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2 Kings 10:29-36 - Homilies By J. Orr

The reign of Jehu.

Under this head we note—

I. JEHU 'S REWARD .

1. Four generations on the throne . Jehu had outwardly fulfilled the commission given him by God, and had wrought a great deliverance for Israel. This public service God acknowledged by the promise that his sons should sit upon the throne to the fourth generation. The service was outward, and the reward was outward. Approval of Jehu's deeds did not extend to approval of every detail in his conduct. The limit—"fourth generation"—already implies that Jehu was not all he should have been, and anticipates that his sons would not be morally better, else the line would have been continued.

2. The stain of blood . Jehu had shed much blood. Guilt could not be imputed to him in this, so far as he was acting under an express Divine command. He "delivered his soul" ( Ezekiel 33:9 ), however, only if this Divine command furnished the actual motive of his conduct. If the Divine mandate but covered designs of selfish ambition, the stain of blood came back on him. Hence the different judgment passed on these deeds in Hosea 1:4 , "I will avenge the blood of Jezreel upon the house of Jehu." In 2 Kings Jehu's acts are regarded on their outward side, while in Hosea they are considered on their inner and spiritual side. His real character was made apparent by his subsequent deeds. He obeyed God only so far as he could at the same time serve himself. He would willingly have shed the same amount of blood to secure the throne for himself, had there been no Divine command at all. It hence became impossible to exonerate him from a measure of blood-guiltiness. By making himself one with Ahab in his sins, Jehu fell back to the position of an ordinary manslayer.

II. JEHU 'S FAILURE .

1. His sin . Generally it is affirmed that, after his elevation to the throne, "he took no heed to walk in the Law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart," and particularly it is charged against him that he did not remove the golden calves of Jeroboam. He continued that idolatrous and schismatic worship at Bethel and at Dan. This means that his "zeal for the Lord" stopped short at the point needed for the consolidation of his own power. Once seated on the throne, with no more blood of Ahab's house to shed, he became indifferent to religious reform. The self-will that underlay his pretended zeal for God thus became apparent. It seemed to him politically prudent to keep up the division of the kingdoms by perpetuating the calf-worship of Jeroboam; so, though he knew it was wrong, he refrained from interfering with it. We see in this the distinction between true and false zeal. True zeal for God is careful above all things to walk in God's ways. It honors his commandment above considerations of expediency. It is not spasmodic, but persists in well-doing. False zeal, on the contrary, is fitful and willful. It is moved when self-interest, or private passion, or inclination, or the praise of men, coincides with the Divine command; it throws off the mask when religion and interest point in opposite directions. It is time alone can test the quality of zeal.

2. His punishment . We find that after his declension Jehu suffered severe losses of territory. Hazael and the Syrians pressed in, and took from him most of the land on the east side of Jordan. It is not difficult to connect the two things as cause and effect. Had Jehu remained faithful to God, it is not to be thought that he would have suffered these losses. Because he did not remain faithful, he was scourged more severely than perhaps another man would have been. He was raised up to punish others, and, foreseeing his declension, an instrument had been prepared to punish him ( 2 Kings 8:12 ). When God was against him, his generalship and valor were of no avail. We are thus taught that true self-interest and irreligion do not coincide. Jehu sought his own ends, and, as a politic ruler, thought it wiser to disobey God than to run the risk of putting down a popular idolatry. The result showed how short-sighted his calculations were. The wisest course, even for our own interests, is to do what God requires. Nothing more is told of the twenty-eight years' reign of Jehu. He was buried in Samaria, and his son Jehoahaz succeeded him.—J.O.

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