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Jehu – God’s Executioner

II Kings 9, 10

As we look at 2 Kings 9 & 10 today, we will see the Lord fulfill his promise to Elijah that Jehu would become king over Israel and kill the people responsible for leading Israel in Baal worship (I Kings 19:17). These were wicked and desperate days which required a strong leader without sensitivities or refinement. Jehu was not the prototypical shepherd king!

First in our story, Jehu was anointed king over Israel (9:1-13). We are not told why Elisha didn’t anoint Jehu but he sent an understudy to do it quietly and quickly. The anointing took place while Hazael, king of Syria, was encamped against Ramoth Gilead (8:28) where Jehu and the other commanders were strategizing (9:4). The anointing of Jehu by the prophet was God’s way of bringing about a legitimate regime change—the new king was to be the protector of the faith and God’s agent of judgment. It was done secretly so King Joram would not know of the coup that was afoot because no male from the house of Ahab was to survive (8-9).

The response of the commanders (11-13) was disbelief and then reverence. When Jehu emerged anointed, his fellow officers quizzed him about the private meeting with that “madman.” Their question showed the soldiers’ disdain for Elisha and the prophets. Jehu initially believed they put him up to it (11b) but they denied it. When Jehu told them he was anointed to the kingship, they immediately put their cloaks on the steps and made it a throne as an expression of acceptance and submission to Jehu as king.

Next, Jehu executed the idolatrous leaders (9:14-37). His first target was Joram, king of Israel (14 – 26). Jehu instructed his fellow commanders to lock-down the city so no one could alert Joram (15). Then Jehu and a select band of charioteers rode to Jezreel where Joram was convalescing from his war wounds. A sentinel spotted Jehu riding towards the city, so Joram sent a horseman to inquire of the battle at Ramoth Gilead. “Is it peace?” Did we win or lose? Jehu didn’t answer but instructed the watchman to fall in with his men. A second watchman was sent with the same question and response. Joram mustered the strength to mount his own chariot to inquire concerning the battle from one of his commanders. King Ahaziah of Judah accompanied him in his own chariot. Providentially, they rendezvous at Naboth’s former property. Joram’s question about peace was met with another question. “How can there be peace while the whorings and sorceries of Jezebel still remain?” Finally, Joram realized this was a coup de’tat, but before he could ride away, Jehu shot an arrow into Joram’s back and out his chest—an amazing shot for riding in a chariot in an open field (23-24)!

Jehu’s next victim was Ahaziah, king of Judah (27 – 28). Ahaziah’s death was more than being in the wrong place at the wrong time; he was allied with Joram and was related through marriage (Athaliah) to Ahab’s house. Verses 27-28 describe Ahaziah’s demise. He too was shot but he didn’t die immediately, he bled out and died in Megiddo and was buried in Jerusalem.

Finally, Jehu slew Jezebel, queen of the idolaters (29 – 37). The news of Jehu’s purge traveled quickly to Jezebel’s palace. Anticipating his arrival, she groomed herself for the meeting(30) and stood in a second story palace window, the portrait of a haughty, stylish queen, defiant and unrepentant to the end. She sarcastically greeted him, “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of his master?” (31) Zimri was the military leader who assassinated his superior, but only ruled 7 days before he was murdered. (I Kings 16) She implied that Jehu would not be around long. Jehu shouted “Who is on my side?” Her eunuchs look down. Jehu said, “Throw her down,” and without hesitation they obeyed. Her blood splattered on the walls and the horses and for good measure Jehu trampled her under his horse’s feet. Then he went in to enjoy a meal. Jezebel had no burial. The dogs licked up her blood and ate her flesh leaving only her skull and a few bones, fulfilling Elijah’s prophecy in I Kings 21:23. God delivers on his threats as surely as He does His promises.

Lastly, Jehu slew the worshipers of Baal by first deceiving them (10:18 – 28). Jehu claimed that Ahab was not a devoted worshipper of Baal. Part of Jehu’s ruse was that he promised to outdo Ahab in his sacrifices and he did, not with the number of animals slain but the number of devotees slain. The word “sacrifice” in the Hebrew (zebah) can also be translated “slaughter.” His audience heard him say “sacrifice” but his intention was to “slaughter”! Baal worshipers came from all over Israel for this great festival. Jehu warned his royal guard that no one was to escape or they would pay with their lives. They killed all of the Baal worshipers and destroyed their idols and their house of worship, and it became a garbage dump.

Let’s conclude with a few applications from this passage. God always fulfills His promises — make sure you are on the right side of them. God delights in our zealous service – give Him your best not your leftovers. God often uses people in spite of their flaws – don’t rule yourself out. God often allows the wicked to prosper – but judgment always comes to them.