2 Kings 10:1-17

Jehu Kills Ahab’s Family

On Friday, we did the last things we had to do to make our return to South Carolina official which included registering to vote, registering our vehicles with Darlington County and paying the property taxes on them, getting our South Carolina driver’s licenses reactivated, getting the South Carolina tags for our cars, and opening our savings account at a local bank. It was a busy day of errands. Then, I found out that a member of our church had been admitted to the hospital. I dropped Elena off at the parsonage and I had to run over to Florence for a visit with the patient and his family. It ended up being a very full day on my Friday off.

Exhausted, after I got back from Florence and the very full day of going to Darlington, Hartsville and Florence all in one day, I sat down to relax and watch a little television. Late on Friday afternoons, there isn’t a whole lot of original programming on TV on the 40 channels that I have on my DirecTV Now streaming service. We settled on watching an episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (SVU). In this episode, we find that a young girl from an ultra-conservative non-denominational Christian church in Indiana was visiting New York to see a friend. She was there with a male friend and her pastor, who was serving as their chaperone. In this episode, we learn that this young girl was a virgin but that she had begun questioning her sexuality. She was attracted not to men but to women and she was struggling with it. In this episode, the criminal act we see her open her hotel room door late at night and the view we see is through the criminal’s eyes. Hands grab her and she seems frightened. Then, of course, as SVU does, it cuts to a commercial. When we come back from the commercial, we find that the young girl has been raped.

As we work through the witnesses and such with the investigators from SVU, we ultimately find out that it was her male friend that had accompanied her (along with their pastor) to New York that had perpetrated the criminal act. The twist to the story was that he claimed that he was performing his duty to God to force her to have sex with him. He said it was his duty to have heterosexual sex with her so as to bring her back into God’s will from her lustful desires for homosexual relationships. Further, we find that the pastor had condoned and even suggested the act.

It broke my heart that some might have seen this episode of SVU and thought this is what Christianity is all about. That we are a bunch of nutcases who live outside normal behavior and couch it in faith in God. It broke my heart that our world no longer knows what we are about and totally misrepresents the Christian faith. It made me heartbroken that we, as Christians, have lost our influence in society. It made me heartbroken that we have failed share our faith in ways that make people understand what Christianity is all about – who Jesus is, why He came, and what is consistent with the will of God and what is not. We have often been our own worst enemy in the public square by demonstrating what we are against rather than what we are for. As a result, the unchurched have a twisted view of what Christianity is really all about.

When I read this passage, 2 Kings 10:1-17, after having watched that episode of Law & Order Friday afternoon, it reminded me of how people sometime go way beyond what God gives us in His Word as His desired will for us. Here, Jehu goes beyond what God’s will and prophecy was. Even as an educated reader of the Bible, I was disgusted by what Jehu did. He went way beyond what He was called to do:

10 Ahab had seventy sons living in the city of Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the elders and officials of the city,[a] and to the guardians of King Ahab’s sons. He said, 2 “The king’s sons are with you, and you have at your disposal chariots, horses, a fortified city, and weapons. As soon as you receive this letter, 3 select the best qualified of your master’s sons to be your king, and prepare to fight for Ahab’s dynasty.”

4 But they were paralyzed with fear and said, “We’ve seen that two kings couldn’t stand against this man! What can we do?”

5 So the palace and city administrators, together with the elders and the guardians of the king’s sons, sent this message to Jehu: “We are your servants and will do anything you tell us. We will not make anyone king; do whatever you think is best.”

6 Jehu responded with a second letter: “If you are on my side and are going to obey me, bring the heads of your master’s sons to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow.” Now the seventy sons of the king were being cared for by the leaders of Samaria, where they had been raised since childhood. 7 When the letter arrived, the leaders killed all seventy of the king’s sons. They placed their heads in baskets and presented them to Jehu at Jezreel.

8 A messenger went to Jehu and said, “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons.”

So Jehu ordered, “Pile them in two heaps at the entrance of the city gate, and leave them there until morning.”

9 In the morning he went out and spoke to the crowd that had gathered around them. “You are not to blame,” he told them. “I am the one who conspired against my master and killed him. But who killed all these? 10 You can be sure that the message of the Lord that was spoken concerning Ahab’s family will not fail. The Lord declared through his servant Elijah that this would happen.” 11 Then Jehu killed all who were left of Ahab’s relatives living in Jezreel and all his important officials, his personal friends, and his priests. So Ahab was left without a single survivor.

12 Then Jehu set out for Samaria. Along the way, while he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds, 13 he met some relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah. “Who are you?” he asked them.

And they replied, “We are relatives of King Ahaziah. We are going to visit the sons of King Ahab and the sons of the queen mother.”

14 “Take them alive!” Jehu shouted to his men. And they captured all forty-two of them and killed them at the well of Beth-eked. None of them escaped.

15 When Jehu left there, he met Jehonadab son of Recab, who was coming to meet him. After they had greeted each other, Jehu said to him, “Are you as loyal to me as I am to you?”

“Yes, I am,” Jehonadab replied.

“If you are,” Jehu said, “then give me your hand.” So Jehonadab put out his hand, and Jehu helped him into the chariot. 16 Then Jehu said, “Now come with me, and see how devoted I am to the Lord.” So Jehonadab rode along with him.

17 When Jehu arrived in Samaria, he killed everyone who was left there from Ahab’s family, just as the Lord had promised through Elijah.

In this passage, we see that Elijah’s prophecy that not one of Ahab’s male descendants would survive (remember, 1 Kings 21:17-24). The evil line of Ahab and Jezebel was prophesied by God’s prophet to come to a gruesome end if they did not turn from their evil ways. They did not and God executed His predicted justice against them. However, in his zeal, Jehu went far beyond the Lord’s commands with this bloodbath about which we read in this passage. The prophet Hosea later announced punishment upon Jehu’s dynasty for the senseless slaughter (see Hosea 1:4-5).

Let us be a people whose actions are consistent with God’s Word and whose words are intended bring about reconciliation with God for those who are far from him and judgment for those who ultimately refuse his offer of reconciliation through His Son.

Let us be a people who never twist God’s Word to suit our own personal needs. Let us use God’s Word as it is, plain and simple, nothing added or taken away. Let us use God’s Word as He intends it to be used – to point humanity to our need for a Savior so that mankind can be reconciled to God. Let us measure how we demonstrate Christianity to the rest of the world by three things:

  1. Whether our actions and words are consistent with the general will of God as expressed in His Word (which means we must not just read His Word but truly study it).
  2. Whether our actions and words are going to point people toward Jesus Christ and reconciliation with God.
  3. Whether our actions and words are going to promote unity with Christ both within our faith and draw those who are unchurched toward wanting what we have – the joy of Christ in our souls.

Amen and Amen.

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2 Kings 9:30-37

The Death of Jezebel

There’s an old saying that says, “You’ll never see a U-Haul trailer behind a hearse!”. And then there’s the classic saying, “You can’t take it with you!” Eternity is longer than the 70+ years we typically live on this side of eternity so then why do we act as if this is all there is? Why do we place so much emphasis on seeking things of this world on this side of eternity?

On this our country’s Independence Day, we celebrate our American way of life. We celebrate the supremacy of our nation on the world stage. We celebrate the American spirit that has forged this nation into the world power that it is from the infant nation that it was 243 years ago. We celebrate the material blessings that we have in this country compared to the rest of the world. We celebrate us and the things we see all around us in the United States. Do we celebrate our nation for the right reasons?

Compared to the rest of the world, we are extremely wealthy. We complain about the internet being down and how we can’t watch our five hundred channels of television. We are so blessed as a nation. But yet most of us look at what we have in this nation as if it has always been this way and that we deserve it. We spend our lives accumulating as much stuff as we can as if it were a competition. Whomever has the most toys at the end, wins! We spend our money on fine things. Fine homes. Fine cars. Multiple fine cares. Fine entertainment centers that we can control with the sound of our voices. We have to have storage buildings or storage units at storage facilities because we have too much stuff to fit in our houses. We have boats. We have jet skis. We have vacations at beach houses. We have air conditioning. We have heat. We have refrigerators full of food that 30% of which we will throw in the trash. We have snack foods. We have jogging shoes, tennis shoes, basketball shoes, and shoes for all other kinds of specific purposes. We spend money on all of these things as if we need them more than anything else. We over-extend ourselves financially to support all of these things that we think we have to have. We spend so much money on our trinkets. We spend so much money on our fixed payments for houses, cars, boats, vacation homes, that we have often spend more money each year than we actually make each year. We love our stuff and it makes us feel complete to have it. Others just love having money. Keeping it. Making it. Storing it away. Having money making money makes some of us happy. But most of us spend it all … on things.

That’s the thing that I thought about today as I read about Queen Mother Jezebel’s death today. It just so happened that as I am progressing through 2 Kings in my personal Bible study at this time that it is Independence Day on the same day that I read about the death of Jezebel. In this passage, we see that for all the wealth and power of Jezebel and how she tried to expand it, keep it, and enjoy the trappings and power she had in this life, it all came to nothing. In fact, she literally disappeared from the face of the earth with no trace. Not even a fancy gravestone. That’s the thing that relates to Independence Day for me today. As Americans, are we focusing on the right things or are we focusing on the same things Jezebel focused on – the trappings of this life, money, power, toys, and so on. Let’s consider that idea as we read of the end of Jezebel here in 2 Kings 9:30-37:

30 When Jezebel, the queen mother, heard that Jehu had come to Jezreel, she painted her eyelids and fixed her hair and sat at a window. 31 When Jehu entered the gate of the palace, she shouted at him, “Have you come in peace, you murderer? You’re just like Zimri, who murdered his master!”[a]

32 Jehu looked up and saw her at the window and shouted, “Who is on my side?” And two or three eunuchs looked out at him. 33 “Throw her down!” Jehu yelled. So they threw her out the window, and her blood spattered against the wall and on the horses. And Jehu trampled her body under his horses’ hooves.

34 Then Jehu went into the palace and ate and drank. Afterward he said, “Someone go and bury this cursed woman, for she is the daughter of a king.” 35 But when they went out to bury her, they found only her skull, her feet, and her hands.

36 When they returned and told Jehu, he stated, “This fulfills the message from the Lord, which he spoke through his servant Elijah from Tishbe: ‘At the plot of land in Jezreel, dogs will eat Jezebel’s body. 37 Her remains will be scattered like dung on the plot of land in Jezreel, so that no one will be able to recognize her.’”

In this passage, we see the prophesied end to Jezebel’s life. Here, we see that Jezebel’s skull, feet, and hands were all that remained of her evil life – no power, no money, no prestige, no royal finery, no family, no spiritual heritage. In the end, her life of luxury and treachery amounted to nothing. You can’t take it with you, as the old saying goes. Thus, seeking selfishly for earthly desires and the things of this world are fleeting. We all will spend much more time in eternity than we ever will here in the temporal. Let us then incline our lives toward that which is of God and seek after Him and the things that He calls us to treasure.

When I think of us here in the United States on Independence Day, yes, we celebrate our way of life. We celebrate how amazing this country has become. We celebrate our supremacy in the world. We celebrate the ingenuity of the American people that has allowed us to accumulate vast riches compared to the rest of the world. We celebrate ourselves and are proud of what we have become in a short 243 years.

However, on this July 4th day, let us take time out to celebrate our country, yes, but let us be thankful to God for the privilege of allowing us to be born here and to live here. Let us thank Him for that privilege. We do not deserve that. We did not earn our birth here. We then equally do not deserve the amazing wealth that we are blessed with as a result. We are given great riches simply by being born here. We should not act like then it is our right to have the relative wealth that we have been granted by God through being born here through His grace. We should then honor God with the resources granted to us by the honor of living here.

We should put God first in everything that we do. We should honor him first with our wealth (even middle class and poor people here in the USA are rich compared to the virtually all other nations on earth). We should live our lives in thanks to God for the privilege of being born here. We should honor him with our wealth. Let us place God first in our finances. Instead for giving to God of our leftovers after paying for all our stuff, let us give to Him first and then live off the rest.

Let us use our privileged wealth to point others to Christ. Let us use our resources first to draw people unto Christ first and then by our house later. Let us use our resources to spread the gospel first and then buy our car second. Let us use our resources to invest in our unchurched neighbors first and then purchase our vacations second. Let us use our resources to proclaim the name of Jesus in ways that will connect in the modern world and then buy that entertainment system second.

Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying that wealth is a bad thing. The Bible never says wealth is a bad thing or that having nice things is a bad thing. However, when our wealth becomes our god rather than using our wealth as a tool to honor God and to proclaim the name of Jesus in a world that so desperately needs Him … then … our wealth becomes our god and not God himself.

We can’t take it with us, just as Jezebel learned. All these trinkets that we can buy because we live here in the United States are just temporary. With the privilege of being born here, we have a responsibility to honor God with our wealth. What honors God is to draw people unto Himself and for them to be reconciled unto Him for eternity. Let us use our resources given by God in abundance to us here in the United States to do that first – draw people unto God as an act of thanksgiving for the privilege He gave us for being born here in the United States of America.

Amen and Amen.

2 Kings 9:14-29

Jehu Kills Joram and Ahaziah

One of the things that we hear often from Christians in this day and age is how this nation is not “what it used to be”! The culture seems to be running in the opposite direction from God’s Word. Christians shake their heads as to what happened. Only a certain few churches are growing. Thousands of churches are stagnant even though our nation’s population increases at a rate of 2% per year. Even scarier is the fact that approximately 5,000 churches close their door permanently each year since the beginning of the century. Look around within the walls of most traditional churches and churches are aging and I am not talking about the buildings. What happened? We blame it on the culture. But we, the church, Christians, used to be the dominating influence on the culture in America. What happened?

Plain and simple. We have never had to work for it – making sure that our churches are healthy and growing. Back in the day when we were the dominating influence on the culture, we didn’t have to do anything. Church was just part of everyday life. If you DIDN’T belong to a church of some sort, people though something was wrong with you. We didn’t have to do anything. Pastors and parishioners alike. People were just there when the doors opened. So when the culture began to drift away from a church-dominated culture, we did not and often still do not know what to do but continue to do nothing.

We gotta work for it now. We no longer can say I wish people would come to my church but yet still sit on the church steps and do nothing. We gotta work for it. We can’t wish. We gotta work for it. Otherwise, the culture will continue to drift away from God. Complaints about where the culture is headed cannot be our action plan. We gotta work for it.

That’s what I thought of this morning as I read through this passage about God executing his justice on evil kings. My thought was “what would have happened if these two kings of what was supposed to be godly countries would have influenced their cultures on the road back to God?” Maybe their outcomes would have been different. What if they had been willing to take a lead role in influencing their culture back to God. We will never know because they did nothing and their were the leaders of their countries! That’s what I thought of and how we as Christians can no longer sit by and just expect the culture to come to us. Let’s look at this passage, 2 Kings 9:14-29, with that idea in mind:

14 So Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi, led a conspiracy against King Joram. (Now Joram had been with the army at Ramoth-gilead, defending Israel against the forces of King Hazael of Aram. 15 But King Joram[a] was wounded in the fighting and returned to Jezreel to recover from his wounds.) So Jehu told the men with him, “If you want me to be king, don’t let anyone leave town and go to Jezreel to report what we have done.”

16 Then Jehu got into a chariot and rode to Jezreel to find King Joram, who was lying there wounded. King Ahaziah of Judah was there, too, for he had gone to visit him. 17 The watchman on the tower of Jezreel saw Jehu and his company approaching, so he shouted to Joram, “I see a company of troops coming!”

“Send out a rider to ask if they are coming in peace,” King Joram ordered.

18 So a horseman went out to meet Jehu and said, “The king wants to know if you are coming in peace.”

Jehu replied, “What do you know about peace? Fall in behind me!”

The watchman called out to the king, “The messenger has met them, but he’s not returning.”

19 So the king sent out a second horseman. He rode up to them and said, “The king wants to know if you come in peace.”

Again Jehu answered, “What do you know about peace? Fall in behind me!”

20 The watchman exclaimed, “The messenger has met them, but he isn’t returning either! It must be Jehu son of Nimshi, for he’s driving like a madman.”

21 “Quick! Get my chariot ready!” King Joram commanded.

Then King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah rode out in their chariots to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of land that had belonged to Naboth of Jezreel. 22 King Joram demanded, “Do you come in peace, Jehu?”

Jehu replied, “How can there be peace as long as the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother, Jezebel, are all around us?”

23 Then King Joram turned the horses around[b] and fled, shouting to King Ahaziah, “Treason, Ahaziah!” 24 But Jehu drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart, and he sank down dead in his chariot.

25 Jehu said to Bidkar, his officer, “Throw him into the plot of land that belonged to Naboth of Jezreel. Do you remember when you and I were riding along behind his father, Ahab? The Lord pronounced this message against him: 26 ‘I solemnly swear that I will repay him here on this plot of land, says the Lord, for the murder of Naboth and his sons that I saw yesterday.’ So throw him out on Naboth’s property, just as the Lord said.”

27 When King Ahaziah of Judah saw what was happening, he fled along the road to Beth-haggan. Jehu rode after him, shouting, “Shoot him, too!” So they shot Ahaziah[c] in his chariot at the Ascent of Gur, near Ibleam. He was able to go on as far as Megiddo, but he died there. 28 His servants took him by chariot to Jerusalem, where they buried him with his ancestors in the City of David. 29 Ahaziah had become king over Judah in the eleventh year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab.

In this passage, we see that the kings that had been the latest in the line of kings that had participated in the straying of Israel and Judah from the Lord. Each of these kings participated and did not stop their nation’s descent into idolatry and evil. They joined in the wickedness and evil of their predecessors. They suffered the consequences of their evil. What can we learn from this? We, as the people, of God must, at times, stand up against evil rather than go along with it. Our silence can allow evil to flourish and continue and deepen. How far Israel and Judah had fallen because the anointed leaders simply went along! How far Israel and Judah had fallen because the anointed leaders were either just as the wicked as the people they led or they simply went along and didn’t wanna work for it. Either way the result is the same.

That’s the thing that I think we can bring forward to the 21st century from this passage and use as a challenge to us as modern-day Christ followers. Are we willing to work for it to change our culture? We have had it easy for so long in America as Christians. The church was a dominating influence in our culture for so long. We didn’t really have to do anything. Churches just grew. Everyone in the culture circled around a church somewhere. Church was intertwined with culture. That is no longer true.

Now, we must work for it. Are we ready for the struggle? Do we want to impact the culture for Christ and change things? We will have to work for it now.

First, we must see ourselves, not just our pastors, as ministers of reconciliation. We must be unafraid to share what the gospel has done in our lives with those in our lives that do not know Christ. That means we need to step outside our Christian circles and make friends with the unchurched. Their eternity is at stake and they don’t even know it. We each have our circles of influence that go far beyond what our pastors can do alone. We are all a kingdom of priests, as the Apostle Peter tells us, so we must see it as our daily job to seize opportunities to share the gospel. We are provided divine appointments by the Lord each day. Let’s not miss them. It is only through our active sharing of the gospel, each and every one of us, can we expect to influence the culture away from its current path. One person at a time by each one of us.

Second, we must be willing to take public leadership roles so that we can influence public policy. If we are to change the culture, we must be willing to make the sacrifices to lead it in the right direction. Sure, its going to be tough because of laws that prevent us from openly sharing our faith in public positions but there is nothing that says we cannot demonstrate our Christian values in the choices that we make as public leaders.

Third, we must be willing to meet the world where it’s at right now. What worked for churches 60 years ago is no longer relevant to a culture that has changed drastically since then. Our gospel message should not and will not ever change. The Bible is timeless and eternal and its message is true 60 years ago and will be 6000 years from now. However, the methods by which we engage people with the gospel is and should be different in 2019 than it was in 1969 or 1959 or even as short a time a go as 1989. Let us begin to be imaginative about how we engage the culture around us as churches. Let us be willing also to allocate resources based on our willingness to reach the souls of the unsaved. Changing the course of the eternity of the unsaved is what it’s all about.

Are you and I? Are we? Are we ready to roll up our sleeves and work for it? That’s the challenge that comes out of this passage for me. Am I ready to do the hard work to reach unsaved souls and change the culture?

Amen and Amen.

2 Kings 9:1-13

Jehu Anointed King of Israel

Growing up with my dad (who passed away 8 months ago now), as I have told you before here, he was not a “harshness only” dad but he was a strict dad. I knew my dad loved me with all his heart but he had rules for behavior in our household. As I have also said before here, his boundaries for my and my brother’s behavior were not flexible, were not etched in sand, but rather in dried cement. When we crossed those boundaries, there were consequences, always…consequences. There was no negotiation. We already knew the rules and yet we went ahead and broke one or more of them. Done deal. Punishment of some sort was to come. When we were young ones, whippings would happen. As we grew into pre-teens and especially as teenagers, it would be the withdrawals of freedoms or the taking away of privileges. Regardless of the form of punishment, it was always sure and certain to follow when misbehavior occurred.

I was not necessarily a big fan of my dad’s defined boundaries and his justice for having transgressed his rules. I did not care for his rules at all. As a teenager, I actually hated all his seemingly petty rules. I hated his unwavering-ness. I wanted to negotiate away his rules. I wanted to minimize my transgressions against his rules. I always tried to justify why my actions were actually not violations of his rules by using convoluted logic. I would also try to justify my behavior by saying that my friends’ fathers allowed them to do this or that. I would get angry at him. Why would my dad who so-called loved me punish me for violating his “house rules”? If he loved me, he would not do this, right? He really just wants to me mess with me, right? He really doesn’t love me, right? If he loved me, he would let me do what I want, right?

At that time, I could not understand that dad’s justice was part of his love for me. I just wanted to be free to do as I pleased. However, part of loving your children is to teach them about the world works. There are consequences for bad behavior. He wanted to teach us to be responsible and productive citizens of the world who didn’t bounce around at the wind because we were spoiled brats as adults. He wanted us to be operate in the world and be productive and consistent and create a good life for ourselves. He wanted us to be self-sufficient. What more can a parent desire for their kids before we die? To know that your children will be OK and make it without us after we are dead and gone, regardless of the age at which we as parents die. For these reasons, he had justice as part of his love for us growing up. Now as an adult and having raised my own kids, I understand that.

That’s what I thought of this morning when I read this passage about the plan for justice against the descendants of Ahab and Jezebel. My dad had justice for me and my brother. God, similarly, loves us but justice is also part of his love. Let’s read 2 Kings 9:1-13 now with that in mind:

Chapter 9

1 Meanwhile, Elisha the prophet had summoned a member of the group of prophets. “Get ready to travel,”[a] he told him, “and take this flask of olive oil with you. Go to Ramoth-gilead, 2 and find Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. Call him into a private room away from his friends, 3 and pour the oil over his head. Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I anoint you to be the king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run for your life!”

4 So the young prophet did as he was told and went to Ramoth-gilead. 5 When he arrived there, he found Jehu sitting around with the other army officers. “I have a message for you, Commander,” he said.

“For which one of us?” Jehu asked.

“For you, Commander,” he replied.

6 So Jehu left the others and went into the house. Then the young prophet poured the oil over Jehu’s head and said, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: I anoint you king over the Lord’s people, Israel. 7 You are to destroy the family of Ahab, your master. In this way, I will avenge the murder of my prophets and all the Lord’s servants who were killed by Jezebel. 8 The entire family of Ahab must be wiped out. I will destroy every one of his male descendants, slave and free alike, anywhere in Israel. 9 I will destroy the family of Ahab as I destroyed the families of Jeroboam son of Nebat and of Baasha son of Ahijah. 10 Dogs will eat Ahab’s wife Jezebel at the plot of land in Jezreel, and no one will bury her.” Then the young prophet opened the door and ran.

11 Jehu went back to his fellow officers, and one of them asked him, “What did that madman want? Is everything all right?”

“You know how a man like that babbles on,” Jehu replied.

12 “You’re hiding something,” they said. “Tell us.”

So Jehu told them, “He said to me, ‘This is what the Lord says: I have anointed you to be king over Israel.’”

13 Then they quickly spread out their cloaks on the bare steps and blew the ram’s horn, shouting, “Jehu is king!”

In this passage, we must remember that Elijah had prophesied that many would be killed when Jehu became king (1 Kings 19:16-17). Thus, Elisha advised the young prophet to get out of the area as soon as the prophesy was delivered – before the slaughter began. Jehu’s action seems harsh as he hunts down and kills relatives and friends of Ahab (see 2 Chronicles 22:8-9). However, unchecked idol worship of Baal was destroying the nation. If Israel was to survive, the followers of Baal had to be eliminated. Jehu fulfilled that need for God’s justice.

When you read this passage, it reminded me of growing with my dad’s expectations of behavior from my brother and me. He had his boundaries. Not because he wanted to restrict us or hold us back but rather because he knew that certain behaviors were ultimately destructive for me and my brother. The justice was there to prevent us from destroying ourselves. Sometimes, he would give us warnings but with repeated violations came ultimate justice.

That’s what I see here in this passage. God had given the Israelites plenty of warnings about their idol worship. They continued to sin. They continued to rationalize away why it was OK for them even though God had said it was against His will for His children. They continued to go against God. They continue to practice behaviors that God had clearly stated were against His will. They seemed to think that it was no longer an expectation of God or they just no longer cared that God had said these things were against His will.

That’s the thing that we examine of ourselves as individuals, groups, and as a nation today. That’s the takeaway from this passage. God not only is a God of love – the part of God that we like – but He is also a God of justice. Justice is part of an earthly father’s love for his kids. It is the same with God. He gives us His Word as our guide, as our warnings against that which is destructive for us. Eventually, there will be justice. Eventually there will be correction. We must then repent and return unto Him.

Amen and Amen.

2 Kings 8:25-29

Ahaziah Rules in Judah

We have just completed 95% or more of our unpacking here in our new home here in Lamar, SC. The parsonage is now pretty much our home. We still have a good many wall hangings and other artwork to place on the walls to get to the 100% done phase of moving. I have also got my office pretty much situated. I did that yesterday evening. It’s been two days of non-stop being on your feet – opening boxes, lifting, toting, and putting away. Assembling furniture. Allen wrenches. Washers. Tightening screws. More lifting, toting, and putting away. If I have to pop open another taped box anytime soon, I think I will scream. Over the last two days, I have not had time to think much about what we are entering into – other than people calling me Pastor, Pastor Mark, or Rev. Bowling. We have been in “git-r-dun” mode on getting the parsonage set up as our home.

But yesterday as I was headed back to the parsonage from unloading my 10 boxes of books in my office, it began to hit me. I am the pastor of this church. It is not a concept. It is no longer a longing. It is real. It is now. Sure, I have the education and licensing. I am legitimately, by human standards, qualified to be here doing what I will be doing. Sure, I have spent the last 8 ½ years performing administrative functions and teaching and counseling at two different churches, first as volunteer, then as part-time staffer and then finally at Calvary as a full-time vocational staff pastor. But I have never been THE pastor. Sure, I have been counselor to some, teacher to some, small group leader to some, but never the lead pastor. Now, here, at Lamar United Methodist Church, I am not only the lead pastor, I am the only pastor. So, on the way home which is a short two-minute ride to the parsonage, it began to hit me, I am the pastor of this church.

Today, after the cable guy leaves (the necessary visit!), I will begin easy into the job beginning with a meeting with the church’s administrative assistant. I wanted to meet with her to find out the status of things such as who is in the hospital, who are the elderly folks in nursing homes, who are the ministry leaders and committee chairpersons, and so on – the lay of the land stuff. And then Sunday, I begin the regular process of preaching most likely 50 Sundays a year and then next week I really begin the day to day work of being pastor. Wow, all the talk is done. All the dreaming is done. All the preparation is done. It is here. It is real. Not a concept. Talk about feeling a bit overwhelmed at a thought.

I thought about my dad doing this small-town Methodist church pastoring thing for 55 years. My dad was a Methodist pastor until he could not physically do it anymore. My brother is also a Methodist pastor and still doing this – now beginning is 38th year of full-time pastoral ministry. One of my uncles was a Methodist pastor for 50 years. Even my brother’s father-in-law was a Methodist pastor. This being a Methodist pastor in South Carolina is kind of the family business. Now I am joining into the family legacy. I guess I am a bit overwhelmed right now at the family legacy, the job itself, and whether I am really ready for this. It has been a dream for the past 8 ½ years. Now it’s here. Now, too, I join the legacy.

That was what I thought of this morning as I read through this seemingly insignificant passage, 2 Kings 8:25-29. It is about a king who reigned only one year. It just seems like historical filler and seems not to have any theological meat to it at all. Sometimes, in the Old Testament historical books, some passages just don’t seem to have any theological meat to them and just seem historical only. On those passages, at first blush, you wonder exactly what it is you are supposed to learn about God from it. It just seems as if there is nothing to draw from when you look at that passage solely in isolation. However, the Holy Spirit aids us to get something out of every passage in the Bible. The Holy Spirit put the word “legacy” on my heart. When you view this passage in the overall context of the decline of Israel and Judah, then it does come alive when you think of “legacy”. Let’s read 2 Kings 8:25-29 together, now:

25 Ahaziah son of Jehoram began to rule over Judah in the twelfth year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab, king of Israel.

26 Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem one year. His mother was Athaliah, a granddaughter of King Omri of Israel. 27 Ahaziah followed the evil example of King Ahab’s family. He did what was evil in the Lord’s sight, just as Ahab’s family had done, for he was related by marriage to the family of Ahab.

28 Ahaziah joined Joram son of Ahab in his war against King Hazael of Aram at Ramoth-gilead. When the Arameans wounded King Joram in the battle, 29 he returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds he had received at Ramoth.[a] Because Joram was wounded, King Ahaziah of Judah went to Jezreel to visit him.

Here, in this passage you see that Ahaziah began to rule in Judah. His family tree goes back to Ahab and Jezebel. That is where the legacy comes in. Ahab and, especially, Jezebel are synonymous with evil among us as Christians and as well among the Jewish people. Even those outside our Judeo-Christian heritage and among non-religious people, the term, Jezebel, is a derisive comment about a person that is simply evil and mean. It is sometimes used to throw at someone when you want to get them back into line – “don’t be a Jezebel” or “you have a Jezebel spirit today!”. That’s quite a legacy that lives on thousands of years later and has permeated all of human culture and not just the Judeo-Christian tradition. Here, you see that the progeny of Ahab and Jezebel were all evil kings and queens and princes and princesses. Ahaziah was no different. He lived what he knew. That’s the legacy.

My dad’s legacy is that he had a brother that he inspired to go into the Methodist ministry in South Carolina like him. My dad’s legacy is that he inspired his oldest son to follow in his footsteps like him. My dad’s legacy is now that after his death that his youngest son is now also a Methodist minister in South Carolina. This is the family legacy. Not that my brother or I are any great saints or anything. Not that my dad is was a perfect man on this side of heaven. But he did his best to serve the Lord in all his imperfections. He knew how to be a minister and he led each flock pretty well. Sure, there were problems along the way where he made mistakes as we all do and will. But he kept at it. He was a pastor for 55 years. He led churches for 55 years. This is the example that he lived. This is the inspiration for two sons being in the ministry in the United Methodist Church in South Carolina. This is the legacy. My brother has been in this journey for 37 full years and begins his 38th year now. I begin my journey in this church in this state now. Surely, dad who now knows all his imperfections in clear detail as he sits in grace in heaven must be smiling that he did something right. This is the legacy.

What will be your legacy? What will you leave behind? What example are you setting for your kids (and even your grandchildren)? What will be your legacy? Will you leave behind children and grandchildren that love the Lord and serve him daily – maybe not as ministers but as faithful Christ followers? What will be that which you leave behind? What example are you setting to be followed? Will your children and grandchildren know the Lord? Will they know right from wrong? Will they know what it means to be a Christ follower? What will be your legacy?

Amen and Amen.

2 Kings 8:16-24 (Part 2 of 2)

Jehoram Reigns in Judah

This week, Elena and I have been staying with my daughter, my son-in-law, and my granddaughter. This week, I have gotten to see all of my granddaughter’s behavior, not just the best of it. We have seen some of her two year old (a month a way from three now) nuclear meltdowns when it comes to behavior. Most of the time, Ralyn is the sweetest, most well-behaved little child you will ever meet. For a child that is less than three years old, she has such good speech and diction, you would think she is a child twice her age. Most of the time, she has wonderful manners. Yes and Yes ma’am and Yes sir. Thank you. Please. All the appropriate social graces for a child. And to listen to her tell stories, it is just so entertaining. She is so expressive. She doesn’t struggle with words because she has such a good vocabulary. Without the struggle for words, she concentrates on voice inflection and hand gestures. It’s just so amazing to have a conversation with her because it is so uncommon to be able to have a real conversation with a child of this age. And, she is so funny sometimes without even realizing it. It’s just a joy to watch her growing up.

However, when you are with a child 24/7, you get to see it all. You get to see the behavior meltdowns too. You get to see what their parents get to see. Friday evening was a particular troublesome evening when it comes to behavior. She was just sassy to everyone. This was the evening of the Great Welch’s Fruit Snack Pack Incident of 2019.

Because Ralyn had not had a nap on Friday, her behavior began deteriorating in the afternoon. Everything was a problem. Everything was a struggle. Sassy-ness was the order of the day. Since we came to visit after our trip to the beach, we brought all our food that we had not eaten up while at the beach. Part of that stash of food was a box of Welch’s fruit snacks. Elena and I love them. Just a quick snack not requiring a large investment of time and preparation. Ralyn loves them too. So, from Wednesday through Friday, Ralyn and her Papa would grab a pack each and sit and eat them together. So, by Friday evening we were down to the last snack pack in the box. Ralyn got it and everything was cool until I offered to open it for her (since she struggles with getting them open). But oh my that’s when the trouble began. She sass-mouthed her Papa saying it’s not yours, it’s mine in the most “terrible two” way possible. Not once but multiple times. That was it for her mom. The snack pack was taken away. Apology was required and when it was not given, a spanking ensued. The crying and pouting ensued. She was made to go to bed right then. And man it all could have been avoided had she just listened to what Papa was going to say – the offer for help, rather than being selfish and disrespectful.

The Great Welch’s Fruit Snack Pack Incident of 2019 with Ralyn was what I thought of this morning as I re-read this passage, 2 Kings 8:16-24, for the second of two times.  Let’s read it together now with an eye toward how selfish desires affect us in our relationship with God:

16 Jehoram son of King Jehoshaphat of Judah began to rule over Judah in the fifth year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab, king of Israel. 17 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. 18 But Jehoram followed the example of the kings of Israel and was as wicked as King Ahab, for he had married one of Ahab’s daughters. So Jehoram did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. 19 But the Lord did not want to destroy Judah, for he had promised his servant David that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever.

20 During Jehoram’s reign, the Edomites revolted against Judah and crowned their own king. 21 So Jehoram[a] went with all his chariots to attack the town of Zair.[b] The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he went out at night and attacked them[c] under cover of darkness. But Jehoram’s army deserted him and fled to their homes. 22 So Edom has been independent from Judah to this day. The town of Libnah also revolted about that same time.

23 The rest of the events in Jehoram’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. 24 When Jehoram died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then his son Ahaziah became the next king.

In this passage, we see that, during Jehoram’s reign in Judah, a revolt began by the Edomites. The Edomites had been under the control of what was the united kingdom of Israel since the time of David. Under David, the kingdom of Israel expanded to it widest realm of influence that the Jewish kingdom had ever known. It was then maintained and great building projects occurred under David’s son, Solomon. However, because of all the in-fighting among David’s children and grandchildren, the kingdom split in two and each gradually became weaker as the kingdoms descended into disobedience toward the Lord. Here, in this passage, we see that Edom won its independence from Judah. Now, Judah and the northern kingdom of Israel would begin their slow decline into becoming non-influential nations that would ultimately be occupied by a successive larger and more powerful nation/kingdoms – beginning with the Assyrians for the northern kingdom, followed by the Babylonians and Persians for the southern kingdom. That was then followed by the Greeks who occupied both the north and the south under Alexander the Great. That was followed by the kingdoms that developed by the four generals of Alexander after his death. Then, came the long, long occupation under the Romans all the way up to the point that the Jerusalem was destroyed and the Jews were finally dispersed and Israel and Judah were no more after 70AD.

What we see in the beginnings of the decline here was both Israel and Judah became less and less concerned with obeying God and more and more concerned with getting their own way and doing what they wanted. Instead of observing God’s laws (that were intended to preserve the nation and allow them to flourish in the freedom of God’s protection), they began to see these laws as restrictive and they began to go their own way and do their own thing. As a result of selfish desires and behaviors, the kingdom split in two and became weaker. As a result of selfish desires and behaviors, the two nations made deals with other nations that made them weaker and made them susceptible to foreign practices and beliefs that were ungodly. Steadily, steadily, their disobedience and ungodly behavior led to loss of lands and influence and ultimately to occupation and destruction. We see the beginning of this loss of influence here with the revolt and independence of Edom.

Similarly, sudden selfishness led Ralyn down a path of losing her fruit snack pack and instead of repenting of that bad behavior she continued in it. She continued in her bad behavior to the point that she lost her right to stay up with the grown-ups and was forced to go to be early. Without repentance, the rebellion continued and she lost the freedom she enjoyed just a few minutes earlier. Without repentance, she lost all her freedom and had to go to bed as punishment. Her behavior and the behavior of Israel and Judah should be a reminder to us all.

God’s expectations of us are not to hold us back and restrict us. God wants us to obey Him so that we can experience the freedoms that come with obeying Him. His so called rules for our behavior are really intended to prevent us from destroying ourselves. They are there because He loves us and wants to protect us from that which is evil for us and that will destroy us. As children, we see our parents’ rules as restrictive but when we disobey our parents’ rules, we find out that our parents really do have our best interest at heart. We find out that we have more freedom when we obey our parents’ commands. We find our that life is more peaceful and we actually have more freedom. It is the same way with God. When we obey Him, we have more freedom, we have more influence, we seem to be able to handle what life throws at us with less stress and trouble.

Ralyn learned, I hope, from the Great Welch’s Fruit Snack Pack Incident of 2019 that disobedience, though self-satisfying, will lead to loss of freedom. Maybe, she learned that repentance when we have disobeyed can help us reclaim the blessings in which we were operating. Maybe, she learned that the lack of repentance, rebellion, will led us to lose all of our freedom and influence that we once enjoyed under the blessing of God. Maybe, you and I need to learn these things too in our grown-up lives, not just Ralyn in her “terrible two” meltdown during the Great Welch’s Fruit Snack Incident of 2019.

Amen and Amen.

2 Kings 8:16-24 (Part 1 of 2)

Jehoram Reigns in Judah

Yesterday, we talked about raising sons and using my dad’s relationship with my brother and me as the example. Today, let’s talk about raising daughters. In Christian circles, we talk about our men as being God-ordained as being the leader of the household and that is what God’s Word in so many ways teaches us. God’s Word does not tell us that women are to be treated like second class citizens. It’s just that man and woman have different but equally important roles in the home. It is God’s design that we, as men, provide the principal provision for our homes. It is also our job to create a safe environment of a home so that our wife and our children can flourish and become what God has intended them to be. Man is charged with protecting his family’s security even to the point of giving his life for his wife or his children.

None of these qualities essential to the proper function of a home that are given to men by God diminishes in any way the responsibilities of a wife in a home. In fact, inside the home, it is where a wife has the most influence, even more so than a husband and father. The father/husband sets the stage for his family to flourish but it is the wife that makes things happen within that environment. Equally important roles. None more or less valuable than the other. That is not to say that in some marriages that the design comes out different due to the talents that God gave an individual husband and an individual wife or the balance of duties ebbs and flows over time due to the needs of the family and of the spouses. However, the general design for family is as I have stated previously.

And it is within the home that a wife and mother generally exerts great influence over the children and over the husband. Whether you are a Christ follower or not, this fact seems to be generally true for us all here in America. There is an old saying in our culture that floats around and it gets laughs each time it is said, “if momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobobdy happy!”  and the other one, “Happy wife; happy life!” There are family power structure implications in this comment. There are sexual connotations in this comment. We laugh at these old sayings with a nervous chuckle a lot of times. We laugh at comedy because the best comedy always has truth at its core. Nothing could be more true than in marital relationships between men and women. These sayings recognize a truth. There is simply the recognition that women/wives/mothers exert great influence in our families – over their children and over their husbands – and without really trying hard at it.

Thus, raising daughters, we must teach them that they are valuable not only in their careers but in their marriages as well. They have important roles to play in marriages that are critical to the success of a good marriage and we should never let them marry into a marriage where they are not going to be valued, allowed to flourish, and to exert the influence over their family that God intended for them to have, in the way that He intended them to have it. We should examine the potential son-in-law to determine if he will provide the proper balance for our daughters as wives and mothers. He must provide for her, protect her and allow her to flourish. Secondly, we must raise our daughters (1) to look for a godly man, but just as importantly (2) to use their powerful influence within the family unit in a wise and godly way and not for sport or power or greed.

The same is true when we examine the potential daughter-in-law that we will be handing our sons over to as husbands. As in any marriage, this potential daughter-in-law will exert great influence over your son. She will mold his home, where he lives, how he raises his kids, how he spends his money, what he spends it on and even the relationship he has with you. This potential daughter-in-law will also exert great influence over your son when it comes to his Christian walk. To deny these facts is simply to deny the dynamics of the influence of a woman/wife has over her man/husband. Thus, as parents it is important that we raise our sons to recognize when there is the God given right balance in a relationship with the woman that they may have fallen in love with.

There is no more important role in a family than that of a mother and wife. Who gets that role in your son’s life should be the biggest influence that you want to have over your son. It is important. We have seen throughout our lives and you know it’s true! We have seen in history and we know it’s true. Just look at our bible passage for today. The influence over an entire nation’s relationship with God, the real, one and only true God, was shaped and influenced by a wife’s influence in the home over her husband, the king. Let’s read that passage, 2 Kings 8:16-24, now for the first of two times with an eye toward the powerful influence that a wife and mother has on her family (and in this case a nation):

16 Jehoram son of King Jehoshaphat of Judah began to rule over Judah in the fifth year of the reign of Joram son of Ahab, king of Israel. 17 Jehoram was thirty-two years old when he became king, and he reigned in Jerusalem eight years. 18 But Jehoram followed the example of the kings of Israel and was as wicked as King Ahab, for he had married one of Ahab’s daughters. So Jehoram did what was evil in the Lord’s sight. 19 But the Lord did not want to destroy Judah, for he had promised his servant David that his descendants would continue to rule, shining like a lamp forever.

20 During Jehoram’s reign, the Edomites revolted against Judah and crowned their own king. 21 So Jehoram[a] went with all his chariots to attack the town of Zair.[b] The Edomites surrounded him and his chariot commanders, but he went out at night and attacked them[c] under cover of darkness. But Jehoram’s army deserted him and fled to their homes. 22 So Edom has been independent from Judah to this day. The town of Libnah also revolted about that same time.

23 The rest of the events in Jehoram’s reign and everything he did are recorded in The Book of the History of the Kings of Judah. 24 When Jehoram died, he was buried with his ancestors in the City of David. Then his son Ahaziah became the next king.

In this passage, we see that King Jehoshaphat arranged the marriage between Jehoram, his son, and Athaliah, the daughter of wicked Ahab and Jezebel. Athaliah followed the idolatrous ways of her parents in the northern kingdom, bring Baal worship into Judah and starting the southern kingdom’s decline. Where Jeroham died, his son, Ahaziah, became king. Then, when Ahaziah was killed in battle, Athaliah murdered all her grandsons except Joash and made herself queen (see 2 Kings 11:1-3). Jeroham’s marriage may have been politically advantageous, but spiritually it was deadly.

As you see here, the wife, Athaliah, had great influence over her husband. It was not necessarily that he was a weak and docile man. It is simply that if you do not recognize the influence that a wife and mother has in a marriage, you are simply kidding yourself. That’s why as parents of sons that it is highly important that we raise our sons not only to treat women well but also to discern the nature of the woman that they are going to marry. When he marries her, he is handing his home over to her. When he marries her, he is giving direct influence over 2/3 or more of his life to her. When he marries her, she will shape his views on the other third of his life as well, his job – what it is, where it is, how he views it, etc. I am not saying these things to bash women but rather to recognize their powerful influence in a man’s life.

We may be charged by God to protect our families but our wives are charged by God to make that family a family. Let us influence our children to choose wisely and let us influence them to be the kind of spouse that uses their role in a godly way and as God intended it. It can change the course of our children’s lives but who they marry. Just look at this situation in Judah’s history. This is a turning point in Judah’s history. Why? Because of a marriage.

We may not have a son or daughter entering in our a royal marriage such as this but it is just as important to your family’s history as this marriage was to Judah’s history. Let’s us raise daughters who will use their influence in marriage in a godly way that promotes the well being of her family and their family relationships and their relationships with Jesus Christ. Let us raise son who play their role in marriage appropriately by providing, protecting and creating environments for their wives and children to flourish in ways that are sacrificial in nature. Let us raise these children to recognize their roles in marriage and use them wisely. Let us raise them to choose their spouse wisely.

Amen and Amen.