When you arrive, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. Go in, get him away from his companions, and take him to an inner room.
And where was it that they met? Jehu had good reason to know the place. So had Jehoram. About twenty years before, another memorable meeting had taken place there. Jehoram's father, Ahab, had coveted Naboth's vineyard. Jehoram's mother, Jezebel, had brought about Naboth's death by a process of false swearing against him. Naboth was dead, and Ahab, accompanied by his two captains, Jehu and Bidkar, rode out to take possession of that vineyard whose owner the queen had murdered. But his sin had found him out. Elijah, the messenger of God, met him there. And there, in that vineyard which he had procured through covetousness, envy, treachery, and bloodshed, Ahab was compelled to listen to his doom. Terrible words they were indeed for a king to hear. "Thus saith the Lord, In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick thy blood, even throe. And Jezebel, the instigator of the crime, was not forgotten. The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel." And now, in that very place, stained with the blood of Naboth, Jehu meets Jehoram, the son of Ahab the murderer and the king. The blood of Naboth cries to Heaven for vengeance. Jehoram was little better than his father. He too "cleaved unto the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin." He forsook the true God and served other gods. No doubt his conscience smote him and his spirit failed him, as he asked of Jehu, "Is it peace?" But there was not much time left him to prepare to die. Jehu's words were few, and his actions quick as thought. With his full strength he drew his bow and sent his arrow straight to Jehoram's heart. It was then that the words of Elijah, spoken twenty years before in that very place, flashed back upon his mind, and he caused the lifeless body of Jehoram to be cast into the field of Naboth the Jezreelite. But Jehu's work of vengeance is not yet done. Jezebel's long career of wickedness had hardened her heart and blinded her to her danger. As Jehu rode into the city, she sat at her window in her best attire, as if to defy him, and greeted him with the sneering question, "Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?' But Jehu is not a man to be trifled with. He finds willing helpers in her own servants. At his command they threw her down into the street, and she - the adulteress and the murderess, the woman whose name has become proverbial as a symbol of everything that is bad - is trampled under the horses' feet, and once more the doom of Heaven is fulfilled: "In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel." We learn from this narrative some important lessons.
I. SIN, NOT REPENTED OF, MUST BE PUNISHED. This is a law of nature. It is a fact of history. It is the very essence of morality. It is the very essence of justice. It is at the basis of social order in a nation. It is at the basis of the moral government of the universe. Those who transgress the law of nations, those who transgress the laws of honesty or of morality, those who take away the life, or the property, or the character of others, must be made to suffer for it. This is necessary, that justice may be vindicated. It is necessary, in order that property and person and character may be safe. It is necessary, in order that other evil-doers may be deterred from crime. Even under our own national law, we feel that there is something wrong when an evil-doer escapes. We feel that it has a bad effect upon the community when crime goes unpunished. Now, what is sin in the Bible sense? Sin is the transgression of the Law. It is a transgression of a far higher law than the law of nations, of that law on which the well-being of all nations depends - the eternal Law of God. The Law of God is at the foundation of all true well-being and happiness in every nation and in every age. "This do, and thou shalt live." "The commandment is holy, and just, and good." It is, therefore, in the interests of every nation, it is in the interests, not of one generation of men merely, but of those who shall come after them, that those who transgress the Divine Law should suffer for it. Every violation of a Divine law must be followed by its corresponding punishment. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Look at your own lives in the light of this great truth. Are there any sins in your lives unrepented of? Then be assured that the punishment, if it has not yet come, awaits you. Sins against God, against God's Law, against God's sabbath; sins against our fellow-man - sins of unfair dealing, sins of evil-speaking, or other and grosser sins; every one of these, if not repented of, is sure to bring its corresponding punishment. "Be sure your sin will find you out."
II. PUNISHMENT MAY BE DELAYED, BUT IT IS NONE THE LESS SURE. There is an old Irish proverb, "The vengeance of God is slow, but sure." We have many illustrations of that in history. It was long after Jezebel's great crime before her punishment overtook her. When the Israelites were journeying through the wilderness, the Amalekites treated them with great treachery and cruelty, falling upon them in the rear, and when they were faint and weary. It was not until four hundred years afterwards that the sentence against Amalek was executed but it was executed at last. We may kill our enemies, we may seek to destroy all traces of our crime, but we can never destroy the memory and the guilt of it by any acts of ours. Charles IX. of France was led, by the importunity of another Jezebel, Mary de Medicis, to kill Admiral Coligny, who was the great leader of the French Protestants. For a long time he refused, but at last he consented in the memorable words, "Assassinate Admiral Coligny, but leave not a Huguenot alive in France to reproach me." That was the origin of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Having killed Coligny, he did not want any of his friends to remain to bear witness against him. How anxious men are to destroy all traces of their crime! And yet how vain all such efforts are! There is One whose eye sees every act of human life. We may escape the judgment of men, but we cannot escape the judgment of God. If not here, then certainly hereafter, every sin, not repented of, will receive its due reward. "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it he good or had."
III. THERE IS OFTEN A RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN THE PLACE AND MANNER OF THE SIN AND THE PLACE AND MANNER OF THE PUNISHMENT.
1. It was at Naboth's vineyard that the great sin of Ahab's house had been committed. There, too, at Naboth's vineyard, Jehoram, Ahab's son, was slain. It was outside the walls of Jezreel that the dogs licked the blood of Naboth. There, too, the dogs licked the blood and ate the flesh of Jezebel his murderess. It would seem as if this was part of the Divine Law of retribution. One reason for it would appear to be that it fixes unmistakably the connection between the sin and its punishment. Robe Spierre, the famous French revolutionist, literally choked the river Seine with the heads of those whom he sent to the guillotine. But the day came when the death-tumbrel containing himself was trundled along the streets of Paris to the selfsame fatal axe, amid the shouts and execrations of the multitude. Cardinal Beaten condemned to death George Wishart, one of the first of the Scottish Reformers, and watched him burning at the stake, while he himself reclined on rich cushions on the walls of his castle at St. Andrew's. Three months afterwards the cardinal himself was put to death, and his dead body was hung by a sheet from the very battlements whence he had looked at the execution of Wishart. There is something more than accident in such things. There is the vivid impression intended to be made on people's minds, that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"
2. The same is true of the resemblance between the manner of the sin and the manner of the punishment. Jezebel's murder of Naboth was treacherous and ignominious. She herself was put to death in a treacherous and ignominious way. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Jacob cruelly deceived his aged father Isaac when he was blind and feeble. What a pointed retribution it was when he was afterwards cruelly deceived by his own sons in their statements about Joseph! Haman was hanged on the gallows which he had made for Mordecai. One of the most terrible instances of this truth, that as we have treated others we shall be treated ourselves, is the case of Charles IX. of France, referred to above. He consented to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. He caused the streets of Paris to run with the blood of the Huguenots. He died at the age of twenty-four: and what a death! French historians of the highest order say that he was in such agony of remorse that he literally sweated blood. The blood that oozed from his own body caused him to think of those whose blood he had so freely shed, and he cried out in his last hours about the massacre of the Huguenots. Horrible! Yes; but there is a deep and solemn truth underlying all this. It is a truth that should have practical result upon every life. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" If your sin is public, most likely your punishment will be public. Men who commit commercial frauds - that is, sins against public confidence and trust - they ought to suffer, and they do suffer, public exposure. If your sin is secret, your punishment will also most likely be secret. They who sin against the laws of health suffer in an impaired constitution. They who sin by speaking evil about others most likely will have many to speak evil about themselves. Standing there by Naboth's vineyard, and thinking of the envy, covetousness, and murder, of which it reminds us, and their terrible consequences, let us hear the blood of Nabeth and the blood of Naboth's house crying to us from the ground, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Such, then, is the Divine law of retribution. But God, who is just, is also merciful. He willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness, and live. We have looked at the way of his justice. Let us look also at the way of his mercy. It is the way of the cross. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." If you reject God's mercy, there is only the other alternative-God's retributive justice. - C.H.I.
Look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat.
I. A REVOLTING EXHIBITION OF HUMAN DEPRAVITY. He was ruthlessly and craftily cruel. He shot Jehoram dead in his chariot. He commanded Jezebel, who was looking out of a window as he passed by, to be thrown down, and in her fall she was smashed to destruction (2 Kings 9:30.) He then proceeded to exterminate the family of Ahab.
II. A DISTRESSING MYSTERY IN THE GOVERNMENT OF GOD. That the merciful Father should permit men to be murderers one of another confounds us with amazement.
III. A MIGHTY ARGUMENT FOR FUTURE RETRIBUTION. Were we to believe that this state of things is to continue for ever, religion, which is supreme love to God, would be out of the question. "We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ."
IV. A PROOF OF THE SUPREME NEED OF A MORAL REGENERATOR. What can alter the character of such men as this Jehu, and put an end to all the cruelties, tyrannies, frauds, and violence, that turn the world into a pandemonium? Philosophy, literature, civilisation, legislative enactments, ceremonial religions? No, nothing short of a Power which can change the moral heart. The Gospel is this regenerating power. Thank God One has come into this world who will "create a new heaven and a new earth wherein dwelleth righteousness."
(David Thomas, D. D.)
1. In these words we are presented with a picture of the way in which the Lord acts when He is about to call His servants to do His work. In the first place, there is the "anointing" — the Holy Spirit. Elisha commands the "box of oil" to be taken. Nothing can be done without this. In all true consecration to God's service the work must be, from beginning to end, the work of the Holy Spirit. Jehu can have no commission without the "oil." He can put no energy to work till the "oil" is "poured" upon him. It is this "anointing" that gives him his authority, his power, his perseverance, and his success. So it must be with the one who is devoted to the Lord's service.
2. In the next place, Jehu is made to "rise up from among his brethren." Here is separation. The work of God the Holy Ghost at once separates a man from everything around him. It is a personal call, an individual work. It is the direct action of that Holy Spirit on a man's own soul. He is drawn from every association and influence, and brought into "an inner chamber" — alone with God. There he is taught of God and trained for His work. There he obtains strength to fulfil it. Thus it is with all God's chosen ones. The more of this personal dealing of the Holy Spirit there is with the soul, the more of this work of the "inner chamber" going on, the more effectual will be the work we undertake for God. One marvels to see what one man could do! All the royal family, the prophets and priests, the worshippers and the idols — all fell down before this man at one stroke! What was the cause, what the secret source of this mighty energy and strength and success? It was the "off," the "separation," and the "inner chamber."
3. How little the world can understand or appreciate this Divine work is seen here. The messenger of the Lord is looked upon as a "mad fellow." This anointing is a secret into which none can enter but those who are subjects of it. Nor can he who is the subject ever sacrifice truth for the sake of peace. Three times the question is put to Jehu, "Is it peace?" But what peace can there be while God is dishonoured, sin loved and cherished, and the truth of God trampled in the dust! First purity, then peace — this is God's order. Peace at any price — this is man's. The world cries out for peace, and there is ready for it "the peace of God which passeth all understanding." But this peace springs from "the sword" which, first piercing man's heart for sin, breaks him from sin. Then follows the peace of God. There could be no peace to Joram, King of Israel, so long as God's truth was despised and set at nought. Put the sin away, every jot of it, then you can have God's peace in your soul! But who will maintain this standard? Who will carry it out at all seasons and under all circumstances? Only the consecrated Christian. Such high ground must entail the cross at every step, and none but a consecrated Christian can bear the cross "in season and out of season." None will take this ground unless there has been much of the "oil," the "separation," and the "inner chamber."
4. And mark the clear and unhesitating way in which every spiritual foe must be met, everything that stands between the soul and God dealt with. Jehu says, with regard to Ahaziah and Jezebel, "Smite him also," "throw her down"; with regard to Ahab's seventy sons, "Take ye the heads of the men, and bring them to me to Jezreel by to-morrow; with regard to the brethren of Ahaziah, "Take them alive"; with regard to the prophets, and priests, and worshippers, he says, "If any of the men escape, he that letteth him go his life shall be for the life of him." What uncompromising faithfulness! What an unreserved cutting-off of every evil one! Kings, nor queens, nor worshippers, are spared! All are swept away without a moment's hesitation! Ah, this is "faithfulness unto death!" This is consecration to God. This is what St. Paul meant when he said — "I am determined to know nothing among you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified"; "to me to live is Christ." It is clear from all I have said, that the difference between a just-saved Christian and one who is thus consecrated, is almost as great as between the former and an unbeliever. And this is the reason there is among Christians so little of the joy of the Lord.
5. Mark the hindrances, and the taunts and sneers such devotion to God has to endure: "Wherefore came this mad fellow," said one; "Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?" was the bitter taunt of Ahab's queen; "we are exceedingly afraid," was the cowardly reply of the rulers of Jezreel. To all these taunts and sneers Jehu has but one reply, "Who is on my side? Is thine heart right with my heart?" His was an eye looking right on, an arm ever uplifted, a course that saw nothing before him but the carrying out of God's word. Here the faithful one is crowned. Glory rests upon him and, through him, on his descendants. "I will give thee a crown of life"; "Him that overcometh will I grant to sit with Me on My throne, even as I also overcame and am set down with My Father in His throne." See the glory that awaits the consecrated life! Is this life thine? Art thou aiming at it, wrestling in prayer for it, keeping it ever before thee? Christian, nothing but this will bring joy and gladness to thy heart now, and "a crown of glory " hereafter. This is life — the life of God. This is testimony — testimony to Christ. This is heaven enjoyed on earth — but only enjoyed through the Cross. Christian, again I ask, Is this life thine?
6. But here the curtain falls. A dark shadow crosses our path. Jehu falls. Thank God for the spiritual picture we have been enabled to draw from his life of what a Christian should be. Thank God for the warning his life presents in its fall. "But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, who made Israel to sin." Draw the picture of every earthly servant of God as bright as we may, there is a shadow somewhere. It is well. The eye should fix itself only on Him. "Looking off unto Jesus." Jehu falls.Let us mark how he fell, and the solemn warning that fall presents.
1. I have been describing the whole-heartedness which characterises every consecrated Christian. But to be whole-hearted, and to maintain it, from day to day, amid influences on every side destructive of it, "needs that we take heed." Jehu "took no heed." Here is our first warning,
2. Secondly, "to walk." This is where the "heed" is to be directed. Talk there is, plenty, and "the talk of the lips tendeth to penury." Profession there is — it is the garment of the many. Just-saved ones there are — the Church has multitudes of them. what we need is "to walk" — "walk in the light," "walk before Me," "walk as becometh saints." This is where we have to "take heed." "Jehu took no heed to walk."
3. Thirdly, "to Walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel." It is to walk in the truth, to "have His commandments and keep them," to ask at every step, "what would the Lord have me to do?" It is to "set the Lord always before me." This is "to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel." This Jehu "took no heed" to do.
4. And lastly, "to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart." Here is whole-heartedness, consecration to God. Some Christians give half a heart. Others give their heart just when it is convenient — just when the Lord's claims involve no sacrifice. Jehu fell just here. Christians all around fall just here. The Church of Christ is full of fallen Johns! Fallen Jehus, on whose brows will rest a deep brand of shame when the Lord comes! Fallen Jehus, the heavy drags on the wheels of every chariot that would run a faster race to heaven!
(F. Whitefield, M. A.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
(J. Parker, D. D.)
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