Jehu wrote letters and sent to Samaria.
I. JEHU SPENDS ALL HIS TIME IN HACKING AT OTHER PEOPLE'S SINS. Perhaps it is too much to expect a man to do more than one thing well, but somehow one does expect that when a man is so tremendously in earnest against other people's sins he should occasionally see to his own. Have we not often met the man? Have we not heard him denouncing the dreadful heresy of other people: storming them with hard words — papist, heretic, infidel — and then he goes down to his Bethel? "See my zeal for orthodoxy." Yet he goes hard, loveless, unbrotherly, the day through. And Jehu is not always in a carriage driving furiously. I have met him sometimes with shuffling steps, whining and whimpering about other people's dreadful doings, holding up hands of pious horror and shaking the head sternly in an agony of concern as to what will become of them! And yet he too has his calves at Bethel My dear sir, what will become of you? Your Jehu comforts himself that his zeal against Baal will be set over against the little matter of Bethel and the golden calves, as if the Almighty kept a debit and credit account, and that the balance will come out on the right side. Never, Jehu — never. You are not only omitting some trifling detail of religion, — it is the undoing of it all. And look again. There was a terrible danger that Jehu should be satisfied with what he had done. If anybody spoke to him about the calves at Bethel, he would take refuge at once, "But see what I did to Baal." If any one called him an idolater he would say. "See how I served God in the matter of Ahab." Ah, it is a terrible thing to cheat even ourselves thus.
II. JEHU SERVED GOD JUST SO FAR AS HE COULD SERVE HIMSELF, AND NO FURTHER. If Jehu was going to be king, then of course he must get rid of Joram: and if he meant to keep the throne, then his safety will be to get rid of the whole house of Ahab; for so long as one was left there would be a centre for disturbance and plots. His safety depended upon the clean sweep that he made. And the priests of Baal would be another source of mischief. So Jehu cried, "Come, see my zeal for the Lord." And the whip cracks and the horses gallop and not a prince of Ahab's house or a priest of Baal is left. Then Jehu goes down and worships the calves at Bethel, and worships them for the same reason — that it served his purpose. Yes, Jehu, we have seen thy zeal — thy zeal for thyself. The calves at Bethel were put up at the first as a matter of policy. When the two kingdoms were rent in twain, by possessing Jerusalem Judah had the advantage of the temple and its holy associations. So the king of Israel said, "It will never do to let my people acknowledge the supremacy of. Judah by going up to .worship. To expose them to this temptation to return to Judah is too much." So he set up the calves at Bethel and at Dan, and cried, "These be thy gods, O Israel." Now the same policy that prompted Jeroboam to put them up, prompted Jehu to keep them up. I know that he could explain it all and satisfy everybody — except those that were stupidly particular, you know, and quite ignorant of the ways of the world. "You see I did not set them up; I would not have done such a thing on any account, and I cannot, but wish that they never had been set up. Of course Jeroboam is to blame, very much to blame. But now that they are set up and the people are accustomed to them, it would never do for me to interfere. They would not understand it. Really, it may seem otherwise to you, but a man in my position has to be very careful — very." It is an utterly mean and despicable kind of religion this, serving God just as far as it serves our own purpose. To be religious, chiefly on Sundays, not because sin is hateful, but because it is the proper thing; — religious not from many love to holiness, but because it may be expedient in the long run. True religion may have its source in selfish motives, as great rivers may have their rise in marshy swamps — but Jehuism ends there. It is all through a subtle self-service. What suits me and my interests, that decides the whole duty of man.
III. THEN AGAIN, JEHU GOES SO FAR IN SERVING GOD AS IT SUITS HIS TASTES. He liked furious driving and fierce excitements. Set him up behind a pair of wild horses and he was in his element. He was a soldier, and such cruel and bloody horrors were what his nature and his calling inclined him to. But when Ahab's household was slain, and Jezebel was dead, and the worshippers of Baal murdered, and the image burned, and the temple of their foul idolatry left for ever defiled — then it was quite a different thing for him to go troubling himself about pleasing God in the thousand little matters of everyday life. Some people will be religious so far as it suits their tastes. "I like it" settles everything. We cannot help our tastes and preferences — they are gifts of God like our instincts, of which they are indeed part. But the danger is when we exalt our tastes into that which regulates our duty. Many a course has for its only reason and its bit of poor defence, this — I like it. Now if religion mean anything at all, it means that I am bound to consider first and foremost in everything what God likes, and to serve Him: and I am bound to consider my likes in reference to my brother and see that I offend him not; to consider his preferences and his claims; to stay myself in my furious driving and fierce destruction, lest I should ride over him. Religion is not a system provided only to quiet my uneasy fears, and to put into me happy feelings, and to tell me not to worry myself — a ministry to our selfishness and indolence — vices that no religion need fatten, they know how to take care of themselves, and failings that no religion can satisfy. If religion mean anything it means this, and if it have any reality in it, it will show itself thus — I am bound to deny myself wherever I can really help any man in God's world. And to us workers in the Church is there not here a word of warning? All that Jehu did was done by him as the servant of the Lord — yet the very bustle and energy of the service shut out the times of meditation and waiting upon God by which he was to learn what he had to do and to find the fitness for doing it. The work, however well done, is but very ill done which steals from us the time of quiet communion with God. The reason of Jehu's failure is not far to seek. He walked not in the way of the Lord with all his heart, because his heart was not in it. There is the secret. Let Jehu be handling the reins, or in the excitement of the battle, and there all the man appeared. No task was too difficult for this determined man; no position was too exposed for his courage; nothing was too much to expect of him. But when it was to do the will of God in other things, then Jehu had excuses and hindrances ready by the score. Then the strong man was really so weak and helpless. Ah, so it is that to-day there are many Jehus — men who have a whole heart for anything, everything, but the service of God. Here is a man of business — how he can stick at it, grudging no labour, sticking at it day and night in the hope of increasing his returns — "a smart fellow," men say, "and very clever." But for the Lord this man can only sigh. Here this earnest man can content himself with excuses. Once more Jehu's name is mentioned — And Jehu slept with his fathers. The .restless energetic life was over. The furious driver could not escape the old enemy. He lies and looks back upon his course, and looks forward into that dread world which is opening before him. The coveted crown is passing to another head; the sceptre is falling from the trembling grasp.
(M. G. Pearse.)
Who slew all these?
1. The first suffering of the drunkard is in the loss of his good name. God has so arranged it, that no man ever loses his good name except through his own act. All the hatred of men and all the assaults of devils cannot destroy a man's good name, if he really maintains his integrity. If a man is honest, and pure, and Christian, God looks after him.
2. Another loss which the inebriate suffers is that of self-respect. Just as soon as a man wakes up and finds that he is the captive of strong drink, he feels bemoaned.
3. I go further, and say that the inebriate suffers from the loss of his usefulness. Do you not recognise the fact that many of those who are now captives of strong drink, only a little while ago were foremost in the churches and in reformatory institutions?
4. I go on, and say that the inebriate suffers from the loss of physical health.
5. Again: the inebriate suffers through the loss of his home. I do not care how much he loves his wife and children, if this passion for strong drink has mastered him, he will do the most outrageous things, and if he could not get drink in any other way, he would sell his family into eternal bondage. How many homes in our city have been broken up in that way, no one but God knows.
6. But my subject takes a deeper tone, and that is, that the inebriate suffers from the loss of the soul.
(T. De Witt Talmage, D. D.)
Is thine heart right.
I. IF THE STATE OF OUR HEARTS BE RIGHT, THEN WILL THEY BE RIGHT WITH GOD. A heart truly right with God implies,
1. That we venerate Him.
2. That we entirely submit ourselves to Him.
3. That by the cultivation of a devotional spirit, we maintain a sacred intercourse with Him.We ask, then, Is thine heart right with God? Does it venerate Him? submit to Him? aspire after Him? You know the state of your own heart: Answer these inquiries as before God.
II. IF OUR HEARTS BE RIGHT, THEY ARE RIGHT WITH CHRIST. Till this be the case, the heart cannot ever be right with God.
1. When it accepts His sacrifice as the only ground on which to claim the remission of sins.
2. The heart is not right with Christ unless it loves Him.
3. When the heart is right with Christ, there is an habitual confidence in His intercession. Is thine heart thus right with Christ? Dost thou thus believe in Him? thus love Him? thus habitually confide in Him?
III. IF OUR HEARTS BE RIGHT, THEY ARE RIGHT WITH THE CHURCH OF CHRIST. I mean, by this expression, the whole company of his militant and professing people here on earth; the spiritual Israel of God. Now, when the heart is in a right state,
1. The Church is avowed.
2. Its members are loved.
3. When our heart is right with the Church, we feel that we are identified with it. Here, too, let me ask, "Is thine heart right?" Dost thou avow thyself a member of Christ's church? love its members? identify thyself with its interests? and labour to promote them?
IV. IF THE HEART BE LIGHT, IT WILL BE RIGHT WITH ITSELF. There are strange oppositions and divisions in the heart; and this cannot be a right state of it There is opposition between conviction and choice. Many know the good, who choose it not, who make no effort for its attainment. There is opposition between Will and power. To Will is indeed present with them, but how to perform they find not. There is the struggle between the flesh and the spirit; the counteraction of graces by opposite evils There is the stunted growth. The seed is at least so far choked, that there is no fruit unto perfection. When it is thus with us, the heart is manifestly wrong. When it is right, it exerts an enlightened sway over the whole man: All its powers are in obedient order, all its graces fruitful and abundant. We therefore again ask, Is thine heart right With itself? Is it divided, and therefore faulty? or has God united it, that it may fear His name?
1. Perhaps our heart is wrong.
2. Perhaps it is in part right.
3. Know and use the means by which this may be accomplished.Exercise faith in the Saviour, live in habitual watchfulness and self-denial, "keeping the heart with all diligence, for that out of it are the issues of life."
I. IN ITS VIEWS OF RELIGIOUS TRUTH? Has it formed a right judgment concerning thy natural condition, as a sinner against God; and respecting the way of bettering that condition? I am aware that many regard this as the proper business of the understanding, rather than of the heart. Hence they excuse their erroneous views in religion, by pleading want of ability to discover the truth. Hence the poor think it enough to say, "I am no scholar!" And persons, far Wiser than they in worldly wisdom, have pretended, "that a man is not responsible for what he believes, and that it is not his fault if he be mistaken." On the one hand we are informed, that "with the heart man believeth unto righteousness."
II. IN ITS DEPENDANCE? On what is it actually resting, as the ground of its hopes for eternity? "Other foundation can no man lay, than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ."
III. IN ITS CHOICE? In what does it delight? what does it esteem to be the chief good?
IV. IN ITS INTENTIONS AND PURPOSES? Having discovered the truth — rested on Christ — chosen the Lord for your welcome portion — what is now your object in life?
V. IN ITS ACTUAL INFLUENCE ON THY CONDUCT? Many, alas, woefully deceive themselves, by forming excellent resolutions — never to be put in practice. In such a ease, let self-flattery pretend what it may, the heart must be wrong. Remember, in conclusion, that if the heart be not right, nothing else is right. Even the better parts of your conduct, for want of this, will still be offensive in the sight of that God, who "seeth not as man seeth." If you be conscious that your heart is not right, then remember that "God is greater than your heart, and knoweth all things." It may be safe from human scrutiny — but not from his eye. If you would have your heart set right, bring it to God in faith and prayer. He will give you a "new" one — a "clean" one — a "perfect" one.
(J. Jowett, M. A.)
Genesis 8:21). David says, "They are all gone aside; they are altogether become filthy." Jeremiah says, "The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked." Christ gives some terrible pictures of the human heart; He likened it to a sepulchre full of corruption.
I. A HEART THAT IS RIGHT IS A TRUSTFUL HEART. The Christian life begins With faith in Christ, and is all through sustained by faith in Christ. Faith in Christ leads the anxious, inquiring heart into rest. A triple foundation: the promises of God, the witness of the Spirit, and the testimony of experience.
II. A HEART THAT IS RIGHT IS A CONSECRATED HEART. A heart that is not wholly Christ's cannot be right Consecration is the way to purity. It is the full surrender of ourselves to God. The giving up of everything that would hinder the Divine life in the soul. Many Christians are not happy because there is something they keep back from God. There must be a giving up of self. The whole question is, self or Christ. There is a voice coming from Calvary's Cross, which tells us we must not live unto ourselves, but unto Him who loved us, and gave Himself for us.
III. A HEART THAT IS RIGHT IS A PURE HEART. The Saviour's teaching was always toward the heart. Out of the heart are the issues of life. He said little about the intellect; but a great deal about the heart.
IV. A HEART THAT IS RIGHT IS AT REST. That which the soul needs is rest; it needs to feel that it is God's, and that God is its possession.
(C. E. Crosthwaite.)
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)
Give me thine hand
I. II. III. IV. (T. De Witt Talmage.)
II. III. IV. (T. De Witt Talmage.)
III. IV. (T. De Witt Talmage.)
IV. (T. De Witt Talmage.)
(T. De Witt Talmage.)
1. God's call is personal. When the young prophet came to Jehu, and standing before the group of captains said he had a message for one of them, and Jehu asked which one, the prophet answered, "To thee, O captain. It was a personal message, and when Jehu followed him away he knew nothing except that he was following the prophet of the Lord God to receive a message from God, and thus he was called to His kingdom. So God sends personal messages to every one of us. The call to salvation is personal to you. God has made us as individuals, Each has his own personal mind and heart, his own personal needs, his individual requirements. Each of us has ability and talent that are peculiar to ourselves.
2. There is no peace save in goodness. When King Joram came out to meet Jehu he was very anxious to have peace, but Jehu could still feel the oil of God upon his head and hear the words of the prophet in his ears commanding him to stamp out the wickedness that had devastated the land. So Jehu answered that there could be no peace while Jezebel with her witchcrafts and her wickedness lived.
3. Only by giving our whole selves to God and throwing our full force on the Lord's side can we please Him. See Jehu as the wicked king turns to fly. A weak turning back now will mean failure and overthrow. He has been called upon for serious and solemn work, and he must not hesitate. Many of our attacks on evil are of no avail, and the arrows fall harmless against the enemies of God and man, because we pull with a faint heart and a weak hand.
4. We must choose sides for or against Jesus. We cannot be neutral. When Jehu stood under the window of the summer palace in Jezreel, with painted Jezebel leaning out in accusation, he cried aloud, so that all the officers of the palace could hear, "Who is on my side? Who?" There could be no neutrality after that. They had to choose between Jezebel and Jehu, and it did not take them long to make the choice. They east out that old painted viper who had brought such sorrow on the land. So our King Jesus, who has the right to be your King, is saying.to you, "Who is on My side? Who?" You must choose between your sins and Jesus
5. It is loyal hearts that Christ wants. Everything else is secondary. "Are you loyal to Me?" that is the question of Jesus. When Jehu met Jehona-dab he said to himself, "Ah, there is Jehonadab. A very nice kind of a man. He could be worth a great deal to me. But it all depends on whether he is loyal or not. If his heart is with me, he is worth more than a regiment of soldiers; but if he is not for me, loyally, he might do me a great deal of damage." So when he is close enough to Jehonadab he stops and calls to him, saying, "Jehonadab, is thine heart right, as my heart is with thy heart?" And Jehonadab looks back with honest eyes and says, "It is." And Jehu answers, "If it be, give me thine hand." And out comes the hand of the other man, and Jehu takes it in a great strong grip, and not only by the strength of his grasp, but by the look in his eyes, he makes Jehonadab know what he means. And he steps right up in the chariot, and rides on with the king in honour and peace. What a suggestive illustration is this of what Jesus Christ is saying to every one of you who have not yet given Him assurance of your earnest loyalty. He is knocking at the door of your heart. It is your heart He wants; your loyal and loving service. And He is saying to you, "If you will but make up your mind, if you will but open your heart to Me, if you will but give Me your loyal hand-grip, then we shall go on the way together." Jehonadab was safe in the king's chariot. You shall be safe when the King's loving strong hand lifts you up in the chariot beside Himself and you ride onward in peace and honour towards heaven.
(L. A. Banks, D.D).
Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.
I. THE INDICATIONS OF A ZEAL ESSENTIALLY DEFECTIVE. It will be proper here to notice —
1. The motives which usually prevail. They are such as are accordant with the reign of selfishness. Of course, it is not intended to enter into a minute and extended investigation of the various motives which may be brought into play, in connection with the exhibitions of religions zeal. A few may suffice which are known to have an influence on the minds of men with regard to missionary operations. For instance, natural compassion for the temporal miseries of our species. Far be it from us to speak in terms of disparagement of such a feeling, it is excellent, so far as it goes; as on its influence, in a great measure, depends the preservation of the general framework of society. It need scarcely to be remarked, that, however excellent this feeling of compassion may be, it may exist, and in a strong degree, apart from any concern for the glory of God or the welfare of men's souls. A desire to propagate our own opinions and practices in matters of religion has often produced considerable effect on the minds of men. The vanity to be esteemed benevolent may also prove a powerful motive to exertion.
2. The degree of excitement produced by an appeal to such motives may be as strong as any of which nature is capable. Such as we have referred to evidently animated the Arabs in the infancy of the Moslem faith, and fined them with a vigour and a daring that scorned all opposition and difficulty, and that resulted in wonderful success. And were not these the motives co which appeal was made, when by the preachings of Peter the Hermit, and of the Pope, the indignation of Europe was roused; and when her potent states vied with each other in pouring forth their armed multitudes to meet the Saracens in the Holy Land — when the victorious soldiers waded through the blood of their foes to sing praises to Christ at His altar, as if in defiance of the precept which He had enjoined on His followers — "Bless them that hate you, and pray for them that despitefully use you"?
3. There are certain limitations, by which such motives will be necessarily restrained. The coincidence of the gratification of self-love with the claims of philanthropy will ever determine the extent of activity. And this coincidence we cannot expect to be of long continuance. Some novel and therefore more popular cause will divert the attention.
4. The improbability of enjoying the Divine blessing while actuated by such motives. That God may bless, notwithstanding their influence, we are not inclined to doubt, but certainly, we are not warranted to expect a blessing, unless taught to act on higher principles. Let us therefore seriously examine ourselves with regard to our real motives.
II. THE INDICATIONS OF A ZEAL PERMANENTLY INFLUENTIAL; of which it may be predicted at the outset of its career that it will prove co-extensive with the energies of life.
1. Such zeal must arise, we apprehend, from the effectual application of the Gospel to the heart. Without this, we cannot conceive how a man can really desire the increase of true religion, as he can have no just idea of its nature.
2. Motives corresponding with this experience will incline the believer to seek the conversion of sinners in the heathen world. Such we conceive the following to be. A desire to promote the glory of God, whose character is dishonoured by the practices of idolatry.
3. Universality and permanence of zeal are thus secured. Selfish zeal is partial; in the case of Jehu, the idolatry of Baalim is overthrown; but an idolatry equally offensive is countenanced at Bethel and Dan. He who acts under the influence of the motives peculiar to a renewed mind, is likely to aim at universality of obedience to Divine directions; and as He who has begun a .good work in him, .will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ; his zeal, allowing for some variations of intensity and modes or exercise, will continue till time is exchanged for eternity.
4. Some important illustrations of the zeal which springs from the power of religion within. Our Lord Jesus Christ gave a perfect exemplification of this zeal. Of course His zeal was displayed under very different circumstances from ours, and was free from the internal counteraction that we too often feel; but in this leading feature, we observe the general analogy; His zeal proceeded from the purity of His character, it was the index of His religious feeling, of His regard for the glory of God, and the salvation of souls.
5. The intensity of our zeal will depend on that of our religion: the one cannot languish without the other. Hence our real prosperity may be more deeply involved in the vigour of our zeal for the Lord than we have perhaps suspected: "Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee" (Psalm 122:6). The health of a tree is promoted, rather than injured, in bearing fruit.
1. The undertaking in which Jehu was engaged was the extermination of the family of Ahab. By the murder of Naboth, and by habitual idolatry, Ahab stood condemned to death under the impartial justice of the Divine law. The sentence was denounced. It is not however by a single characteristic that genuine zeal is ascertained. In colour the counter may exhibit a perfect resemblance of the unadulterated gold. But how stands the comparison as to. weight, as to solidity, as to ductility? Let us bring the zeal of Jehu to the test of additional criterions.
2. In the prosecution of his object Jehu speedily displayed a ferocious and cruel spirit.
3. Zeal necessarily bears a character of publicity. It manifests itself in action; and, when directed to objects of extensive importance, is constrained to labour before the eyes and amidst the concourse of men. Genuine zeal for religion, thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Christian humility, though it cannot retire from notice, courts not popular observation. Steadfast, yet unobtrusive, it submits to the general gaze, to the general noise of tongues, which, without relinquishing its appointed office, it cannot avoid; but pushes not forward vain-glorious pretentions, delights not to become the spectacle of wonder, the theme of applause.
4. The zeal that is from above is, first, pure. However ardent in the prosecution of its object, it resorts not to means which are unjustifiable. It abominates craft and duplicity. It abhors the suggestions of that worldly wisdom, which teaches to do evil that good may come.
5. Genuine zeal for religion is, in the strictest import of the terms, zeal for the Lord. Its prime object is the glory of Jehovah, the honour of His name, the purity of His worship, the influence of His law. Is such the zeal of Jehu? Are his cruelty, his ostentation, his falsehood, no more than heterogeneous mixtures, stupendous indeed in collective magnitude, yet no more than extraneous impurities, unnaturally adhering to a latent yet actual zeal for religion; clouding and debasing the living flame, yet without extinguishing or superseding it?
(T. Gisborne, M. A.)
1. It will be my endeavour to show you how to acquire this assurance; and, first of all, avoid religious excitement avoid the cultivation of feelings which, however sincerely entertained at the time, have to confess their hollowness in the searching privacies of the chamber. We are told, remember, to "pray in secret" — "not to let our right hand know what our left doeth" — "to commune with our own heart, and to be still"; we are to ask God to try and prove our sincerity, as being able to accomplish what is not in the power of either ourselves or of the world. Until, therefore, we are assured, by secret self-examinations, that these rules and descriptions are practically exemplified in our own lives, we should avoid obtaining, by public excitation, a character for religious zeal to which conscience in private gives the lie. When once a man feels that he has a character for religion to sustain before the world, which he cannot support satisfactorily when alone — when to men he must appear one thing, and he involuntarily knows that to himself he is another — he has made the first step towards hypocrisy, and hypocrites God always deserts!
2. Let me tell you another way of both increasing and proving your zeal, which is this — be fervent in prayer. You will often find — the very best of you, I fear — that when your prayers are ended your thoughts have throughout been wandering, and that scarcely a petition which fell from your lips had any real sense attached to it: other things were in your mind, interesting and absorbing it.
(A. Gatty, M. A.)
Monday Club Sermons.It is the son of Rechab, the founder of a monastic sect which, amid prevailing idolatry, is still true to Jehovah. He gives, doubtless, a priestly benediction, or approving word, for the sanguinary work already done. It invites the quick reply, "If our hearts are at one in this, — you, man of peace and I, of war, — then let us strike hands in ratification." The clasp is strong, and the stern ascetic is drawn up into the chariot, to have breathed in his ear, the still more horrible Secret which the avenger is hasting to execute. Here we get our first lesson.
I. BAD MEN ARE GLAD OF THE APPROVAL OF RELIGIOUS TEACHERS IN THEIR SCHEMES. The multitudes exhibit the deep and unshaken belief that there is an impartial and omniscient Power, who maintains a perfect government in His universe. Spite of all denial, infidelity, and bravado, the wicked have the stubborn conviction that God will visit for their sins.. At the same time, the desire is strangely parent of the hope, that He can be persuaded to mitigate the judgment, or consent to their malign plans. His representatives are regarded as clothed with a certain authority which may be helpful or prejudicial. If their sanction can be obtained, the evil-doer often fancies the Lord is thereby committed. The anathemas of Pope Gregory brought the haughty Henry IV. to his feet in abject entreaty, while the tormenting conscience of Charles IX. was quieted, for a little, at the news of the "Te Deums" sung in Rome over the massacre of the Huguenots. The Divine will was thought, in both cases, to accord with the act of His vicegerents. It seems to be forgotten, that, if any servant is false, his Lord is not therefore untrue; if he is mistaken, his liege is not also; if he gives permit to wrong, the "God without iniquity, just and fight," does not. The statutes of Christian states may allow and protect slavery, prostitution, dram-selling, easy divorce, but he who thinks therefore to have secured the approval of his Maker in such practices is utterly deceived. The wink of devils ought to bring even a slender saint to his senses. The smile and applause of the wolf ought to create suspicion in his unwary partner. While the world endures, he will try to secure the alliance of the shepherd. Returning to the pair, of such contrasted presence, hurrying on towards Samaria, we catch another sentence from the excited soldier's lips, "Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord." At once we bethink ourselves that —
II. TRUE PIETY IS NEVER BOASTFUL. Jehu verily thought that he cared much for Jehovah, as he gloated in imagination over the complete destruction of the worshippers of Baal. Idolatry had proved the weakness of the nation and undermined the throne. He was king, and would sit secure only when these perfidious, irreligious subjects were slain. He found that, to rid the earth of them, was to exalt his own name and prestige. The "stroke of policy" was a stroke of piety. He and the Lord were fighting together. He, at any rate, would get great glory out of it. "My zeal" must advertise itself — can never survive unless it does. Holy ardour, on the contrary, is never aware of its own exhibition. The scourge in the hands of the Christ was the token of his zeal for the honour and purity of His Father's house. It was a ready means to a worthy end — aimed at effect indeed, but not display. John the Baptist, of fiery purpose, was content to be only "a voice," that the Messiah might be seen. Mary's box of ointment has shed its sweet perfume of loving unworthiness through the centuries, but she never dreamed of its mention as a costly offering. All the really great things which the disciples of Christ have performed have been without ostentation or consciousness of their superiority. It is a Hindu saying that, "Lowliness excites no man's envy," but it does inspire the like grace in a sincere heart. Well had it been for this hero of Israel, if he could have heard the later word of one, every whit his equal in false zeal, but who had learned in the white light of Divine rebuke, that "the things which are despised hath God chosen, and things which are not, to bring to naught things that are, that no flesh should glory in His presence." We watch now for the illustration of the single-hearted soldier's zeal, and witnessing the trap set and sprung, and the revolting butchery, are forced to conclude —
III. THE SELF-RIGHTEOUS ARE LIKELY TO REGARD THE SUGGESTIONS OF THEIR PASSIONS, AS THE DIVINE COMMAND. It was a momentous order which Jehu received from the prophet, to destroy the whole reigning family. It came to a ready spirit. By the solemn law of the nation the unfaithful king and all related to him had forfeited their claim upon life. It was a fatal transgression to depart from the Living God. The executioner might be pestilence, or flames leaping from the clouds, or an invading host, or some mighty man armed for the work. Right thoroughly it had been done. The ghastly pile of seventy heads of princes, laid on either side of the gate of Jezreel, had witnessed to this servant's energy and fidelity. The taste of blood had created, as in the tiger, an imperious thirst. A wild glare was in his eye as the Rechabite tried to read its secret. Interpreting his orders that not only the dynasty of Ahab, but that of Baal too, must fall by the sword, he set about it in terrible earnest. Craft and cruelty combined against priest and devotee. All who had come up to the solemn festival came, instead, to the shambles, and not one escaped. So Mahomet-Ali conquered the Mamelukes; so Amalric stamped out heresy in Languedoc, bidding: "Kill them all. The Lord will know who are His." It ws the complete and final overshow of the accursed system of Baal worship. Was it not, like the hangman's act, a dread necessity? We cannot answer; but, till we find precise instructions for such wholesale slaughter, we shall presume he exceeded his commission. So have men ever since been construing their low .inclinations, as being also the good pleasure of their Creator. Every form of sin has "had such apology." Divinities have been invented to favour and further the most depraved appetites, while, to-day, not a few are trying to believe that God is "altogether such an one as" themselves. To make our own moral standards, is to antagonise the eternal laws. The closing scene of the tragedy passes before us. It is evident from it, that —
IV. TO DESTROY ONE FORM OF SIN IS NOT TO ABOLISH ALL. We see this zealous soul going straightway to offer sacrifice at the shrine of the golden calves, after the fashion of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin. Even if Jehu had been familiar from youth with this corrupted religious system, he did know that at Jerusalem the .true God was worshipped, not in the likeness of living things. His besom could have swept away the altars and images of the one form of idolatry as well as the other. Not seeing nor embracing his opportunity, he gave the lie to all professions of love and jealousy for the Lord. "His zeal for righteousness did not turn inwards and burn up his own sins." The popular faith answered well enough for him. He would be as good as the average. What a pattern of the modern saint! Hot in indignation toward that which affects him not; very careful where his seeming interests are involved, the old couplet fits him well, as all who —
Compound for sins they are inclined to,
Condemning those they have no mind to.Such easy terms do men make with God! Such choices are they ready for, and pride themselves in! Making a merit of temperance, they indulge in lust; lavish with their wealth, they are vindictive toward one who has wronged them; harping much on philanthropy, they are untrustworthy. One sin cherished is enough to keep the soul for ever under condemnation. A slight flaw in the diamond renders it unfit to be set in the crown. Heaven is lost by withholding the whole heart. This career, so startling and dramatic, terminated sadly. Reward was given for his grim but appointed service. Judgment was visited for his profane worship. His strong arm lost its terror. His last days were clouded by the denial of his ambition, that his name might abide in the rulers of the future. Furious driving is sure to end in wreck, unless the omnipotent hand is also upon the reins, guiding the impassioned soul along the King's highway. That he spurned it is plain, as we read in Hosea: "And I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu, and I will cause to cease the kingdom of the house of Israel."
(Monday Club Sermons.)
1. Zeal is the same word as fervour. In its forcible original meaning, it is the bubbling up of the boiling spirit; the opposite of an impassive, cold-hearted indifference; the outburst of that generous indignation which cannot endure to see right trampled underfoot by might; the overflowing of that gratitude, devotion, love towards God, which counts no toil irksome and no suffering intolerable if it may express its own sense of His greatness, of His goodness, of His long-suffering of Christ, and draws others by its example to know and to speak good of His name; the glowing warmth of that Divine humanity which would willingly spend, and be spent, in snatching but one or two brands from the burning. This is what we mean by zeal. The zeal of Jehu was of a lower order than this. Yet even Jehu may reprove. Would that there were more of us — must I say, that there were any of us? — who could say in any true sense, like Jehu, "Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord!" Any zeal for God, even an ignorant, a mistaken, a rash zeal, were better far for us than none. Instead of it what have we? We show our zeal for God — if that sacred name can thus be parodied — chiefly by the infliction of arbitrary and most dis. proportionate punishment upon offenders, not against the moral law of God but against the moral law of the world. Where God has spoken, man may sin and scarcely suffer; where the world has spoken, no sorrow and no suffering, no lapse of time, no sincerity of repentance, and no consistency of amendment, is allowed to replace the erring man or woman within the pale of a human sympathy, or even of a Christian charity. Such is zeal for God, when debased and disfigured by the modifying hand of man.
2. And this brings us to apply to ourselves, in the way of counsel and warning, the unfavourable part of the character before us. Jehu had a zeal for God, but Jehu nevertheless took no heed to walk in God's law with all his heart.(1) There is great force in that word, "took no heed" — observed not, as the margin renders it — to walk in God's way. We all know what heedlessness is in a child. In the things of religion, in the ways of God and of the soul, we are all too much children. To the heedlessness of human nature most of our sins may be traced up. "Wherewithal shall a man cleanse his way?" etc. (Psalm 119:9).(2) Jehu took no heed to walk in God's law "with all his heart." Is not this the fault in our service, the cause of our heedlessness, that the heart is not right with God? Therefore it was that Jehu gave zeal, but could not give obedience; gave zeal, but could not give consistency; gave zeal, but could not give love. And therefore it is that we too often give neither zeal nor obedience, neither zeal nor love. Christian zeal, like Christian- faith, worketh by love. If you are tender to the suffering, if you are plain with the sinful — yet both alike in humility and in all kindness — then you may hope that your zeal has something in it of Christ. But, most of all, look within. Look to the heart. See whether there is any love of God there.
(The Dean of Llandaff.)
I. OUR ZEAL SHOULD BE A LASTING AND INCREASING PRINCIPLE. Not like light from the thunder-cloud, the evanescent result of passing circumstances, but rather like the great luminary of heaven, steadily beaming on our path, cheering us in every situation, and gilding with hope the dark prospect of the grave,
II. TO ACQUIRE THIS ASSURANCE, AVOID RELIGIOUS EXCITEMENT. We are told to "pray in secret" — "not to let our right hand know what our left doeth." We are to ask God to prove our sincerity; the recesses of the soul are His dwelling-place. Until we are assured, by self-examination, that these descriptions are exemplified in our own lives, let us avoid obtaining, by religious public excitation, a character for religious zeal to which conscience in private gives the lie.
III. GENUINE ZEAL, FOR GOD IS FOUNDED AND MATURED IN THE HEART AND CHARACTER BY THE COUNSELS OF THE SPIRIT. After Paul's conversion, three days of blindness and fasting were necessary for the conviction of his error and the growth of a counter resolution. His sub. sequent zeal in the ministry shows that the principles must be established by an inward conviction, and not be moved by mere outward impressions (1 Corinthians 9:26, 27).
IV. INSTEAD OF CONGRATULATING OURSELVES, THEN, THAT WE KNOW NOTHING OF THESE FEELINGS, LET US BE HUMBLED THAT WE ARE DEVOID OF THEM. In wanting them altogether, we want that without which religion is an empty profession.
V. WHEREVER THERE IS A TRUE FAITH, THERE WITH BE A ZEAL WHICH WILL THINK NOTHING TOO GOOD TO GIVE UP FOR (Galatians 2:20). Pray for (Romans 10:2), which manifests itself in a holy love, and consistent obedience. Such a zeal had Daniel, Shadrach, etc.; Paul (Acts 21:13); David (Psalm 73:24, 25). Such a zeal may not, at present, obtain the applause of men; but it will not be forgotten when (Luke 12:8), and when every act flowing from love to God in Christ shall be recorded before assembled worlds.
I. FALSE ZEAL. Jehu is an instance of this. Proceeding from —
1. Natural energy of character (2 Kings 9:20, 24, etc.).
2. Sense of being appointed and qualified for some particular service (2 Kings 9:1-7).
3. Seeking praise. of men (text). The heart may nevertheless be not right with God — may be going after its idols (2 Kings 10:29, 31).
II. TRUE ZEAL. St. Paul is an instance of this. In him zeal for the Lord was visible, prominent, as in Jehu; but with this difference: in Jehu it resembles the fitful flashes of a thunderstorm, sudden and vivid, contrasting with, yet not dissipating, the darkness out of which it springs. In St. Paul it ever burns with clear and steadfast light, illuminating the entire course of his life, and shedding a halo of glory around his martyr death. We see its commencement (Acts 9:6); its continuance (1 Corinthians 9:26, 27; Galatians 2:20; Philippians 3:13, 14); its close (2 Timothy 4:6-8). Whence this difference? St. Paul was naturally an idolater no less than Jehu. His idols were self-righteousness, Judaism, Pharisaism — zeal very similar to that of Jehu (Philippians 3:4-6). These, however, were overthrown when Jesus was revealed to him as his Redeemer, convincing him of, and cleansing him from, sin; making known to him the true character of God. Thenceforward his motto was, "God, whose I am, and whom I serve" (Acts 27:23).
III. LESSON FOR US. No true zeal for God until and unless we know Him as the "only true God and Jesus Christ," etc. (John 17:3). No true zeal for Him until we have personally realised His loving, self-sacrificing zeal for us in our salvation through Christ Jesus.
(R. Chester, B. A.)
1. Jehu had great executive ability. His fast driving was characteristic. He was impetuous, but not reckless. Having formed a purpose, he rushed to its realisation. He brought things to pass. He combined energy with tenacity, and was capable of rapid decision. He was not so dominated by fixed notions that he could not speedily and silently retrace his steps when he found himself on the wrong path. Like Napoleon at Austorlitz, he knew the value of five minutes. He had a strong personal magnetism that coerced his associates into willing and even eager subservience. A true descendant of Jacob, he was versed in the science of dissimulation. He had the claws of a tiger, but they were muffled in velvet. His step was quick, but stealthy. He was not only rapid, but persistent. He never tired. His speedy pace was ceaseless, on and on. His deadly work did not stop half-way, but utterly extirpated the dynasty of Ahab and the worship of Baal.
2. But Jehu's character was stained by vindictiveness, The bloody role assigned to him by the Omnipotent was congenial to his nature. He was ready enough to obey God so long as the Divine command fell in with his own ambitious and bloodthirsty passions. A man who wished the stones cleared away from a little plot of ground once called together the boys of the neighbourhood, and setting up a mark outside of his ground, proposed that all should throw stones at it. The stones were soon removed. How ready we are to do God's will when it happens to coincide with our own feelings! "We seize eagerly, says Goethe, upon a law that will serve as a weapon to our passions."
3. Jehu was a kind of human tiger, and only too glad to have God use him as such. He had, indeed, a sense of destiny, like Napoleon or Stanley; but this destiny impelled him along the grooves of his own lust for rule and thirst for blood. His personal enemies, — the family of Ahab, which stood between him and the throne, the worshippers of Baal, who might cause his royal head to rest uneasy, — he went at them as if armed with a firman from the Almighty. He was like an executioner hacking his victim to pieces with fierce glee. It was as if a Christian, moved by Scripture precepts drawn from a far-away age and from a legal dispensation, should beat his child in anger. How different the spirit of a father whom I knew! After using the rod prayerfully, reluctantly, and even tenderly, he broke it up and threw it into the fire. Jehu was like some of the old divines, who seemed to preach hell with a gusto. Jehu is like a minister secretly rejoicing over the heresy of a successful rival and suddenly becoming valiant for the very phase of truth which his erring brother has slighted.
(E. Judson, D. D.)
Romans 10:2, finds fault with the zeal of the Jews because it is "not according to knowledge," There is a great deal of this kind of zeal in our day. The less people know the more zealous they are often. It is easier to agitate a shallow pool than a deep lake. It is easier to kindle a pile of shavings than a ton of coal. And so it is with men and women. And hence it comes to pass that the one-idea folks are the most enthusiastic. Their single lonely notion of reform stirs them up as a strong wind sweeps the forest leaves, or gathers clouds of dust in the open roadway. It is all surface agitation. It is noise and bluster, fuss and fury, but makes no permanent impression. Alas, how the world has been excited, and still is, by zeal that is not according to knowledge! Men catch a fraction of some great truth; they rush into print or on the platform; they think they know all that the world needs to know; they imagine they have the panacea for all its ills; they agitate; they organise; they denounce everybody who does not believe that their fraction is "the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth." Another party gets hold of another fraction, and is equally zealous for their panacea; and the war goes on like that of boys who splash each other from the opposite sides of a narrow pool.
Jehu took no heed to walk in law of the Lord.
(A. Maclaren, D. D.)