2 Chronicles 22-24: Preserving the house of David

Chapter 22

The wicked mother Athaliah is the instigator of the potential destruction of the promise and hope of Israel in her attempt to destroy all the royal family of the house of Judah.  This begins with her son Ahaziah, in her marriage with Jehoram – and unfortunately Ahaziah walked in the ways of the house of Ahab (v.3), in the counsel of those in this wicked house (v.4-5).  Rather than instilling the fear of the LORD, the knowledge of the gospel, into the hearts of the neighbouring nations, he would rather join in alliance with Ahab’s son Jehoram to make war against Syria.  It is therefore righteous and in God’s ordinance that Jehu son of Nimshi should destroy the house of Ahab and Ahaziah alongside with it (v.9).  However, this is not the same as destroying the royal house of David, which was Athaliah’s intent (v.10), for Ahaziah had a son Joash (who was not yet able to rule v.9, v.11).

It is in God’s providence that Joash is protected from the murderous intent of Athaliah and that the lamp in the house of David is not extinguished – and this is done by the hand of Ahaziah’s sister Jehoshabeath (oath of Jehovah), wife of a priest Jehoiada (knowledge of the LORD), again the preservation of the house of David initiated not by mere man, nor by mere king, but by the ordained priesthood.  Joash was therefore hidden in the house of God whilst Athaliah the whore reigned free, just as Christ was hidden in the house of God – known to those faithful to Him – awaiting the day when He would glorify the Father and display the Triune glory in fullness on the cross and destroy the whore once and for all (Revelation 17).

Chapter 23

Just like the scene of the wise men Matthew 2, Jehoiada with Azariah (whom Jehovah helps) (son of Jeroham (cherished)), Ishmael (whom God hears) (son of Jehohanan (whom God gave)), Azariah (son of Obed (serving)), Maaseiah (work of the LORD) (son of Adaiah (adorned by Jehovah)) and Elishaphat (whom God judges) (son of Zichri (memorable)) together gathered the Levites from all the cities of Judah and came to Jerusalem to announce the coming of the true king.  These are clearly men who looked forward to the Promised Seed and saw in Joash the need to overthrow Athaliah’s mad rule, Joash being the only hope and lineage from whom the Promised Seed shall come.  This is indeed a literal keeping/guarding of the law and covenant until the day of Christ’s first coming (c.f. Genesis 2:15 original Hebrew interpretation), as we see the synonymous nature of protecting Joash as if protecting the LORD Himself (v.6)!  These were men who understood what the Sabbath truly meant – an act of worship and not a secular piece of work to further one’s own kingdom (c.f. Luke 6:1-5); thus they fulfilled the true meaning of the Sabbath not by taking “rest”, but by achieving the promised rest in protecting the king of the house of David.

It is therefore a beautiful comparison in v.11-15, the imagery of the anointed, protected and elected king Joash from the line of David (with much song and dance!) contrasted to Athaliah’s madness and eventual death (v.13-15).  Therefore Jehoiada, from the protection of the king in his early youth, to the king’s anointing was very much the picture of the John the Baptist was to Christ, making the way straight for the king’s headship over the kingdom.  His covenant between himself and all the people and the king that they should be the LORD’s people (v.16) is a restoration of the status quo set down in David’s and Solomon’s day.  Like the period of Asa, Israel once again went through a reformation of its identity (v.17-18), reminded time and time again the importance of the house of David and the lineage of priests in presenting a multimedia presentation of the true King to come.  They should all know that the peace achieved after Athaliah’s death (v.21) was but a short one, a mere taste of the everlasting peace only achievable by the destroyer of the serpent’s head.

Chapter 24

However, it was foreboding that all the work and the covenant was kept by Jehoiada – but not Joash.  Joash was only a type of the foretold King, but bore hardly any quality similar to that of Christ.  Only during the days of Jehoiada that he worked to restore the house of the LORD and re-introduced the tax initiated by Moses in the wilderness (Exodus 30:12-14) as a reminder of the people’s need to focus on the House of the LORD (which was the tabernacle, the sanctuary, in Moses’ time) which defines the entire nation.  So the national dedication of the LORD’s offering was pleasing (v.8-14) and worked towards the proper reparation of the house of the LORD as well as utensils for serving in the house of the LORD (v.14), with burnt offerings offered in the days of Jehoiada’s leadership.  However, it is apparent that Joash’s heart was merely skin-deep in his love for Jesus; where Jehoiada focused not on the pomp and presentation of the House (possibly a reason why the Levites did not act quickly under Jehoiada’s leadership – v.5-6), he compensated in his spiritual influence over the kingdom that all would offer burnt offerings and provide wise advice to the king to prevent him defecting from his role as king in the house of David.  Yet, his death led to inevitable trouble (v.17) as the heart of the king was not grounded in the Word, nor the true meaning of the glorious physicality of the temple, and instead he was led astray by the princes of Judah to abandon the house of the LORD.

Joash’s eventual murder of Zechariah, the son of Jehoiada (forgetting the kindness of Jehoiada v.22 who had preserved Joash lest he be murdered by Athaliah) is a picture of the chosen nation Israel crucifying our LORD Jesus, solidifying the truth that Israel is not an elect nation due to its purity or virtue.  Rather, Israel was elected to display itself as a type of the sinner of the world, and Jesus the creator (with the Father and the Spirit) being crucified by the rebellious created.  Thus, the irony that Ahaziah and Jehoram’s invasion of Syria is brought back on its head as the Syrians return to destroy the princes of Judah and execution of Joash despite the Syrians having come with few men (v.24).  Although Jehoiada preserved Joash under the LORD’s direction, it was also His discretion to destroy Joash for not walking with Christ and for walking in the ways of his father Ahaziah and grandmother Athaliah.  However, his destruction now is the the vengeance of the LORD (at the hand of non-Israelites – the Syrians, Ammonites and Moabites c.f. v. 26 – a picture foretelling the Gentiles being led by the LORD instead of the Israelites themselves) and His justice truly served, as the house of David is still preserved in Amaziah (v.27).  The preservation of the house of David would not have been possible had Athaliah murdered Joash at the outset, yet it is in the LORD’s mercy that He should continue his steadfast love for David’s descendants, despite the Israelites’ continual relapses into rebellion.

 

2 Chronicles 22-24: Preserving the house of David

2 Chronicles 19-21: Victorious Worship

Chapter 19

Despite Jehoshaphat’s cry in chapter 18, his alliance with Ahab still needed to be accounted for – hence Hanani’s commentary on Jehoshaphat’s help of “the wicked” (v.2) and love for those who hate the LORD.  This is very much allows us to see what it means for us to “love our enemies” (Matthew 5:44) – which is to pray for those who persecute you.  It would appear that Jehoshaphat’s alliance did not include the heart to convert Ahab to following Christ; rather, Jehoshaphat’s oath to be with Ahab in 2 Chronicles 18:3 betrayed Jehoshaphat’s intentions.

Immediately thereafter, the narrator describes Jehoshaphat has appointing judges in the land of all the fortified cities of Judah (v.5), reminding them that they judge for the LORD and not for man.  It is clear that the narrator intends not to merely focus on Jehoshaphat’s unholy alliance with Ahab, but rather recall the good which is found in Jehoshaphat (v.3) in setting his heart to seek God, as proven in his appointment of righteous judges.  This is followed in v.8-11 by his appointment of certain Levites and priests and heads of families of Israel to give judgment for the LORD and to decide disputed cases – a further development of the justice under the banner of Jehoshaphat which should be done “in the fear of the LORD, in faithfulness, and with [their] whole heart…” (v.9; c.f. v.11).

Chapter 20

Again, in fulfilment of Solomon’s prayer in chapter 6, Jehoshaphat is right to set his face to seek the LORD (v.3) in the oncoming invasion from the neighbouring nations.  However, this is a far cry from the peace in the days of Asa when the law of the LORD pointed to the cross and instilled the fear of the LORD on even the neighbouring nations’ hearts.  Now, the Moabites, Ammonites and Meunites no longer have such fear, an indication of Jehoshaphat’s divided heart.  It is at this time that a national fast is declared (v.3) and thus he prayed:

O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven?  You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations.  In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you.  Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?  And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you – for your name is in this house – and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.” (v.6-9)

Indeed, Jehoshaphat goes on to comment how these Ammonites, Moabites and people from Mount Seir were not attacked in the days of the exodus and yet they repay Israel with such aggression (v.10-11) – yet his hope does not lie in Israel’s brute strength (or lack of).  Rather, his hope lies in the name of the LORD – for that is the only reason why they stand before the house of the LORD, the sanctuary, the temple.  It is the same Name which the ancient Christians called upon (Genesis 4:26), the object of the Old Testament saints’ worship, which warrants the election of Abraham as God’s friend and Israel as the elected nation through which the promised Offspring shall come.  And this reminder comes through the mouth of the Levite Jahaziel (whom God watches over) by the filling of the Holy Spirit, that the Israelites shall not be afraid nor dismayed.  It is fitting that Jahaziel is described to have hailed from the lineage of Asaph, one of the leaders of David’s choir (1 Chronicles 6:39), bringing us again back to the LORD’s faithfulness to the house of David.

Further, the enemies shall go up by the ascent of Ziz (flower / branch) at the east of the wilderness of Jeruel (vision / founded by God) – and it is here that Israel need not even fight in this battle but merely to witness the salvation of the LORD on Judah and Jerusalem’s behalf.  Is this not the same fight which Christ fought on our behalf on the cross and we merely need to stand our grand and witness this miracle of salvation?  This is complemented by the beautiful image of Jehoshaphat the king, leading all Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem to fall down before the LORD in worship, whilst the Levites, Kohathites and Korahites stood up to praise the LORD with a very loud voice – the combined silent obedience with uncontrolled praise.  We are, for the first time since 2 Chronicles 7:6 in the times of Solomon brought to remember the LORD’s steadfast love (v.21); to believe his prophets.

It is in their bowed head in worship, their psalms of victory and praise, that the men of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir are defeated.  They are defeated whilst the Christians are praising; this is no “army” of God – this is but a priesthood, a family of worshippers who simply believe that salvation is gifted to them through the mouth of the LORD and His prophets (v.20-22).  Their initial fear evolves into unity as Christ-followers and people of the first Promise of the gospel in Genesis 3:15; which is juxtaposed against the initial false unity of the enemies which degraded into mass hysteria and mutual destruction (v.23). Is this not the picture of Old Testament worship – expecting Christ to be victorious on the cross?  Although Christ has not yet achieved such victory, their praise and hymns are sung as if this ancient promise is already fulfilled (Revelation 13:8); and similarly, although Christ has not yet returned to take us home, we are already citizens of heaven in a very Spirit-led manner?

It is quite a literal picture of the meek inheriting the treasures of the earth in three days (v.24-25), a reminder once again of the treasure of salvation we have received in the short course of three days from Christ’s death to resurrection, leading to the fourth day of blessing at the Valley of Beracah (blessing).  Yet, this blessing first came from the LORD and what they bless the LORD with is what the LORD had anyway – a picture of the perichoretic triune Christian community.  For the first time since the days of Asa (2 Chronicles 14), the fear of God returned on all the kingdoms of the neighbouring countries once more.  However, Jehoshaphat is again but a weak follower of Christ, with the narrator ending the description of his reign as having joined again with another wicked king of Israel (Ahaziah).

Chapter 21

Despite Jehoshaphat’s holy efforts as king of Israel, his son did not walk in his way but rather in the way of the wicked king Ahab (v.1-6).  Yet, the LORD’s steadfast love for Israel meant that the covenant He has made with David will not be destroyed because of traitors in the house of David (v.7) – the lamp of the Promised Seed shall not be extinguished even if Satan’s agents are hiding in the ancient church.  Yet, due to Jehoram’s satanic walk, men of Edom, Libnah, Philistines, and Arabians no longer feared the LORD and revolted from the rule of Judah (v.8-10; v.16-17).  Jehoram further led Judah and Jerusalem into whoredom, which evoked a disciplinary response from the LORD through the mouth of Elijah – that a plague shall strike Israel (v.14-15, 18-20) – Jehoram being one of the first kings of Judah to exceedingly stray from the covenant promise made to the Davidic household.  Despite this response, we are reminded once again of the opening verses (v.6-7) – “…the LORD was not willing to destroy the house of David, because of the covenant that he had made with David, and since he had promised to give a lamp to him and to his sons forever“.  Indeed, in spite of our lies and our deceit, our standing in Christ (Romans 3:4) – the lamp given to David’s lineage (Revelation 21:23) – secures us the salvation we do not deserve.

 

2 Chronicles 19-21: Victorious Worship

2 Chronicles 16-18: Man’s Religion

Chapter 16

Unfortunately, the covenant of salt described in chapter 13 is ignored by Asa in the latter years of his life.  For fear of Baasha, king of Israel (and in spite of the various victories won by Asa against the Ethiopians and the people who did not agree with the oath to love the LORD with all their heart), he sacrificed the silver and gold from the treasures of the house of the LORD and the king’s house (v.2) to re-affirm the heretical covenant (v.3) with Ben-hadad king of Syria.  Instead of remembering the covenant of salt, the oath and covenant that he re-affirmed with the LORD with Azariah’s help, he would rather break Baasha’s sinful covenant with Ben-hadad with another Christless covenant.  As Hanani said to Asa – “Were not the Ethiopians and the Libyans a huge army with very many chariots and horsemen?” – and Asa’s victories still came from the LORD.  Yet, Asa forgot the steadfast love of the LORD; he lost his first love (v.11-14), just as we do when we face current troubles and forget how He has not ceased to faithfully rescue us in our walks with Him.

Chapter 17

However, the son of Asa, Jehoshaphat, walked with the LORD as in the earlier ways of David (v.3).  Unlike the spontaneous reforms and oaths of Asa, Jehoshaphat laid the seeds of the gospel in the hearts of the Israelites as led by the Levites (v.8), teaching throughout Judah the book of the Law of the LORD and to Whom the law points towards (v.9-10).  In their understanding of the gospel witnessed in the Mosaic law, they chose not to rebel against their lord Jehoshaphat, fully understanding the true significance of the covenant between the LORD and the house of David.  Unsurprisingly, the evangelistic and missional effect of clinging closely to Jesus is truly felt once the law has been intentionally preached throughout Israel, that gospel peace is once again attained when the fear of the LORD fell upon all the kingdoms of the lands that were around Judah (v.10).

Chapter 18

Even in Jehoshaphat’s alliance with Ahab, one of the first pictures of unity between Israel and Judah since the days of Solomon, Jehoshaphat does not cease to remind Ahab the importance of inquiring first for the word of the LORD (v.4).  Unlike the four hundred “prophets” which Ahab surrounded himself with (v.9-11), Jehoshaphat knew that the true word of the LORD could only come from a true prophet (v.6) – that being Micaiah the son of Imlah who does not fear the king of Israel and therefore does not speak words of empty flattery (v.7, 13, 17).  The clear irony which the narrator is trying to portray is the juxtaposition of the image of Ahab and Jehoshaphat sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes (v.9) surrounded by ridiculous prophets; and that of the glorious LORD sitting on his throne (v.18) and all the host of heaven standing on his right hand and on his left, clarifying that one of the LORD’s spirit has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all of Ahab’s prophets (v.21-22) to entice Ahab and lead him to disaster.  Yet, is this picture not all too familiar of that of the Sanhedrin’s inquisition of our LORD Jesus Christ?  The false teachers, Pharisees and Sadducees weighing the substance of Christ and instead of taking His word seriously would rather question His authenticity and His Spirit?  Thus Ahab’s false religion and prophets go to the grave with him (v.28-34) just as the modern religion of Judaism is but a remnant and not even more than a shadow of the Messianic Judaism of the Old Testament as preached by Jehoshaphat.  Jehoshaphat’s naked and childlike cry (v.13) is enough to warrant the LORD’s protection; Ahab’s thick clothing of a false priesthood and disguise are but useless before the the LORD’s throne.

 

 

2 Chronicles 16-18: Man’s Religion

2 Kings 11-12: Jehoiada, bearing the reproach of Christ

II Kings 11:

1 Now when Athaliah the mother of Ahaziah saw that her son was dead, she arose and destroyed all the royal family.

2 But Jehosheba, the daughter of King Joram, sister of Ahaziah, took Joash the son of Ahaziah and stole him away from among the king’s sons who were being put to death, and she put him and his nurse in a bedroom. Thus they hid him from Athaliah, so that he was not put to death.

3 And he remained with her six years, hidden in the house of the LORD, while Athaliah reigned over the land.

The whore of Babylon, however, has not yet been destroyed – for the end of days has not yet come. Until then, the bloodline of Satan shall continue to wreck havoc on the promised nation, this time through Athaliah, the type of the enemy.  This is the woman “whom God afflicts”, for she causes the death of the royal family for her own gain.  Even Joash, her grandson “whom Jehovah bestowed”, would not have escaped such brutal murder.  This scene is reminiscent of the hiding of Moses, and the hiding of Jesus – to ensure that the line of Israel is not destroyed (c.f. Exodus 2; Matthew 2).  Six years he spent in the house of the LORD, until the tutelage of priest Jehoiada (“Jehovah known”), growing in the faith as Athaliah sought to destroy all the royal seed (the literal Hebrew of the ESV’s adoption of “family”), destroying the possible fulfillment of Genesis 3:15.

4 But in the seventh year Jehoiada sent and brought the captains of the Carites and of the guards, and had them come to him in the house of the LORD. And he made a covenant with them and put them under oath in the house of the LORD, and he showed them the king’s son.

5 And he commanded them, “This is the thing that you shall do: one third of you, those who come off duty on the Sabbath and guard the king’s house

6 (another third being at the gate Sur and a third at the gate behind the guards) shall guard the palace.

7 And the two divisions of you, which come on duty in force on the Sabbath and guard the house of the LORD on behalf of the king,

8 shall surround the king, each with his weapons in his hand. And whoever approaches the ranks is to be put to death. Be with the king when he goes out and when he comes in.”

9 The captains did according to all that Jehoiada the priest commanded, and they each brought his men who were to go off duty on the Sabbath, with those who were to come on duty on the Sabbath, and came to Jehoiada the priest.

10 And the priest gave to the captains the spears and shields that had been King David’s, which were in the house of the LORD.

11 And the guards stood, every man with his weapons in his hand, from the south side of the house to the north side of the house, around the altar and the house on behalf of the king.

12 Then he brought out the king’s son and put the crown on him and gave him the testimony. And they proclaimed him king and anointed him, and they clapped their hands and said, “Long live the king!”

Are v.4-12 not a picture of the Old Testament?  (c.f. 1 Peter 1) The picture of Israelites, under oath in the house of the LORD to protect and safeguard the king’s son until the day of his crowning?  Some may not see his crowning, yet they long for the day when Athaliah is destroyed and the true King is crowned (Hebrews 11:13).  The object of faith has not changed – it has always been the true king Joash, as directed by Jehoiada who faithfully keeps this one royal seed of Adam and Eve and of Israel from perishing.

13 When Athaliah heard the noise of the guard and of the people, she went into the house of the LORD to the people.

14 And when she looked, there was the king standing by the pillar, according to the custom, and the captains and the trumpeters beside the king, and all the people of the land rejoicing and blowing trumpets. And Athaliah tore her clothes and cried, “Treason! Treason!”

15 Then Jehoiada the priest commanded the captains who were set over the army, “Bring her out between the ranks, and put to death with the sword anyone who follows her.” For the priest said, “Let her not be put to death in the house of the LORD.”

16 So they laid hands on her; and she went through the horses’ entrance to the king’s house, and there she was put to death.

17 And Jehoiada made a covenant between the LORD and the king and people, that they should be the LORD’s people, and also between the king and the people.

18 Then all the people of the land went to the house of Baal and tore it down; his altars and his images they broke in pieces, and they killed Mattan the priest of Baal before the altars. And the priest posted watchmen over the house of the LORD.

19 And he took the captains, the Carites, the guards, and all the people of the land, and they brought the king down from the house of the LORD, marching through the gate of the guards to the king’s house. And he took his seat on the throne of the kings.

20 So all the people of the land rejoiced, and the city was quiet after Athaliah had been put to death with the sword at the king’s house.

21  Jehoash was seven years old when he began to reign.

Such a fundamental picture of Satan destroyed according to his folly and arrogance.  Though he too may shout “Treason! Treason!”, he has no justification to do so.  He wants to be God (Ezekiel 28:9), such that Athaliah’s charisma and beauty was struck down by the innocence and incomparable authority of the young king Joash.  She shall be destroyed outside of the house of the LORD (v.15) and thrown into the pit, outside of the fellowship of believers.  It is on this Sabbath day of rest that the coronation of the king is achieved; and that the house of Baal is simultaneously destroyed with the priest of Baal permanently removed.  So the ascension of Joash as king is completed in a matter of one appointed day (Hebrews 5), the fullness of time when Christ too shall return to destroy the house of Babylon and be revealed as the King of kings despite other falsities such as Athalia as the interim king / ruler.  And this judgment shall begin at the house of God (1 Peter 4:17).

II Kings 12:

1 In the seventh year of Jehu, Jehoash began to reign, and he reigned forty years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Zibiah of Beersheba.

2 And Jehoash did what was right in the eyes of the LORD all his days, because Jehoiada the priest instructed him.

3 Nevertheless, the high places were not taken away; the people continued to sacrifice and make offerings on the high places.

4 Jehoash said to the priests, “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD,

5 let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered.”

6 But by the twenty-third year of King Jehoash, the priests had made no repairs on the house.

7 Therefore King Jehoash summoned Jehoiada the priest and the other priests and said to them, “Why are you not repairing the house? Now therefore take no more money from your donors, but hand it over for the repair of the house.”

8 So the priests agreed that they should take no more money from the people, and that they should not repair the house.

9 Then Jehoiada the priest took a chest and bored a hole in the lid of it and set it beside the altar on the right side as one entered the house of the LORD. And the priests who guarded the threshold put in it all the money that was brought into the house of the LORD.

10 And whenever they saw that there was much money in the chest, the king’s secretary and the high priest came up and they bagged and counted the money that was found in the house of the LORD.

11 Then they would give the money that was weighed out into the hands of the workmen who had the oversight of the house of the LORD. And they paid it out to the carpenters and the builders who worked on the house of the LORD,

12 and to the masons and the stonecutters, as well as to buy timber and quarried stone for making repairs on the house of the LORD, and for any outlay for the repairs of the house.

13 But there were not made for the house of the LORD basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver, from the money that was brought into the house of the LORD,

14 for that was given to the workmen who were repairing the house of the LORD with it.

15 And they did not ask an accounting from the men into whose hand they delivered the money to pay out to the workmen, for they dealt honestly.

16 The money from the guilt offerings and the money from the sin offerings was not brought into the house of the LORD; it belonged to the priests.

The activities of v.1-16 is but a picture of Nehemiah’s building up of the temple after the Babylonian captivity.  However, the hearts of men were still faulty.  Joash reveals the state of man’s heart in v. 4-5, that “All the money of the holy things that is brought into the house of the LORD, the money for which each man is assessed—the money from the assessment of persons—and the money that a man’s heart prompts him to bring into the house of the LORD,

let the priests take, each from his donor, and let them repair the house wherever any need of repairs is discovered”.  The money was a free-will offering to repair the house of the LORD, and Joash’s focus was on ensuring that this house of worship would be the focal point of Israel rather than the high places.  Such is the marked difference between the leadership of one who walks with Jesus under the guidance of a priest of God, compared to the leadership of one who walks by the flesh, heeding poor counsel.  However, the decay of the house of the LORD is an apparent departure from Solomon’s day.  V.13 – there were not made for the house of the LORD basins of silver, snuffers, bowls, trumpets, or any vessels of gold, or of silver.  All went simply to repair.  This is not the golden city of Jerusalem of Revelation 21-22.  Joash is but repairing a shadow, the importance of which has been increasingly neglected by the people of Israel – even Joash himself.  Note the invasion by the Syrians:

17 At that time Hazael king of Syria went up and fought against Gath and took it. But when Hazael set his face to go up against Jerusalem,

18 Jehoash king of Judah took all the sacred gifts that Jehoshaphat and Jehoram and Ahaziah his fathers, the kings of Judah, had dedicated, and his own sacred gifts, and all the gold that was found in the treasuries of the house of the LORD and of the king’s house, and sent these to Hazael king of Syria. Then Hazael went away from Jerusalem.

Instead of lifting up the invasion to God, we see instead Joash gifting items in the house of the LORD to the Syrians.  This act may seem strange independent of his other account in 2 Chronicles 24, which reveals that Jehoiada was the one ensuring Joash was following Jesus:

““15 But Jehoiada grew old and full of days, and died. He was 130 years old at his death.

16 And they buried him in the city of David among the kings, because he had done good in Israel, and toward God and his house.

17 Now after the death of Jehoiada the princes of Judah came and paid homage to the king. Then the king listened to them.

18 And they abandoned the house of the LORD, the God of their fathers, and served the Asherim and the idols. And wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem for this guilt of theirs.

19 Yet he sent prophets among them to bring them back to the LORD. These testified against them, but they would not pay attention.

20 Then the Spirit of God clothed Zechariah the son of Jehoiada the priest, and he stood above the people, and said to them, “Thus says God, ‘Why do you break the commandments of the LORD, so that you cannot prosper? Because you have forsaken the LORD, he has forsaken you.’”

21 But they conspired against him, and by command of the king they stoned him with stones in the court of the house of the LORD.

22 Thus Joash the king did not remember the kindness that Jehoiada, Zechariah’s father, had shown him, but killed his son. And when he was dying, he said, “May the LORD see and avenge!””

 

Instead, the king began to listen to the princes of Judah, and they “abandoned the house of the LORD” and served the Asherim and the idols.  Joash, too, abandoned the house – and thus wrath came upon Judah and Jerusalem, explaining the invasion of the Syrians.  Instead, these are the rest of the acts of Joash described in the following v.19, and so the plan against Joash in the opening of 2 Kings 11 was materialized in the end of his life.  Joash, unfortunately, was not the promised Seed who would rebuild the house of God and Israel, although his life was modeled as such by Jehoiada and Zechariah, the true worshippers of Jesus Christ.  Instead, Joash dies a gruesome death, fitting to that of a king without God.

19 Now the rest of the acts of Joash and all that he did, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

20 His servants arose and made a conspiracy and struck down Joash in the house of Millo, on the way that goes down to Silla.

21 It was Jozacar the son of Shimeath and Jehozabad the son of Shomer, his servants, who struck him down, so that he died. And they buried him with his fathers in the city of David, and Amaziah his son reigned in his place.

2 Kings 11-12: Jehoiada, bearing the reproach of Christ

2 Kings 9-10: Jehu, the Angel of Judgment

II Kings 9:

1 Then Elisha the prophet called one of the sons of the prophets and said to him, “Tie up your garments, and take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead.

2 And when you arrive, look there for Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi. And go in and have him rise from among his fellows, and lead him to an inner chamber.

3 Then take the flask of oil and pour it on his head and say, ‘Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee; do not linger.”

The opening of 2 Kings 9 immediately enables us to see the connection with the previous chapter; Hazael becoming the king of Syria comes hand in hand with Jehu’s anointing as king of Israel, both prophesied in 1 Kings 19.  The purpose, is as in 1 Kings 19:15-18 –

15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria.

16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.

17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death.

18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

The ones which Hazael and Jehu put to death are those who follow in the steps of Baal; and Elisha is the first one anointed in 1 Kings 19 as he is the last barrier to ensuring that Israel remains the nation from which Christ is born.  It is interesting that the order of anointing is Elijah, Elisha, Hazael and then Jehu – Jehu being the last vessel through whom the LORD redeems Israel.  Again and again we are reminded that the human kings are but shadows of Christ – Jehu, “Jehovah is he”, the grandson of Nimshi (saved) reflects the picture of the Spirit anointing the chosen Son in destroying the religion of Judah and Israel.  Through Elijah and Elisha Israel’s reformation has time and time again been a reminder that if the kings were to model the kings of other nations, then it would only result in war (c.f. Genesis 14; the existence of kings before Israel was born); but under the rule of the true king David and Solomon, the true Sabbath and jubilee will ensue.

4 So the young man, the servant of the prophet, went to Ramoth-gilead.

5 And when he came, behold, the commanders of the army were in council. And he said, “I have a word for you, O commander.” And Jehu said, “To which of us all?” And he said, “To you, O commander.”

6 So he arose and went into the house. And the young man poured the oil on his head, saying to him, “Thus says the LORD the God of Israel, I anoint you king over the people of the LORD, over Israel.

7 And you shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, so that I may avenge on Jezebel the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the LORD.

8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.

9 And I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah.

10 And the dogs shall eat Jezebel in the territory of Jezreel, and none shall bury her.” Then he opened the door and fled.

11 When Jehu came out to the servants of his master, they said to him, “Is all well? Why did this mad fellow come to you?” And he said to them, “You know the fellow and his talk.”

12 And they said, “That is not true; tell us now.” And he said, “Thus and so he spoke to me, saying, ‘Thus says the LORD, I anoint you king over Israel.’”

13 Then in haste every man of them took his garment and put it under him on the bare steps, and they blew the trumpet and proclaimed, “Jehu is king.”

It is interesting the reaction of Jehu’s servants, referring to the son of the prophet as a “mad fellow” – a reminder of the persecution of the Christ who was seen more as mad than Messiah.  Yet, upon Jehu’s revelation that he is to be king, they immediately blew the trumpet and proclaimed as such, bearing witness to the truth of the word of the son of the prophet (c.f. Matthew 21:7-9).  Perhaps these men had been truly waiting for the day when the mad rule of Joram and Ahaziah would be destroyed, and their service to Jehu will facilitate a reformation they have longed in their hearts.

Note therefore the man of Ramoth-gilead, where Joram had been fighting against Hazael, now goes to Jezreel – the very place where innocent blood was spilled over a vineyard of Jezreel in 1 Kings 21 due to Ahab’s wickedness, spawning the anointing of Jehu for the purpose of destroying the house of Ahab and Jezebel (v.7-10 above):

14 Thus Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi conspired against Joram. (Now Joram with all Israel had been on guard at Ramoth-gilead against Hazael king of Syria,

15 but King Joram had returned to be healed in Jezreel of the wounds that the Syrians had given him, when he fought with Hazael king of Syria.) So Jehu said, “If this is your decision, then let no one slip out of the city to go and tell the news in Jezreel.”

16 Then Jehu mounted his chariot and went to Jezreel, for Joram lay there. And Ahaziah king of Judah had come down to visit Joram.

17 Now the watchman was standing on the tower in Jezreel, and he saw the company of Jehu as he came and said, “I see a company.” And Joram said, “Take a horseman and send to meet them, and let him say, ‘Is it peace?’”

18 So a man on horseback went to meet him and said, “Thus says the king, ‘Is it peace?’” And Jehu said, “What do you have to do with peace? Turn around and ride behind me.” And the watchman reported, saying, “The messenger reached them, but he is not coming back.”

19 Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them and said, “Thus the king has said, ‘Is it peace?’” And Jehu answered, “What do you have to do with peace? Turn around and ride behind me.”

20 Again the watchman reported, “He reached them, but he is not coming back. And the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously.”

21 Joram said, “Make ready.” And they made ready his chariot. Then Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah set out, each in his chariot, and went to meet Jehu, and met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite.

22 And when Joram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” He answered, “What peace can there be, so long as the whorings and the sorceries of your mother Jezebel are so many?”

Just as the men of Jehu appeared to be idol-worshippers, calling sons of the prophet as madmen, so also these men of Joram side with Jehu for they knew that under Joram and Ahaziah’s rule, there is no true peace.  “What do you have to do with peace?” – indeed, they have nothing to do with the peace that comes through Christ (Romans 5:1).  The third time they ask Jehu whether it is peace, they stand on the very property which was stolen by the house of Ahab under the direction of Jezebel the whore.  Thus, Jehu’s response was duly and appropriately given, in fulfillment of 1 Kings 21:29, supported by Bidkar (the one who stabs) executing the final burial of Joram.

23 Then Joram reined about and fled, saying to Ahaziah, “Treachery, O Ahaziah!”

24 And Jehu drew his bow with his full strength, and shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart, and he sank in his chariot.

25 Jehu said to Bidkar his aide, “Take him up and throw him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. For remember, when you and I rode side by side behind Ahab his father, how the LORD made this pronouncement against him:

26 ‘As surely as I saw yesterday the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons—declares the LORD—I will repay you on this plot of ground.’ Now therefore take him up and throw him on the plot of ground, in accordance with the word of the LORD.”

27 When Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled in the direction of Beth-haggan. And Jehu pursued him and said, “Shoot him also.” And they shot him in the chariot at the ascent of Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo and died there.

Thus, Ahaziah too was shot, at the ascent of Gur (whelp) by Ibleam (people-waster), strangely dying in the place of crowns Megiddo.  This sequence is differently described in 2 Chronicles 22:8-9:

8 And when Jehu was executing judgment on the house of Ahab, he met the princes of Judah and the sons of Ahaziah’s brothers, who attended Ahaziah, and he killed them.

9 He searched for Ahaziah, and he was captured while hiding in Samaria, and he was brought to Jehu and put to death. They buried him, for they said, “He is the grandson of Jehoshaphat, who sought the LORD with all his heart.” And the house of Ahaziah had no one able to rule the kingdom.”

 

Although a different sequence, both 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles sought to portray the same message – that Ahaziah supported the house of Ahab and Jezebel – and thus in 2 Chronicles 22:9, in “the house of Ahaziah had no one able to rule the kingdom”.  A fitting summary of the life of those who follow in the steps of the Satan who is but an impostor attempting to rule in this world, only to have the tables turned against him.

28 His servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his fathers in the city of David.

29 In the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab, Ahaziah began to reign over Judah.

30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it. And she painted her eyes and adorned her head and looked out of the window.

31 And as Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it peace, you Zimri, murderer of your master?”

What irony that Jezebel refers to Zimri in 1 Kings 16 – the man who reformed Israel by destroying the house of Baasha though unfortunately walking a compromised life of sin against God (1 Kings 16:19).  Yet, Jehu is quite different; though appearing to be a conspirator like Zimri, Jehu is a tool of the LORD’s judgment against the prostitute Jezebel in order to bring reunification for Israel and Judah.  This is clearly desired by the eunuchs serving Jezebel, just like the servants of Jehu, awaiting the day a true prophet comes to say that good news has come (fulfilling 1 Kings 21:23) – the enemy shall be destroyed once and for all.  So Satan shall do be destroyed utterly, so that no one can say, “This is the enemy of God.” (c.f. v. 37)

32 And he lifted up his face to the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked out at him.

33 He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down. And some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, and they trampled on her.

34 Then he went in and ate and drank. And he said, “See now to this cursed woman and bury her, for she is a king’s daughter.”

35 But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands.

36 When they came back and told him, he said, “This is the word of the LORD, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, ‘In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel,

37 and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as dung on the face of the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel.’”

II Kings 10:

1 Now Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. So Jehu wrote letters and sent them to Samaria, to the rulers of the city, to the elders, and to the guardians of the sons of Ahab, saying,

2 “Now then, as soon as this letter comes to you, seeing your master’s sons are with you, and there are with you chariots and horses, fortified cities also, and weapons,

3 select the best and fittest of your master’s sons and set him on his father’s throne and fight for your master’s house.”

4 But they were exceedingly afraid and said, “Behold, the two kings could not stand before him. How then can we stand?”

5 So he who was over the palace, and he who was over the city, together with the elders and the guardians, sent to Jehu, saying, “We are your servants, and we will do all that you tell us. We will not make anyone king. Do whatever is good in your eyes.”

6 Then he wrote to them a second letter, saying, “If you are on my side, and if you are ready to obey me, take the heads of your master’s sons and come to me at Jezreel tomorrow at this time.” Now the king’s sons, seventy persons, were with the great men of the city, who were bringing them up.

7 And as soon as the letter came to them, they took the king’s sons and slaughtered them, seventy persons, and put their heads in baskets and sent them to him at Jezreel.

8 When the messenger came and told him, “They have brought the heads of the king’s sons,” he said, “Lay them in two heaps at the entrance of the gate until the morning.”

9 Then in the morning, when he went out, he stood and said to all the people, “You are innocent. It was I who conspired against my master and killed him, but who struck down all these?

10 Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spoke concerning the house of Ahab, for the LORD has done what he said by his servant Elijah.”

11 So Jehu struck down all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his great men and his close friends and his priests, until he left him none remaining.

Jehu’s first pleading is but the same pleading as what he has been doing in chapter 9 – and this is the same pleading, calling if you will, of God when He sent His Son to die for us on the cross.  That is the first pleading, the first call for us to be on the true Jehu’s side; to know whether we are the eunuchs who will help crush Jezebel, the messengers who will take part in Jehu’s party of invaders of Ahaziah and Joram’s security.  Jehu’s pleading is but a shadow of the first coming of Christ, calling upon those who revere His name and identifying those who remain distant to His mission.  V.5 is revealing – “we are your servants, and we will do all that you tell us.  We will not make anyone king.  Do whatever is good in your eyes.”  It is important to note here that many of these men do not know of Jehu’s anointing; and yet, they see that God is with him.  Despite the failures of the kings in fighting against the idolatrous household of Ahab, it is God through Jehu that the enemies are truly scattered at Jezreel, in fulfillment of 1 Kings 21:21-24.  Thus, we are called to join Him who returns on the Wedding day to destroy the house of Ahab and Jezebel (1 Corinthians 1:26; Ephesians 4:1; 2 Thessalonians 1:11; Hebrews 3:1; 2 Peter 1:10).  What 2 Kings 10 plays out is but a shadow of Revelation 14, an ascertaining of whether such men have the mark of Jezebel; and Revelation 17-18, the destruction of Jezebel in ushering a new age of Israel.

Here, however, the situation should be distinguished.  The men were afraid – Jehu was challenging them as a test, to see which of the 70 sons would now ascend to the throne of Ahab.  Jehu’s taunt in v.2-3 immediately draws the men’s fear (v.4) in forming their reply (v.5-6).  They know that the LORD is with Jehu; however, they do not pledge their allegiance to God, but only to Jehu.  This is the reason for Jehu’s revelation of shame in the morning before the two heaps at the entrance of the gate (v.8-9).  This is a picture of the final judgment.  They dared to destroy their master’s sons, disobeying the authority upon them in such a gruesome manner, on the basis of blind obedience to the word of Jehu.  The clarity of the issue could not, however, be distinguished purely from perceiving the facts – for Jehu too conspired against his master (v.9).  The difference is that these ‘great men’ still stood in the house of Ahab, which led to Jehu’s destruction of them (v.11), regardless of whether they ‘obeyed’ Jehu or not.  These men were not men of peace; they were men of blood and wrath, men who blindly obeyed Jezebel to the destruction of Naboth (1 Kings 21).  The destruction at the pit of the shearing house (Beth-eked) of the Shepherds is but a clear reference of those who fellowship with darkness (2 Corinthians 6:14) thrown into the pit (Revelation 20:3).

12 Then he set out and went to Samaria. On the way, when he was at Beth-eked of the Shepherds,

13 Jehu met the relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah, and he said, “Who are you?” And they answered, “We are the relatives of Ahaziah, and we came down to visit the royal princes and the sons of the queen mother.”

14 He said, “Take them alive.” And they took them alive and slaughtered them at the pit of Beth-eked, forty-two persons, and he spared none of them.

15 And when he departed from there, he met Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him. And he greeted him and said to him, “Is your heart true to my heart as mine is to yours?” And Jehonadab answered, “It is.” Jehu said, “If it is, give me your hand.” So he gave him his hand. And Jehu took him up with him into the chariot.

16 And he said, “Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD.” So he had him ride in his chariot.

17 And when he came to Samaria, he struck down all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had wiped them out, according to the word of the LORD that he spoke to Elijah.

What a turn of events for the house of Rechab, the man who had been destroyed by David (2 Samuel 4) for similar reasons laid out in 2 Kings 10 in the destruction of the great men serving in the house of Ahab.  Instead, Jehonadab the son of Rechab now walks in the light, his heart true to the heart of Jehu (c.f. Jeremiah 35:19).

18 Then Jehu assembled all the people and said to them, “Ahab served Baal a little, but Jehu will serve him much.

19 Now therefore call to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers and all his priests. Let none be missing, for I have a great sacrifice to offer to Baal. Whoever is missing shall not live.” But Jehu did it with cunning in order to destroy the worshipers of Baal.

20 And Jehu ordered, “Sanctify a solemn assembly for Baal.” So they proclaimed it.

21 And Jehu sent throughout all Israel, and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left who did not come. And they entered the house of Baal, and the house of Baal was filled from one end to the other.

22 He said to him who was in charge of the wardrobe, “Bring out the vestments for all the worshipers of Baal.” So he brought out the vestments for them.

23 Then Jehu went into the house of Baal with Jehonadab the son of Rechab, and he said to the worshipers of Baal, “Search, and see that there is no servant of the LORD here among you, but only the worshipers of Baal.”

24 Then they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings.

Now Jehu had stationed eighty men outside and said, “The man who allows any of those whom I give into your hands to escape shall forfeit his life.”

25 So as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, Jehu said to the guard and to the officers, “Go in and strike them down; let not a man escape.” So when they put them to the sword, the guard and the officers cast them out and went into the inner room of the house of Baal,

26 and they brought out the pillar that was in the house of Baal and burned it.

27 And they demolished the pillar of Baal, and demolished the house of Baal, and made it a latrine to this day.

This is the application of Matthew 10:16 – the wisdom of a serpent, but the innocence of a dove – Jehu deceives these prophets of Baal in order to wipe out Baal from Israel (v.28).  It is fitting that the house of Baal is thus made into a latrine, a fitting place for the waste of men to be made equal to Baal which is but unclean dung to be removed from the presence of godly men (c.f. Leviticus 8:17).

Yet, although the picture of 1 Kings 9 and 10 is the swan-song of Jehu the anointed king of Israel, his calling as king spawned from the death of Naboth in 1 Kings 21, a type of the first and second coming of Christ, he is not Christ.  He is but a man, still drawn to his own idols, still leading Israel to sin as the Israelites still await for the true king who would rid the world of its idols and is careful to walk in the law of the LORD with all his heart (Psalm 1-2):

28 Thus Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel.

29 But Jehu did not turn aside from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin—that is, the golden calves that were in Bethel and in Dan.

30 And the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”

31 But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the LORD the God of Israel with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin.

32 In those days the LORD began to cut off parts of Israel. Hazael defeated them throughout the territory of Israel:

33 from the Jordan eastward, all the land of Gilead, the Gadites, and the Reubenites, and the Manassites, from Aroer, which is by the Valley of the Arnon, that is, Gilead and Bashan.

34 Now the rest of the acts of Jehu and all that he did, and all his might, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

35 So Jehu slept with his fathers, and they buried him in Samaria. And Jehoahaz his son reigned in his place.

36 The time that Jehu reigned over Israel in Samaria was twenty-eight years.

2 Kings 9-10: Jehu, the Angel of Judgment

1 Kings 21-22: Eve the head, Adam the body

1 Now Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard in Jezreel, beside the palace of Ahab king of Samaria.

2 And after this Ahab said to Naboth, “Give me your vineyard, that I may have it for a vegetable garden, because it is near my house, and I will give you a better vineyard for it; or, if it seems good to you, I will give you its value in money.”

3 But Naboth said to Ahab, “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers.”

4 And Ahab went into his house vexed and sullen because of what Naboth the Jezreelite had said to him, for he had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my fathers.” And he lay down on his bed and turned away his face and would eat no food.

 

Naboth, the man of ‘fruits’ was given a portion in Jezreel – the place of kings yet also the place where God scatters (likely to be a reference to the destruction of Ahab’s house in 2 Kings 9).  Yet, this very contestation of inheritance is akin to the story of Jacob and Esau – the latter brother who sold his inheritance to Jacob over a simple meal.  Naboth however is no Esau – he is not selling his inheritance in new creation for mammon or the desire of his eye.  “The LORD forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my fathers” (v.3) – a basis built upon Numbers 26 and Numbers 36:7-9, that the inheritance of the Israelites are proportionately placed and kept within the tribes without transfer.

 

What is the value behind such a vineyard?  Quality?  No – it is a mere ‘vegetable garden’, which could have been replaced by a better vineyard (v.2).  Rather, it is simply because it is in a better location, because it is near Ahab’s house.  What nonsense!  Naboth’s adherence to the LORD’s command is exactly the type of faithfulness modeled from his following Wisdom, the Holy Spirit, the excellent wife in Proverbs 31:16; contrary to the sluggard, the vineyard of a man lacking sense, such as Ahab (Proverbs 24:30).  Such is the vineyard, the object of Christian love (Song of Solomon 8:12), modeled after the love the Father has for us through Christ:

 

Isaiah 5:7: For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts

is the house of Israel,

and the men of Judah

are his pleasant planting;

and he looked for justice,

but behold, bloodshed;

for righteousness,

but behold, an outcry!

 

We are His vineyard!  We are the apple of His eye!  We are the treasure in the field!  He is the one Who protects, Who seeks, Who provides.

 

5 But Jezebel his wife came to him and said to him, “Why is your spirit so vexed that you eat no food?”

6 And he said to her, “Because I spoke to Naboth the Jezreelite and said to him, ‘Give me your vineyard for money, or else, if it please you, I will give you another vineyard for it.’ And he answered, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’”

7 And Jezebel his wife said to him, “Do you now govern Israel? Arise and eat bread and let your heart be cheerful; I will give you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.”

8 So she wrote letters in Ahab’s name and sealed them with his seal, and she sent the letters to the elders and the leaders who lived with Naboth in his city.

9 And she wrote in the letters, “Proclaim a fast, and set Naboth at the head of the people.

10 And set two worthless men opposite him, and let them bring a charge against him, saying, ‘You have cursed God and the king.’ Then take him out and stone him to death.”

11 And the men of his city, the elders and the leaders who lived in his city, did as Jezebel had sent word to them. As it was written in the letters that she had sent to them,

12 they proclaimed a fast and set Naboth at the head of the people.

13 And the two worthless men came in and sat opposite him. And the worthless men brought a charge against Naboth in the presence of the people, saying, “Naboth cursed God and the king.” So they took him outside the city and stoned him to death with stones.

14 Then they sent to Jezebel, saying, “Naboth has been stoned; he is dead.”

 

The events between v. 5-14 are but a repetition of Adam’s fall – Eve directing Adam’s actions, the man listening to the woman (Genesis 3:17) instead of being her head.  Naboth cared deeply for his vineyard, given to him by the LORD and commanded by the LORD to keep as his and his fathers’ inheritance.  Yet, the men, elders and leaders of the city from which Naboth belongs betrays Naboth.  The very people who are likely to know the same Naboth who stood up to king Ahab, and would cling onto his vineyard just as Christ clings to us that nothing shall remove us from His love (Romans 8:38).  They would spit in the face of a faithful man, in the face of the prophets like Elijah and Elisha, and instead listen to the false head, the false king who is not listening to Wisdom but to Folly (Proverbs 9:13).  Not only that, but two worthless men (witnesses) are set opposite the innocent Naboth, just as Christ was judged guilty in comparison to Barabbas (Matthew 27:20) by worthless men.  This flies in the face of the command in Deuteronomy 19:15-21:

 

15 “A single witness shall not suffice against a person for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed. Only on the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses shall a charge be established.

16 If a malicious witness arises to accuse a person of wrongdoing,

17 then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days.

18 The judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely,

19 then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother. So you shall purge the evil from your midst.

20 And the rest shall hear and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.

21 Your eye shall not pity. It shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

 

V.13 is direct and blunt.  They did not place the dispute before priests and judges who are in office.  There was no diligent inquiry.  The two worthless men did not receive their due justice.  Instead, Naboth was innocently stoned.  He shall receive his true inheritance, as part of the LORD’s vineyard, in new creation and we will meet with him there, an inheritance which no man can purchase from him.  Yet, Ahab’s kingdom is on this earth and this is all he shall ever receive.  The nation Israel thus listened to a false king, whose headship had been influenced and subsumed heretically under the whore called Folly.  Yet, we are the spiritual Israelites called to listen to the true king, the “Son” of Solomon, who listens to the excellent wife the Holy Spirit (Proverbs 1:10; 31).

 

15 As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned and was dead, Jezebel said to Ahab, “Arise, take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, which he refused to give you for money, for Naboth is not alive, but dead.”

16 And as soon as Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, Ahab arose to go down to the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite, to take possession of it.

17 Then the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

18 “Arise, go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who is in Samaria; behold, he is in the vineyard of Naboth, where he has gone to take possession.

19 And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD, “Have you killed and also taken possession?”’ And you shall say to him, ‘Thus says the LORD: “In the place where dogs licked up the blood of Naboth shall dogs lick your own blood.”’”

 

V.17 sees Christ speaking to Elijah – the Word of the LORD Who informed Elijah concerning the murder and false possession of Naboth and his inheritance.  The LORD shall not forsake Deuteronomy 19 – the wrath, which did not fall upon us Christians, still needs to fall upon Someone – that One being Christ Jesus.  Yet no one has paid the penalty for Ahab’s sins – he shall therefore experience the torment of Naboth by having the dogs lick his own blood (v.19, c.f. Romans 7:14).

 

20 Ahab said to Elijah, “Have you found me, O my enemy?” He answered, “I have found you, because you have sold yourself to do what is evil in the sight of the LORD.

21 Behold, I will bring disaster upon you. I will utterly burn you up, and will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel.

22 And I will make your house like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah, for the anger to which you have provoked me, and because you have made Israel to sin.

23 And of Jezebel the LORD also said, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel within the walls of Jezreel.’

24 Anyone belonging to Ahab who dies in the city the dogs shall eat, and anyone of his who dies in the open country the birds of the heavens shall eat.”

25 (There was none who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the LORD like Ahab, whom Jezebel his wife incited.

26 He acted very abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the LORD cast out before the people of Israel.)

 

The destruction of Ahab’s house does not fall upon him until 2 Kings 9:36-37, a fulfillment of Elijah’s prophecy (his own fall fulfilled in 1 Kings 22:38).  In stealing another man’s inheritance, Ahab loses his own.  In conceding Jezebel’s actions and murdering Naboth, a holy saint and Christian in the city of Jezreel, Ahab’s household is itself the subject of God’s holy wrath.  Thus also Adam’s house is destroyed, so that the second Adam may rule – the removal of Satan, the false lord, the false Baal, in place of the true husband and our LORD Jesus Christ.

 

27 And when Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth on his flesh and fasted and lay in sackcloth and went about dejectedly.

28 And the word of the LORD came to Elijah the Tishbite, saying,

29 “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster upon his house.”

 

Christ recognizes Ahab’s repentance before his end – yet, his end is but a proverb (Deuteronomy 28:37) to those who go after idols, stealing the LORD’s choice vineyard, selling himself to sin and listening to his wife instead of protecting and leading her in God’s word.  We are unsure whether Ahab himself has accepted the LORD personally, but the damage to his lineage cannot be undone.  Chapter 22 does not fare well for Ahab’s eventual death either, as he ended his life in sin and in defiance against the true prophets of the LORD.  He has led Israel to sin and only Christ, not Ahab, nor Adam, could redeem it.  The innocent blood of Naboth trickles on until Christ’s blood is itself licked by dogs like us.  Jezebel’s demise, unsurprisingly, is more graphic – the true instigator, the true folly of follies.  She is the temptress, the Babylonian prostitute (Revelation 14:8, 17:5).

 

1 Kings 22:  Prophets and Kings

1 For three years Syria and Israel continued without war.

2 But in the third year Jehoshaphat the king of Judah came down to the king of Israel.

3 And the king of Israel said to his servants, “Do you know that Ramoth-gilead belongs to us, and we keep quiet and do not take it out of the hand of the king of Syria?”

4 And he said to Jehoshaphat, “Will you go with me to battle at Ramoth-gilead?” And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “I am as you are, my people as your people, my horses as your horses.”

5 And Jehoshaphat said to the king of Israel, “Inquire first for the word of the LORD.”

6 Then the king of Israel gathered the prophets together, about four hundred men, and said to them, “Shall I go to battle against Ramoth-gilead, or shall I refrain?” And they said, “Go up, for the Lord will give it into the hand of the king.”

7 But Jehoshaphat said, “Is there not here another prophet of the LORD of whom we may inquire?”

8 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “There is yet one man by whom we may inquire of the LORD, Micaiah the son of Imlah, but I hate him, for he never prophesies good concerning me, but evil.” And Jehoshaphat said, “Let not the king say so.”

9 Then the king of Israel summoned an officer and said, “Bring quickly Micaiah the son of Imlah.”

10 Now the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah were sitting on their thrones, arrayed in their robes, at the threshing floor at the entrance of the gate of Samaria, and all the prophets were prophesying before them.

11 And Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah made for himself horns of iron and said, “Thus says the LORD, ‘With these you shall push the Syrians until they are destroyed.’”

12 And all the prophets prophesied so and said, “Go up to Ramoth-gilead and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.”

 

We see in the final chapter of the first book of Kings what may seem to be a glorious attempt to unite Israel and Judah back into one nation, like the days of Solomon.  Israel and Syria are not in covenant (2 Chronicles 16:7), and instead, Ahab – the ‘king of Israel’ (unnamed until v. 20), decides to pursue the Syrians in the battle against Ramoth-gilead in unity with the king of Judah.  It is undoubtedly the case that the writer wishes to focus on the joint effort of this ‘king of Israel’ and Jehoshaphat, the king of Judah.  Yet, as following in his vein of character, Ahab does not inquire the LORD – but Jehoshaphat (the LORD is judge) does (v.5).

 

It is interesting that these prophets (v.6) have been noticeably inactive up to this stage – to the point of Elijah’s despair (1 Kings 19:18).  Perhaps they are part of the 7,000 who have not yet bowed their knees to Baal?  I think not.  These prophets are flatterers coming in their own name rather than Christ’s Name, their power is in their eloquence and tongue rather than in the Word (1 Thessalonians 2).

 

What is strange is the omission of Elijah from this chapter.  Surely if there is one man by whom Ahab could inquire the LORD, it would be Elijah – the ‘enemy’ of Ahab (1 Kings 21:20), who is also hated by Ahab like this Micaiah (Who is like Jehovah?) the son of Imlah (whom God will fill up).  Like Micaiah, Elijah has not prophesied good concerning Ahab.  Yet, what is certain by their common prophecies is that Elijah and Micaiah are indeed of the LORD and filled with His Holy Spirit.  Zedekiah, though named a the ‘righteousness of Jehovah’ is not fitting of his name like Micaiah.  He is the son of a merchant, Chenaanah, and rather than being filled with the Spirit is instead a false prophet filled with gas (v.11-12).

 

13 And the messenger who went to summon Micaiah said to him, “Behold, the words of the prophets with one accord are favorable to the king. Let your word be like the word of one of them, and speak favorably.”

14 But Micaiah said, “As the LORD lives, what the LORD says to me, that I will speak.”

15 And when he had come to the king, the king said to him, “Micaiah, shall we go to Ramoth-gilead to battle, or shall we refrain?” And he answered him, “Go up and triumph; the LORD will give it into the hand of the king.”

16 But the king said to him, “How many times shall I make you swear that you speak to me nothing but the truth in the name of the LORD?”

17 And he said, “I saw all Israel scattered on the mountains, as sheep that have no shepherd. And the LORD said, ‘These have no master; let each return to his home in peace.’”

18 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “Did I not tell you that he would not prophesy good concerning me, but evil?”

19 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the LORD: I saw the LORD sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left;

20 and the LORD said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another.

21 Then a spirit came forward and stood before the LORD, saying, ‘I will entice him.’

22 And the LORD said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’

23 Now therefore behold, the LORD has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the LORD has declared disaster for you.”

 

Micaiah’s prophecy in v.17 is a fulfillment of the name “Jezreel” – God scatters – during Ahab’s time.  The shepherdless and masterless Israel is a picture of the destruction of the house of Ahab.  Yet, Israel shall be shepherded and mastered by the LORD on His throne, all the hose of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left (v.19).  He is the One who allowed a lying spirit in the mouth of these prophets to declare disaster upon themselves (v.21-23).  Micaiah’s prophecy in v.15 is filled with irony, and we can be sure that Micaiah’s intention is for the king to receive his due judgment on the battlefield.  Micaiah simply desires for Ahab to be removed, as the unrighteous king of Israel.  Even Ahab can tell from Micaiah’s tone that he is mocking the false prophets.  Adam Clarke notes Micaiah’s manner of exposing the false prophets’ lies shielded in ambiguity:

 

“This was a strong irony; as if he had said, All your prophets have predicted success; you wish me to speak as they speak: Go, and prosper; for the Lord will deliver it into the hand of the king. These were the precise words of the false prophets, (see 1Ki 22:6, 12,) and were spoken by Micaiah in such a tone and manner as at once showed to Ahab that he did not believe them; hence the king adjures him, 1Ki 22:16, that he would speak to him nothing but truth; and on this the prophet immediately relates to him the prophetic vision which pointed out the disasters which ensued.

 

It is worthy of remark that this prophecy of the king’s prophets is couched in the same ambiguous terms by which the false prophets in the heathen world endeavoured to maintain their credit, while they deluded their votaries. The reader will observe that the word it is not in the original: The Lord will deliver IT into the hand of the king; and the words are so artfully constructed that they may be interpreted for or against; so that, be the event whatever it might, the juggling prophet could save his credit by saying he meant what had happened. Thus then the prophecy might have been understood: The Lord will deliver (Ramoth-gilead) into the king’s (Ahab’s) hand; or, The Lord will deliver (Israel) into the king’s hand; i.e., into the hand of the king of Syria. And Micaiah repeats these words of uncertainty in order to ridicule them and expose their fallacy.”

 

24 Then Zedekiah the son of Chenaanah came near and struck Micaiah on the cheek and said, “How did the Spirit of the LORD go from me to speak to you?”

25 And Micaiah said, “Behold, you shall see on that day when you go into an inner chamber to hide yourself.”

26 And the king of Israel said, “Seize Micaiah, and take him back to Amon the governor of the city and to Joash the king’s son,

27 and say, ‘Thus says the king, “Put this fellow in prison and feed him meager rations of bread and water, until I come in peace.”’”

28 And Micaiah said, “If you return in peace, the LORD has not spoken by me.” And he said, “Hear, all you peoples!”

 

As if the Spirit is only for Zedekiah to keep!  As if the Spirit only indwelt in a few Israelites!  No, the Spirit was shared amongst the holy, amongst the righteous, amongst the children of the LORD.  Behold, this truth shall be revealed not on the Pentecost in Acts 2, but on the day the false prophets are shamed (v.25).  This Joash is the son of Ahab, an agent of Ahab’s heresy.

 

29 So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat the king of Judah went up to Ramoth-gilead.

30 And the king of Israel said to Jehoshaphat, “I will disguise myself and go into battle, but you wear your robes.” And the king of Israel disguised himself and went into battle.

31 Now the king of Syria had commanded the thirty-two captains of his chariots, “Fight with neither small nor great, but only with the king of Israel.”

32 And when the captains of the chariots saw Jehoshaphat, they said, “It is surely the king of Israel.” So they turned to fight against him. And Jehoshaphat cried out.

33 And when the captains of the chariots saw that it was not the king of Israel, they turned back from pursuing him.

34 But a certain man drew his bow at random and struck the king of Israel between the scale armor and the breastplate. Therefore he said to the driver of his chariot, “Turn around and carry me out of the battle, for I am wounded.”

35 And the battle continued that day, and the king was propped up in his chariot facing the Syrians, until at evening he died. And the blood of the wound flowed into the bottom of the chariot.

36 And about sunset a cry went through the army, “Every man to his city, and every man to his country!”

 

The irony is drawn out in v.29-36 – for Jehoshaphat is truly the one worthy of wearing this robe, and the king of Israel is but a man in disguise, a man posing as king though bearing no qualities of one.  It is interesting that the king of Syria in v.31 is only pursuing the king of Israel and no other, in fulfillment of Micaiah’s prophecy that Ahab shall be struck down.  In the LORD’s providence (v.34), the king is struck, for God’s wrath perceives through all disguises into men’s sinful hearts (Matthew 9:4; Mark 4:12).

 

37 So the king died, and was brought to Samaria. And they buried the king in Samaria.

38 And they washed the chariot by the pool of Samaria, and the dogs licked up his blood, and the prostitutes washed themselves in it, according to the word of the LORD that he had spoken.

39 Now the rest of the acts of Ahab and all that he did, and the ivory house that he built and all the cities that he built, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Israel?

40 So Ahab slept with his fathers, and Ahaziah his son reigned in his place.

 

The king therefore is buried in the same place where his father, Omri, was buried (1 Kings 16:28).  This is the watch-mountain, pride of Omri’s purchase in 1 Kings 16, where Ahab built an altar in worship of Baal.  Instead of being buried in the heart of Israel, in Jerusalem the place of the House of the LORD, Ahab was instead buried next to the altar of heretical worship.  This is highlighted in v.38 – this same pool of Samaria was where the dogs licked up Ahab’s blood, where the prostitutes (like Jezebel) washed themselves in.  It is thus the reign of Ahaziah, who instead of being held by Jehovah, follows in his mother’s footsteps.

 

41 Jehoshaphat the son of Asa began to reign over Judah in the fourth year of Ahab king of Israel.

42 Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi.

43 He walked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD. Yet the high places were not taken away, and the people still sacrificed and made offerings on the high places.

44 Jehoshaphat also made peace with the king of Israel.

 

Instead of reveling in the history of Ahaziah, we are brought immediately to focus on the robed king who survived the battle against the Syrians.  He is the son of the physician (Asa), his mother the forsaken (Azubah), the daughter of Shilhi (armed), walking in the way of the true Physician Jesus Christ.  The peace made with the king of Israel (v.44) is a mark rare amongst the other kings of Judah who have fought against the kings of Israel since the times of Solomon.  This is the first hint of a re-unification of Israel as one man (Judges 20:8-11).  Yet, unless the king of Israel and king of Judah both worship the Physician, the holy Son (Psalm 2), it does not look like Israel would be restored.

 

45 Now the rest of the acts of Jehoshaphat, and his might that he showed, and how he warred, are they not written in the Book of the Chronicles of the Kings of Judah?

46 And from the land he exterminated the remnant of the male cult prostitutes who remained in the days of his father Asa.

47 There was no king in Edom; a deputy was king.

48 Jehoshaphat made ships of Tarshish to go to Ophir for gold, but they did not go, for the ships were wrecked at Ezion-geber.

49 Then Ahaziah the son of Ahab said to Jehoshaphat, “Let my servants go with your servants in the ships,” but Jehoshaphat was not willing.

50 And Jehoshaphat slept with his fathers and was buried with his fathers in the city of David his father, and Jehoram his son reigned in his place.

 

We see more of Jehoshaphat’s reign here – that he is a man under whom deputies were appointed in Edom, that Esau is fulfilling his role as the elder serving the younger Israel (Genesis 25:23).  However, as soon as Jehoram replaced Jehoshaphat, Edom rebels (2 Kings 8:22), marking the allegiance of Edom to Judah as granted by the LORD to the faithful king (which Jehoram was not).  It is interesting that the account in this chapter regarding Jehoshaphat’s refusal to join his servants with Ahaziah’s servant is recorded differently in 2 Chronicles 20:35-37.  It is likely that Jehoshaphat’s refusal to join the servants from Israel and Judah is a result of the pronouncement of judgment upon Jehoshaphat’s initial agreement to join with Ahaziah.  Upon recognizing the LORD’s wrath regarding Ahaziah’s sinful reign, thus Jehoshaphat became unwilling (v.49).  The writer omits this detail, likely because of his agenda to paint Judah as the lineage through whom the Messiah shall come – though the Chronicler focuses on the LORD as the true king sitting on the throne of Israel.

 

51 Ahaziah the son of Ahab began to reign over Israel in Samaria in the seventeenth year of Jehoshaphat king of Judah, and he reigned two years over Israel.

52 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

53 He served Baal and worshiped him and provoked the LORD, the God of Israel, to anger in every way that his father had done.

 

And to what extent shall the nation be unified?  The picture looks grim at the end of the eventful book of Kings where the LORD had been quiet and has spoken more to prophets and through prophets than to the kings directly.  Yet, things are still looking hopeful for the kings of Judah (1 Kings 11:36) in order for the election of the Messiah to be fulfilled.  Though the LORD is angered by Ahab’s household, Jehoshaphat still walked in the LORD’s ways.  The light is still glimmering in Israel, though dim, the light is still shining through the Christian prophets like Nathan, Ahijah, Jehu, Eijah, Elisha, Micaiah – all men of God influencing the kings.  If only Israel could be united by the LORD as the King of kings and not by mere men.

1 Kings 21-22: Eve the head, Adam the body

1 Kings 19-20: Son of the Judge

I Kings 19

 

1 Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword.

2 Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.”

3 Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there.

 

Unlike his boldness in chapter 18, we see Elijah cowering into fear by going back to Beersheba, the well of the oath made between Abraham and Abimelech (Genesis 21:31), hiding in the region of Judah instead.  Again, this emphasizes on the weakness of the LORD’s election of a seemingly inappropriate and humble servant to do his bidding more clearly portrayed in the person of the rejected and humbled Christ.

 

4 But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.”

5 And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.”

6 And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again.

7 And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.”

8 And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God.

 

It is under the shade and protection of this broom tree that the Angel, the Son of the Father, goes to feed Elijah for the journey is too great for him (v.7).  Look at the tenderness of our LORD God, reaching out to us intimately ensuring that we are not tempted beyond our abilities (1 Corinthians 10:13).  Such is the power of the food provided by the Son of God that Elijah went on to ensure the temptation and the trial for forty days and forty nights (c.f. Genesis 7:4, 7:12; Exodus 24:18, 34:28) until he reached Horeb, the mountain range of which Sinai was one of the summits (Exodus 3:1, 17:6, 33:6; Psalm 106:19).  This is a reminder of Moses’ standing before the Father on the same Mount, and here Elijah is hiding in the same remarkable place where Moses led the Israelites in their exodus from Egypt towards Canaan.  Back then, the tribes were united under the banner of the Angel who led them in the pillar of cloud and fire – and now, we return to the dire situation of the reluctant prophet leading the Israelites back to a restored faith in Jesus.

 

9 There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

10 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

11 And he said, “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD.” And behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake.

12 And after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.

13 And when Elijah heard it, he wrapped his face in his cloak and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. And behold, there came a voice to him and said, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”

14 He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.”

15 And the LORD said to him, “Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus. And when you arrive, you shall anoint Hazael to be king over Syria.

16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi you shall anoint to be king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abel-meholah you shall anoint to be prophet in your place.

17 And the one who escapes from the sword of Hazael shall Jehu put to death, and the one who escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha put to death.

18 Yet I will leave seven thousand in Israel, all the knees that have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him.”

 

Note, Christ coming to Elijah as “the word of the LORD” and questioning Elijah “What are you doing here…?” (v.9).  Elijah’s response is the same in v.10 and 14, as bookends to the mighty display of God’s synchronized power of might and intimacy.  Elijah is in nothing short of despair – a man who believes that he is the only one left and fears for the day when not one prophet remains to intercede for Israel.

 

Where, on the same Mount in the region of where the commandments were given through Moses; the same Mount where Moses met Jesus (Exodus 3); and it is on the same Mount that the Word of God, the Son of the Father, commanded Elijah to “Go out and stand on the mount before the LORD”.   Elijah witnessed the Father, just as Moses witnessed the Father on the third day (Exodus 19).  Yet, this time it is not the giving of the law – but it is a transition from “a great and strong wind” which tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before Him; then an “earthquake”; then a “fire”.  The Holy Spirit in the wind (ruach) (Revelation 7:1), to earthquake (Revelation 8:5, 11:13-19, 16:18), to fire (Revelation 20:14-15, 21:18).    It is after the passing of these prophetic elements of the book of Revelation that we reach the end: a low whisper (v.12).  It is to this low whisper that the same Angel, the Word of God, the Son of God – the qol of God (Hebrew literal translation of ‘voice’ – c.f. literal translation of Exodus 20:18 where the Voice is seen).  The question is repeated – and the Word is the LORD, just as the Word was with the LORD (John 1) in this majestic feat on the Mount of Horeb.  It is this joint connection between Elijah, Moses and Christ on Mount Horeb which explains their joint meeting at Jesus’ transfiguration in Mark 9.

 

It is interesting from v.15 onwards that we see the LORD’s hand over a nation aside from Israel – that he would appoint the prophet from Judah to anoint a king Hazael (whom God sees) to be over Syria.  Though he does not appear until 2 Kings 8 (under the observation of Elisha, the prophet in Elijah’s place), this prophecy pertains to the eventual preservation of 7,000 in Israel in light of the overarching defeat of the nation by Assyrians and Babylonians by the end of 2 Kings.

 

The LORD also cares for the appropriate election of Jehu (Jehovah is He), the son of the saved (Nimshi) to anoint as the new king over Israel, and the salvation of God (Elisha) as the son of the judge (Shaphat) of the meadow of dancing (Abel-meholah) as the prophet in Elijah’s place.  These pertain to things in 2 Kings 9.  The full meaning of the prophecy in v.17-18 would be made clear at that stage when the ultimate authority is not given to the king of Syria, nor to the king of Israel, but by the prophet Elisha (v.17) – reminding us that the spiritual Israelite is more authoritative than that of a king.  It is the LORD’s preparation of those who have either kissed Him, or kissed Baal – the romantic language used as a potent imagery against the faithlessness of the nations.  The importance of the appointment of Elisha is made apparent when the first focus here is his election, and not the anointing of Hazael nor the anointing of Jehu which is yet to come:

 

19 So he departed from there and found Elisha the son of Shaphat, who was plowing with twelve yoke of oxen in front of him, and he was with the twelfth. Elijah passed by him and cast his cloak upon him.

20 And he left the oxen and ran after Elijah and said, “Let me kiss my father and my mother, and then I will follow you.” And he said to him, “Go back again, for what have I done to you?”

21 And he returned from following him and took the yoke of oxen and sacrificed them and boiled their flesh with the yokes of the oxen and gave it to the people, and they ate. Then he arose and went after Elijah and assisted him.

Matthew Henry:

Elisha came to a resolution presently, but begged a little time, not to ask leave, but only to take leave, of his parents. This was not an excuse for delay, like his (Luke ix. 61) that desired he might bid those farewell that were at home, but only a reservation of the respect and duty he owed to his father and mother. Elijah bade him to back and do it, he would not hinder him; nay, if he would, he might go back, and not return, for any thing he had done to him. He will not force him, nor take him against his will; let him sit down and count the cost, and make it his own act. The efficacy of God’s grace preserves the native liberty of man’s will, so that those who are good are good of choice and not by constraint, not pressed men, but volunteers. 3. That it was a pleasant and acceptable call to him, which appears by the farewell-feast he made for his family ( 21), though he not only quitted all the comforts of his father’s house, but exposed himself to the malignity of Jezebel and her party. It was a discouraging time for prophets to set out in. A man that had consulted with flesh and blood would not be fond of Elijah’s mantle, nor willing to wear his coat; yet Elisha cheerfully, and with a great deal of satisfaction, leaves all to accompany him. Thus Matthew made a great fast when he left the receipt of custom to follow Christ. 4. That it was an effectual call. Elijah did not stay for him, lest he should seem to compel him, but left him to his own choice, and he soon arose, went after him, and not only associated with him, but ministered to him as his servitor, poured water on his hands, 2 Kings iii. 11. It is of great advantage to young ministers to spend some time under the direction of those that are aged and experienced, whose years teach wisdom, and not to think much, if occasion be, to minister to them. Those that would be fit to teach must have time to learn; and those that hope hereafter to rise and rule must be willing at first to stoop and serve.

 

I Kings 20:

1 Ben-hadad the king of Syria gathered all his army together. Thirty-two kings were with him, and horses and chariots. And he went up and closed in on Samaria and fought against it.

2 And he sent messengers into the city to Ahab king of Israel and said to him, “Thus says Ben-hadad:

3 ‘Your silver and your gold are mine; your best wives and children also are mine.’”

4 And the king of Israel answered, “As you say, my lord, O king, I am yours, and all that I have.”

5 The messengers came again and said, “Thus says Ben-hadad: ‘I sent to you, saying, “Deliver to me your silver and your gold, your wives and your children.”

6 Nevertheless I will send my servants to you tomorrow about this time, and they shall search your house and the houses of your servants and lay hands on whatever pleases you and take it away.’”

 

The son of the Syrian god – Ben-hadad, the king of Syria demands “the best wives and children, and silver and gold” (v.3) – followed with a greater demand of what is in the houses of Ahab’s servants’ houses, and lay hands on whatever pleases them (v.6).  It is to the grander and more ‘unreasonable’ request of v.6 that Ahab refuses, though he had wholeheartedly given the king himself and “all that [he has]” (v.4).  Ahab has suffered much – that the prophets of Baal and Asherah were slaughtered in chapter 18, that these false gods have failed Israel in the battles against Syria.  Yet, this is but a natural progression of reliance on self-made gods which are dead – affecting not only himself but the nation of which he is the head.  Israel, if united as one (Judges 20:11), would otherwise prosper under the Anointed King who unites them under the banner of the Heavenly Father.

 

 

7 Then the king of Israel called all the elders of the land and said, “Mark, now, and see how this man is seeking trouble, for he sent to me for my wives and my children, and for my silver and my gold, and I did not refuse him.”

8 And all the elders and all the people said to him, “Do not listen or consent.”

9 So he said to the messengers of Ben-hadad, “Tell my lord the king, ‘All that you first demanded of your servant I will do, but this thing I cannot do.’” And the messengers departed and brought him word again.

10 Ben-hadad sent to him and said, “The gods do so to me and more also, if the dust of Samaria shall suffice for handfuls for all the people who follow me.”

11 And the king of Israel answered, “Tell him, ‘Let not him who straps on his armor boast himself like he who takes it off.’”

12 When Ben-hadad heard this message as he was drinking with the kings in the booths, he said to his men, “Take your positions.” And they took their positions against the city.

 

The exchange between Ben-hadad and Ahab is an exchange based on empty pride.  Ben-hadad who swears by “the gods” (v.10), and Ahab who preaches humbleness (v.11) are both victims of their own demise.  Ahab and Jezebel are exactly those who have assumed the victory of their Baals and Asherah; Ben-hadad was wrong to assume victory over Israel.  Yet, the victory still comes to Ahab not because of his idolatry, but because of the LORD’s faithfulness to Israel from which the Son will be born and cut off.

 

13 And behold, a prophet came near to Ahab king of Israel and said, “Thus says the LORD, Have you seen all this great multitude? Behold, I will give it into your hand this day, and you shall know that I am the LORD.”

14 And Ahab said, “By whom?” He said, “Thus says the LORD, By the servants of the governors of the districts.” Then he said, “Who shall begin the battle?” He answered, “You.”

15 Then he mustered the servants of the governors of the districts, and they were 232. And after them he mustered all the people of Israel, seven thousand.

 

Yet, in face of the various kings (33 kings including Ben-hadad himself v.1), a prophet came near to Ahab and preached what Ahab needed to hear.  Victory by the servants of the governors of the districts; as if such men were not already humble by their stature, the numbers were also humble (v.15 – mere 232).  The battle, however, must be started by the king of Israel (v.14) – and achieved by the humble servants, by those (likely those who haven’t yet bowed their knees nor kissed Baal) 7,000 (1 Kings 19:18), to ensure that glory is given to the true LORD (Proverbs 21:31):

 

 

16 And they went out at noon, while Ben-hadad was drinking himself drunk in the booths, he and the thirty-two kings who helped him.

17 The servants of the governors of the districts went out first. And Ben-hadad sent out scouts, and they reported to him, “Men are coming out from Samaria.”

18 He said, “If they have come out for peace, take them alive. Or if they have come out for war, take them alive.”

19 So these went out of the city, the servants of the governors of the districts and the army that followed them.

20 And each struck down his man. The Syrians fled, and Israel pursued them, but Ben-hadad king of Syria escaped on a horse with horsemen.

21 And the king of Israel went out and struck the horses and chariots, and struck the Syrians with a great blow.

22 Then the prophet came near to the king of Israel and said to him, “Come, strengthen yourself, and consider well what you have to do, for in the spring the king of Syria will come up against you.”

23 And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are gods of the hills, and so they were stronger than we. But let us fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.

24 And do this: remove the kings, each from his post, and put commanders in their places,

25 and muster an army like the army that you have lost, horse for horse, and chariot for chariot. Then we will fight against them in the plain, and surely we shall be stronger than they.” And he listened to their voice and did so.

 

It is thus preached to Ahab that this victory was clearly in the LORD’s hand, though should not be taken lightly (v.22) and to be continually equipped and not to become complacent:

 

Matthew 12:43-45

43 “When the unclean spirit has gone out of a person, it passes through waterless places seeking rest, but finds none.

44 Then it says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it comes, it finds the house empty, swept, and put in order.

45 Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more evil than itself, and they enter and dwell there, and the last state of that person is worse than the first. So also will it be with this evil generation.”

 

What superstition that the Yahweh of Abraham, Isaac, Jacob – the God of relationship with men, is labeled as a mere ‘god of hills’ – god of a dead inanimate object.  That, again, reveals the poor theology of Ben-hadad, for him to believe that gods are ‘governors’ of a piece of land.  Yet, our God is our Saviour, personal, intimate, and corporate.

 

26 In the spring, Ben-hadad mustered the Syrians and went up to Aphek to fight against Israel.

27 And the people of Israel were mustered and were provisioned and went against them. The people of Israel encamped before them like two little flocks of goats, but the Syrians filled the country.

28 And a man of God came near and said to the king of Israel, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because the Syrians have said, “The LORD is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys,” therefore I will give all this great multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the LORD.’”

29 And they encamped opposite one another seven days. Then on the seventh day the battle was joined. And the people of Israel struck down of the Syrians 100,000 foot soldiers in one day.

30 And the rest fled into the city of Aphek, and the wall fell upon 27,000 men who were left.

Ben-hadad also fled and entered an inner chamber in the city.

 

Aphek is a royal city of the Canaanites meaning ‘strength’ – the same place where a Canaanite king was killed by Joshua (Joshua 12:18), a place constantly used by the Philistines (1 Samuel 4:1; 1 Samuel 29:1), marking off the eventual demise of Syria in Ben-hadad’s choice to fight against Israel there.  For the strength lies in the LORD.

 

The prophet (v.13, 22), and the man of God (v.28) – are both people aside from Elijah who have reached out to Ahab, to ensure that he is walking in the LORD’s commands to ensure that Israel is not wiped out.  This is the LORD’s faithfulness carried out, for He is the God not merely of hills, but also of valleys (v.28), but even moreso the God of Elijah, Elisha, the prophet, the man of God.  A mere 7,000 odd people, by the LORD’s strength, defeating the 100,000 foot soldiers in one day.  This massacre is nothing short of a miracle.  As if hiding in a city called strength is a true refuge for Ben-hadad (v.30)!

 

31 And his servants said to him, “Behold now, we have heard that the kings of the house of Israel are merciful kings. Let us put sackcloth around our waists and ropes on our heads and go out to the king of Israel. Perhaps he will spare your life.”

32 So they tied sackcloth around their waists and put ropes on their heads and went to the king of Israel and said, “Your servant Ben-hadad says, ‘Please, let me live.’” And he said, “Does he still live? He is my brother.”

33 Now the men were watching for a sign, and they quickly took it up from him and said, “Yes, your brother Ben-hadad.” Then he said, “Go and bring him.” Then Ben-hadad came out to him, and he caused him to come up into the chariot.

34 And Ben-hadad said to him, “The cities that my father took from your father I will restore, and you may establish bazaars for yourself in Damascus, as my father did in Samaria.” And Ahab said, “I will let you go on these terms.” So he made a covenant with him and let him go.

 

Yet, this is where Ahab is clearly not aligned with the LORD who brought victory for Israel, to preserve Israel.  Ahab chose to enter a covenant with his “brother” Ben-hadad (v.33) – the same “brother” who tried to conquer Israel, take all things pleasing in their eyes (likely to include the items in the House of the LORD as well) – the same “brother” who relied on the little gods.  This is walking out of line of His command (Deuteronomy 7, 32), and an example already demonstrated by Asa in earlier years (2 Chronicles 16:7).  What heresy to enter into covenant with a country which does not acknowledge the LORD’s might and sovereignty.

 

35 And a certain man of the sons of the prophets said to his fellow at the command of the LORD, “Strike me, please.” But the man refused to strike him.

36 Then he said to him, “Because you have not obeyed the voice of the LORD, behold, as soon as you have gone from me, a lion shall strike you down.” And as soon as he had departed from him, a lion met him and struck him down.

37 Then he found another man and said, “Strike me, please.” And the man struck him—struck him and wounded him.

38 So the prophet departed and waited for the king by the way, disguising himself with a bandage over his eyes.

39 And as the king passed, he cried to the king and said, “Your servant went out into the midst of the battle, and behold, a soldier turned and brought a man to me and said, ‘Guard this man; if by any means he is missing, your life shall be for his life, or else you shall pay a talent of silver.’

40 And as your servant was busy here and there, he was gone.” The king of Israel said to him, “So shall your judgment be; you yourself have decided it.”

41 Then he hurried to take the bandage away from his eyes, and the king of Israel recognized him as one of the prophets.

42 And he said to him, “Thus says the LORD, ‘Because you have let go out of your hand the man whom I had devoted to destruction, therefore your life shall be for his life, and your people for his people.’”

43 And the king of Israel went to his house vexed and sullen and came to Samaria.

 

The remaining verses of chapter 20 is reminiscent of 2 Samuel 12 – Nathan’s rebuke of David by use of analogy.  What is interesting in both 2 Samuel 12 and with Ahab is that the word of the king is held accountable by the prophet (2 Samuel 12:5-7, compared with v.40).  This is therefore the judgment of the king who had weighed the LORD’s justice lightly; for sin is not a light matter, which must require the blood of the innocent divine Son of God to be entirely removed.  To let this man go, whom the LORD had devoted to destruction, is to directly spit on the work of Christ.  For His work is not a cheap, but an entirely costly grace.  Thus, Ahab is judged (1 Kings 22:34-35), but not until after he had eventually humbled himself (1 Kings 21:29).  Yet, it still seems that the prophet’s actions in v.35-37 are out of place compared to Ahab’s self-condemnation.  It is important, however, to understand the crux of Ahab’s sin.  The appearance of mercy on the man’s behalf in v.36, is the same type of ‘mercy’ which Ahab exercised in v.42; yet the LORD’s intent to strike is filled with wisdom, an understanding built upon His coming Son’s work that the LORD shall instead strike the Son, and those who stand outside of Him.  For the man to refuse the LORD’s striking of the prophet (who had requested it), it is akin to him usurping the role of the LORD in presuming that His judgment is too harsh; that His wrath is too much.  What lies that we should presume anything like that!  His wrath is deserving on us, as is His judgment.  Yet, His love overflows through His beloved Son, and we are the subject of such grand mercy.

 

1 Kings 19-20: Son of the Judge