The mercy of God is something that few people really understand, and fewer actually appreciate. The reason for this is because the Bible teaches that people are naturally self-righteous, which means that as people, we have a natural tendency to think we are better than we really are. Some people actually believe that they don’t deserve punishment from God. Some people actually feel they can match the righteousness of God by abstaining from serious crimes and self-defined standards. The problem is that such a belief system in it of itself is grounds for the wrath of God. The Bible teaches that none are righteous, no not one. Hence, the belief that we can escape God’s judgment and wrath by any other means different than God prescribed (Jesus Christ) is grounds for condemnation unto hell. However, even God’s own children have seasons where we feel we’re doing “okay.” The problem is that God sees a very different picture, being able to look at the hearts of all people and know the motives and true intents of all people. He sees the true darkness that really exists. Yet we’re all still here. This is why God’s mercy is hard to fathom. If we could see what God sees in terms of mankind’s evil, we’d be disgusted! Yet God relents from punishment for a time in order to allow His people a chance to repent. So, while life can be hard on account of consequences stemming from our depravity, nothing is as bad as it could be, or as it should be!
This truth is bluntly stated in Psalm 103:10 where it says, “He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.” This truth is illustrated in the testimony of Jehoahaz in 2 Kings 13:1-9. The Bible explains that Jehoahaz took rule after Jehu died in the northern kingdom of Israel. This took place during the twenty-third year of Joash’s reign in Judah; right about the time when Joash was trying to restore and renovate the temple in Jerusalem. Jehoahaz became king in the northern kingdom before Hazael laid his siege against Judah, but felt the full effects of Hazael’s evil desires to torment the children of Israel. The testimony of Jehoahaz begins by stating that he continued in the evil that Jehu and even Jeroboam committed long before. Like the evil kings that went before him, Jehoahaz was an idolater and was a man focused on setting his own standards of righteousness in order to justify the corrupted and selfish actions of his flesh. His religion was based on his own self-proclaimed morality and those standards were contrary to God’s standards.
As a result, the Bible explains that the Lord handed the northern kingdom of Israel into the hands of Hazael and the Syrians. Jehoahaz reigned in the northern kingdom for seventeen years, and each of those years, Hazael was fighting against Jehoahaz unto Israel’s defeat. After Hazael died and Ben-Hadad took over as king of Syria, Ben-Hadad continued the oppression against the children of Israel, and the Lord allowed him to have success as well in order to discipline the children of Israel. Their misery was self-inflicted. The law and covenant of God promised that if God’s people were to follow Him with all of their hearts and obey His standards and commands, He would ensure their protection, provision, and prosperity. Since the children of Israel were determined to rebel against God’s standards in order to make up their own and live according to their wicked flesh and carnality, God’s covenant assured the people that they would be punished. The oppression of Israel during the reign of Jehoahaz was a clear illustration of God’s faithfulness to fulfill both facets of His promises. He will bless when His people are faithfully obedient to His commands. However, there are curses and oppression that comes to those who deny the Lord’s righteousness, living unfaithfully, and chose to go their own way. History shows that God will certainly inflict pain to those who deny Him. The suffering of Israel was well deserved.
Nevertheless, God’s faithfulness can be seen in the testimony of Jehoahaz as well. The scripture state that as the oppression lingered on in Israel, Jehoahaz pleaded with the Lord for mercy. While Jehoahaz didn’t repent from his sin and fully pursue the Lord, he did acknowledge the Lord’s power and sovereignty and sought His mercy. He knew that the Lord was angry and wanted to see if he could receive favor from the Lord. The scriptures state that the Lord actually listened! Though Jehoahaz remained an evil man, He still responded to the cry of His creation and had compassion for His people. Recall that even when Ahab humbled himself before the Lord for a short time, the Lord relented in His punishment and judgment against Ahab as well, and distributed the full brunt of His anger onto other generations so that Ahab would be able to bear the difficulty unto his eventual death. Ahab certainly deserved far worse, as did Jehoahaz and the rest of the children of Israel; but God was compassionate and merciful towards His people, remember His promises made to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses, and David concerning the Messiah. Therefore, God was willing to pull back on the pain and ease up on the pressure so that Israel could bear the load of their punishment without being fully destroyed.
The testimony of Jehoahaz explains that God sent a deliverer so that they were able to escape the hand of the Syrians. It is true that the children of Israel were severely depleted in their military resources. The had only a few horsemen, chariots, and infantrymen left over, and so were unable to protect themselves from any foreigner. However, the Lord heard the cry of His people, and in order to remain faithful to His own promises, God did not allow the Syrians to utterly wipe out the northern kingdom. God sent his deliverer to provide mercy and a bit of success so that they were able to at least dwell in tents in the land. They were severely punished for their sins, but things could have, and should have been FAR worse!
Unfortunately, as is the custom for mankind, the children of Israel in the north, including Jehoahaz, did not learn their lesson and live according to gratitude for the Lord’s mercy. They continued to live in sin. They continued to walk according to the sin of the house of Jeroboam, making up their own standards of righteousness, pursuing evil affections and desires of the flesh, and developed religious practices to justify those corrupted ideals. God knew His people would respond this way because God knows everything. Nevertheless, He provided mercy on account of His compassionate nature. This is how it goes for all people. God knows that our hearts are filthy and wretched, but He relents in administering the full justice and punishment that we all deserve. Sure, life is hard on account of the consequences for our abundance of sins; but we have not received ALL of the punishment we deserve. The testimony of Jehoahaz shows that things could be, and should be worse than they are! The testimony of Jehoahaz shows that Psalm 103:10 is historically validated and while God’s mercies are renewed every morning, we’ll never really understand just how much mercy the Lord is ACTUALLY giving us. Ponder this for a while…
The Bible teaches that God’s people are created by God for the purpose of living as individual members as limbs of a body. This is an important concept to understand in order to function properly according to God’s purposes. God made it so that each individual person functions in a unique way according to a unique purpose that God ordained since before the formation of the earth. However, like a human body, each limb and body part is intimately connected to other parts and are dependent on them in order to function properly. If the finger wants to point, it cannot just determine itself that it wants to do so, and then do so on its own. There are commands that it needs to receive from the nervous system, functionality from the muscular and skeletal system, proper blood flow, and so forth. Thus, the “body of Christ” is made up of many members that are individual in nature, but without connection and dependency on one another through Christ, Christians don’t function properly. Like a body part, when a Christian is removed from the body, it will shrivel up and die. Therefore, it is imperative for the children of God to be connected to the body of Christ, unified in purpose to glorify God, otherwise one’s purpose in the Lord is severely compromised.
An example of this truth is displayed through the testimony of King Joash. In 2 Kings 12:17-21 the Bible documents the political circumstances in Judah under the reign of King Joash. The Bible explains that while Joash was king, Hazael the king of Syria waged war against Judah, and had pretty good success. He was able to successfully penetrate Judah all the way down to the city of Gath, which is only about twenty miles southwest of Bethlehem. Here it is important to recall the prophecy of Elisha regarding Hazael. When the prophet Elisha predicted that Hazael would take over as king of Syria, he also prophesied that Hazael would rape and pillage in brutal fashion. Therefore, it was not just as if Hazael moved into cities, but also that he was brutally murdering men, women, and children, setting homes on fire, and plundering in devastating ways. Hazael’s actions were severe and were a serious threat to Judah and Jerusalem.
The Bible explains that Joash responded to these threats in fear and panic. When he learned about how close Hazael was to Jerusalem, and that Hazael was planning to attack Jerusalem, Joash went into the temple and the king’s residence and looted both locations. He took all of the sacred things that Jehoshaphat, Jehoram, and Ahaziah collected and made a part of temple worship. He also went into the king’s residence and did the same, plundering all of the sacred things dedicated to the king and the temple in order to bribe Hazael to relent in his attacks. When Joash heard about the threats of Hazael, he did not inquire of the Lord, but instead took from the Lord’s possessions to pay off Hazael out of fear, and then he fled from Jerusalem.
There are two important points to remember regarding the response of Joash. Recall that Joash was raised by Jehoiada the priest. Jehoiada was a righteous man and did as God commanded according to the Law. When Ahaziah and his mother Athaliah were corrupting Judah, Jehoiada stood firm in his faith and continued to serve the Lord faithfully. He successfully led a rebellion against Athaliah to restore the throne of Judah according to God’s prophetic plans. He took Joash under his wing in order to raise him in the ways of the Lord and the Bible declares that while Jehoiada was alive, Joash did well in the sight of the Lord. When Joash was connected to the godly counsel and leadership of Jehoiada, he did well. When Jehoiada died, Joash did not do well. Though Joash was raised in a Godly home to know God’s righteous standards, he was disconnected from Godly fellowship and so began to decay in his faith as evidenced by his fear of Hazael.
The second point to consider is that Joash plundered the temple in order to pay off Hazael. This is the same temple that Joash sought to restore for twenty-three years. This is the same temple that Joash sought to use Judah’s census money for in order to restore it unto its previous glory. Recall that Joash tried to employ the priests to manage the renovations of the temple but they failed. It was after their failure that Jehoiada intervened to set up a different pay structure, which then enabled the temple to be repaired successfully according to Joash’s original desire. Yet, when faced with challenges that posed threats, Joash was quick to undo the good work that he desired to do earlier in his life when he had the right kinds of friends and leaders in his life. It is true that Joash made mistakes even when he was partnered up with Jehoiada. However, the support he received from the Godly men that surrounded him was effective to produce success that ultimately glorified God. When Jehoiada died, Joash seemingly disconnected himself form Godly fellows and began to rely on his own wisdom and understanding, proving that a member that is severed from the body cannot function properly according to God’s purpose. The good work that Joash previously did was undone by his own hands under these circumstances.
The scriptures go on to explain that Joash was later killed in a conspiracy composed by his own servants. The reason for this conspiracy is documented in the parallel account of Joash’s testimony in 2 Chronicles 24:25-27. There, the Bible explains that Joash began to make foolish choices in idolatry after Jehoiada died. One of Jehoiada’s sons tried to rebuke Joash and the elders that followed the corrupted leadership of Joash, at which point Joash became offended and had the man killed. The servants of Joash were very offended. Joash had killed the son of the man who had been like a father to Joash. Jehoiada saved Joash’s life from the murder spree of Athaliah, rebelled against her, and risked his own life to put Joash into the seat of King David according to God’s will. Joash repaid Jehoiada by killing one of his sons after Jehoiada died. This was a terrible form of betrayal and so the servants of Joash sought to exact their own vengeance against Joash and ultimately killed him. He was later buried in the city of David and then his son Amaziah reigned in his place.
The testimony of Joash is really the tale of two different lives: one life in fellowship with Godly men unto righteous works that glorified God; and one life without fellowship with Godly men unto idolatry, self-righteousness, corruption, fear, and death. The life of Joash is a candid historical illustration of what happens when God’s people decide they don’t need to be linked up with other men and women that are striving to please God according to His righteous commands. The life and testimony of Joash is a clear illustration of what takes place when God’s people seek to live life according to their own wisdom as independent members of a body. Self-severed members are dysfunctional according to God’s purposes, and will shrivel up and die in a miserable manner. The good works that might have taken place at one time while a child of God was in Godly and Biblical fellowship is quickly undone when that fellowship is removed and God’s people are cast aside. If a physical body part cannot accomplish its purpose and survive when separated from the body, how can a member of the body of Christ?
Money has always been a difficult concept to deal with as it relates to God’s people. History shows that God’s people do not have the best track record in dealing with money in an appropriate and reasonable manner. However, this is not to the fault of God. The scriptures are clear to explain God’s expectations for how His people are to treat money and resources. Make no mistake about it, while God is not broke, He is very interested in how we spend His money. The Bible teaches that “everything” we have is from the Lord. Therefore, God owns all things. His people are merely stewards that have the opportunity to keep charge over His own possessions for a season. He is the Master, and we are the servants set in charge of taking good care of His things. In order to take good care, we must know what the Master approves of. The Bible makes that clear so that as God’s people examine the scriptures, we can see how the Master wants His stuff taken care of and understand what He considers to be good use. Therefore, the corruption that we’ve seen throughout history of God’s people (or those posing as God’s people) mishandling money is to the fault of the sinner, not the Lord. The Bible shows that when God’s people do what God says, things work out beautifully – even with money and resources.
The truth of this principle can be seen in the testimony of 2 Kings 12:4-17. There, the Bible explains that when Joash was a young king under the righteous influence and tutelage of the priest Jehoiada, he desired to restore and rebuild the temple. The temple had grown old, but had taken on considerable damage due to various attacks that took place in Judah. The Lord allowed evil pagan nations to invade and attack the children of Israel in Judah because of their disobedience and idolatry. When those nations went into Judah harassing them, they caused damage to the temple. Additionally, the scriptures testify that some of the kings of Judah had raided the temple themselves in order to pawn off some of the holy utensils and instruments for their own pleasures and protection. By the time Joash had become king, the temple in no way resembled the glory that it did when Solomon first built it. The desire of Joash was a noble thing and a good thing.
The Bible explains that Joash had a plan in order to get the renovations going. Joash told the priests that they were to take all of the money that was given as dedicated gifts for the census and all of the assessment money, and any other additional donations (aside from the normal offerings and tithes prescribed in the Law), and use those funds to pay for the repairs. Since each priest was in charge of facilitating sacrifices and worship in various parts of Judah, each priest was essentially in charge of certain constituencies. Joash commanded the priests to collect the money as they normally would from their constituency and then apply that money to the repairs of the temple. The priests were entrusted to collect the money, and then properly distribute that money to pay the contractors, craftsmen, and also pay for the materials needed to renovate the temple. The priests were to examine the temple, find the places where damage existed, assess the cost, then take from the money they collected from the census and such to hire the right men to fix the issues. Joash essentially put all of the responsibility on the priests to manage the renovations from start to finish.
While the idea seemed good conceptually, the scriptures show that the priests did not do the work they were commanded to do. The Bible testifies that Joash had been king for twenty-three years and went to check on the status of the repairs. He found that while the priests had been collecting money as commanded, they were not using the money to repair the temple. They were keeping it to themselves. The priests were already entitled to take funds and resources from the sacrifices and offerings as God commanded in the Law. As Joash gave the priests permission to collect more funds for the reconstruction of the temple, they took that liberty without undertaking the responsibility at the same time. Human history shows that it is common for mankind to freely and joyfully receive gifts without consideration of how to manage the responsibility that comes with it. People have grown accustomed to taking without also learning the proper way to give from one’s increase. Here, the priests weren’t even commanded to give of themselves. The excess that they collected was never intended for their use. The king proclaimed that those extra funds were to be used only for the renovations of the temple. The people gave and the priests collected with that understanding, but the funds never reached their destination and proper use due to human greed and irresponsibility.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to see this take place among the people of God. There have been plenty of people that gave unto the Lord by faith, hoping that the funds and resources given would be used for the Lord’s purposes unto His glory, not the vanity and selfish increase of God’s servants. Unfortunately, there have been too many instances where God’s “servants” took the funds intended for use unto His glory and used them for selfish gain rather than the building up of God’s purposes. Plenty of tithes have been used to pay for the personal increase of pastors and priests. Plenty of offerings have been used to pay for the recreational habits, hobbies, and vacations of ministers of various kinds. While this sort of irresponsible spending has caused many of God’s people to be untrusting, disgruntled, and frustrated, the scriptures show that good things still take place when God’s people get it right, despite past failures.
When Joash discovered that the temple remained in the same condition after twenty-three years, he was not pleased at all! He immediately commanded the priests to stop taking money from the people. Since the priests were not faithful in their duty to manage the project, he took the responsibility and privilege away from them. Notice how the Bible shows that when God’s people cannot be faithful with the privileges He gives to serve Him, and the responsibilities that come with those privileges, He will take away the responsibility AND the privilege associated with serving Him. While their privilege and responsibilities were taken by the king, the priests agreed that it was a good idea. They did not argue with the king or try to justify their actions. Their meekness at this time shows that they might have been repentant and desired to please the king and rebuild the temple. They simply weren’t responsibility to manage the temptations associated with the collection of funds.
Joash came up with a better idea that had more checks and balances and was successful to get things going unto completion. Joash let Jehoiada the priest, take control of the project and leveraged his wisdom. The idea of Joash had failed, but he was at least wise enough to place the responsibility in the hands of a man that was a maturing wise man of God. Jehoiada essentially built the first tithe/agape box. He took a chest and cut a hole into the top of it so that money could be deposited into a locked and secure vessel. The box was put next to the altar in the temple so that those who wanted to give unto the renovation had the freedom to do so. He commanded that box to be used to collect the same funds that Joash wanted to use for the renovations. Since the box was small, there wasn’t much money that could be fit into the box. Hence, the box had to be emptied out on a regular basis. Jehoida put the king’s scribe and the high priest in charge of emptying out the treasury box, at which point they were instructed to distribute those funds immediately to the workers who would actually do the repairs on the temple. The priests never handled the money. The amounts of money collected weren’t large in amount so as to cut out temptation to keep it. Jehoiada used this idea to enable the rebuilding project so that the repairs were paid for as the funds came in. Work was done according to the amount that was freely collected. Also, the Bible states that Jehoiada selected men of integrity to do the repairs. The Bible explains that the men who worked on fixing the temple were “faithful” so that when funds were distributed to them, they didn’t even have to track those funds since they were able to immediately see the fruit of their spending through the repairs that were done. All the while, the money from the trespass and sin offerings was not kept from the priests so that they were able to maintain their livelihood and priestly duties according to the Law.
The wisdom of Jehoiada shows that it is impossible to do well with money. When wise men who live to please God are put in charge of God’s possessions, the fear of the Lord motivates them to do what is right. Then the Lord provides wisdom so that the help required to do what is right with God’s possessions and resources is completed by “faithful” people. God’s people should not be disgruntled or skeptical in giving unto ministries that seek to do the Lord’s work. Instead, God’s people should just ensure that their giving is done faithfully AND responsibly. Do we give to ministries that bear the fruit of God’s glory as documented in scripture, or do we give to ministries that increase the fleshly affections of various men and women? Does the giving we do exalt the name of the Lord through the building up of His name, enabling genuinely Biblical praise, worship, sacrifice, and spiritual maturation; or does our giving enable men and women to glorify self through the funding of personal affections, hobbies, tastes, creative ideas, or worse? The Bible shows that when God’s people are motivated to do well for the Lord, the wisdom of the Lord is made evident in how the Lord’s resources are utilized. The utilization of the Lord’s resources always builds up His name, and His name alone, so that the people are able to fall at His feet in worship that does not contain idolatry, unto His glory!
The Bible teaches that bad company corrupts good morals (1 Corinthians 15:33). However, the same is also true in an opposite sense. If a child of God surrounds himself or herself around non-believers and perverse people, that perversity and unbelief will eventually have a destructive impact on the child of God. On the contrary, if a child of God surrounds himself or herself with believers that all desire to walk according to God’s righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ, then those surroundings will have a healthy impact on the faith of the child of God. Consider the early church for example. The Bible teaches that after Jesus’ ascension, the disciples and followers of Jesus began to meet together “with one accord.” The usage of this word in the original language was typically used in a musical context. It described a form of unison such as when multiple instruments played a song in harmony together under the leadership of a conductor figure. This word was used to describe the church because the individual members that made up the church were on the same page. As individuals, they desired to please God, walking according to God’s righteousness as exemplified by Jesus, obeying His commands to fulfill the will of God. Each person was different as a unique “instrument;” and the “conductor” was the Holy Spirit. The church was eager to gather together to play the beautiful song written by the Lord under His leadership and so spent ample time with one another so as to resemble a complex, but unified orchestra, rather than a scattered band of solo musicians.
The scriptures explain that the results of the individual members building one another up this was way globally profound! In Acts 17:6, the Bible even proclaims that the church had “turned the world upside down!” This is what happens when God’s people get together with the same desires in mind to build one another up. This is the type of positive and fruit-bearing influence the body of Christ has on one another. Yet this result is not only a New Testament phenomena. This same effect can be seen in the testimony of King Joash in 2 Kings 12:1-3. There the Bible explains the kingship of the young King Joash. Recall that Joash was kidnapped as an infant by his aunt in order to rescue him from the murderous terror of his grandmother Athaliah. Joash was hidden in the temple by the priest Jehoiada for seven years until Jehoiada was compelled to lead a successful revolution against the evil Athaliah in order to restore the throne of Judah according to God’s prophetic plans. Joash was anointed as king at only age seven, but the scriptures are helpful to explain how such a set of circumstances was glorifying to the Lord.
The testimony of 2 Kings 12:1-3 explains that Joash reigned for forty years. The Bible also testifies that Joash ultimately did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but during the time in which Jehoiada the priest instructed him. The reign of Joash can essentially be divided into two seasons. The first season was a fruitful season in which the priest Jehoiada served as the “advisor” to Joash due to Joash’s young age. While Joash was anointed as king at age seven, the people of Judah understood that a seven-year old cannot make decisions. Hence, for much of Joash’s life, Joash was simply a puppet king while Jehoiada called the shots in Judah. However, because Jehoiada was a good priest and served the Lord with all of his heart, the influence that Jehoiada had on Joash was a good influence. The second season of Joash’s reign was not so good. When Jehoiada died and Joash was left to make his own decisions, there was a stark contrast in the manner of his rule.
The Bible explains that Joash did what was right in the sight of the Lord under Jehoiada’s influence because he did what Jehoiada instructed him in. Yet, because Jehoiada was not the true king, there was not a great influence in the total spiritual integrity of Judah. Jehoiada sought to train up Joash in the ways of the Lord, but the Bible declares that the high places of idol worship were not taken down and destroyed. The evil influence that Athaliah and Ahaziah had set up because of their connection to the corrupted rulers in the north remained a part of the daily life for many people in Judah. So, while Joash did well in some areas taking good wisdom and counsel from Jehoiada the priest, some things were left undone. Nevertheless, it is important to consider the positive insight that the Bible provides regarding the first season of Joash’s reign. The contrast between the two times in Joash’s rule must be considered. When Joash was surrounded by people that loved the Lord and were committed to serving Him in the manner that they were appointed, Joash did well. Joash excelled as a king when he was influenced and led by a man that lived in order to obey the Lord and His righteousness. Joash did well when the people he looked up to were men of God that denied idolatry and the ways of the flesh and the world. Judah had a good season while Joash followed the wisdom, counsel, and leadership of Jehoiada because two men worked together for the same purpose – to do as the Lord commanded. The circumstances changed however after Jehoiada died, showing that even with a strong upbringing in the Word, the depravity of the natural heart will ultimately come out when God’s people are not constantly being sharpened by other Godly people in their surroundings.
The Bible teaches that God has a plan for everyone and everything. In Jeremiah 29:11, the Bible says, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Many people have adopted this verse as a personal mantra to find daily hope, and rightly so. However, if we don’t understand the quality of peace, the future, and the hope that God is referring to in this verse, then the plans that God has for His people become difficult to understand. Consider the statement of Jeremiah 29:12:
“Then you will call upon Me and go and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. And you will seek Me and find [Me], when you search for Me with all your heart.”
According to the scriptures, God’s peace, His future, and the hope that He desires to give is explained. The peace that God desires to give is predicated on the relationship that He will instigate with His people so that they call upon Him in prayer and He responds. The peace that His people will receive will be on account of the pursuit that His people engage in to be with God, and the accessibility God gives to His people to approach Him. The future that God desires to give his people is based on the oneness that He desires to have with His people. The future that God desires to fulfill is when His people desire Him more than anything else and His people are able to receive the FULL extent of blessings that come with that sort of humble affection. The hope that God desires to give is based on the fulfillment of His eternally unconditional promises.
Keep in mind that sin is the prevailing factor that keeps all of these things from taking place. Sin causes chaos and separation from God, making us enemies of God. Sin does not cause peace so that if God gives His people “thoughts of peace,” those thoughts must be pure and undefiled by sin. The Bible explains that the wages of sin is death, meaning that there is no future for those who live as practitioners of sin. In order to have a future, sin must be removed so that death has no effect. Since the wages of sin is death, then there is no hope since all sin and fall short of the glory of God. This means that, if God provides hope, He will provide a means that transcends human ability to escape sin, death, and judgment. According to God’s promises to Israel this peace, future, and hope would come exclusively through a man that would serve as the King of the Jews – the Messiah King of Israel. This king is none other than Jesus Christ. Since this is true, then God’s thoughts and plans for His people must be centered on the preservation of His people, the throne in Israel, and the means by which the King of kings will fulfill His purpose unto the fulfillment of the Father’s eternally unconditional promises. God’s plan clearly starts and resolves with Jesus as the Messiah. Hence, all other work God does is the manifestation of His plan to reveal the means by which peace, future, and hope come to His people.
The intensity of God’s plan and the focus of His thoughts “towards us” is powerfully displayed through the testimony of Joash. Joash was Judah’s youngest king. He became king at age seven and the circumstances of how that came to pass are an amazing display of God’s providential care for His people and the throne of Israel in order that His Messianic promises would be fulfilled. In 2 Kings 11:1-21 the Bible explains how Joash came to be king. The scriptures explain the aftermath of Ahaziah’s death. Recall that as Jehu was exterminating the house of Ahab in the northern kingdom of Israel to execute God’s prophetic judgment, Ahaziah was also killed. Ahaziah was visiting Israel’s King Joram when Jehu was performing his work of God’s judgment and was killed being with Jehu at that time. Later, Ahaziah’s sons were also killed as Jehu was making his way towards Jezebel’s house. Ahaziah’s sons were going to visit Joram’s seventy sons and Jezebel, and figuring them to be close associates of Ahab’s household, Jehu killed forty-two sons of Ahaziah as well.
Soon after these things took place, the mother of Ahaziah, a woman named Athaliah, took it upon herself to take advantage of circumstances to increase her own personal ambitions. Seeing Judah without a king, she took it upon herself to fill the void. Here it is important to remember that Ahaziah had close ties to the family of Ahab. The reason why was because his mother Athaliah was the sister of Ahab. Athaliah showed the same wicked conduct as her brother and her sister-in-law. Wanting to take over the throne in Judah, she went on a killing spree against her own children. Since Jehu had killed her grandchildren, she took it upon herself to destroy any other that might have the legal right as heir to her son’s throne. Her selfish ambition was such that she was willing to do anything to get what she wanted and was unaffected by the evil she committed towards her own family.
The evil of Athaliah was not just a wicked act, but appeared to be a legitimate threat against the promises of God. God promised an Anointed One to come in His own righteousness to bless all of the families of the earth through Israel. God promised that this Blessing would come through the tribe of Judah and rule as king. God promised that this King would possess the same eternally righteous and just qualities as God Himself. Ultimately, God stated that He would come from the line of David in the flesh to sit upon His throne in Judah to bless the families of the earth through Israel by offering forgiveness of sins. Athaliah was not of the tribe of Judah. Athaliah was not a legal heir to the throne in Judah. Yet Athaliah delivered a massive blow to the people that could have been part of God’s plans to fulfill His promises. Here, the Bible testifies of the extent of God’s planning in order to ensure the integrity of His promises and guarantee fulfillment.
The testimony of scripture proclaims that when Athaliah went on her killing spree, one of the daughters of Joram (the recently murdered king of Israel) saw what was going on and interceded. Though her father was an evil idolater, the Lord used this woman named Jehosheba to preserve the integrity of His Messianic plans to provide peace, a future, and hope. This woman secretly took the youngest of Ahaziah’s sons that was not with the forty-two sons that were killed by Jehu. This son was named Joash and had just been born, which is likely why he wasn’t accompanying his brothers when they were killed by Jehu. Jehosheba essentially kidnapped Joash and hid him for an extended period of time, preserving his life, ensuring the integrity of the throne in Judah by preserving a legal heir to the throne according to God’s promises. Though it is true that Athaliah ruled and reigned in Judah as an evil queen for six years, Jehosheba and the priest of the temple in Judah, a man named Jehoiada, hid Joash for those six years so that Judah’s kingship remained intact. God had these people in place to keep the one heir alive and well so that in His time, He could purge the evil from Judah and restore the throne according to the plans that He constantly thinks towards His people.
In the sixth year of Athaliah’s reign the priest Jehoiada made efforts to rid the woman of her corrupted position. Jehoiada gathered together men that served the temple faithfully to conspire a plan against Athaliah. This shows that, while things might look dark and miserable as if evil is the victor, God always has a faithful remnant that is able to execute His righteousness to restore God’s order and will. Jehoiada’s plan was to be executed on the Sabbath so that no one would suspect anything. Athaliah was not a woman accustomed to following the Law of God and did not have any concern for the standards of God. This is how Joash was kept safe for so long. Joash was kept in the temple for six years while the righteous priest Jehoiada raised him. Athaliah didn’t know of this because she didn’t ever go to the temple, not having any interest in the things of the Lord at all. Therefore, as the priests went about their duties on the Sabbath, she didn’t notice anything unusual when they took up swords and surrounded her house on that particular day. The guards of the king’s house were involved in the conspiracy so that nothing appeared to be out of the ordinary. Jehoiada commanded each person to do their normal job, but with sword in hand, waiting for his command to slay the queen.
While each person was at their normal post, but prepared to ambush the queen, Jehoiada remained at the temple and ordained Joash as king. Though he was only seven years old at the time, Jehoiada figured that, since the Sabbath was supposed to be about rest and acknowledging the Lord, he could deliver a great form of rest from the evil of Athaliah and refocus attention on the Lord by ordaining the true heir of David’s throne according to God’s promises. Though Joash was only seven years old, the people who witnessed his anointing as king were rejoicing. Jehoiada placed a crown on the young boy’s head and proclaimed him as king. The people cheered and clapped and agreed with the priest’s declaration. The sound of celebration was so loud that Athaliah heard the sound from the king’s house. As she came out of her home to see the commotion, she saw that her guards were armed with swords and realized what was about to happen. She cried out, “Treason! Treason!” Her words fell on deaf ears. She was taken out of the temple complex and killed on the day that Joash was made king.
As a result of all this, the people of Judah extended their rejoicing to repentance. The Bible explains that the people went to the temple of Baal and completely destroyed it, the idols and sacred pillars. They took Mattan the priest of Baal, and killed him as well. The real priests appointed officers to reinstate the house of the Lord as the proper place of worship and Israel was on its way towards spiritual revival! This is history’s validation of God’s thoughts and plans towards His people being true. God truly has thoughts that He thinks towards us, which is why when evil people had intentions to destroy His works and compromise His promises, God had things in place already, exercising His sovereign providence, to ensure His plans continued on despite the efforts of wicked people. The result of God’s work was “thoughts of peace and not of evil” while the people removed evil from the throne, and purged idolatry from their land by destroying the temple of Baal and the priest of Baal. The results of God’s work was “a future and a hope” because the people began to call upon the name of the Lord again and seek Him on account of the restoration of the throne, symbolizing God’s faithfulness to His promises. Though things may seem terrible at certain times, the testimony of Joash shows that God always has a faithful remnant in place to restore and preserve His righteousness.
History has shown that while all sin is detestable to God, people have varying affections for sin. In other words, some people will be offended by one kind of sin, but indulge in another. As such, there has been a tendency for people to wager crusades against certain types of sins, though the sins that a person might have an affection for never gets addressed. People are selective with sin – taking pleasure in some and compromising in those areas, but being offended by others and expressing that offense with force. Jesus pointed out this issue in Matthew Chapter 7. There, there taught that when addressing the issues of another, one must first make sure that one has proper perspective to address the issue. Jesus taught that a person should not focus on the speck in one person’s eye while a beam is lodged in their own eye. How can a person properly remove a splinter or a speck when one’s vision is so distorted by the wooden beam dominating one’s view? Jesus didn’t command people to ignore the specks and splinters that distort the vision of others. Rather, Jesus commanded that people address ALL matters that distort vision and perspective in the same light. A person is supposed to first ensure that one can see clearly by addressing one’s personal issues before taking charge to address the issues of others.
This issue can be seen in the life of Jehu. The testimony of Jehu in 2 Kings 10:12-36 shows that Jehu was extremely zealous to do the work that God appointed for him, but in his zealous rage, compromised in his own life and ultimately did not do well in the eyes of the Lord. The Bible explains that Jehu was the man that God selected to purge the sin of Ahab’s family from the children of Israel in the north. God previously prophesied through Elijah that Ahab’s entire household would be destroyed from Israel so that their influence would no longer affect the people. When God selected Jehu, the Bible explains that Jehu was reluctant at first. Yet as Jehu made efforts to do his duty unto the Lord, the scriptures show that Jehu quickly warmed up to the idea of being God’s tool for justice, and was quickly passionate about his role in life.
Jehu quickly destroyed the son of Ahab that was ruling as king at the time – Joram. Since Ahaziah, the king of Judah, was with Joram at that time, Jehu took the liberty upon himself to also kill Ahaziah. Next, Joram went to find Jezebel, and the Lord used Jehu to fulfill His prophetic Word by destroying her as well. The Bible declares that Ahab had seventy sons. Jehu commanded the people of Israel that served them to turn against them and kill them. The people complied and chopped off the heads of Ahab’s seventy sons. After Ahab’s seventy sons were killed, Jehu made his way towards Samaria. On the way, there was a group of men that were heading towards Jezreel, the place where Jehu had just left. Jehu discovered that those men were the sons of Ahaziah, the king of Judah that he had just killed. The sons of Ahaziah were on their way to see Ahab’s son and Jezebel, the people that Jehu had just finished purging from Israel. Here, the scriptures show just how close the family of Ahaziah was to the family of Ahab, and why the perversions of the children of Israel in the north quickly infected the children of Judah in the south. Though God never commanded Jehu to do so, Jehu took it upon himself to destroy the sons of Ahaziah as well. He killed forty-two men total, assuming that their affection for Ahab’s family as a qualifying factor to be killed.
As Jehu continued his journey towards Samaria, the Bible explains that Jehu ran into a friend named Jehonadab. Jehu asked Jehonadab to accompany him on his next mission because Jehu was determined to express his zeal to fulfill the command of the Lord. Jehu wanted an audience. Jehu wanted to impress his friends to show them how much he hated the things that God hated. Jehu wanted to prove his righteousness by demonstrating passion against one particular evil. Jehonadab accompanied Jehu and the two men made their way to the temple of Baal that was erected in Samaria. Jehu told the people that as Ahab worshiped Baal, Jehu would worship the false god more. While it sounds as if Jehu was interested in leading the people into the exact same idolatry as Ahab, Jehu was simply setting a trap. He wanted to excite the people who lived according to the idolatry of Baal and get them to join him in the “offering.” Jehu’s plan was to lure the worshipers of Baal into the temple, destroy the people, and then destroy the temple. The plan was successful. The worshipers of Baal filled the temple so that there wasn’t even room to stand. At Jehu’s command, his men went into the temple and struck everyone down with swords. When finished, the brought the building down and broke the sacred pillars built up to the false god.
While Jehu’s work seems noble and good, it is important to consider that Jehu’s job was simpler than the work he actually took upon himself. Jehu was commanded to destroy the house of Ahab. Jehu was faithful to do that work, but took it upon himself to also deal with Ahaziah, his sons, and the temple of Baal as well as the people that worshiped Baal. Though this seems like a noble endeavor, God did not command Jehu to do this. Jehu’s conversation with Jehonadab reveals that Jehu was consumed in his zeal to do one thing, but the full testimony of scripture shows that Jehu was just living according to his own self-righteousness. After Jehu destroyed the temple of Baal, he did not follow the Lord. The Lord acknowledged that he did right to destroy the family of Ahab, and mercifully rewarded Jehu for his service. God assured Jehu that his family would remain in the throne of Israel for four generations. However, the Bible is clear to explain that Jehu did not do what was right in the sight of the Lord. Though he purged Ahab’s family and waged war against Baal, he did not turn from the false gods of Jeroboam and worshiped golden calves. Jehu hated one sin, but indulged in others that tickled his flesh in a different way.
Jehu exchanged one sin for another. He despised one sin on account of his personal distaste for a person. He did not despise sin the way God does. He indulged in idolatry just like Ahab even though he waged war against idolaters. Jehu was as much of a hypocrite as any other. The zeal that he demonstrated to destroy Ahab’s family and the temple of Baal was simply an illustration of self-righteousness. Jehu had determined in his mind that Baal was bad, but the golden calves of Jeroboam were not as bad, even though both were equally as offensive to God. Jehu did not walk according to the Law of God. Jehu did not honor God by worshiping Him. Jehu did not consider God apart from the work he did to gratify certain personal pleasures or gripes. Jehu remained king of Israel for twenty-eight years and in that time, led Israel into idolatry of a different kind, but idolatry nonetheless. God was faithful and gracious to enable Jehu’s sons to rule after him according to His promise, but the Bible clearly shows that, just because God uses a person for His purpose doesn’t immediately qualify them as righteous. The righteous live by faith, and faith must include the understanding that God is the One True Living God, is a jealous God, and despises sin/idolatry/self-righteousness of ALL kinds, not just the one’s we don’t personally enjoy.
The purposes of God are simple in concept. God desires to bless and reward His true children that are reborn of His Spirit. In order to do that, He must purge the sin and darkness from His people and creation that corrupt His goodness. That is essentially the overall gist of the Bible. Where things get complicated is when examining the means by which God gets this work done. Though it is true that the Lord is all powerful and could fulfill His promises in a second, He has decided to do His work a different way in order to reveal certain attributes of Himself. Therefore, the essence of the blessings God gives is in the understand that His people receive of God as He fulfills His promises. We get to know God through the work He does to make us one with Him – both in sanctification and in judgment. This work is complicated because God is not just all powerful, but also sovereign over all things. Therefore, He is able to use anything and anyone as a tool to execute His purposes. The Bible shows that God exercises this liberty daily in order to show Himself as supreme above all. Knowing this, it is important for the people of God to examine the means by which God fulfills His promises as well as understanding the promises themselves if we expect to receive the comes with the blessing of God’s revelation.
The testimony of 2 Kings 10:1-11 shows that God is able to use anyone and everyone to accomplish His purposes. This understanding should provide a sense of relief since it shows that God is not depending on any single person other than Himself to fulfill His promises. Secondly, understanding this truth should instill humility, seeing that God doesn’t need any single person to fulfill any of His promises. In this way, all of God’s people are expendable even though God cherishes His people very much. The scriptures explain that God called a commander of the army in the northern kingdom of Israel to be the instrument of His judgment against the household of the wicked king Ahab. Though Ahab had been dead for quite some time, God had prophesied through Elijah that ALL of Ahab’s household would be purged from Israel on account of the evils that Ahab and his wife Jezebel had committed. God called a man named Jehu to execute His judgment.
The Bible explains that Jehu responded to the call and had the support of his men to help the cause in fulfilling God’s prophetic word. Jehu quickly went after Ahab’s son that was king at the time – Joram. Jehu was successful in killing him, so he quickly turned towards Jezebel, who was living quietly in Jezreel at the time. When Jehu approached Jezebel, he forcefully shouted for the men of her household to determine whether they would stand with him or with Jezebel. The scriptures explain that three men stood forward to side with Jehu, at which point they were commanded to take Jezebel and throw her out of the window. They complied. When she hit the ground, her skull burst open and the blood splatter startled her horses that were nearby, at which point her corpse was trampled by the horses. When Jehu and his men went into Jezebel’s home to celebrate their victory by eating her food, wild dogs came and ate the dead body of Jezebel so that only her skull, her hands, and her feet remained, just as the Lord prophesied.
The testimony of 2 Kings 10:1-11 explains that Jehu had the rest of his work cut out for him. Being commanded to purge the family and household of Ahab from Israel, Jehu learned that Ahab had seventy sons living in Samaria! Therefore, Jehu sought to be strategic in his work in God’s judgment. He sent a letter to the rulers in Samaria that had reared the children of Ahab telling them to elect the best qualified of the seventy sons to be king. The rulers in Samaria declined out of fear. They knew that Jehu was determined to destroy the house of Ahab and know that as Jehu destroyed two kings (Joram and Ahaziah), Jehu would certainly destroy the man they elected to take the throne. The rulers in Samaria came to Jehu with a counter-offer in another letter. They instead offered to serve Jehu as king and swore that they would not seek to overthrow him or rebel against him at any time. After receiving this letter, Jehu took advantage of the fear of the rulers and gave them a task to prove their allegiance to him. Jehu commanded the rulers of Samaria to cut off the heads of the seventy sons of Ahab that they had reared as children and send them to him. Not long after, the Bible explains that messengers approached Jehu with baskets filled with the heads of the children of Ahab. The rulers followed the instruction of Jehu as a token of their allegiance to him.
The scriptures then go on to explain that Jehu took the baskets and put them on clear display at the gate of the city for all to see. Jehu then addressed the people by stating that, while he committed treason by destroying Joram and Ahaziah, the people themselves were also guilty having participated in the slaughter of Ahab’s sons. No one was innocent in the overthrow of Ahab’s household. However, Jehu was clear to explain why these things had happened this way. Jehu again referred to the prophecy of Elijah concerning God’s judgment against Ahab. Jehu proclaimed to the people:
“Know now that nothing shall fall to the earth of the Word of the Lord, which the Lord spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for the Lord has done what He spoke by His servant Elijah.”
There are several things to notice in Jehu’s proclamation to the people. First, it is critical to see that nothing that the Lord speaks falls short of fulfillment. There isn’t a single proclamation that God makes that falls to the earth as vain. Every jot and every tittle of God’s Word will be fulfilled in its time. History continues to prove Jehu’s statement as true! Secondly, it is important to note that, as the Lord speaks, the Lord does. It is true that God called Jehu to be a vessel of His judgment, but consider the extent of Jehu’s participation. Jehu killed Joram and Ahaziah. Jehu did not kill Jezebel. Jehu only gave the command for Jezebel to be killed, and it was wild dogs that made quick work of her corpse according to the prophecy God originally spoke. Jehu also did not kill Ahab’s seventy sons. Jehu merely gave the command at which point the rulers of Samaria took it upon themselves to hunt down and kill those men being provoked by fear. Jehu might have administrated God’s judgment according to God’s desire, but the actual execution of God’s will was committed by a variety of people at different times. The extermination of Ahab’s household was not solely the responsibility of Jehu. God leveraged His sovereignty to use many people to fulfill His will and His prophecy.
It is important to understand that when God makes a proclamation, He obligates Himself to fulfill the Word that He proclaims. Consider that when God made His promise to Abraham, that He swore upon Himself to fulfill that promise because there was none greater. Abraham would merely be a beneficiary of God’s work to fulfill His own promise – nothing more, nothing less. The reason God works this way is to show His nature as a merciful, gracious, righteous, and sovereign God. Jehu was no better than Ahab; neither were the men that participated in the extermination of his family. Yet the Lord was gracious to use those people as tools of righteousness to execute God’s perfect justice. It was a privilege for these people to be used as tools that led to the fulfillment of God’s Word. Yet because God used so many, it is important to remember that God is not depending on us to get His work done. His Word will be fulfilled and God doesn’t “need” us to do anything. Instead, the people of God should consider the honor and privilege that comes with being used by the Lord, and so should submit to being used favorably for God’s purposes. Hence, Jehu went on to finish the job that God commanded and sought out all of Ahab’s remaining family and purged them from Israel until none remained. Though Jehu was only a part of the work God did to judge sin in Israel, he was obedient at this time to do his part, and only his part.
The Bible teaches that the Lord is not slack like some count Him as slackness, but is longsuffering, not willing that any of His true people should perish, but that all of His true people should come to repentance. In other words, God’s promise to completely purge the world of sin and corruption will come true in its time because God is still preparing His people to enter His presence. Nevertheless, though it seems like God is taking forever to return and establish His kingdom, His Word and promise will be fulfilled. God’s Word will always be fulfilled, and even though it seems like He is taking a long time, He is taking the right amount of time. His timing is often what makes the fulfillment of His promises perfect. So while many believers feel like the Lord is lagging on letting certain evils linger, the Lord is on top of it and will respond when the time is right.
An illustration to this truth is found in the testimony of Jezebel’s death. The Bible explains that God used the military commander Jehu to exterminate the house of Ahab, which included the king of Israel (Ahab’s son) Joram, as well as Jezebel. The testimony of Jehu’s work is documented in 2 Kings 9:27-37. There, the Bible first explains that Jehu killed Ahaziah, the king of Judah as well. Jehu was commanded to exterminate the house of Ahab and Jehu took advantage of an opportunity to do so while Joram was wounded from a battle with the Syrians. The Bible explains that Ahaziah, the king of the south, and Joram, the king of the north, were related as brothers-in-law. They had grown close and so while Joram was injured from his battle wounds, Ahaziah went to Jezreel to visit him. When Jehu went to attack Joram, Ahaziah happened to be there. When Joram realized that Jehu had bad intentions, he tried to flee and was killed. Ahaziah tried to flee as well, but in the chaos of the pursuit, Ahaziah was pursued as well and ultimately killed. Ahaziah was also shot by an arrow and eventually died in his chariot while trying to escape. His men found him dead in his chariot, took him back to Jerusalem and buried him there. This goes to show that those who accompany evil put themselves at risk. Had Ahaziah stayed home and separated himself from the wickedness of the kings of Israel, he would not have been put in a dangerous position and killed at this time. Nevertheless, his affection for the things of his flesh and his selfish ambitions was greater than his affection for the Lord and he was ultimately killed as a result. No good thing comes to those who deny the Lord in pursuit of wicked friendships for fleshly purposes.
Meanwhile, Jehu and some of his men had set out to take care of Jezebel. This is an interesting set of circumstances. Though Jezebel had not been mentioned up to this point in 2 Kings, she is still alive! Her husband Ahab had been dead for a while. Two different kings had reigned in Israel during this time span of over ten years. Yet Jezebel was alive and well living in a private home in Jezreel. Though God had proclaimed judgment against Ahab AND Jezebel for the atrocities committed against Naboth, Ahab died but Jezebel lived. Yet, the Lord is not slack as some count slackness. The Lord is not forgetful. The Lord is not slow. The Lord is not weak or tired. The Lord’s Word would be fulfilled in the right time. According to the testimony of 2 Kings 9:27-37, Jezebel’s time was up.
Jehu approached her home. When Jezebel heard that Jehu was approaching, she put on her makeup and did her hair. She called out to Jehu from the window of her home and immediately insulted Jehu. She sarcastically asked if Jehu was there peacefully, but also called him “Zimri, murderer of your master.” Clearly, Jezebel had learned about the death of her son by the hand of Jehu. She referred to Jehu as Zimri as a slight to Jehu. Zimri was the man who killed the king Elah (king of Israel), the son of Baasha. Zimri was later killed by Omri, but Zimri was the man that God used to exterminate the house of Baasha in a similar manner that God was using Jehu. Yet, as Zimri conspired against and killed the king of Israel then, Jezebel accused Jehu of doing the same.
When Jehu heard Jezebel, he didn’t even acknowledge her statement. He shouted out towards the home, asking if there were any of her household that wanted to be spared by joining up with him. The Bible explains that two or three eunuchs stepped forward. At that point, Jehu shouted and commanded those men to take Jezebel and throw her out of the window. They complied and Jezebel was thrown from her window unto death. She hit her head on the way down so that her skull was cracked open. The blood from her head splattered on the door near where horses were kept, which startled the horses, at which point she was trampled by the horses. Jehu thought nothing of it. He and his men simply went inside of Jezebel’s home and ate her food, celebrating the victory of God’s judgment. After they were done eating, Jehu sought to have compassion on Jezebel. Recognizing that Jezebel was the daughter of a king, he felt that it was appropriate to give her a proper burial. However, when Jehu sent his men outside to take her body, they discovered that her body was gone. The Bible testifies that the men only found her skull, her hands, and her feet. They realized that her corpse had been eaten.
It was not only that Jezebel died, but that she was eaten in this manner as well. When Jehu’s men came back into the house to inform Jehu of what happened, they all recalled that prophecy of Elijah concerning Jezebel. They recognized that the Word of God was fulfilled. Previously, when God had declared judgment against the house of Ahab, Elijah proclaimed that Jezebel would die on a plot of ground from which she would be eaten by dogs. God judged that Jezebel would not have a proper burial, but that her flesh would be eaten by wild dogs and that she would be as refuse on the surface of the field. As the dogs ate her on the land that was stolen from Naboth, she would indeed become refuse on that land according to God’s prophetic proclamation. It is true that God took His time to fulfill His Word, but His Word was fulfilled nonetheless. The deaths of Joram and Jezebel accounted for the fulfillment of several prophecies from the Lord in one swift movement of Jehu. God is not slack. God is now slow. God is not forgetful. God is not weak or tired. His Word ALWAYS comes to pass and His judgments will be executed full to perfection in their time as seen in the destruction of the house of Ahab.
The Bible teaches that the basis of salvation is founded on God’s mercy. Since no one is righteous and all fall short of the glory of God, then God would be right to destroy every person in His swift judgment. We all deserve death for living as an offense to God. We think evil. We live self-righteously, we talk perverse and pridefully. Yet the world is filled with people that have the privilege to continue on living. God is patient with everyone – even His own children – that live contrary to Him and His ways. Even the Apostle Paul confessed that he struggled to do the things he knew were right of God while he excelled in doing that which was wrong. Paul begged the question, “Who will deliver me from this body of death?” This is the despair of God’s people. We know our actions and thoughts warrant God’s judgment, and the thought of God’s judgment is terrifying. We don’t want to live as an offense to God, but can’t seem to get it right, even though we know what right is. We just can’t kick the sin in our lives on our own and hate every minute of it, fearing how the Lord might perceive our hearts.
This is actually good news. When Paul wrote to encourage the young pastor named Timothy, he did so by reminding Timothy that his excellence in ministry would not be predicated on his performance, but God’s mercy. If we weren’t saved by performance, we certainly won’t be sustained by our performance. God sees the darkness of our hearts and rather than executing judgment, He restrains Himself so that we can hear His convictions and repent. It is in repentance that God takes mercy into grace to orchestrate change. While this is true of a believer, this is not true of a non-believer. A non-believer, though still a recipient of God’s mercy, doesn’t mind the convictions of the Lord. A non-believer doesn’t dread the judgment of God. A non-believer doesn’t worry about how God sees their heart and desire correction. A non-believer simply continues on living according to the darkness and wickedness of their heart to indulge their passions without restraint or response to God’s convictions. They don’t care about being enemies of God and so will indeed suffer the judgment of God.
The Bible teaches that God expresses His faithfulness to both the believer and non-believer. God expresses faithfulness by offering mercy unto grace in justification and sanctification so that the believer is not judged unto condemnation, but saved from God’s wrath. God is faithful to be the believer to forgive ALL sin and transgression, regenerate the dead souls of His people, renew their minds, and conform them into His image unto eternal life. On the other hand, God is faithful to the ungodly as well. He offers the same mercy to give the ungodly a chance to repent too, but when they reject His offer, He makes good on His promise to purge sin. If the person’s sin remains because of their rejection of God’s forgiveness, then God will judge. God’s judgment may not come tomorrow or the next day, but it will come. God promises to purge sin from the world and to remove all corruption from His creation so that His true people will be able to safely and fully enjoy the benefits of His blessings. Sometimes it can seem as if evil people get away with their evil, and that God’s mercy is simply God ignoring corruption. This is not true. This is simply God’s mercy being demonstrated, giving ALL people an opportunity to repent and be saved. However, when that mercy expires (and it does expire at some point), God will fulfill His promise to destroy the wicked, one way or another.
This truth is made evident in the testimony of King Joram, the last king of Israel to come from the family of Ahab. When Ahab was alive, he desired to have a field from a man named Naboth. Naboth would not agree to Ahab’s terms to purchase the land, so Ahab pouted when he could not get his way. Seeing her husband’s miserable and pitiful condition, Jezebel took it upon herself to forcefully take Naboth’s land for her husband. She took men to kill Naboth and Ahab got his land. The scriptures explain 1 Kings Chapter 21 that God sent Elijah the prophet to speak judgment upon Ahab for his treachery. God proclaimed that He would cut off Ahab from the kingship, and that all of his family and servants would suffer the same fate. Upon hearing God’s judgment, Ahab was remorseful and humbly presented himself before the Lord. Though Ahab didn’t seek or live according to repentance, he did humble himself for the rest of his life before God, and God extended mercy. The judgment that God proclaimed against Ahab would not be inflicted fully upon Ahab, but some of that suffering would come upon Ahab’s son as well.
The testimony of 2 Kings 9:14-26 documents the fulfillment of God’s promise to judge the house of Ahab. The Bible explains that God saw the idolatry and evil of Joram – Ahab’s son and successor – and had met His measure of patience and mercy. God called a man named Jehu to be the instrument of His judgment. Jehu was a commander of the army of Israel and was told by God to overtake Joram. God sent a prophet to proclaim that Jehu would overthrow Joram to free them from the evil of Ahab’s household. Jehu was at first reluctant to this calling, but eventually submitted to God’s purpose. The testimony of 2 Kings 9:14-26 explains the moment where Jehu found opportunity to execute God’s purposes against the sin of Ahab’s household. The Bible explains that Hazael and the Syrians fought against Joram and the children of Israel in the north. While Joram fought, he was wounded and sent into a town called Jezreel. This is the town where Naboth’s land was located that Ahab and Jezebel had previously stolen. Since Joram was there and separated from the soldiers that were fighting, Jehu saw an opportunity to attack the king without opposition.
The scriptures explain that Jehu took some of his men and went towards the house of Naboth Ahab stole, where Joram was laid up trying to heal from his battle wounds. Upon approaching the compound, the servants of Joram saw Jehu coming with a small band of soldiers. Being concerned, they inquired of Joram of what they should do. Joram sent one messenger at first to inquire. When the messenger met Jehu, he asked Jehu if he was there for peace. Jehu replied, “What have you to do with peace?” Upon hearing this statement, the messenger of the king was compelled to remain with Jehu instead of returning to his master. After not returning, the king sent another messenger to Jehu to see if he was there for peace. Jehu responded in the exact same manner, and then the second messenger was compelled to remain with Jehu rather than go back to Joram. Thus, it was clear that the servants of the king knew that the king’s manner of conduct was evil and oppressive. They felt that Jehu was motivated to rebel against the injustices and corruption of Joram and his family, and didn’t want to be found as associates of his corruption.
The Bible states that Jehu continued in his pursuit of Joram. As the watchmen saw Jehu approach, they actually recognized Jehu by his driving in his chariot. It was forceful and violent. They knew Jehu had bad intentions and informed the king. At that point, Joram prepared himself and his chariot to meet Jehu. Ahaziah, the king of Judah, and brother-in-law of Joram, was also with him visiting while he was injured. The two kings then went out to meet Jehu. Joram asked Jehu if he was there for peace, at which point Jehu proclaimed the truths that God had previously communicated through Elijah the prophet to his father Ahab. Jehu replied, “What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?” Clearly the conduct and lifestyle of Ahab, Jezebel and their family was not warmly received among the people. The people participated, but knew it was wrong. They followed their king, but clearly some of the people had strong convictions against their evil. Jehu was one of those men. Jehu knew the lifestyle of his master, employer, and king was evil so that when the opportunity came to administrate God’s judgment, he was ready to do that which he knew needed to be done. God’s mercy had reached its limit, and His judgment was on the cusp of fulfillment.
When Joram heard Jehu’s tone and purpose, he immediately tried to flee. Jehu took his bow and an arrow and shot it as hard as he could, striking Joram right through the heart. Joram fell forward and died in his chariot immediately. Additionally, recall that all of this took place in the land of Jezreel, on the plot where Naboth was killed and his land was stolen. It was not just that the house of Ahab was judged according to God’s Word, but it was judged in a fitting manner. God’s judgement was fair and just. God’s judgment took many years and those years were covered in mercy, but because Joram continued in his sin, expecting God’s grace to continually about in pride, self-righteousness, and perversity, God’s mercy was cut off and God’s promise of judgment was fulfilled in the exact manner that He previously communicated. The burden that Ahab laid upon the household of Naboth was placed on Ahab and his son just like God said. The house of Ahab was repaid so that they not only died, but their blood was spilled on the land that they stole by the blood of the innocent. God made all things equal in His judgment because the wicked would not repent and seek forgiveness.
The providence of the Lord is really something amazing to see in the scriptures. The English dictionary defines “providence” simply as divine guidance or care. Yet the scriptures show that the extent of care and guidance that God provides is exceptional on account of the planning that God reveals through the Bible. It is not just that God guides and sustains human destiny, but that He has a purpose and destination in mind for every single person that He guides and sustains (which is every single person). For example, the Lord promised King David that his kingdom would be an eternal through and that God Himself would rule that kingdom as the Messiah. This is the end goal. Hence, the interaction that God has with the kings of Israel is with the purpose of fulfilling that promise. The Bible then shows that God guides and sustained the kings of Israel in the north and of Judah in the south so that the eventual outcome was the revelation of Messiah. Today, God still exercises His providence so that the eternally unconditional promise He made to David can be fulfilled through the second revelation of Jesus Christ as the Messiah.
There are many people that scoff at the idea of Jesus’ Second Coming. A common statement is based on the fact that it has been thousands of years since Jesus’ death, resurrection, and ascension. Since He has been gone for so long, many people feel that as evidence that He will not come back. Yet the Bible addresses this issue. The scriptures state that God is not slack as some count slackness, but is patient with His people; not willing that any of His own should perish, but that all people declared as His should come to repentance. This means that God has purpose for the time He’s taken to fulfill the promises made to King David; and that purpose is centered around sin. God is waiting for those appointed to be His to repent. This means that there are some who are God’s children that are living in sin and need to turn from it in order to fulfill their purpose in spiritual regeneration. Hence, God is waiting for the next phase of His plan because He’s still working on dealing with sin. God will not progress to the blessings until He has purged the corruption that keeps His people from enjoying the blessings He gives. This is why Jesus hasn’t come yet. There is still work to be done in the body of Christ. Once that work is done, God will purge sin and corruption from the earth through Jesus at which point He will come and fulfill the Father’s promises made to King David. This is why Israel does not have their King yet. As in the past, God is still exercising divine guidance and care to sustain certain people to be used as tools in His efforts to purge sin from among His people. Then God will bring the good stuff.
Evidence of this truth can be found in 2 Kings 9:1-13. In this portion of scripture, the Bible documents the secret anointing of a man named Jehu. Jehu was a commander in the northern kingdom of Israel. He was a military man that was committed to fighting on behalf of the children of Israel, and due to his position, was a very busy man. Since the kings of Israel were so wicked, God often sent the Syrians into the land to afflict suffering on the people in order to discipline them. This means that Jehu would have been one of several men in charge of leading Israel against these bands of raiders and terrorists. Yet this is the man that God hand-picked to be the next king of the northern kingdom of Israel. Thankfully, the scriptures are candid to explain God’s purposes. If God exercises providence, the scriptures should show that God intervened in the lives of His people to guide them into position to fulfill a purpose. The Bible shows that as true. Additionally, the Bible explains God’s purpose and provides insight into the plan of God so that His people can understand the patterns of God’s providence.
When God decided to engage Jehu, He called out to Elisha the prophet to anoint him. God did the same type of thing that He did with King David. Recall that when David was to become king, God sent Samuel the prophet to David to anoint him well before the time that he would actually serve as king. God had Jehu in mind in a similar manner that He had David in mind. Jehu, like David, was not a man expecting to be king, and did not have any skills that seemed helpful to be king. David was a shepherd, not a leader or politician. Jehu was a warrior, not a planner and delegate of God’s people. Yet there were things about the jobs that David performed that helped him to be a great king and fulfill the purpose God appointed for him. In fact, we can examine the early life of David and see why God selected David. God guided David to be a shepherd in order to give special training for the circumstances of life that God desired to use David for. Likewise, Jehu was guided by God to be a commander of Israel’s army in order to equip him to fulfill the purposes that God had for him concerning the fulfillment of God’s promises to Israel.
When Elisha was commanded to anoint Jehu as king, he didn’t ask any questions. He called one of the students of his prophecy school and commanded him to grab a flask of oil. The young prophet was to take the flask of oil and the two of them were to go to Ramoth Gilead where Jehu was. They were to anoint him with the oil, proclaim that he would be the next king of Israel in the north, and then swiftly leave. The student of Elisha’s obeyed, and he set out. When Elisha’s servant arrived, he saw Jehu with a band of his men reclining. Jehu noticed the young prophet and inquired of him to see who he was looking for. The young prophet explained that he was actually looking for Jehu. Jehu was surprised, and the two men went outside to speak. At that time, the prophet did as he was commanded and explained his purpose. The man poured the oil over Jehu’s head and stated that he would be the next king of Israel. He also explained the reason that God selected him to be king.
God was going to execute judgment on the house of Ahab. God had enough of those wicked men and the corruption they were spreading, not only of the people in the northern kingdom, but also as it was spreading into the southern kingdom of Judah on account of the relationship that Ahaziah and Joram had with one another. As the evil in the north was starting to spread to the south, compromising the integrity of God’s promises to Israel through King David, the Lord was going to respond and purge the corruption at the source. In the same manner that God purged the house of Jeroboam through Baasha, God was going to purge the house of Ahab through Jehu. Yet, the Bible shows that even Baasha’s family became corrupted and they were destroyed too. God would use Jehu in this way – to destroy the sin that was infecting the people of God. Thus, it was appropriate that God selected a military man to be the next king. God’s usage of Jehu would be centered on his ability to execute a takeover through violence. For this reason, it can be seen that God had his hand over the life of Jehu all along. While Jehu felt himself just to be a commander of a band of soldiers in Israel, God had different purposes all along, for which his background as a commander would serve him useful for that purpose. God put Jehu in the places he needed to be so that when it was time to fulfill his purpose according to God’s eternally unconditional promises, he was prepared.
As the prophet spoke to Jehu, he explained that the entire house of Ahab was to be destroyed and that Jezebel would be eaten by dogs. Jehu was sort of stunned and was reluctant to accept and admit the conversation that had taken place. After explaining God’s plan to Jehu, the young prophet immediately fled leaving Jehu to deal with God’s proclamation on his own. When Jehu returned to his men, they immediately noticed that something was different. They inquired of Jehu about who the prophet was and what they talked about. Jehu would not admit the truth at first and simply tried to brush off the magnitude of God’s calling. Yet his men persisted to the point where Jehu finally gave in. Jehu explained exactly what the prophet said, and that he would be the next king of Israel. The Bible testifies that his men immediately gathered their equipment and blew trumpets proclaiming that Jehu was the new king of Israel. Clearly his men were faithful to their commander and they were in support of God’s proclamation. The providence of God is a beautiful thing. While Jehu was called to be God’s tool used for judgment against sin, God had been preparing Jehu his whole life. Jehu was equipped as a warrior and with a band of soldiers that were loyal. Jehu would have the tools he needed to do as God commanded. While God’s’ will to purge corruption from Israel would be done, Jehu would simply need to decide what kind of tool he would be. Would he serve God’s purposes unto the glory of the Lord in righteousness; or would he serve God’s purposes unto his own glory according to the same sin that he was being used to destroy like Baasha did? While God’s providence is always perfectly executed, the people that God guides unto His purposes must still submit to His purpose for His glory and not our own, remembering that He is the One with the plan, the power, and the perfect purpose.