Backstory of the Kings 15: Jehu

Posted by Worldview Warriors On Friday, December 29, 2023 0 comments

by Charlie Wolcott

Jehu was the only semi-bright spot of the rules of the kings of the Northern Kingdom of Israel. His story is found in 2 Kings 9-10. He is the only one who is known to actually listen and obey the Lord to some degree. This would give him the longest-lasting dynasty of the northern kingdom of a mere five total generations (the last of whom lasted a mere six months). He and Jeroboam were the only kings of Israel who were specifically anointed by God’s prophets to be king; the rest were chosen either by succession or by usurping the throne via regicide (the murder of royalty). So what set up Jehu’s reign and his decisions as king?

We are not given a lot of Jehu’s background but we do know he was a captain or commander of the army of Israel. He was known for his chariot driving because it was wild and furious. When he came to Jezreel to assassinate Ahab’s line, he was marked by his chariot driving. Jehu was anointed king during the battles with Hazael, whom Elisha had anointed king over Syria, and Jehu would kill Ahaziah of Judah, Joram of Israel, and Jezebel and put an end to all the Baal worship in Israel. However, Jehu did not destroy the golden calves of Jeroboam and let that worship remain. Jehu reigned during the rules of Athaliah and Joash of Judah and never had a conflict with them. His reign, along with his son and grandson, spanned the ministry of Elisha for a total of nearly 60 years. This shows that Elisha was a very young man when Elijah took him under his wing.

Jehu’s son Jehoahaz and his grandson Jehoash together ruled for 17 and 16 years respectively, while his great-grandson Jeroboam II ruled for 41 years. We do not know the ages of these kings when they ruled, but Jehu’s 28-year reign, the relatively short rules of Jehoahaz and Jehoash, and Jehu’s position as one of the top captains of Israel give at least an indication that Jehoahaz was likely already born when Jehu was anointed and may have been a young man at that point.

The primary setting of Jehu’s backstory is still Ahab and the 14 years following with his sons ruling. They were years marked by the true ruler: Jezebel. But this time period was also marked by someone else: Elijah. For Jehu to be a captain or commander during his anointing, there is a good chance he was in the army as mere infantry during Ahab’s reign and could very well have been there on Mt Carmel when Elijah called for fire from heaven. He certainly was in the army and would have heard of the 100 soldiers and two captains on whom Elijah had called fire from heaven and consumed them when Ahaziah tried to arrest him. And on top of that, he rode in the chariot with Joram’s chariot driver following Ahab onto Naboth’s property and heard Elijah’s curse. If that is not enough, there is the ministry of Elisha as well. Elisha advised King Joram how to maneuver around Syria to the point where the king of Syria sent his army to hunt down Elisha and that is where Elisha showed his servant the armies of heaven. Jehu was certainly among the ranks of the army by then. He knew of the true God.

Then the anointing came. Elisha sent a servant to go anoint Jehu in private because this was a coup. God was about to overthrow the dynasty of Omri and if word got out, Joram would make moves to protect himself. The prophet gave him the prophecy of Elijah of the doom given to Ahab, and it was time to fulfill it. Jehu didn’t need long to process this and immediately set things in motion to carry it out. The king was in Jezreel, away from the battle because he was wounded, and his brother-in-law Jehoram of Judah came to visit him and Jezebel was there too, likely tending to her son. The timing was perfect, and God orchestrated it all.

Jehu drove as he was most infamous for doing and both kings wondered what he was doing. When two messengers chose to get behind Jehu’s chariot rather than stay in his path, the kings met him, and Jehu killed them with his bow. Then Jehu raced on to Jezreel to confront the evil queen Jezebel herself. He ordered two eunuchs to throw her out the window, and she died upon impact. Before her body could be picked up to be buried, the dogs tore her body apart where they only found her skull, feet, and hands. Arms, legs, and body were scattered by the dogs. Note that Ahab had seventy sons, two of whom had just been slain. Jehu then went out and got these sons’ own servants to kill them and sent their heads to him. Jehu continued the slaughter of Ahab’s family’s close friends and their priests and completely cleaned out Samaria of all those with any loyalty to Ahab or his family. All this happened to fulfill God’s judgment upon Ahab – perhaps the most graphic description of God’s judgment upon a wicked family. A funny exclamation point to this is how Jehu tore down the house of Baal and turned it into a latrine, a public toilet.

But Jehu only saw Baal worship as being idolatrous. He did not see the golden calves that Jeroboam had as idols because he did not tear them down as he had all Baal and Asherah altars. He obeyed the command of the Lord to wipe out all things related to Ahab and his family including all Baal worship because they were all intertwined. As a result of his obedience to God in the purging, God promised that four generations of his line would be on the throne, but Jehu did not walk with God as he should have after having obeyed him in the purging of Baal. Jehu died and left his son Jehoahaz on the throne.

What can we learn from Jehu? God will use someone’s zeal to get his business done, even if that person is not a righteous man. Jehu was not a prophet nor someone who sought God’s presence, yet God used him to execute judgment. Just because someone is finally dealing with wicked people it does not mean that person is a good person. But also, someone who does such a thing may actually be sent from God. Don’t forget that a lying spirit was sent by God to send Ahab to war where he would be killed. God is going to get done what He wants done, and He will use both godly and wicked men to get it done. Just because someone is doing God’s will that does not mean they are a good person. And just being against evil and wickedness does not mean they are good people either. We have a number of good political commentators these days who are not Christian. That doesn’t mean we reject them outright, but it also should mean we should not embrace them outright either. It takes discernment. Jehu started well, but he did not stay on that path. This problem will be shown in full detail next week when I examine the backstory of Joash of Judah.

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