IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT




The Price of Sin

Date: Jun. 21, 2015

Author: Dan Bockenfeld

2 Kings 9:1-10:36

Key Verse: 2 Kings 9:6-7

“Jehu got up and went into the house. 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.”’”

Today is the first day of summer and it is also Father’s Day. It is a day to honor dad for all he does. It’s great to remember our heavenly father, too. Since it is Father’s Day I want to share something that I heard. So, I heard earlier this week that the average people are expected to spend on gifts for dad is $115. My kids are too young to spend that much on me, but that’s ok. One hundred fifteen dollars is the average price for honoring dad. If you are interested, the average people spent on Mother’s Day was a little more at $172. Either kids like mom more than dad or mom is a little more demanding on the gifts. Nevertheless, there is a price concerning each. But that is how this world works. There are a lot of things in this world that have a price. There are so many stores around and when you go into them you can see the price of clothes, shoes, electronic items, food, books, appliances, furniture and so much more. Some prices seem reasonable. A gallon of milk can be around $3. You can spend $30 on a fast-food meal for your family. You can spend a couple hundred dollars on a smartphone. These seem reasonable because we buy them all the time. There are other things that we don’t find so reasonable. If you are so inclined, you can buy an Apple Watch for around $350, but they make a version that is solid gold that retails over $10,000. The electronics are all the same. It’s just the difference in the case material. If you think that is too much for a watch, Rolex makes a watch that got well over a hundred diamonds on it, 30 sapphires on it, made of 18K gold. It’s ridiculously expensive at $108,000. That’s more than most Teslas and sports cars. However, the most expensive Rolls Royce starts at $480,000 and that is pocket change compared to the most expensive. The Lamborghini Veneno goes from 0-60 in 2.8 seconds with a top speed of 221 mph. Only three are made every year and the asking price is $4.5 million. To me, all this stuff seems excessively expensive. The price just seems too much for what you are getting. The high prices have a purpose. The prices deal with the materials, the workmanship, the brand name, the experience and the status that the item brings. There is a reason for the high price. Sin also has a high price. In order to be free from sin, a terrible price has to be paid. We might think that that price is way too high, but we are underestimating the severity of sin. Today, we see that price, and the price we see today wasn’t even enough to pay for the sins of the nation. It’s even greater than we could ever fathom.

Like I said, today is Father’s Day and today’s passage is the perfect passage for Father’s Day. That’s not because it has a great Father’s Day message, but it reads like an action movie. In some ways it reminds be of the movie Braveheart. You’ve got this leader taking it to the enemy and tearing down the evil men. There is a lot of shrewdness, a lot of killing and the ascension of a new king. It’s Braveheart and Game of Thrones rolled into one but with less nudity and sexuality. Imagine it on the big screen or your big screen. In the opening scene, you would see Jeroboam and the ten tribes of Israel split off from the line of David and establish the northern kingdom. You would see Jeroboam create the golden calves for the people to worship. You would see the kingdom change hands until it ended up in Ahab’s hands where he instituted Baal worship into the kingdom. You would see Ahab’s reign and death and the kingdom eventually ends up in the hands of his son Joram. The passage marks the end of Joram’s reign and it all begins with the prophet Elisha. The passage begins, “The prophet Elisha summoned a man from the company of the prophets and said to him, ‘Tuck your cloak into your belt, take this flask of olive oil with you and go to Ramoth Gilead. When you get there, look for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, the son of Nimshi. Go to him, get him away from his companions and take him into an inner room. Then take the flask and pour the oil on his head and declare, “This is what the Lord says: I anoint you king over Israel.” Then open the door and run; don’t delay!’” (9:1-3) The time had come for Elisha to do what God tasked his predecessor to do. In 1 Kings 19, the Lord told Elijah to anoint Hazael king of Aram, to anoint Jehu as king of Israel and to anoint Elisha as his successor. So many years later, Elisha has a young man from the company of the prophets to go an anoint Jehu as king over Israel.

The young man listens and hurries to the place where Jehu is in Ramoth Gilead. When he arrived he found the army officers sitting together. The young prophet was able to get Jehu away from the rest of the officers. He poured the oil on Jehu’s head and began to speak. “This is what the Lord, the God of Israel, says: ‘I anoint you king over the Lord’s people Israel.’” (9:6) The anointing was coming from the Lord and it had a purpose. Although Elisha only told him to say this first part, the prophet continued, “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.” (9:7-10) The Lord had made Jehu king over Israel in order to destroy the entirety of the house of Ahab. God had promised Ahab that his house would be completely destroyed and that it would happen during the time of his son. That time was coming and Jehu was the chosen instrument.

After anointing Jehu and saying his words, the prophet opened the door and ran. It must have been a little strange. Here comes this man who says that he anoints you king and then he opens the door and runs away. Jehu must have been a little confused. Usually if someone anoints you, they don’t run away immediately. They stick around for a little bit to let other people know about the anointing. Right now, only Jehu knew about it. It was strange. When Jehu came out of the house, the other officers were wondering what the prophet said. They actually asked, “Is everything all right? Why did this maniac come to you?” (11). The officers realized the strangeness of the situation and called the prophet a maniac. They thought that he was crazy. I don’t know whether they thought that all religious people were a little nuts or that the whole situation was a little strange, but they didn’t think highly of the prophet.

Jehu tries to blow off their question saying that they know the man and the types of things he says. The officers feign that knowledge and Jehu tell them that he was anointed king over Israel. Instantly, the officers’ disbelief changed and they spread their cloaks on the ground and shouted that Jehu is king. They called the prophet a maniac, but now that his words gave them material benefit, they believed him and his words. They were just jumping on the bandwagon, just like cheering for a team when they are winning. The Chicago Blackhawks just won their third Stanley Cup championship in six years this past Monday. There were two million people who showed up for the parade and rally on Thursday, but how many people were fans before they won their first championship in 2010. Prior to that point they hadn’t one since 1961. Most of the time, the stands were pretty empty, until that 2009-2010 year. When they began to win, the fans began to come. It is no different with the army officers. They didn’t believe until they saw that the prophet would put them on the winning team, and then they were all aboard.

After being anointed king by the young prophet, Jehu began to conspire against Joram. As the passage says, Joram was in Jezreel recovering from wounds that the Arameans inflicted on him from a battle at Ramoth Gilead. So Jehu got into his chariot and went to Jezreel for Joram. While Joram was resting in Jezreel, Ahaziah came to visit, as well. When a lookout in Jezreel saw Jehu and his party approaching, he called out that some troops were approaching the city. Joram ordered that a horseman was to go out and determine if the troops came in peace. Then, the horseman went out and asked Jehu if he came in peace. Jehu answered, “What do you have to do with peace? Fall in behind me.” (9:18) Then the horseman fell behind him. The lookout noticed that the horseman was not returning and Joram had another sent. Just like before, the second horseman did not return. The lookout noticed that the second horseman wasn’t coming back, but he noticed something else, “The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi—he drives like a maniac.” (9:20) The lookout could tell Jehu by his driving. He was driving like a crazy man, and I am sure that many of you wives might think that about your husbands. They drive like a crazy man.

Joram wanted to know what was up, so he went out to meet the troops to see what is going on. The place where Joram met Jehu was right by the land that was owned by Naboth the Jezreelite. This is important to note because, back in 1 Kings 21, Joram’s father Ahab wanted to have Naboth’s vineyard. It was right next to the palace and it would have made for a great vegetable garden. Naboth refused to give up his family’s land, and Ahab went away sullen. His wife Jezebel went and had Naboth accused of treason and had him killed. After Naboth was dead, Ahab went down and took possession of the land. It was after this event that the Lord said that Ahab’s family would be wiped out. The Lord said, “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.” (1 Kings 21:21-22) So they met at the plot of ground and Joram asked if Jehu came in peace. “How can there be peace,” Jehu replied, “as long as all the idolatry and witchcraft of your mother Jezebel abound?” (9:22)

Joram realized the gravity of his situation and yelled out to Ahaziah who accompanied him, “Treachery, Ahaziah!” At that Jehu drew his bow and hit Joram straight in the shoulders. The arrow pierced his heart and Joram died. Jehu called for Joram to be thrown in Naboth’s land saying, “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.” (9:25-26) Jehu remembered what the Lord said about the Ahab’s family and acted in accordance to it. He had Joram thrown on the field. When Ahaziah saw what happened to Joram, he fled, but Jehu had him shot too and he died before they could reach Jerusalem. Both the kings of Israel and Judah were dead.

But Jehu didn’t end there. He went to Jezreel to take care of Jezebel. When Jezebel heard that Jehu was coming, she prepped herself by putting on some makeup and fixing her hair. I’m not sure if she was trying to look respectable or to entice Jehu, but she put herself together and then looked out the window. “As Jehu entered the gate, she asked, ‘Have you come in peace, you Zimri, you murderer of your master?’” (9:31) She knew what had happened to Joram and called Jehu Zimri. I don’t know if you remember but prior to Ahab’s father becoming king. Zimri killed Elah the previous king. It was like calling a traitor a Benedict Arnold or a smart person an Einstein. Zimri was synonymous with murderer of your master. Plus speaking to Jehu from out of the window meant that she was higher than him both literally and figuratively.

However, that didn’t matter to Jehu. He looked up and asked who was on his side. Two or three eunuchs looked out the window and Jehu told them to throw her down. So the threw her down and it was a violent fall. Some of her blood splattered on the wall and horses trampled her underfoot. Jehu, however, went inside to eat. He must have had a change of heart because he says, “Take care of that cursed woman and bury her, for she was a king’s daughter.” (9:34) But when they went out there wasn’t much of her body left. There was just her skull, hands and feet, enough to identify her but not much more. The people went inside to tell Jehu and he 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.’” (9:36-37) Again, Jehu referred to the word that was spoken about Ahab and his family. This is the second time that he has done so. He is taking his instrument of the Lord thing very seriously.

Now, Jehu killed Joram, Ahaziah and Jezebel, but that wasn’t the end. He wrote letters to those in Samaria. He knew that seventy sons of Ahab were kept under watch and he couldn’t have one of them make a claim to the throne. The people of Samaria were afraid of him because he had killed two kings. In their fear the say that they will obey Jehu no matter what he says. Jehu tells them to bring the heads of their masters to him in Jezreel. The seventy sons were all slaughtered and their heads brought to Jehu in Jezreel. Then Jehu killed everyone from the house of Ahab that was in Jezreel. This was according to the Lord, but then Jehu also killed all chief men, close friends and priests of anyone in the house of Ahab. This was not according to God’s will. Jehu was now only thinking of securing his own political needs. After that, there were some relatives of Ahaziah that came to visit Joram and Jezebel and Jehu had them killed as well.

Ahab’s line was gone and so was everyone who might have been loyal to his house, but there was more work to do. Jehu set up a ruse to ingratiate himself with the servant of Baal, but he really wanted to destroy all of them. He said that he would worship Baal more than Ahab and called for an assembly of the servants of Baal. They were to all come to the temple of Baal and come they did. The temple was filled with people. They were crammed in beyond capacity. It was like one of those concerts where there are more people than there is space. Jehu posted guards outside the temple, not to protect them but to prevent anyone from escaping. After making a sacrifice to Baal, Jehu had the soldiers go in and kill all the servants of Baal and then they tore down the entire temple. Jehu destroyed all Baal worship in Israel.

There is a lot of death that had happened in this passage. You might be wondering why in the world was all this death happening. The answer is sin. The severity of sin in the northern kingdom warranted a strong response. We like to think that sin isn’t so bad, but God sees it differently. Simply stated, sin is a separation from God. Anything that takes us away from God is by definition a sin. When we step away from life, we step towards death. Many times sin starts off small. If you put a small amount of dirt into a clean glass of water, the dirt spreads very quickly and makes the whole glass dirty. The first sin recorded was Adam and Eve disobeying God’s instruction and eating the forbidden fruit. It was a simple little thing that they did, but that disobedience took them one step away from God and led to lying, blaming and selfishness. Then, their own son murdered his brother because he was jealous. Sin has a nasty way of spreading very quickly. Before you know it, that one little step has gotten so big that there is now a canyon between you and God and it looks impossible to reconnect. Since there is a separation, we become disconnected from the author of life and death is the result.

Sin is not just something that affects just one person at a time. The sins of one person can influence other people. Jeroboam’s sin caused the northern kingdom to continue to sin against God and it grew until Ahab introduced Baal worship to the nation. Our sins can influence the people around us. In modern times, sin is sometimes compared to a cancer in society. It’s a tumor that rapidly grows and begins to affect bodily functions. If left unchecked, the cancer can spread to other parts of the body and if that happens it can be very hard, if not impossible, to stop. Treatment for cancer is pretty drastic when you think about it. In order to kill the cancer cells, the two main treatments for cancer are things that you would never want to do to yourself. One treatment is radiation, which sounds as bad as it is and the other is chemotherapy. In chemo, the chemicals that are used target and kill fast growing cells like cancer cells, but they also kill any other fast growing cells. Both treatments are a drastic response to a terrible disease.

Likewise, sin requires a drastic treatment in order to stop it from infecting all the people in society. Last week, when my family was in Florida, there was a storm that came up quickly. My family left the beach and headed back to the hotel. When we were close, the wind whipped up and was blowing dust all over the place. When we got back to our room, it was raining really hard and in minutes, I could see that the roads were already flooding. It was hard rain. The next morning, I was talking to the barista at the coffee shop and she mentioned that she was looking for Noah’s ark in all that rain. If you remember, though, the story of Noah and his ark, God sent the rain and flooded the earth because sin had increased so much the all the thoughts of everybody were evil all the time. The people didn’t think of anything but evil things. So he told Noah to build an ark, put his family inside and animals would come so their species could be saved. God flooded the world to get rid of all the sin.

In the same way, the sin of Baal worship in the northern kingdom was running rampant. There were so many detestable practices to Baal worship like ritual prostitution and the sacrifice of the first-born child to appease Baal. Baal worship was like a cancer for the nation and the tumor needed to be cut out. That tumor was Ahab’s family, Jezebel and the priests of Baal. Jehu took his charge very seriously and you can see in the passage that many times he refers to his mission as fulfilling God’s word. God had promised to destroy Ahab’s family and Jehu’s hands were the ones to do it. It’s amazing to see how many people turn on Ahab’s family, Jezebel and the servants of Baal. Even though it was so prevalent, there must have been so many people who were very unhappy with Baal worship and when an opportunity arose, the people were very quick to switch sides.

Unfortunately, the measures that Jehu took to eradicate Baal worship did not completely destroy sin in the northern kingdom. “So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit—the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.” (10:28-29) Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam. He still worshiped the two golden calves. It was more idolatry. It wasn’t as bad as Baal worship, but it still wasn’t God. Sin was still running rampant in Israel. This reminds me again of Noah. God flooded the world to get rid of all the sin, but sin was still in Noah and his family. As soon as things quieted down, Noah planted a vineyard and got himself drunk on the wine. Noah passed out naked in his tent and the man whom the Lord had saved continued in the sin that plagued humanity since the time of Adam and Eve ate that fruit. As drastic as these two events are, they were still not enough to get rid of sin. It kept hanging around.

You can rip it out, blast it with radiation or nuke it, but as long as there is one iota of sin, it can spread again. You see sin isn’t just like some disease that we have to rid ourselves of; it is something that is inherent to our nature. We are not sinners because we sin. We sin because we are sinners. We are sinners first. By definition we are sinners. It is in our hearts and our souls. It is our identity, and because it is our identity, like second nature we sin. We sometimes don’t even mean to sin, but we do. Our tone of voice may completely insult someone without our even ever knowing it. If we were to remove sin, it would mean that everyone would be dead, and with everyone dead there finally wouldn’t be any more sin.

When God flooded the earth, he knew that that was not the solution to sin. He wanted to show us that our solution would not work. The same is here with Jehu. We might think that wiping out the source of Baal worship would solve all the problems, but it doesn’t. When we see the atrocities caused by ISIS, we want to obliterate them, but that is not the solution. When we hear about the tragedy in Charleston during that Bible study, our hearts may want retribution, but that is not the answer. None of these solve the problem of sin. The solution to sin requires an even more drastic measure than killing everybody. The solution to sin requires killing God.

Jesus came to save us from ourselves. He came to suffer and die on the cross for our sins, even though he was the only person to ever be sinless. He was fully man and fully God, and the only one able to take away our sins. His sacrifice on the cross enables us to nail our sins to that very same cross once and for all. He took our shame. He took our pain. He separated himself from the Father so that he would become sin, the sin of us all. The Lord poured out his complete wrath on Jesus. The innocent was broken. His blood flowed on the ground. His death caused the earth to quake and the skies to break. He endured death in order to break death. Death could not keep its hold on Jesus and he returned just days later. Jesus had broken sin and death, and the problem of sin now had a solution. We don’t have to be filled with the disease if we come to him and accept what Jesus has done for us.

We are sinners. We have stepped away from God every day of our lives. There is not a single day where we haven’t sinned, because we are sinners. But, while in that sin, Jesus became the solution through his death and resurrection. He paid the price for our sins and it was a terrible price. We need to acknowledge our sins, repent of them, turn away from them and turn to God. Jesus paid the price so that we might be set free from sin and death. Thank God.

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