But Jehu Was Not Careful…

But Jehu Was Not Careful…

Monday’s Column: Neal At The Cross

Neal Pollard

Nineteen kings sat on the throne of the northern kingdom, from Jeroboam (931 B.C.) to Hoshea (722 B.C.), and Jehu was the closest any of them came to being righteous. His “righteousness” was the zealous way he fulfilled the mission God gave him in destroying the house of Ahab and the followers of Baal. In fact, the Lord speaks directly to him and says, “Because you have done well in executing 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” (2 Kings 10:30). God recognizes and rewards him for his commitment to His cause. He enjoys a 28-year reign, second only to his great-grandson Jeroboam II. He is remembered for his deeds and his might (34). 

Yet, after the lengthy chronicling of Jehu’s extermination campaign, the Bible says little else good about the man. Here’s the summary in 2 Kings 10:

  • He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin (29,31).
  • He kept the golden calves at Bethel and Dan (29).
  • He was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord with all his heart (31). 
  • He suffered the loss of significant territory to the Arameans (32-33). 
  • His excessive bloodshed would draw divine retribution (Hos. 1:4). 

Essentially, he lacked the moral and spiritual resolve to effect religious restoration. He lacked the conviction necessary to be fully obedient to God. He did not purify his heart to align with the heart of God. He was reckless regarding God’s law.

For over 200 years, Jacob’s descendants in the northern kingdom were spiritually adrift. Their best chance to turn that around was after Jehu purged the capital city of Samaria of the temple of Baal, its priests, and its worshippers. A hopeful start was overcome by the general spiritual trajectory of an entire people who did not have God in their hearts.

My daily life is aimed in a general direction. It is important for me to do more than conform outwardly to some of what God’s Word commands. I need to begin in my heart and conscientiously strive to follow His will and demonstrate that in my outward dedication and my inward devotion to Him. I want it to be said of me that I did what was right in His sight (30) AND that I was careful to walk in the law of the Lord with all my heart (31)! 

The God Of The Mountains And Valleys

The God Of The Mountains And Valleys

Thursday’s Column: Captain’s Blog

Carl Pollard

*main points adapted from Wayne Burger. 

In 1 Kings 18, Elijah performed the impossible through God. In this chapter we learn that a drought has occurred in the land. Elijah had just asked Obadiah to tell the King that he was there. Elijah goes before the king and tells him that he is the reason for the drought. Elijah has had enough and calls them all together at Mount Caramel. It is here that God through Elijah lights the water-soaked altar and all the prophets of Baal are slain. 

Elijah in 1 Kings 18 was on the mountaintop with God. He showed the idolatrous people the power of the Almighty. He proved without a shadow of a doubt that God is king, and idols have nothing on the living God! 

We go from this incredible victory in chapter 18 to Elijah running scared for his life in the very next chapter. From the mountaintop, to the valley. And there’s one constant that remained for Elijah: God. 

In 1 Kings 19, we learn the the cure to discouragement. The chapter begins with Elijah receiving a message from Queen Jezebel. This messenger tells Elijah that Jezebel has sworn to kill him by this time tomorrow. Of course, Elijah is afraid and he runs. 

Elijah is in the wilderness, running for his life, and all he wants to do is die. Just 24 hours earlier, he had performed the greatest miracle through God, and now he’s scared for his life and on the run. So what’s the solution? 

The next time we find ourselves in a situation like Elijah, remember to: 

  1. Tell God (1 Kings 19:10) 
  2. Tell Him what’s on your mind. God knew why Elijah was in the wilderness, but He wanted Elijah to admit it with his own mouth. When you’re in the valley, talk to God.
  3. Eat a meal (1 Kings 19:6)
  4. Get strength to carry on. Comfort food can work miracles. 
  5. Have a job (1 Kings 19:15)
  6. Get going. Elijah couldn’t just stay in the forest for the rest of his life! He had a job to do. And so do we. There are souls that are lost, friends that need encouraging, families that need us. 
  7. Have a friend (1 Kings 19:19). Elisha would carry on the torch for Elijah. Elijah not only had God, he had Elisha. God will always be there for us, but he also gives us close friends to lean on. 

If you ever find yourself in the valley, remember to talk to God, eat a meal, remember your purpose, and don’t do it alone. 

RIGHTEOUS OR RAVENS?

RIGHTEOUS OR RAVENS?

Tuesday’s Column: Dale Mail

dale and janelle

Dale Pollard

Elijah is known as one of the greatest prophets. We’re introduced to him in 1 Kings 17 and God is preparing him to accomplish great things. As God leads him he begins to grow in faith while following His lead. Ahab wears the crown after his father Omri, but he is significantly more wicked. In fact, he’s more wicked than all before him. It’s fitting that during such a terrible time someone like Elijah makes his appearance. 

There’s an interesting event that takes place while the prophet shelters by a brook that God had led him to. Ravens fly in with bread and meat to keep him sustained. The raven was an unclean animal, yet God is helping Elijah grow in several ways during this period. He’s leading, and Elijah follows in faith. He could not deny that God sent him the ravens, yet it went against his upbringing. Even so, he still ate. 

One lesson we can pull from this account is that God can use the unclean for His purposes. God can use the evil people and nations to accomplish His will. An unfaithful Christian can share the gospel and a sinful man can make good and godly decisions, all the while remaining unclean. That’s a humbling lesson. We can act faithful, but we can remain filthy. We don’t want that! It’s my prayer that today we can make a fresh commitment to be faithful to God in all things. He can lead us through even the darkest times, if we have the faith to follow. 

Jehoshaphat’s People

Jehoshaphat’s People

Neal Pollard

One of the last great periods of spiritual revival in Judah’s history before Babylonian Captivity occurred during the reign of Jehoshaphat.  This king is praised for seeking God, following His commandments, and not acting like Israel (2 Ch. 17:3-4). Jehoshaphat was greatly blessed by these decisions, he took pride in the Lord’s ways and sought to eradicate idolatry (5-6).  In the third year of his reign, Jehoshaphat sent his officials, the priests, and the Levites throughout Judah.  What we read in 2 Chronicles 17:9 is exemplary for us today.

  • They “taught.”  Men of varying backgrounds, abilities, personalities, and occupations united in the valuable enterprise of teaching. In all, 16 men are named as those who were tasked with this important job. Whatever we don’t know about them, we do know they were teachers.  Their work was so important that God saw fit to include them by name in His Book!  Certainly He still holds knowledgeable, diligent teachers in high regard today.  What a thrill it must be for Him to see His children willing and able to teach (cf. 1 Pe. 3:14-15). 
  • They taught “in Judah…among the people.” What was Judah? It was the place where God’s people resided. Strong churches have good teachers teaching them.  There is a resounding benefit when people get together and are subjected to healthy, beneficial teaching.  As it was then, so it is now.
  • They taught in Judah “having the book of the law of the Lord with them.” Jehoshaphat wanted to ensure the spiritual literacy of his subjects, knowing God wanted that, too. God still longs for His people to know, show, and grow (2 Pe. 3:18). Too often, our teaching can lack a biblical focus.  We do not need more “what I thinks” and “what happened to me’s.” We need more rich teaching from “the book of the law of the Lord.”

Despite some later foolish and even sinful choices, Jehoshaphat was on target to send teachers for Judah’s benefit.  In the end, he instituted needed, helpful reforms, and relied on God in prayer.  He fell short, but perhaps it was his anchor in the law of God that kept him from drifting away from Him.  Our hope and future is tied to how faithfully we follow God, but we must know what God wants to do that.  And we can only know what God wants by knowing His Word. God bless the teachers that help us to do just that!

Thrown Down On Naboth’s Plot

Thrown Down On Naboth’s Plot

Neal Pollard

Naboth must have been shocked and baffled as the charges of blasphemy and treason rang in his ears.  He must have felt jostled and panicked as he was grabbed and thrown outside the city of Jezreel.  Surely he was filled with the acutest sense of injustice replaced only by the undeserved pangs of pain as his own brethren stoned him with stones (1 Ki. 21:12-14).  He had been set up by wicked King Ahab (though Jezebel was really the “brains” behind the operation).  When Ahab took possession of “his” ill-gotten vineyard taken only by the brutal plot that claimed innocent Naboth, did Ahab ever think about the murdered man (cf. 1 Ki. 21:19) as he puttered around his vegetable garden?  Could even Ahab have thought that it was worth it?  Whatever Israel’s king felt, Elijah the Tishbite, God’s mighty prophet, is sent into “the vineyard of Naboth” (1 Ki. 21:18; interestingly, God still saw dead Naboth as the rightful owner) and foretells of the bloody, ignominious end of Ahab’s house.  Though God showed remarkable mercy in not ending Ahab’s dynasty in the wake of the wicked king’s humble plea (1 Ki. 21:28), the decree was only delayed.  Ahab died in his chariot, a casualty of a circumstance God used to execute His judgment (1 Ki. 22:34-38).

Some time later, though now Ahab’s second son to reign currently sat on Israel’s throne and Elijah had been replaced by Elisha, the judgment on Ahab’s house transpired.  Jehu “conspired against Joram” (2 Ki. 9:14), encouraged by one of the sons of the prophets (2 Ki. 9:7-10).  Jehu meets Joram at an interesting site:  “the property of Naboth the Jezreelite” (2 Ki. 9:21).  God says He repaid Ahab on Naboth’s plot (2 Ki. 9:26).  What a powerful lesson and warning from God!  It is a message that says not only that you reap what you sow, but that there is sometimes irony in this sort of reaping.  Another example is Haman in the book of Esther.

Let us consider this lesson first taught on Naboth’s land.  Does the gossiper, intent on spreading rumors and divulging details about another, ever become the victim of his own methods?  Does the hypercritic and unjust judge ever fall into a sin problem, only to find himself treated as he has treated others?  What about the greedy or the unethical, who climb the corporate ladder by stepping all over whoever is above him on it?  Does he ever meet the same, ironic end?  There will be some Naboths, men and women who are unfairly and unjustly treated despite their innocence.  Yet, there will also be some Ahabs, too, men and women meted out the same kind of end they inflicted on someone else.  If you have to identify with anyone in this biblical account, let it be Naboth and not Ahab.