Monday, November 14, 2016

Want Peace? Put Aside Your Harlotries

            Sorcery, palace intrigue, political power, bloody retribution, and a government coup. Kings and queens, powerful, influential families, honest men and conniving liars. Sounds like an hour of HBO’s “Game of Thrones”, doesn’t it? But it’s not; it’s the Bible. (I really don’t know why people spend their time watching that kind of stuff on television when they could be reading the real thing.) Anyway, that’s what we’re looking at today in our pursuit of peace. And what we learn is that peace requires that we cast aside, or even demolish, those things in our life that God finds detestable. When we don’t He does some serious house cleaning.
            As we open our treasure map today, we’ll journey forward in it to the second book of Kings, chapter 9. In it we find King Ahab has died and Ahaziah—Ahab’s son-in-law—has ascended to the throne of Judah. And Ahab’s son, Joram, rules over Israel. Even though the country has split in two, these two relatives maintain good relations with one another.
            But there is BIG problem for Joram. He’s reigning over Israel, and God has hand-selected another man, named Jehu, to rule over Israel. God wants Joram OUT. The problem for Ahaziah is that he has continued in the evil ways of Ahab. The Bible says in chapter 8, verse 27: “And he walked in the way of the house of Ahab, and did evil in the sight of the LORD, like the house of Ahab…”
            And Ahaziah and Joram have another problem. Her name is Jezebel, and she’s the surviving wife of Ahab, the former queen, Joram’s mother. She’s really why Judah, and the Israelites, started down a horrid path of idol worship. Baal worship to be exact. The Canaanite god.

            Jezebel was not an Israelite. She was the daughter of the King of Sidon, and she did more influencing of Ahab than the other way around. She had a man named Naboth murdered because he refused to sell his prized land to her. And it is she who incited Ahab to, if not outright abandon, worship of God, to at least combine it with the idol worship she’d been raised to practice. And that worship was Baal worship.
            On the website “The Voice: Biblical and Theological Resources for Growing Christians”, they explain some of what occurred in Baal worship, which was focused on a cosmic war between the gods and bountiful crop production.
            “The actual worship of Ba‘al was carried out in terms of imitative magic
            whereby sexual acts by both male and female temple prostitutes were
            understood to arouse Ba‘al who then brought rain to make Mother Earth
            fertile (in some forms of the myth, represented by a female consort,
            Asherah or Astarte).”

            Another practice Baal worship is known for is sacrificing first born children to Baal, in a horrifying practice of placing the infant on the red hot outstretched hands of the idol. I suppose it was their version of offering up their “first fruits” to their god.
            In essence, they practiced state sanctioned and promoted prostitution, public demonstration of sex acts, which everyone was invited to view and participate in, and child sacrifice.
      If you read the other accounts of Jezebel in Scripture, you’ll learn that she is an evil, vengeful, conniving, bloody, demonic woman who got her daughter married into the House of David and ran the country with an iron fist. She killed God’s prophets. And God’s has plans for her.
            In verses 6-10 of chapter 9, you’ll read the words of direction given to Jehu by the servant of the prophet Elisha after he anoints Jehu king. ‘“Thus says the LORD God of Israel: ‘I have anointed you king over the people of the LORD, over Israel. You shall strike down 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. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both bond and free. So 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 Ahjah.”
            And if that’s not enough, then the prophet gets to the really gory prophesy. “The dogs shall eat Jezebel on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.’”
            Wow! Yuck! When God says he won’t stand for any idol worship; that His people must NOT compromise in their worship of Him, He isn’t kidding. And we should take note of it. Serious note.
            From that point on, Jehu is on a covert mission to overthrow Joram and Ahaziah. He knows that there will be no peace until these two men are killed, along with their descendants. He doesn’t want a civil war, so to avoid that and succeed in his coup, he must take Joram and Ahaziah totally by surprise.
            In verses 20-22, we find Jehu riding his chariot furiously toward King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah riding out in their chariots to meet him, ironically, on the very property that Jezebel killed Naboth for. When Joram sees Jehu, he asks him if he comes in peace (Shalom).
            And Jehu’s response scares Joram to death. “What peace, as long as the harlotries of your mother Jezebel and her witchcraft are so many?”
            And that’s the issue wrapped up in a nutshell. The effect this evil woman has had on an entire nation, God’s people, and her children and grandchildren. God will not be mocked. Eventually His patience comes to an end. He may put up with evil for a while, but eventually He does something about it, and He does it swiftly.
            Joram turns his chariot around and takes off, and as he fleesd, Jehu kills him with an arrow shot from his bow, straight through Joram’s heart. After watching this happen, Ahaziah speeds off in his chariot and is pursued by Jehu and his men. Jehu gives the order to kill Ahaziah, which the men do. Then Jehu goes searching for Jezebel.
            Someone has passed on the information to her that Jehu is on his way to Jezreel. And what does she do? She prepares for his visit by putting on her eye makeup, adorning her head, and then peeping out through the upstairs window at Jehu. Kind of a pathetically funny picture, isn’t it? An old woman either getting herself all dolled up to try to influence a man with her looks, or putting on her war paint and royal robes to remind him of who she is. But I’ll let Dr. J. Vernon McGee describe the scene for you.
            “This is one of the most sordid and sadistic chapters in history. It is gruesome, it is ghastly, and it is a gory sight. Added to that, it is grizzly. It is one of the most revolting and repulsive scenes on the pages of Scripture. Jezebel is the queen mother. She has been living in luxury in the palace at Jezreel. The terrible prophecy [of her death and how she would die] of that horrible [prophet] Elijah has not been fulfilled. [And, since it has been fourteen years since the prophecy and Ahab’s death, Jezebel probably thinks it never will be.] Suddenly out of the north came a swift chariot. It was Jehu driving furiously. He had just slain two kings, the king of Judah and the king of Israel—her own son, Joram. What does she do? She paints her eyes and arranges her hair, and looks out of a window. This proud queen still thinks she can seduce her captor—captivate him with her charms. She had a grandson twenty-three years old. She is no longer young; she is an old woman. No secret formulas for lotions, powders, sprays, and creams can make this faded queen look attractive.”
            But Jehu is not taken by her looks or her words, and he commands three eunuchs, who are on her side, to throw her out of the window. They do, and the result is horrific. Like a melon being dropped from a height, she splits open. Her blood splatters on the building wall and on Jehu’s horses. Then he shows his utter contempt for her, and his hateful coarseness, when he runs his chariot over her body, trampling her. After he has a meal (more evidence of his crudeness and hate), he gives the order for her body to be buried, because she was “a king’s daughter.” Only then does he show any kind of respect for Jezebel.
            But when the servants go out to gather her body for burial, all they locate are her skull, her feet, and her palms. The dogs have made a meal of everything else. Just as the prophet said would happen. And Jehu reminds the people of it. “This is the word of the LORD, which He spoke by His servant Elijah the Tishbite, saying, ‘On the plot of ground at Jezreel dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; and the corpse of Jezebel shall be as refuse on the surface of the field, in the plot at Jezreel, so that they shall not say, “Here lies Jezebel.”’ There will no place for admirers to go to worship her, no place for anyone to pay their respects. (Didn’t I tell you that “Game of Thrones” has nothing over true stories?)
            It is a bloody end to a very bloody, evil woman.

            What are some of the truths we can take away from this gory story?
            First, this story, and Jezebel’s violent end, should strike fear in the hearts of unbelievers who stand in direct defiance of God and actually promote anti-God worship and practices, and those who worship other Gods. Particularly those who practice human and child sacrifice, which is still being carried out in parts of the world. All we have to do is read the Book of Revelation to learn how bad things will be in the end times. So bad people would rather have rocks fall on them to avoid the pain and suffering God rains down from Heaven.
            And I think it should also strike fear in the hearts of believers who play around the edges of their faith and hedge their bets. They’re playing with fire by adding godless practices to their faith. What might godless practices look like? Getting involved in séances to contact the dead (also known as necromancy), study of astrology, Taro card reading, visiting fortune tellers (who practice what’s known as divination), witchcraft, and cultic magic. They would also be things hidden, things in darkness, practices of divination and sorcery. Channeling spirits, New Age practices, and, yes, Transcendental Meditation (TE). Some theologians even include yoga in this list. And abortion.

And the serious question to ponder is the same type of question Jehu poses to Joram: Can we really have peace (Shalom) as long as we’re practicing harlotries? As long as we’re compromising in our personal lives and in our nations? As long as we’re worshiping other gods and standing in direct defiance to God’s will and direction?

What are we reading, watching, doing that contribute to these practices. How have we compromised? If you can't readily identify anything, take the question to God in prayer. He'll give you the answer.

We can never enjoy true, lasting peace (Shalom) until we put these things away.

            When God says you shall have no other gods before Me, He really means it.


So, until next Monday, may your week be full of blessings that you receive and give, your heart be full of joy and thankfulness, and your days be filled with laughter. Build a little heaven in your life right now, and watch your heavenly garden grow!



When the eyes of the soul looking out meet the eyes of God looking in, heaven has begun right here on earth. ~ A. W. Tozer

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