The prophet in the days of Ahab and Jezebel was Elijah, who stands out in great importance to the people of the last church upon the earth, for the work he did and the experiences through which he passed are a clear type of the work and the experience of the people who shall do the will of the Lord in the very last times.
The fact of this is well known and believed by the average child of God today, but what is not seen so clearly is that the lives of those against whom he warred are also a type of a work to be done in the last days. Both Ahab and Jezebel are typical, and so also in a different way is Jehu.
In all, here has been mentioned four names, and it is to be seen and understood that here are types of four different classes of people who will play their roles in the final scenes of the drama of the ages.
It was when the Lord came to Elijah in the cave to which he had fled after the showdown with the priests of Baal on Mt. Carmel and his subsequent flight from Jezebel, that Elijah received the divine commission to anoint Jehu as the instrument to destroy the house of Ahab. At the same time he was commissioned to anoint Hazael to be king of Syria and Elisha to take his own place as prophet.
1 Kings 19
15 And the Lord said unto him, Go, return on your way to the wilderness of Damascus: and when you come, anoint Hazael to be king over Syria:
16 And Jehu the son of Nimshi shall you anoint to be king over, Israel: and Elisha the son of Shaphat of Abelmeholah shall you anoint to be prophet in your room.
17 And it shall come to pass, that him that escapes the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapes from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay.
18 Yet I have left me seven thousand in Israel, all the knees which have not bowed unto Baal, and every mouth which has not kissed him.
Now curiously enough Elijah did not personally anoint Jehu. In fact this man was not anointed to be king of Israel until after Elijah had gone to heaven and Elisha had taken his place as we read in 2 Kings 9: 1-10.
In the first three verses is recorded the instruction of Elisha to the son of the prophets, to take the oil and go to Ramoth Gilead to anoint Jehu to be the king of Israel.
2 Kings 9
1 And Elisha the prophet called one of the children of the prophets, and said unto him, Gird up thy loins, and take this box of oil in thine hand, and go to Ramoth-gilead:
2 And when you come there, look out there Jehu the son of Jehoshaphat the son of Nimshi, and go in, and make him arise up from among his brethren, and carry him to an inner chamber,
3 Then take the box of oil, and pour it on his head, and say, Thus saith the Lord, I have anointed thee king over Israel. Then open the door, and flee, and tarry not.
The remaining verses tell of the doing of this exactly as commanded. The servant went to where Jehu was and took him to an inner chamber and there anointed him to be king over Israel with the prophecy that
2 Kings 9
7 And you shall smite the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of my servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel.
8 For the whole house of Ahab shall perish: and I will cut off from Ahab him that pisses against the wall, and him that is shut up and left 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:
Then the young prophet fled as he had been instructed and when Jehu announced to the others what had been done, then they instantly severed their allegiance to the house of Israel and proclaimed Jehu to be king. The dynasty had changed.
Jehu Executes His Commission
Jehu as a military man knew that a key ingredient of successful battle strategy lay in surprise. He therefore acted before the least warning of the new situation could be carried to the house of Ahab.
2 Kings 9
16 So Jehu rode in a chariot, and went to Jezreel; for Joram lay there. And Ahaziah king of Judah was come down to see Joram.
17 And there stood a watchman on the tower in Jezreel, and he spied 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 there went one on horseback to meet him, and said, Thus says the king, Is it peace? And Jehu said, What have you to do with peace? Turn behind me. And the watchman told, saying, The messenger came to them, but he comes not again.
19 Then he sent out a second on horseback, which came to them, and said, Thus says the king, Is it peace? And Jehu answered, What have you to do with peace? Turn behind me.
20 And the watchman told, saying, He came even unto them, and comes not again: and the driving is like the driving of Jehu the son of Nimshi; for he drives furiously.
21 And Joram said, Make ready. And his chariot was made ready. And Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah went out, each in his chariot, and they went out against Jehu, and met him in the portion of Naboth the Jezreelite.
22 And it came to pass, when Joram saw Jehu, that he said, Is it peace, Jehu? And he answered, What peace, so long as the whoredoms of your mother Jezebel and her witchcrafts are so many?
23 And Joram turned his hands, and fled, and said to Ahaziah, There is treachery, O Ahaziah.
24 And Jehu drew a bow with his full strength, and smote Jehoram between his arms, and the arrow went out at his heart, and he sunk down in his chariot.
25 Then said Jehu to Bidkar his captain, Take up, and cast him in the portion of the field of Naboth the Jezreelite: for remember how that, when I and you rode together after Ahab his father, the Lord laid this burden upon him;
26 Surely I have seen yesterday the blood of Naboth, and the blood of his sons, said the Lord; and I will requite you in this plat, said the Lord. Now therefore take and cast him into the plat of ground, according to the word of the Lord.
27 But when Ahaziah the king of Judah saw this, he fled by the way of the garden house. And Jehu followed after him, and said, Smite him also in the chariot. And they did so at the going up to Gur, which is by Ibleam. And he fled to Megiddo, and died there.
28 And his servants carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his sepulchre with his fathers in the city of David.
29 And in the eleventh year of Joram the son of Ahab began Ahaziah to reign over Judah.
Thus perished the kings of Israel and of Judah on the same day both of them being descendants of the then deceased King Ahab. But the work of destruction was not yet finished. Though Ahab and his ruling sons were dead, his wicked wife, largely the cause of the terrible sins of that wicked house, yet lived. Jehu as he came into Jezreel was challenged by that bold and fearless woman, who promptly met her terrible death.
2 Kings 9
30 And when Jehu was come to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; and she painted her face, and tired her head, and looked out at a window.
31 And as Jehu entered in at the gate, she said, Had Zimri peace, who slew his master?
32 And he lifted up his face to the window, and said, Who is on my side? Who? And there looked out to him two or three eunuchs.
33 And he said, Throw her down. So they threw her down: and some of her blood was sprinkled on the wall, and on the horses: and he trod her under foot.
34 And when he was come in, he did eat and drink, and said, Go, see now this cursed woman, and bury her: for she is a king’s daughter.
35 And they went to bury her: but they found no more of her than the skull, and the feet, and the palms of her hands.
36 Wherefore they came again, and told him. And he said, This is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, In the portion of Jezreel shall dogs eat the flesh of Jezebel:
37 And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field in the portion of Jezreel; so that they shall not say, This is Jezebel.
Now the children of Ahab beyond those already slain numbered seventy sons. And these at that time were in the charge of tutors who were responsible for bringing them up. So Jehu wrote letters in which he called upon these tutors, who were men of power, to set their battle in array to fight for the monarchical rights of these royal sons of Ahab. But they were afraid to do so, saying that if two kings already could not stand against Jehu, then what hope had they?
Whereupon Jehu instructed them as proof that they were really on his side to behead the seventy sons of Ahab and bring the heads in baskets to Jezreel. This was done and the heads were piled on two heaps in the entering in of the gate as the day ended, to remain there until the morning.
2 Kings 10
9 And it came to pass in the morning, that he went out, and stood, and said to all the people, You are righteous: behold, I conspired against my master, and slew him: but who slew all these?
10 Know now that there shall fall unto the earth nothing of the word of the Lord, which the Lord spoke concerning the house of Ahab: for the Lord has done that which he spoke by his servant Elijah.
11 So Jehu slew all that remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men, and his kinsfolk, and his priests, until he left none remaining.
Then Jehu returned to Samaria, and on the way he met a number of travelers at a shearing house, who replied to his question to them as to who they were, that they were the relatives of Ahaziah, and were going on down to visit the families of the king and the queen.
Evidently things had happened so swiftly that the news had not reached them of the death of the king and of Jezebel the queen mother, else they would not have so readily revealed who they were. The moment Jehu heard this he said,
2 Kings 10
14 Take them alive. And they took them alive, and slew them at the pit of the shearing house, even two and forty men; neither left he any of them.
His Zeal for God
In all this bloody work, Jehu attributed to himself a great zeal for the cause of God. It was true that he had been anointed to be the king of Israel, and that the Lord had prophesied the complete destruction of the house of Israel, so that he felt that he was in the right path in doing all that he did.
It must not be overlooked that it was standard practice in those days for a king, who had come in to start a new dynasty, or even one who had taken over the throne as his own by right, to make it his business to eliminate the royal line so that there was left no one but himself who had any right to the throne.
In view of the fact that the end of the story of Jehu shows that he was not a converted man, then it must be evident that his real zeal was to certify his own security on the throne of Israel, while the cover story of a zeal for God gave very strong justification for his course. It is a truth that there are usually two reasons for the actions of men: the reason they give, and the real reason.
Jehu was certainly not reticent in bringing forth his given reason for doing what he was doing.
2 Kings 10
15 And when he was departed thence, he lighted on Jehonadab the son of Rechab coming to meet him: and he saluted him, and said to him, Is your heart right, as my heart is with your heart? And Jehonadab answered, it is. If it be, give me your hand. And he gave him his hand; and he took him up to him into the chariot.
16 And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord. So they made him ride in his chariot.
17 And when he came to Samaria, he slew all that remained unto Ahab in Samaria, till he had destroyed him, according to the saying of the Lord, which he spake to Elijah.
The Baal Worshipers
Jehu was not finished yet. Not only was he determined to wipe out the house of Ahab, but also the religion which had made Ahab to be what he was. In order to accomplish this last purpose, he resorted to downright deceit and subterfuge.
He declared himself to be a very devoted worshiper of Baal, far exceeding the services rendered even by Ahab. Then he called for every Baal worshiper in the length and breadth of Israel to attend at a special feast to Baal. And they came from one end of the land to the other until the house of Baal was so full there was but the tightest of standing room. Then he slaughtered them all.
2 Kings 10
18 And Jehu gathered all the people together, and said unto them, Ahab served Baal a little; but Jehu shall serve him much.
19 Now therefore call unto me all the prophets of Baal, all his servants, and all his priests; let none be wanting: for I have a great sacrifice to do to Baal; whosoever shall be wanting, he shall not live. But Jehu did it in subtlety, to the intent that he might destroy the worshipers of Baal.
20 And Jehu said, Proclaim a solemn assembly for Baal. And they proclaimed it.
21 And Jehu sent through all Israel: and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a man left that came not. And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to another.
22 And he said unto him that was over the vestry, Bring forth vestments for all the worshipers of Baal. And he brought them forth vestments.
23 And Jehu went, and Jehonadab the son of Rechab, into the house of Baal, and said unto the worshipers of Baal, Search, and look that there be here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but the worshipers of Baal only.
24 And when they went in to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings, Jehu appointed fourscore men without, and said, If any of the men whom I have brought into your hands escape, he that lets him go, his life shall be for the life of him.
25 And it came to pass, as soon as he had made an end of offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the captains, Go in, and slay them; let none come forth. And they smote them with the edge of the sword; and the guard and the captains cast them out, and went to the city of the house of Baal.
26 And they brought forth the images out of the house of Baal, and burned them.
27 And they broke down the image of Baal, and broke down the house of Baal, and made it a draught house unto this day.
28 Thus Jehu destroyed Baal out of Israel.
An Impressive Performance
This was indeed an impressive performance on the part of Jehu and as one reads it through, one is left with the very distinct impression that Jehu was most zealous to perform the service of the Lord and to fulfill his destiny as the one who would wipe out the evil house of Ahab and Jezebel, and the wicked worship of Baal.
But the story is not yet ended. We find that even though he had performed this service for the Lord for which the Lord promised him that he would not lose a son to reign upon his throne for four generations, he was not a true servant of the Lord at all. While it is true that he had wiped out the worship of Baal, he did not by any means restore the worship of the true God, but again instituted the worship of the golden calves as set up by Jeroboam when the kingdom first split away from Judah.
2 Kings 10
29 Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Beth-el, and that were in Dan.
30 And the Lord said unto Jehu, Because you have done well in executing that which is right in my eyes, and have done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your children of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.
31 But Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.
Such is the colorful, though sad story of Jehu, who triumphed mightily over the deadly enemies of God and His people. He was a man who had great and wonderful opportunities and could have gone far in working a full reformation in Israel. He was in deadly opposition to the house of Ahab and Jezebel, and of the Baal worship which they had instituted. Over these things he had gained the victory, but he did not gain the victory over sin. After he had swept away the existing forms of false religion, he himself instituted another equally as evil.
It is proper to ask as to whether we will meet Jehu in the kingdom. But how could such be possible when the record in the word of God tells us:
2 Kings 10
31 …he took no heed to walk in the law of the God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.
The prophet Elijah is the type of that people who in the last days will stand for the living truth of God and will make war with the beast and his image till the victory is finally gained. These are the true people of the Lord whose warfare is motivated by a true and disinterested zeal for the cause of God. These are the ones who will be found in the kingdom of heaven.
Ahab and Jezebel represent the combination of church and state which will be the chief instrument of Satan in the end in his effort to destroy the truth of God. Jezebel was a princess of Baal, a daughter of Ethbaal, king of the Zidonians. In Scripture a woman is the symbol of the church, and so is the name Jezebel.
Jezebel as a woman is a most fitting symbol or type of the church of the last days which will war against God, for she came into Israel bearing the very religion of Baal. She linked herself to the power of King Ahab who was the state power in the land, and by that power she enforced her decisions and decrees. Ahab became a worshiper of Baal and after him so did the nation, all under the command of Jezebel but executed by the power of Ahab, the king of the state.
When faithful Naboth the Jezreelite would not surrender the inheritance of his fathers, it was Jezebel who sentenced him to death, but she stamped the decree with the seal of the king and issued all her commands in his name. So will the great Jezebel do in these last days when there will be the last great effort to enforce the worship of the beast and his image, his number and his name. As surely as there will be an Elijah people in these closing conflicts, so there will be the Ahab and the Jezebel, the unified power of the church and the state.
And so surely there will be the Jehu’s. Of all the classes represented here, they are the most unfortunate, for while they will gain the victory over certain aspects of the church-state union, they will fail to gain the victory over all that the papal system is, and so will lose their eternal life in the end.
It is to be noted that in the end, the character of Jehu and the character of Ahab were the same. Both were breakers of the law of God. So likewise it will be that in the end there will be the many who will refuse to go along with much that the papacy puts forward, but will still possess the same character and will suffer the same final fate.
The Elijah people, the one hundred and forty four thousand, will gain the victory over the beast and his image and his mark and over the number of his name.
But there are others who as the crisis mounts toward its climax will gain the victory over the beast, and over his image and even over the mark but they will not get the victory over the number of his name.
In making this point, it is to be understood that this situation will not exist at the very close of the great controversy when the great final test will come to the world, for then everyone will either bow in full to the beast and his image and receive his mark and the number of his name, or they will gain the victory over all of that to receive the seal of the living God.
But before things come to this final-point, there will be the Jehu class who will gain the victory over the beast in that they will absolutely refuse to bow to the rulership of the papacy and will war against her with might and main, some even no doubt losing life and liberty over the question.
There will be many Sabbath observing people who will likewise refuse to honor the Sunday and thus will gain the victory over the mark of the beast and his image. But they do not gain victory over the number of his name. Thus, like Jehu, even though they are at war with the very powers which God Himself will be at war with, they will find no part in the kingdom established as a result of the victory of this war.
This may seem incongruous, yet the fact is that it cannot be any other way. The full impact of the truth of it is revealed in the understanding of the number of his name. This is not merely the victory of recognizing the number 666 as, supposedly, it is to be found in the numerical values of the letters of the pope’s assumed titles. The truth of this victory lies much deeper than that.
Throughout the word of God, a name is symbolic of character. Thus it was that Jacob was called such because his was the character of a supplanter, but when his character changed, so did his name. So likewise the number of his name is the designation of his character. It is that evil character which is the character of the beast and his image over which we must gain the victory.
How many today take security in the thought that they keep the Sabbath, believe the advent message, look forward to the second coming of Christ, pay a faithful tithe and offering, devote their efforts to the pushing forward of the interests of the church, and declare that they never, never will bow down to the mark of the beast.
Let such remember the story of Jehu and his zeal for the house of God, and see in that story the grim warning of the danger of going so far in the cause of truth but of failing to go all the way.
This is also the story of the foolish virgin.
Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 411:
They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working. They have not fallen upon the rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up.
It is a fearful fact that all too many labor under this fatal deception so that when the Lord does come there will be a large class who will say to Him,
22 Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in your name? and in your name have cast out devils? and in your name have done many wonderful works?
On the basis of works as wonderful and as zealous as those of Jehu, these will expect to have a definite part in the kingdom of heaven but to them will come the sad reply,
23 …I never knew you: depart from us, you that work iniquity.
The great work of personal character preparation will be lacking. Yet this is the most essential and important work of all. It is the first work, and no other works can be of any real value in the sight of God without this having been done first and forever maintained.
Too many are so ready to set to work to reform the world and others around them as did Jehu, without working a reformation in their own lives first and foremost.
These stories in the Old Testament are written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the world are come and we shall stand without excuse in the day of reckoning if we shall have failed to heed the warnings given in them.
May each and every reader make it his life’s work to build a character fit for eternity, so that his record will show that he, as he lived through the last days, gained the victory over the beast, and his image, and his mark and the number of his name.