2 Kings 8-9: The Seriousness of Sin
June 17, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
The chapters begin with beneficent greatness continuing to spread from the ministry of Elisha. The Shunammite, whose son he had restored to life, is warned to leave where she is because there will be a famine for seven years (8:1). When she returns, she goes to the king to appeal for the return of her land (8:3)—perhaps taken by others in her absence—to find that the servant of Elisha is recounting her very story as an example of the great things that Elisha has done (8:4-5). The king restores her property and any lost income and more (8:6).
Another side of Elisha’s ministry now comes into focus: a servant of God’s wrath, as well as of his mercy. God’s word speaks peace where there is peace, but no faithful steward of the Scriptures will declare peace to those who persist in their rebellion against God. Warning must be given, too. The king of Syria sends for Elisha’s hope (8:7-8), but Elisha predicts, by God’s word, that the servant the king has sent to Elisha will take the throne and—as an expression of God’s discipline against his people—do harm to Israel (8:9-15).
Now comes quite a convoluted story that intertwines the narratives of the kingdoms of Joram, king of Israel, son of Ahab of ill memory, and Ahaziah, king of Judah (8:16-29). Ahaziah also does what is evil in God’s sight (8:27). Through God’s providence they end up together in Jezreel (8:29-30), an important geographical detail, as we shall see.
Elisha then sends one of his team, one of the “sons of the prophets,” to take a message to Jehu, one of the commanders of the army of the king of Israel (9:1-2). He is to be king, and is formally anointed as such by the prophet, a king-maker, and commissioned to carry out God’s vengeance against the house of Ahab (9:3-10). He, in due course, therefore, kills both Joram, the son of Ahab, and Ahaziah for colluding with his evil (9:14-29).
He then comes to the mother of the clan, Jezebel. Rather pathetically, Jezebel attempts to look seductive for Jehu, painting her eyes and adorning her head (9:30). She must have been no longer in the flower of her youth. Uncharmed by her wiles, Jehu calls asking for who is with him (9:32). Some eunuchs looked out, and then at his command throw Jezebel from the wall (9:33). Her blood spattered the wall and the horses (9:33). And when they came to bury her, they found that dogs had eaten her body, apart from her skull and feet and palms (9:35). At that point they remember the word spoken by Elijah, that such would be the fate of Jezebel (9:36-37).
God is not to be played with. His wrath against sin may be mercifully delayed, but because God is holy and righteous, he will serve justice on the evil. The only way of escape is through another man’s blood, this time the God-man whose sacrifice can make the foulest clean and can heal the broken of all their evil. Turn to him today, rejoice in him—that God in his grace and mercy has provided a way for us all to be saved, if we repent and believe.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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