2 Kings 9:20 The lookout reported, “He has reached them, but he isn’t coming back either. The driving is like that of Jehu son of Nimshi – he drives like a madman.”
It WAS, in fact, ‘Jehu the son of Nimshi’ whom the lookout saw as this enigmatic OT character pursued his God-given mission to destroy every remnant of the family of the wicked, Baal-worshipping, idolatrous King Ahab and his wife, Jezebel. The Prophet Elisha had just instructed a young man from among his company of prophets to go secretly and anoint Jehu King over Israel, and to commission him to ‘destroy the house of Ahab’ (2-10) in accordance with the outworking of the Sovereign LORD’s Plan.
There is much for US to learn from the life of Jehu. W.S.Caldecott (International Standard Encyclopedia) describes him: “The character of Jehu is apparent from the deeds recorded of him. His energy, determination, promptness and zeal equipped him for the work he had to do. It was rough work and was executed with relentless thoroughness. Gentler measures probably would have failed to eradicate Baal worship from Israel. His impetuosity was demonstrated in his furious driving. He was bold, daring, unprincipled, masterful, and astute in his policy. But one seeks in vain in his character for any touch of magnanimity or of the finer qualities of the ruler. His ‘zeal for Yahweh [the LORD]’ was too much a cloak for merely worldly ambition. The bloodshed in which his rule was founded early provoked a reaction, and his closing years were dark with trouble. He is especially condemned for tolerating the worship of the golden calves [from Jeroboam’s time] (10:29-31).”
As I read this description of Jehu, I thought of the warning contained in Paul’s letter to the Philippians: “Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near.” (4:5). The NEB translates the Greek word behind ‘gentleness’ as ‘magnanimity’ and Liddell & Scott’s Greek Lexicon describes this word as being the attitude we should have when we disagree with others, rather than insisting on being ‘right’ (‘dikaios’) – a kind of alternative approach to ‘righteous indignation’!
I think of the LORD’s word to the Prophet Hosea when Gomer bore him a son, “Call him Jezreel, because I will soon punish the house of Jehu for the massacre at Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of Israel.” (Hosea 1:4). I have to ask myself: “Am I ZEALOUS for the Lord, and his Church, and his powerful life-giving Gospel, in all he calls me to do?” And then I have to follow this up with another question: “Am I always ‘MAGNANIMOUS’ in my attitude to those with whom I must disagree in this process, or is my zeal ‘too much a CLOAK for merely WORLDLY ambition’? I need to be prayerfully careful about being not enough like Jehu, as well as being too much like him!