deceived; sin has consequences—even if some of those consequences are delayed for years. And by the way, even forgiven sins can have continuing consequences in this life. We thank God for His forgiveness, but we ought to take warning from Jehu’s biography: “Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart” (verse 31).

And second, don’t be discouraged; God’s plans always come to pass, even if it might take a while. The unchanging Word of God will never fail. And that means the promises of God will also come true. His promises of forgiveness, salvation, grace and mercy, and His promise of a future home in heaven forever—all that will indeed, one day, come to pass.

In the meantime, let’s continue on our life journey of wisdom from the unchanging Word of God.


[1] John J. Davis and John C. Whitcomb, Israel: From Conquest to Exile (BMH Books, 1969-71), 425.