Scripture: 2 Kings 8-11
Key verses: (9:1-3) Then the prophet Elisha called a member of the company of prophets and said to him, “Gird up your loins; take this flask of oil in your hand, and go to Ramoth-Gilead. When you arrive, look there for Jehu son of Jehoshaphat, son of Nimshi; go in and get him to leave his companions, and take him into an inner chamber. Then take the flask of oil, pour it on his head, and say, ‘Thus says the Lord: I anoint you king over Israel.’ Then open the door and flee; do not linger.”
Reflection: We Presbyterians don’t often talk about the judgment of God. We prefer to lift up God’s sovereign grace embodied in Christ. There was a time when Presbyterians put a greater emphasis on judgment. That was in the 17th and 18th century when Reformed Christians participated in events like the Salem Witch trials. Hopefully we learned the difference between human judgment and God’s judgment. Human judgment is often tainted by its own sin. God’s judgment is not. To be sure, God is just.
Today’s section contains God’s final judgment against the house of Omri, of which Ahab was one of the worst kings. His story begins back in 1 Kings 16. He marries Jezebel and the two of them represent one of the most corrupt chapters in Israel’s sordid history. To understand today’s reading, we must remember the incident with Naboth’s vineyard, detailed in 1 Kings 21. In that chapter, Jezebel concocts a terrible scheme to kill a farmer named, Naboth, so that Ahab can steal his vineyard. But God was paying attention. Through the prophet Elijah, God pronounced judgment upon Ahab and his house. That judgment came upon Ahab himself in 1 Kings 22, when he was slayed in battle at Ramoth-Gilead. A generation later, at that very same place, Ramoth-Gilead, a representative of Elisha, Elijah’s successor, anoints Jehu to succeed Ahab’s son, Joram. Through Jehu, God fulfills the pronounced judgment upon Ahab’s house. In fact, Joram’s body winds up “on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite.” (2 Kings 9:25) Indeed, the arch of history is long, but it bends toward justice.
Where are the Ahabs and the Jezebels and the Jorams of our day? Naming them is an act of judgment in and of itself. God alone knows who they truly are. So often in the world, it seems the unjust prevail. I would imagine Naboth’s family felt that way. The good news to be found in today’s reading is that amid the injustices of our world, God notices. God notices the Naboths of our world, and ultimately, God acts to redeem them.
Ultimately, as Christians we believe in Christ God acts not only to redeem the Naboths of the world, but to redeem us all.
Prayer: Amid a world filled with Jorams, Jehus and Jezebels, Ahabs and Naboths, give us eyes to see with your vision, O God, and wisdom to walk in your ways that your justice might prevail, and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Amen.
Author: Joe Clifford
[Scripture quotations are from New Revised Standard Version Bible, copyright © 1989 National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved].