Have you ever known a leader who attached themselves to someone or something that you knew would eventually cause great harm. What we allow to come close to us matters and can bring blessing or devastation. Very rarely do you hear about Jehu (2 Kings 9-10). Probably because the story is so bloody and our modern sensitivities do not accept such barbaric behavior. Well, consider why this is even in the Bible. Why was Jehu anointed king? It is an obvious question, but very important.
Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the Lord’s people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord’s servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’” Then he opened the door and ran. 2 Kings 9:6-10
How would you like to deliver that word? But notice, God is very direct. He tells us exactly why Jehu, an army commander, was selected to rule: 1) to destroy the house of Ahab 2) avenge the blood of the prophets and all God’s servants. Well, it isn’t pretty is it? But God’s justice was coming to the house of Ahab for all the innocent blood shed.
Why in the world did Ahab marry Jezebel? The same reason many people align themselves with unrighteous people – political alliance and selfish ambition. Notice the words of the prophet because they speak loud about God. He first tells Jehu that he will destroy Ahab’s house, but quickly the words switch to, “I will avenge…I will cut off…I will make…” Jehu is God’s human avenger, God uses him as his tool for a bloody task of justice. Jehu is like the hand of God on a house filled with iniquity.
Peter Leithart in his book on 1 and 2 Kings takes a Christological approach to Jehu. Some of this shocks us. How could this flawed and rough Jehu be a Christ figure? Leithart says, “Jehu is depicted as a type of coming Messiah”. What? Is he serious? When you read the whole text it makes more sense. Consider his companions when they learned what the prophet said. They lay down their cloaks under Jehu. And where else is this repeated in the Bible…Palm Sunday when Jesus enters Jerusalem. Jehu’s challenge to Ahab’s house is similar to the challenge Jesus brought to Herod. And remember Matthew 23 where Jesus talks about the blood of the prophets. Jesus, like Jehu, was an avenger for all the innocent blood of the prophets.
Leithart goes on to say that the blood shed has an atoning affect on the land. (Deut. 32) “Yahweh’s vengeance against his adversaries ‘atones’ or ‘covers’ the sins of the land.” There is more, but I want to go back to leaders for a minute. What about those leaders who choose to align themselves with Ahabs and Jezebels. In a sense they produce Jehus, for God is just.
Looking back on some things in my life, I see how God sent me to places and I had no idea what was in store. God doesn’t ask our permission, but moves us in the direction he needs us to go. And I can honestly say there were times I was before a king, it wasn’t often but it did happen. Two things happened. At times, I offered a word of encouragement or demonstrated righteousness. Other times, I was like a sign. I delivered a warning, sometimes in words and sometimes not. Both my words and my life were a message to this leader, a sign. Did the leader listen, did they “see”. No, as is often the case. The truth is they were being warned that their continual attachment to certain people and personal weaknesses were going to bring much devastation. When most of this occurred, the leader had some influence in their organization. But after a few years, this influence increased dramatically. Guess what happened, those things that they had not dealt with were magnified. Those people that were under them wreaked havoc and it affected a very large potion of the organization. Sometimes our life is a message that gets repeated and it is a warning to people about what will happen if they do not change. In this case, it was a warning that issues with people under them were going to cause great harm and pain. Sometimes the influence God gives costs us in ways we do not expect.
If you don’t want a Jehu, then act in righteousness and justice and heed what you are “married” to. What is close to you matters. It is possible that you may give someone access and influence who cannot do what is right because of their own personal idols of selfish ambition and control. When we study the life of Jehu there are many lessons, but I think the greatest is why he was anointed and sent to deal with the house of Ahab. We have Jehu because we have the wickedness Ahab and Jezebel.