/ / A Successful Failure: Lessons from the Life of Jehu

A Successful Failure: Lessons from the Life of Jehu

In 2 Kings we read lessons from the life of Jehu; how he killed Ahab and Jezebel. It would seem that he was a great warrior, but he was a successful failure.  #Biblestudy #2Kings #WomensBibleStudy #GoodMorningGirls

Today’s story is not your average Sunday School story.  Since the Bible is nearly 2,000 pages long, there are many stories that rarely get read or taught in church.  The battles of Jehu are hard to understand without understanding the historical background of 2 Kings but tucked inside this story are a few life lessons for us.

So, let’s take a look together at 2 Kings chapters 9 – 10 and the rise and fall of King Jehu.

In those days, there were very few good kings.  In 1 Kings 16:30, it says of the former King, named Ahab, that he had done more evil in the sight of the Lord than all those before him.  He was a murderer and an idolater and so we see in 2 Kings 9 that God used one of Elisha’s prophets to anoint Jehu as the next King of Israel and he is given an assignment — “strike down the house of Ahab”.

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. 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. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish, and I will cut off from Ahab every male, bond or free, in Israel. 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.
(2 Kings 9:6-10)

Jehu Is Used by God to Bring Judgement

Jehu had a hard calling.  He was called by God to bring judgement on the house of Ahab.  So, in 2 Kings 9:20, we see perhaps why God chose Jehu…He is a very intense man.  Look at how he rides his horse as he carries out the commands of God.

The watchman reported…”The driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi, for he drives furiously.”
(2 Kings 9:20)

Jehu “drives furiously” towards the battle as he obeys what God has told him to do and in verse 24, he draws his bow with his “full strength” and pierces the heart of the son of King Ahab, named Joram.  Then he continues on and pursues King Ahaziah and shoots him as well.

So in one day, two kings are killed. But Jehu is not finished, he completes his mission by having King Ahab’s wife, named Jezebel, put to death as well.

At the end of 2 Kings 9, we see that God has used Jehu to fulfill the words of the prophet.

A Twist in the Story

At this point, Jehu seems to appear to be obedient to the Lord. We see at the start of chapter 10, Jehu put to death 70 sons of Ahab, again, fulfilling the judgement and word of the Lord.

But then in 2 Kings 10:12-14, Jehu goes too far.

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.

Jehu’s zeal to follow God’s call on his life went too far when he slaughtered the house of King Ahaziah.

Jehu’s Pride and Desire for Glory

One thing you’ll see, as you look at the life of Jehu, is that he does not have a real and personal relationship with God.  Jehu obeyed God with zeal, energy and enthusiasm as much as it personally benefitted him.

And so, the downfall of Jehu began when his pride and desire for personal glory entered in.  Jehu went to a highly respected and godly man named Jehonadab and he said this:

Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord.” So he had him ride in his chariot. And when he came to Samaria, he struck down all who remained to Ahab in Samaria, till he had wiped them out.”
2 Kings 10:16,17

Jehu was proud of his zeal and he desired glory for his accomplishments, so he continued to show off to Johonadab by striking down the followers or Baal and burning down the house of Baal.

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…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.”… 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…

Thus, Jehu wiped out Baal from Israel.
(2 Kings 10:23-28)

This man does nothing small.  He is big and grand and…successful!

But…look at what verse 29 says…

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.

But Jehu had sin in his life.  Jehu did not follow God with all of his heart.  He was not a true worshipper of God.  He got rid of what was clearly evil and that which would bring him respect but he refused to remove the idolatry in his own land, which showed he did not have true fellowship with the God of Israel.

The Consequence of Jehu Being a Successful Failure

God was not please with Jehu because he was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord with all of his heart.

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.  In those days the Lord began to cut off parts of Israel. Hazael defeated them throughout the territory of Israel.
(2 Kings 10:30-31)

And so it begins.

God begins to cut off parts of Israel because of their unfaithfulness and disobedience to him.

The Road to Exile

Israel is now on the road to exile and by the time the book of 2 Kings ends, they will have been taken into captivity. And it all began right here by Jehu in 2 Kings 10.

Some commentaries call Jehu a great patriot for Israel.  As king, he was a military success and he was zealous to cleanse the land, but he did not seek to know the heart of God and to fellowship with him.

Oh, what great potential was lost because he was not a true worshiper of God! 

Jehu was such a strong leader he could have turned the nation of Israel back to God. 

But instead – Jehu was a successful failure.

For 600 years God had been protecting Israel from their surrounding enemies but now, things are about to change as God allows their enemies to overcome them because of their unfaithfulness to him.

8 Lessons from the Life of Jehu

1.) Worldly success can tempt us to be prideful and seek self glorification rather than God’s glory.

2.)  It is possible to be used by God but not have an authentic relationship with God.

3.) We must be careful to not pursue more intensely our goals or hobbies than we pursue following God.

4.) How we worship God matters.  False worship of a true God is unacceptable to the Lord.

5.) We mustn’t only follow the commands of God that benefit us but rather follow all that the Lord commands.

6.) A life of fellowship with God is vital to ending well.

7.) We must be on guard when God is using us and blessing us. We must stay close in our relationship to God.

8.) We need to guard against idols in our lives and worship God in truth.

And the final lesson:

Don’t be a successful failure.

Don’t stop half way in following God.

Follow God wholeheartedly every day.

Walk with the King,

 

 


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22 Comments

  1. Thank you for clarifying these two chapters. I was a bit confused this week and now I feel better knowing that I wasn’t thinking too far off the mark. Such a scary and easy mistake we all can make.

    1. You missed the meaning of the name. Jehu means “Yahu is He”. Maybe he didn’t respect himself enough? You should think deeper… If Jesus came down as the Son, why wouldn’t the Father come down?

      Also, John the Baptist was the Elijah to come, why are churchgoers SO resistant to the idea of reincarnation? Son Jesus and Father Abraham? The BIBLE says “You are all Gods” (search it in Psalms and the New Testament) so maybe you should look closer at the name “Jehu” before calling him a failure.

      Seems a bit rich with hubris…

    1. That’s why I love this study because I’m really starting to understand the hard books of the bible. In everything in the bible God is talking to us. Thanks for bringing out some great points. Chapter 9 was not easy.

  2. Wow, and without controversy. These chapters easily make me think of President Trump! I believe that the Lord is using President Trump at this time for America to repent and turn back to God. Do I think he is a man that truly serves the Lord (NO) but none the less we should pray for him. The similarities between Jehu and Trump are incredible. And I as I read these chapters I think of the present times that we are in. Thank You Courtney for this study.

    1. This is a great commentary! In response to reflections on current events it seems there is grave idolatry that is help in this country as a “right”. Abortion is present day Molec worship. Aligning with those who put abortion as one of their central features cannot be much different from the kings of northern Israel who introduced and allowed idolatry and mingled rites of Torah with paganism. It was pollution of the culture. It did not end well. Result was a divided kingdom, Israel and Judah, then the exile. Aligning with abortion is no different from ancient pagan rites held up as being essential.

  3. Very good article! There is much to learn from Jehu. But, may I point something out? You said, ” Jehu did not follow God with all of his heart. He was not a true worshipper of God. … God was not please with Jehu because he was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord with all of his heart. … God begins to cut off parts of Israel because of their unfaithfulness and disobedience to him. … but he did not seek to know the heart of God and to fellowship with him. … 5.) We mustn’t only follow the commands of God that benefit us but rather follow all that the Lord commands.” Where does this leave the church? Isn’t the church also guilty of all these things because they say that the laws of God have been done away with? Ultimately, either the church is guilty of the same sin as Jehu, or the church believes that God has changed. If God has changed, how can you know that He hasn’t changed again since the Bible has been written? If He can changed one law, then He can also change other things, like the requirements for salvation, right? But, doesn’t Scripture tell us that He does not change? (Malachi 3:6 “For I the Lord do not change;”, Numbers 23:19 “God is not man, that he should lie, or a son of man, that he should change his mind.”, Isaiah 40:8, Psalm 119:89, Psalm 33:11). So, we know that God does not change. Now, didn’t Jesus say that He can only do what God/Father has done, & in the same way? (John 5:19 “Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.”) But if Jesus & God/Father are one (John 10:30 “I and My Father are one.”), how can they be one if they are doing two different &, many times, opposite things?

    1. Thank you Courtney for such wonderful insights. I truly believe we can have great enthusiasm for carrying out things for God and yet not have close fellowship and communion with God. Your study spoke to me.

      I was also interested by what Jasmine wrote in a comment above.

      I pray for the President. My 3rd cousin, the late Rev Duncan Campbell was used of God in the Lewis Revival as can instrument of the Gospel and he spoke of two Godly women who prayed in earnest for God to move in revival in that area. One of these women was President Trump’s grandmother. I am sure that same woman prayed for her family (and future generations) and I for one will continue to pray for her grandson. I hope to meet her in heaven one day, as well as Donald. I’m quite sure everyone who prays for President Trump do so in response to this praying grandmother.

    2. I agree with you Lisa, and I believe that God, in the Old Testament and Jesus and all the writers of the New Testament have exactly the same message – keep the commandments of God and hold to the testimony of Jesus, the Messiah. The church misses the mark of keeping the commandments of God first and foremost by not keeping those things that He said are for an everlasting memorial, and those are his, THE LORD’s special days, his Feast Days. Each one, including the Sabbath (the 7th day of the week) are a picture of who Jesus, our Messiah, IS! He is in the Passover, Unleavened Bread, First Fruits and Pentecost. Each one of those speaks of Jesus’ first coming. But the Falls Feasts, Feast of Trumpets, Day of Atonement, and Feast of Tabernacles, speak of his second coming. They have NOT been fulfilled yet and we are supposed to be doing the dress rehearsals/reminders until he comes. If you aren’t doing the feasts, you are not preparing to be the bride…The weekly Sabbath was instituted for all mankind in Genesis 1 and 2. It is a weekly cycle that reminds us of the 6 days (6000 years since creation) and the 7th day (the millennial reign), to keep us always looking for Jesus return! No one was authorized to move the Sabbath day from Saturday on our calendar, to Sunday. Only God could do that and it is no where in his Word.

      1. Hi Lisa and Dianna,

        Thank you for sharing your thoughts and I love your heart and desire to obey God.

        If I’m understanding you correctly, it sounds like you might believe we are to still keep the Old Testament laws and ceremonies? Galatians is a great book to study that clarifies this as we see in Galatians 5:6 it says “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.”

        While we learn so much about the character of our God from the Old Testament and how he worked among Israel his people – we see in the New Testament that the Old Testament law was a shadow of things to be fulfilled in the Messiah and through Jesus’ work on the cross – we are saved by faith. God no longer works through one nation, Israel but Gentiles have been grafted into the family of God. And so the law is summed up in loving God and loving others.

        Hope that helps.
        Much love,
        Courtney 🙂

        1. Hi Courtney,
          I just read your reply & wanted to point out a few things. Your comments are exactly what I would have said many years ago. But one day I realized they were telling us that the “law” had been done away with but that we were supposed to keep the 10 commandments (which are listed in the “law”), yet they refused to keep those same 10 commandments – the Sabbath. If I can’t trust them on that, what else is wrong? A lot of what they teach about Paul’s writings, is one. Also, I wanted to know God. I wanted a relationship with Him. I prayed about it & He led me to His feasts. (The story really isn’t that simple. It was a process.) I started reading & studying. A LOT. Anyway, I hope you can read this through the lens of love, which really is how it is meant, because sometimes my words may not sound that way. I too am just a student on a journey of learning. I always tell my friends, “Disclaimer: this is what I believe, based on what I have studied & learned thus far.”
          I believe the Old Testament is the foundation for the New Testament. God gave his instructions for how to live a life that is pleasing to Him, thus resulting in His blessings. If we don’t live accordingly, it results in curses or the removal of blessings. The New Testament is really more of a commentary/explanation of the Old Testament.
          Jesus was very clear that He did not come to do away with the “law” (Matthew 5:17 “Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”), and yet, the Church teaches that He did. Let’s keep reading, Matthew 5:18-20 “For verily I say unto you, Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. 19 Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. 20 For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” In essence, Jesus came to fulfill the law & prophets. These, essentially the OT, do speak of Jesus – His birth, ministry, death, resurrection, etc. If He did not come, all that the OT says of Him would be unfulfilled. He fulfilled the prophecies. Now, in verse 19, the word translated as “shall break” is luo – to loose, to release, to dissolve. Thayer’s Greek Lexicon says, “Laws, as having binding force, are likened to bonds; hence, λύειν is equivalent to to annul, subvert; to do away with; to deprive of authority, whether by precept or by act: ἐντολήν, Matthew 5:19.” This, vs. 19, isn’t simply speaking about you or I breaking a commandment. Jesus is talking about those who annul His Father’s commandments. In vs. 20, “righteousness” essentially means ‘God’s judicial approval’. Dikaiosuné is the regular NT term for righteousness; (“the approval of God”) refers to what is deemed right by the Lord (after His examination), i.e. what is approved in His eyes. And where do we find what He deems right? The “law”. Remember, Jesus cannot contradict His Father. Galatians 3:13 tells us that Jesus “redeemed us from the curse of the law”. The word katara is translated as ‘curse’ & means, “to redeem one exposed to the threatened penalty of a curse’. He redeemed us from the penalty which we all are so deserving of – death & separation from God. “Cursed is everyone that hangeth on a tree” is a different word: epikataratos – accursed, execrable, exposed to divine vengeance, lying under God’s curse. That’s what Jesus did for us! He became cursed in our place & accepted the punishment, our punishment, so that we wouldn’t have to be separated from God. Jesus came to make it possible for us to have a relationship with God. When He died on the cross, the veil in the temple was torn in two from the top down. That is an act of mourning. If a man’s son died, he would tear his garment from the top down. God was revealing His heart, His sorrow. He did not turn His back on His Son, as I have heard time & time again in the church. That is nowhere to be found in Scripture. God saw. He held back His hand from killing those who took part in doing this to His Son, because He wants US. He wants a relationship with US. US who, because of OUR sin deserve to hang on a cross instead of Jesus, who did not sin. And yet we lessen it by attaching all kinds of man-made traditions that have pagan origins, doing the opposite of what we’re told in Deuteronomy 12:30, celebrating the wrong day in the wrong way. Nowhere are we told to celebrate His death or His resurrection. We are told to celebrate Passover, which happens to be the day He died, because it celebrates God’s deliverance from slavery (Jesus delivers us from out slavery to sin). We are told to celebrate First Fruits, which happens to be when He rose. First Fruits has to do with the coming harvest. Jesus is the first fruits of the coming harvest of souls that will rise from the dead. Jesus is pointing back to the feasts.
          I agree with your comment about Galatians 5:6 & circumcision. It is circumcision of the heart that matters (Deut. 10:16, Col. 2:11). Acts 15:1, men were teaching that one had to be circumcised to be saved. The apostles said, vs. 19-21, “Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: 20 But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. 21 For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day.” The church tends to stop after vs. 20, but the first word of vs. 21, “For” signals a continuation. The apostles didn’t say that Gentiles who turned to God ONLY have to do these 4 things. They said that they should START with these 4, & they will learn the rest of what MOSES said when they go to synagogue every Shabbat. The apostles said the the Gentile who believed in Jesus were to be obedient to God’s commandments, taught by Moses in Genesis – Deuteronomy.
          Galatians 3:7 tells us, “…that they which are of faith, the same are the children of Abraham” and 3:29 “if ye be Christ’s, then are ye Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” If we are the children of Abraham & Abraham’s seed, that means we are grafted in, adopted, into Israel. When one is adopted, you become a part of that family. You learn to talk, act, dress, think, do, believe, & worship the way that family does.
          Romans 9:6-7, “For they are not all Israel, which are of Israel: 7 Neither, because they are the seed of Abraham, are they all children: but, In Isaac shall thy seed be called.” Israel is God’s chosen people. It is His family, His children. Abraham had 2 sons, but only 1 was chosen. Only Isaac was the child of promise. Vs.8, “That is, They which are the children of the flesh, these are not the children of God: but the children of the promise are counted for the seed.” Jesus is the seed. We who believe in Him as our Messiah are the children of promise. We are “Israel”, Abraham’s children. We are not children of the flesh, but of the Spirit, of faith.
          When reading the NT, one has to be very careful because there are 2 types of “law” mentioned. One is God’s law & one is a man-made law. Jesus ALWAYS pointed people back to God’s law, explaining how to live accordingly & showing us by His example. He also called the people out of the man-made laws and traditions that were being taught by the spiritual leaders of the day – pharisees, sadducees, etc. (Mark 7:6-9, Colossians 2:8, etc.).
          Most importantly, salvation is not earned by keeping the law. It becomes a heavy burden thinks that’s it. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.” Eph. 2:8-9 But James 2 says, “14 What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him? 17 Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone. 18 Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works. 19 Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. 20 But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?” The works we need to do are carefully spelled out in God’s “law”, Genesis – Deuteronomy. Many like to say that Jesus only listed 2 commandments & that those are all we need to keep. Well, sorta. Let’s look at that passage in Matthew 22: “36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.” The key is in vs. 40. First, love is an action. If we love someone, we will act in ways to show our love for them, right? So, how do we do that? How do we show God that we love Him with all our heart, soul, & mind? Is this done in the way that makes US happy or the way that makes HIM happy? We show our love for Him by doing what we know makes HIM happy. How do we know what makes HIM happy? It’s very simple, He tells us in the OT. Next, how do we show love to our neighbor – especially if we don’t know our neighbor? Yes, we can get to know our neighbor and ask. But some neighbors would take advantage of us & others would ask for wrong things. God also tells us how to show love for our neighbors, also in the OT. Now, back to the 2 that Jesus listed. If you wrote them out on 2 pieces of paper, you would find that each of the 10 commandments would fall under one of those “headings”. That gives us a little more clarity, but doesn’t explain everything. I want a complete understanding, a complete picture of how to do this. Now, each of the 613 commandments will fall under the headings of the 10 commandments, which fall under the 2 commandments that Jesus gave. (Before freaking out about ‘613’, there aren’t 613, I’ve listed & counted – many are repeats. Also, we technically don’t have to keep all of them – some are only for the High Priest or the priests, some are only for the Temple services, some only pertain to the sacrifices & offerings, some are only for men & some are only for women & some are only for children. However, some are for everybody – like keeping the feasts. Scripture says these are God’s feasts for His people – not just for the Jewish people. It also says they are forever & that we will keep them in the milllennial reign & heaven). Finally, it is to be done out of love, not a sense of ‘I HAVE to’. Without love, it’s all for nothing.

  4. Thanks Courtney for your words. It really helps to better understand why this chapters are in the Bible.
    Your words gave me a lot to meditate about and screening my heart.

  5. Thank you for posting this. I really appreciate it. I now am digging deeper and seeing if there are any “idols” I am worshiping. I want to be closer to God.

  6. Thank you Courtney ! You have a way of making God’s word come to life in my mind. Thanks for giving me a good understanding.

  7. Hello, I was discussing this with a friend I met. I wanted to dig deeper into this book, and I am so very glad I did. Our discussion was exactly on point of how you explained these two chapters.

    Thank you very much

  8. I’m not understanding in your writing why you stated King Jehu went too far when he killed the house and relatives of King Ahaziah? Ahaziah was brother to Joram(jeroham) the family of Ahab and the Almighty meant the whole house, relatives, close friends(who can be deemed like brothers or etc). The words also say relatives to Ahaziah, meaning relatives to Joram and Ahab. This is the mistake King Saul made that the prophet Samuel had to correct. He means all because all those who where close to Ahab his friends and relatives also practiced Baal worship. This was the same as king Ahaziah and the were coming to see te queen Jezebel( who the almighty wanted killed as well. The word even says the almighty to Jehu that he was pleased that Jehu did all he desired in his heart. The almighty fears no man so if Jehu made a mistake then Elisha or the prophets would have told him so, yet they did not. Also what needs to be understood is that Jehu could not spend the rest of his life watching his back which also king Saul failed to realize would end up happening as well. The almighty does not mince words, so why do you say he went too far when no one at all in the bible statef that but you. It does not say that in the NLT, KJV or the NET. Also when Jehu got punished or would be punished in Hosea 1:4 he means your house will die like those you killed at Jezreel because Jehu after getting rid of Baal worship decided to turn away from Yahweh and keeping his commandments. In the original Hebrew it says I will punish you basically like you did Joram/Ahaziah/ house of Ahab (basically how you shed the blood in Jezreel) now Jehu’s did this for his heart not the almighty’s. You don’t see worms in a fish, and cut out the worms and eat the rest. You get rid of it all cause also its all basically infected. Korah went against Moses and the almighty killed his whole family and kids.

  9. what a revelation. thank you for such a wonderful God bless. it is too theological sounded. I was waiting for such revelation all long

  10. I got a deep revelation and great lesson from the Bible today of Jehu’s end. I used to think Jehu ended well until God showed me today that he did not end well. Great lesson for all men of God and for us all that not everyone that works for God are true worshippers of God. The end of Jehu is so pathetic.
    May the Lord help us to end well in Jesus Name.

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