and when he arrived, the army commanders were sitting there. "I have a message for you, commander," he said. "For which of us?" asked Jehu. "For you, commander," he replied.
I. SIN, NOT REPENTED OF, MUST BE PUNISHED. This is a law of nature. It is a fact of history. It is the very essence of morality. It is the very essence of justice. It is at the basis of social order in a nation. It is at the basis of the moral government of the universe. Those who transgress the law of nations, those who transgress the laws of honesty or of morality, those who take away the life, or the property, or the character of others, must be made to suffer for it. This is necessary, that justice may be vindicated. It is necessary, in order that property and person and character may be safe. It is necessary, in order that other evil-doers may be deterred from crime. Even under our own national law, we feel that there is something wrong when an evil-doer escapes. We feel that it has a bad effect upon the community when crime goes unpunished. Now, what is sin in the Bible sense? Sin is the transgression of the Law. It is a transgression of a far higher law than the law of nations, of that law on which the well-being of all nations depends - the eternal Law of God. The Law of God is at the foundation of all true well-being and happiness in every nation and in every age. "This do, and thou shalt live." "The commandment is holy, and just, and good." It is, therefore, in the interests of every nation, it is in the interests, not of one generation of men merely, but of those who shall come after them, that those who transgress the Divine Law should suffer for it. Every violation of a Divine law must be followed by its corresponding punishment. "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap." Look at your own lives in the light of this great truth. Are there any sins in your lives unrepented of? Then be assured that the punishment, if it has not yet come, awaits you. Sins against God, against God's Law, against God's sabbath; sins against our fellow-man - sins of unfair dealing, sins of evil-speaking, or other and grosser sins; every one of these, if not repented of, is sure to bring its corresponding punishment. "Be sure your sin will find you out."
II. PUNISHMENT MAY BE DELAYED, BUT IT IS NONE THE LESS SURE. There is an old Irish proverb, "The vengeance of God is slow, but sure." We have many illustrations of that in history. It was long after Jezebel's great crime before her punishment overtook her. When the Israelites were journeying through the wilderness, the Amalekites treated them with great treachery and cruelty, falling upon them in the rear, and when they were faint and weary. It was not until four hundred years afterwards that the sentence against Amalek was executed but it was executed at last. We may kill our enemies, we may seek to destroy all traces of our crime, but we can never destroy the memory and the guilt of it by any acts of ours. Charles IX. of France was led, by the importunity of another Jezebel, Mary de Medicis, to kill Admiral Coligny, who was the great leader of the French Protestants. For a long time he refused, but at last he consented in the memorable words, "Assassinate Admiral Coligny, but leave not a Huguenot alive in France to reproach me." That was the origin of the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. Having killed Coligny, he did not want any of his friends to remain to bear witness against him. How anxious men are to destroy all traces of their crime! And yet how vain all such efforts are! There is One whose eye sees every act of human life. We may escape the judgment of men, but we cannot escape the judgment of God. If not here, then certainly hereafter, every sin, not repented of, will receive its due reward. "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it he good or had."
III. THERE IS OFTEN A RESEMBLANCE BETWEEN THE PLACE AND MANNER OF THE SIN AND THE PLACE AND MANNER OF THE PUNISHMENT.
1. It was at Naboth's vineyard that the great sin of Ahab's house had been committed. There, too, at Naboth's vineyard, Jehoram, Ahab's son, was slain. It was outside the walls of Jezreel that the dogs licked the blood of Naboth. There, too, the dogs licked the blood and ate the flesh of Jezebel his murderess. It would seem as if this was part of the Divine Law of retribution. One reason for it would appear to be that it fixes unmistakably the connection between the sin and its punishment. Robe Spierre, the famous French revolutionist, literally choked the river Seine with the heads of those whom he sent to the guillotine. But the day came when the death-tumbrel containing himself was trundled along the streets of Paris to the selfsame fatal axe, amid the shouts and execrations of the multitude. Cardinal Beaten condemned to death George Wishart, one of the first of the Scottish Reformers, and watched him burning at the stake, while he himself reclined on rich cushions on the walls of his castle at St. Andrew's. Three months afterwards the cardinal himself was put to death, and his dead body was hung by a sheet from the very battlements whence he had looked at the execution of Wishart. There is something more than accident in such things. There is the vivid impression intended to be made on people's minds, that "whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap"
2. The same is true of the resemblance between the manner of the sin and the manner of the punishment. Jezebel's murder of Naboth was treacherous and ignominious. She herself was put to death in a treacherous and ignominious way. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Jacob cruelly deceived his aged father Isaac when he was blind and feeble. What a pointed retribution it was when he was afterwards cruelly deceived by his own sons in their statements about Joseph! Haman was hanged on the gallows which he had made for Mordecai. One of the most terrible instances of this truth, that as we have treated others we shall be treated ourselves, is the case of Charles IX. of France, referred to above. He consented to the Massacre of St. Bartholomew. He caused the streets of Paris to run with the blood of the Huguenots. He died at the age of twenty-four: and what a death! French historians of the highest order say that he was in such agony of remorse that he literally sweated blood. The blood that oozed from his own body caused him to think of those whose blood he had so freely shed, and he cried out in his last hours about the massacre of the Huguenots. Horrible! Yes; but there is a deep and solemn truth underlying all this. It is a truth that should have practical result upon every life. "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again" If your sin is public, most likely your punishment will be public. Men who commit commercial frauds - that is, sins against public confidence and trust - they ought to suffer, and they do suffer, public exposure. If your sin is secret, your punishment will also most likely be secret. They who sin against the laws of health suffer in an impaired constitution. They who sin by speaking evil about others most likely will have many to speak evil about themselves. Standing there by Naboth's vineyard, and thinking of the envy, covetousness, and murder, of which it reminds us, and their terrible consequences, let us hear the blood of Nabeth and the blood of Naboth's house crying to us from the ground, "With what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again." Such, then, is the Divine law of retribution. But God, who is just, is also merciful. He willeth not the death of a sinner, but rather that he should turn from his wickedness, and live. We have looked at the way of his justice. Let us look also at the way of his mercy. It is the way of the cross. "God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life." If you reject God's mercy, there is only the other alternative-God's retributive justice. - C.H.I.
And the carcase of Jezebel shall be as dung upon the face of the field.1. Jezebel's is the character of one complete in evil. She enters the stage of human events in the fulness of her wickedness. She does not come before our notice till she has passed through all the stages of early conviction, strife with conscience, and sometimes of the warnings of a better nature. She is one whom savages would pronounce wicked, and from whom they would start as a dangerous member of even their social body. There are some who are brought before us in this way in life, as if the curtain were suddenly drawn up, and they were presented to the eye for the first time in their full development. We have been allowed to see none of the inward workings, none of the early struggle and strife. All this has gone on between themselves and God alone. His eye only has noticed, and His hand recorded the gages, challenges, and contests between the tempter and the sinner. We see but the end of the conflict. We perceive only the conqueror standing forward flushed with his success, and the ranks of the vanquished receding into the far distance on either side, like the forms of beautiful dreams scared by the breaking in of morning light. In the great portrait gallery of Holy Scripture no one is found exactly like her. She stands individually distinctive and terrible.
2. Here is her history. Ahab is mentioned as coming to the throne of Samaria nine hundred and eighteen years before Christ. The marriage with Jezebel is mentioned as a decided step in evil in Ahab, and is clearly connected with his idolatry. The next mention of her is her desire and effort to kill all the prophets of the Lord, and Obadiah's success in saving them. Then came the denunciation of God upon Jezebel, and the prophecy of her being eaten of dogs in the portion of Jezreel There is a pause in her history, and we hear no more of the queen-mother during the reign of Ahab's successor. The wicked king had sunk to his doomed grave. But she, the author and abettor of his sinfulness, lived on. Her end is the next and last circumstance of her life; very terrible. She comes out again with her old characteristic. The long pause in which she has been withdrawn from observation has made no change in her character save to stereotype all old failings, and gnarl into her form the sins of her earlier days. Shameless and barefaced in her iniquity, she looked out for admiration from the very man who was returning as a conqueror over her husband's race.
3. There are certain features which belong to the thoroughly wicked person, and the approach to those characteristics may always excite alarm and anxiety. The principal points about Jezebel are these. A woman holding an evil influence over her husband, and turning her pertinacity and vigour of practical energy and power into the pursuit of the line in which the man hesitated. The wicked woman has an energy of evil which makes her far worse than the man. Her persecution of God and good men. Her casting in her lot with the wicked and the profligate. Her unflinching and unhesitating profligacy in the destruction of Naboth. Her raillery of the king. Her vanity overcoming in the end of life all other feelings, natural or not.(1) I mentioned the first which was visible in Jezebel. Her decided and unhesitating influence over Ahab. A firm grasp over the conduct of another shows a finish in the character of the person who uses it; still more so when it is complete in evil. No one can take a very decided course unless he have an unwavering trust in his own opinions, or have given himself over to utter indifference. Either a man must have a conscience void of offence, or no conscience at all, to proceed in a very vigorous manner to the attainment of a certain end. "A double-minded man is unstable in all his ways." Most men are to a certain degree hesitating. An indecision with regard to faith in some one article or detail: an undetermined mind as to serving God or no; a state of sin or indulged infirmity still hindering the moral advances; all these make men oscillate in as many degrees and with as many variations as there are shades of character and distinctions between dispositions. Now he that can guide another fairly must necessarily have a firm and steady line himself. It is harder to gain this entire ascendancy over another individual mind, than it is to have it over the aim or end of a long course of action. The hesitating eye looks up to the guide either for good or evil. If it see a single swerve discouragements at once ensue: if it meet a firm, steady, unwavering gaze, reassurance comes, and a steady step is the consequence. It is a fearful thing to settle the swerving mind when that swerve is on the sand-bar which crosses the entrance to the harbour, and when the settled action given is to drive the vessel out again into the wide though easy deep. Better be among the rocks than float for ever away from shore and harbour. It is a tremendous thing for any one to influence another's will, so that when he hesitates as to a doubtful step, the other with a cheering cry induces him to take it; it is a fearful thing to bid the poor trembler, who shuddered on the edge of the leap, to rush on, and to spring oneself across the chasm to give him encouragement. Fearful is it at any time, but far more so when the steady gaze is only assumed, when the firm tone of voice belies the condemning conscience, and when the daring act of final decision is even to him who takes the step taken in the dark. And yet how common a case, how common a character? The very fact of encouraging or urging on another tends to urge on self, and the voice which cheers on a companion in an evil way, or to take a false step, too often hushes the inward whisper of our own remonstrating conscience. We gain firmness by making others firm, and become determined moral speculators by the mere fact of endorsing another's speculation. Few signs are more certain of far advance in evil than when a man commits himself to urge on another to a doubtful, sinful, or an uncertain course of moral action.(2) But, again, Jezebel openly persecuted the good, killed the prophets of the Lord, and strove to get Elijah within her grasp. This, too, is a sign of advance in evil. Men do not persecute boldly till they have gone on far in their own sinful course. Persecution infers in the persecutor not so much the love of vengeance and the wish to inflict pain, as the desire to get rid if possible of the testimony and witness of the good. The object of the wicked is to suppress good; to show it to be an unreality, an imposition, a sham; to proclaim it false to its professed principles; to discover some flaw in the motive, or some failure in the act. "He hath a devil, and is mad." "He casteth out devils through the prince of the devils." This is the persecutor's aim. Not so much revenge and simple hate for its own sake. The foundation of this feeling is the deep conviction in the persecutor himself, that he has no ground to stand on, save one of sin; has nothing in common with the good, and comes not into the congregation of the righteous. Yet he feels the truth of that ground, its power, its reality. He acknowledges its reality, but he dare not occupy it. He has forfeited his standing. Consequently, the more wicked a man is, the more he longs to drive the good from his ground and the more he persecutes.(3) But more than this, Jezebel made the wicked her companions; the Baal prophets ate at her table. There is ever a step between persecuting the good and fraternising with the wicked. The latter is a step further in advance. It is positive, the other negative. To love wickedness is in one sense worse than to hate goodness. It is a harder transition for hate to blend into love, than for love to melt off into hate. We often see men not good, not holy, living without God, still hating sin and despising the wicked when brought before them, shrinking from what is mean and vile, shunning the false motive, yet not themselves holy. Positive goodness is a step further than the negative evil.(4) But the next feature of Jezebel's character is that of intrigue and calumny for the purpose of gaining her designs. No man ever stands still in the path of his moral nature. He advances or recedes, but he is in motion. When once the mind is steadily fixed upon evil, the next condition is sure to be one of tact, intrigue, and management to obtain the guilty object. Lies, untruthfulness, slander, meanness, and every kind of duplicity, crowd in and fill up the vacuum between the settled intention to do wrong, and the sinful object itself.(5) Her end is significant. A long interval elapses in which we hear but one thing of her, that her whoredoms were many; and we are led up to that moment to imagine that either in seclusion she had become penitent, or that the sinful heart had exhausted its fire, and the inward volcano become extinct. But she appears again the very wreck of what she had been — an old woman, painted on the face and tired in the hair, leaning from the upper window to gaze down upon and attract the notice of the returning conqueror, whose sword was yet red with the blood of her husband's family. What a picture! Lost to every sense and touch of even natural feeling, the wretch is wrapped up in self; without God, and without an ultimate object. But such is the symptom of finished sin, it quenches the last spark of even natural feeling; it gnaws downwards from the bloom and stem of religion and morality, and eats away the very root of the original creation. It is a symptom of finished evil when surrounded by desolating calamity, brought on by their own wickedness, men compelled to withdraw for a little while from the stage of human action peer forth again from time to time spectral anatomies of what they were, and caricatures of even the monstrous features they originally presented. Such was Jezebel, and the incidents of her life suggest no insignificant tests of a character that is rapidly approximating to a condition of finished and hopeless iniquity.
PeopleAhab, Ahaziah, Ahijah, Aram, Baasha, David, Elijah, Elisha, Hazael, Jehoram, Jehoshaphat, Jehu, Jeroboam, Jezebel, Jezreel, Joram, Naboth, Nebat, Nimshi, Syrians, Zimri
PlacesBeth-haggan, Gur, Ibleam, Jerusalem, Jezreel, Megiddo, Ramoth-gilead, Syria
TopicsArmy, Behold, Captain, Captains, Chief, Chiefs, Commander, Commanders, Council, Errand, Force, Host, Jehu, Message, O, Officers, Replied, Seated, Sitting
Outline1. Elisha sends a young prophet with instructions to anoint Jehu at Ramoth Gilead
4. The prophet having done his message, flees
11. Jehu, being made king by the soldiers, kills Joram in the field of Naboth
27. Ahaziah is slain at Gur, and buried at Jerusalem
30. Proud Jezebel is thrown down out of a window, and eaten by dogs.
Dictionary of Bible Themes2 Kings 9:1-6
The book of Kings is strikingly unlike any modern historical narrative. Its comparative brevity, its curious perspective, and-with some brilliant exceptions--its relative monotony, are obvious to the most cursory perusal, and to understand these things is, in large measure, to understand the book. It covers a period of no less than four centuries. Beginning with the death of David and the accession of Solomon (1 Kings i., ii.) it traverses his reign with considerable fulness (1 Kings iii.-xi.), …
John Edgar McFadyen—Introduction to the Old Testament
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