Southgate

Are Prophecies Fulfilled?

MORNING MESSAGE: John Cline

1 Kings 16-21; 2 Kings 9,10

Reader: Keith Harcus

Today, we have entered, starting with Ruth’s devotional, a study on the most extensively written about time in 1st and 2nd Kings, that period in which King Ahab of Israel first ruled, then followed by his two sons Ahaziah and Joram, but who were all controlled by another. Thus,

Ahab son of Omri did more evil in the eyes of the Lord than any of those before him. He not only considered it trivial to commit the sins of Jeroboam (the first king of Israel whose primary sin was that of idolatry), but he also married Jezebel daughter of Ethbaal king of the Sidonians, and began to serve Baal and worship him. (1 Kings 16:30,31)

I will focus today on Jezebel and her controlling influence, but first we will look hundred of years earlier to when the Israelites, under Joshua, had entered the Promised Land and, when, in their miraculous taking of the city of Jericho when the walls fell down, God decreed that it was such an evil place should never have its walls rebuilt.

At that time Joshua pronounced this solemn oath: “Cursed before the Lord is the one who undertakes to rebuild this city, Jericho. “At the cost of his firstborn son he will lay its foundations; at the cost of his youngest he will set up its gates.” (Joshua 6:26)

I remember the first time I ever read through the Bible, at age 18, I wasn’t y et a Christian – that happened when I was 19 – I came to this prophecy and wondered if what was prophesied ever did happen. As I kept reading, I later came to the period of King Ahab:

In Ahab’s time, Hiel of Bethel rebuilt Jericho. He laid its foundations at the cost of his firstborn son Abiram, and he set up its gates at the cost of his youngest son Segub, in accordance with the word of the Lord spoken by Joshua. (1 Kings 16:34)

I was stunned. Such a harsh price to pay! Why was it necessary? But even in those ancient days of my youth, well before the internet when I could read what others had to say about it, and before I was even a Christian, I instinctively realized that God had clearly spoken in Joshua’s day, and had still been speaking in Ahab and Jezebel’s time, and that their rejecting of God’s words and ways was no “trivial” thing, despite what Ahab’s decision to sin like Jeroboam had thought, as well as his marrying of Jezebel. “Trivial”? Nothing. God was still the true King of Israel, and His word was to be heard and heeded, and if the king and queen of Israel would not honour God’s will and ways, bad things would happen, was my youthful conclusion. The next chapter in 1st Kings records how, in His mercy and concern for the people, God first called His prophet, Elijah and later his successor Elisha, to the task of speaking His truth and words, and of restoring His reign in their nation. Focusing today on Jezebel, we should know,

Jezebel’s name in Phoenician meant “primrose” but the same name in Hebrew meant “garbage”.

Her name, “garbage” still reflects how Jezebel is thought of today.

It was clear that she used Ahab to achieve her own evil ends, and that he needed little persuading. This was the first time that an Israelite king had aligned himself through marriage with a pagan princess and priestess, for her father, as the king of his people, was also the priest of Baal. Jezebel convinced Ahab to accept Baal, a nature god and to reject YHWH as his God.

Jezebel’s idolatry carried on the sin of Jeroboam that eventually led to the destruction of Israel as a nation when Assyria carried the people away into exile in 722 BC. That was bad enough, but then, added to it…

Ahab, the king of Israel, gave the strength of his position as ruler to Jezebel. With her husband’s strength given to her, she exhibited the characteristics of presumption, ambition, vengeance, and ruthlessness in a way she never should have had opportunity to display. She also lied, murdered, and was an idolator. Without her husband’s cooperation, and without Ahab’s passive acquiescence, Jezebel could have done nothing.

The spirit of Jezebel is alive in our society today except that it is not necessarily weak husbands but a weak society that allows people who are presumptive, ambitious, vengeful, and ruthless to both influence or rule nations. We see this in both Canada and the United States, as well as in other Western nations. The spirit of Jezebel is a manipulative, destructive one. Now, at the time of the original Jezebel, she decided to murder all of God’s prophets, of whom there were at least one hundred. One of those prophets, a man named Obadiah, had been trying to protect the other prophets from Jezebel’s murderous ways.

While Jezebel was killing off the Lord’s prophets, Obadiah had taken a hundred prophets and hidden them in two caves, fifty in each, and had supplied them with food and water.) (1 Kings 18:4)

When Elijah the prophet heard the good Obadiah had done, he went to meet him. He instructed Obadiah to go to King Ahab to tell him/Ahab that he/Elijah wanted to meet with him, but fearing for his life, Obadiah at first refused to go to Ahab. However, Elijah did persuade him to go, presumably by assuring him that God would not allow him to be killed.

So, Obadiah went to meet Ahab and told him, and Ahab went to meet Elijah. When he saw Elijah, he said to him, “Is that you, you troubler of Israel?” “I have not made trouble for Israel,” Elijah replied. “But you and your father’s family have. You have abandoned the Lord’s commands and have followed the Baals. Now summon the people from all over Israel to meet me on Mount Carmel. And bring the four hundred and fifty prophets of Baal and the four hundred prophets of Asherah, who eat at Jezebel’s table.” So, Ahab sent word throughout all Israel and assembled the prophets on Mount Carmel. Elijah went before the people and said, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow him; but if Baal is God, follow him.” (1 Kings 18:16-21)

Well, Ruth told us how that event ended, but going on, we read,

Now Ahab told Jezebel everything Elijah had done and how he had killed all the prophets (of Baal and Asherah) with the sword. So, Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah to say, “May the gods deal with me, be it ever so severely, if by this time tomorrow I do not make your life like that of one of them.” Elijah was afraid and ran for his life. (1 Kings 19:1-3)

Do you see how Obadiah’s and Elijah’s actions showed the grave danger that Jezebel posed to their lives? They lived in fear of her.

Some time later there was an incident involving a vineyard belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite. The vineyard was in Jezreel, close to the palace of Ahab king of Samaria. Ahab said to Naboth, “Let me have your vineyard to use for a vegetable garden, since it is close to my palace. In exchange I will give you a better vineyard or, if you prefer, I will pay you whatever it is worth.” But Naboth replied, “The Lord forbid that I should give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” So, Ahab went home, sullen and angry because Naboth the Jezreelite had said, “I will not give you the inheritance of my ancestors.” He lay on his bed sulking and refused to eat. His wife Jezebel came in and asked him, “Why are you so sullen? Why won’t you eat?” He answered her, “Because I said to Naboth the Jezreelite, ‘Sell me your vineyard; or if you prefer, I will give you another vineyard in its place.’ But he said, ‘I will not give you my vineyard.’” Jezebel his wife said, “Is this how you act as king over Israel? Get up and eat! I’ll get you the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” (1 Kings 21:1-7)

Jezebel then arranged for some of her lackies to murder Naboth.

As soon as Jezebel heard that Naboth had been stoned to death, she said to Ahab, “Get up and take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite that he refused to sell you. He is no longer alive, but dead.” When Ahab heard that Naboth was dead, he got up and went down to take possession of Naboth’s vineyard. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Go down to meet Ahab king of Israel, who rules in Samaria. He is now in Naboth’s vineyard, where he has gone to take possession of it. Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: Have you not murdered a man and seized his property?’ Then say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: In the place where dogs licked up Naboth’s blood, dogs will lick up your blood—yes, yours! Because you have sold yourself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, He says, ‘I am going to bring disaster on you. I will wipe out your descendants and cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make your house like that of Jeroboam son of Nebat and that of Baasha son of Ahijah, because you have aroused my anger and have caused Israel to sin.’ “And also concerning Jezebel the Lord says: ‘Dogs will devour Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’ “Dogs will eat those belonging to Ahab who die in the city, and the birds will feed on those who die in the country.” (There was never anyone like Ahab, who sold himself to do evil in the eyes of the Lord, urged on by Jezebel his wife. He behaved in the vilest manner by going after idols.) (1 Kings 21:15-26)

At this point, I need to show you where Jezreel was located…

Project map showing location of Jezreel…

Jezreel was the location of Ahab and Jezebel’s winter palace, as it was down in the valley, and was thus warmer than their summer palace located up in the hills of the capital city of Samaria (today’s Nablus, also called Shechem). Many scholars view it as a type of foreshadowing that Jezreel was on the Plain of Megiddo, better known as Armageddon, the place of the final battle between evil and good preceding the Second Coming of Christ. In any case, when I was 18 and reading through the Bible for the first time, and considering becoming a follower of Jesus, I read that prophecy about Ahab’s death and of dogs licking up his blood. I was grossed out and I wondered if things turned out that way. But, in the next chapter, I read, that in a battle with the Aramean army, Ahab was killed.

So, the king died and was brought to Samaria, and they buried him there…and the dogs licked up his blood as the word of the Lord had declared. (1 Kings 22:37,38)

Two prophecies made and fulfilled: the consequences of rebuilding Jericho’s walls, and the circumstances of Ahab’s death. I was getting the message that God’s words need to be taken seriously. After Ahab’s death, his son Ahaziah took over the throne, but he was totally controlled by his mother Jezebel’s ways. When seriously injured,

He sent messengers, saying to them, “Go and consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron, to see if I will recover from this injury.” (2nd Kings 1:2)

Again, God called Elijah the prophet into action. He screwed up his courage, risked his life, and went to King Ahaziah, who was on his bed:

He told the king, “This is what the Lord says: Is it because there is no God in Israel for you to consult that you have sent messengers to consult Baal-Zebub, the god of Ekron? Because you have done this, you will never leave the bed you are dying on. You will certainly die!” So, he died, according to the word of the Lord that Elijah had spoken. (2 Kings 1:16,17)

Three prophecies made and fulfilled. As a young man on a spiritual journey to find God, I was shaken by the more-than-apparent serious need to pay attention to the words of the one true God only. After Ahaziah died, and his brother Joram became king, I read on, seeing that the control of Jezebel over the throne of the king of Israel continued to be strong and how, at that point, God decided to do an unusual thing. Elijah the prophet, as Ruth mentioned, had been taken away into heaven, and his mantle as prophet had fallen on Elisha his successor, who was given the unenviable task of dealing with the household of Ahab’s son, the new king, Joram, a household controlled by his mother Jezebel. God did something unprecedented, installing a man who was not a political animal or a spiritual giant, one who had no evident history of serving God. This man was a warrior, a military man named Jehu, whom God would anoint as the king of Israel to replace the present King Joram. Jehu was not a gentle man. He was rough and coarse, a fighter, confrontational, contentious, and combative; a very unlikely man to become the king of Israel, but God decided that was how it would be.

Then the prophet poured the oil on Jehu’s head and declared, “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the Lord’s people Israel. You are to destroy the house of Ahab your master, and I will avenge the blood of my servants the prophets and the blood of all the Lord’s servants shed by Jezebel. The whole house of Ahab will perish. I will cut off from Ahab every last male in Israel—slave or free. I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam son of Nebat and like the house of Baasha son of Ahijah. As for Jezebel, dogs will devour her on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and no one will bury her.’” (2 Kings 9:6-10)

When I was 18 and reading this for the first time, I thought, “Yikes! This again?” But I kept on reading, and this is what I came to next:

So, Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi, conspired against Joram. (Now Joram and all Israel had been defending Ramoth Gilead against Hazael king of Aram, but King Joram had returned to Jezreel to recover from the wounds the Arameans had inflicted on him in the battle with Hazael king of Aram.). (2 Kings (9:14,15)

King Joram had been injured in yet another battle with the Arameans, the same group that had killed his father Ahab. And guess where Joram had gone to recover from his injuries? Jezreel, the spot where Jezebel had ordered Naboth killed and his land stolen and given to her husband King Ahab. What a fitting spot for what was about to happen! Though injured, King Joram went from the palace to meet Jehu, having no idea that Jehu was about to kill him as God’s vengeance for all the murders and trouble Joram and his family had brought upon Israel.

“Hitch up my chariot,” Joram ordered. And when it was hitched up, Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah rode out, each in his own chariot, to meet Jehu. They met him at the plot of ground that had belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. (2 Kings 9:21)

How suitably ironic was it that they met at Jezreel and at Naboth’s vineyard? They could not have fore planned that. God arranged it.

When Joram saw Jehu he asked, “Have you come in peace, Jehu?” “How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?” Joram turned about and fled. Then Jehu drew his bow and shot Joram between the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart, and he slumped down in his chariot. Jehu said to Bidkar, his chariot officer, “Pick him up and throw him on the field that belonged to Naboth the Jezreelite. Remember how you and I were riding together in chariots behind Ahab his father when the Lord spoke this prophecy against him: ‘Yesterday I saw the blood of Naboth and the blood of his sons, declares the Lord, and I will surely make you pay for it on this plot of ground, declares the Lord. ‘Now then, pick him up and throw him on that plot, in accordance with the word of the Lord.” (2 Kings 9:22-26)

4 prophecies made & fulfilled! At 18, I was paying attention. Are you?

Then Jehu went to Jezreel. When Jezebel heard about it, she put on eye makeup, arranged her hair and looked out of a window. As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, “Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?” (2nd Kings 9:30,31)

You may remember from last week’s sermon that Zimri had taken the throne of Israel by assassination and had a brief seven-day reign as king of Israel. By addressing Jehu as “Zimri”, Jezebel was showing she despised him and implying that Jehu’s rule as the king of Israel would be as short as Zimri’s. But Jehu the warrior was not afraid of Jezebel.

He looked up at the window and called out, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked down at him. “Throw her down!” Jehu said. So, they threw her down, and some of her blood spattered the wall and the horses as they trampled her underfoot. Jehu went in and ate and drank. “Take care of that cursed woman,” he said, “and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” But when they went out to bury her, they found nothing except her skull, her feet and her hands. They went back and told Jehu, who said, “This is the word of the Lord that he spoke through his servant Elijah the Tishbite: On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs will devour Jezebel’s flesh. Jezebel’s body will be like dung on the ground in the plot at Jezreel, so that no one will be able to say, ‘This is Jezebel.’” (2 Kings 9:32-37)

Five prophecies made, and five fulfilled. A sixth prophecy made about the destruction of Ahab’s entire family being wiped out we will read about later, but we will leave that story for now.

Jehu’s question, “Who is on my side?” echoed the question of Elijah the prophet on Mount Carmel to the people, “How long will you waver between two opinions? If the Lord is God, follow Him; but if Baal is God, follow Him”, which echoed the words of Moses and his helper Joshua at the time of the Golden Calf incident on Mount Sinai, “Who is on the Lord’s side?” which led to Joshua’s later words to the Israelites after they had conquered the Promised Land, “You have chosen to serve the Lord. Now then, throw away the foreign gods that are among you and yield your hearts to the Lord, the God of Israel.” In our choices, we are declaring whom we follow. We earlier sang the old hymn, “I Have Decided to Follow Jesus”. This is not an easy thing to do in our society, but it is essential, for only in Jesus is there freedom and joy. This battle with the forces that Jezebel had convinced Israel to serve, and worship, is still alive in churches and society. In the Book of Revelation, Jesus began the book by speaking to 7 churches in what was then Asia Minor, but today is Turkiye. To the church in the city of Thyatira, Jesus spoke highly of them but then warned them:

“I have this against you: You tolerate that woman Jezebel, who calls herself a prophet. By her teaching she misleads my servants into sexual immorality and the eating of food sacrificed to idols. I have given her time to repent of her immorality, but she is unwilling. So, I will cast her on a bed of suffering, and I will make those who commit adultery with her suffer intensely, unless they repent of her ways. I will strike her children dead. Then all the churches will know that I am he who searches hearts and minds, and I will repay each of you according to your deeds. Now I say to the rest of you in Thyatira, to you who do not hold to her teaching and have not learned Satan’s so-called deep secrets, ‘I will not impose any other burden on you, except to hold on to what you have until I come.’ (Revelation 2:20-25)

“Jezebel” here is not believed to have been the name of an actual person in that church but a person who had a “Jezebel spirit”, like the original Jezebel did, a controlling spirit, a dangerous and destructive one, for that Jezebel spirit led those Christians in Thyatira to go against God’s words and accept Satan’s “so-called deep secrets”. Jesus warned against tolerating it.

That “spirit of Jezebel” is still at work today. It can come upon both men and women. It is one of control, of manipulation, lies, domination, destruction, death, and vengeance. It seems to have taken hold in our society, and people are being led astray and deeply hurt by it. But it doesn’t need to succeed! Like Elijah and Elisha before us, we people of faith can – and must – take a stand for truth and for the Lord. When we do, we will see what He will do, but have no delusions, standing for Jesus and God’s truth won’t be easy. There will be casualties. But the choice of not resisting or of wimping out and refusing to stand for God is even worse. So, stand we must. In closing, the words of the apostle Paul:

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore, put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. (Ephesians 6:10-13)

Amen!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *