A Wrong Kind of Servant

by Pastor Don Hosfeld

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“Know ye not, that to whom ye yield yourselves servants to obey, his servants ye are to whom ye obey; whether of sin unto death, or of obedience unto righteousness? But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you” (Rom. 6:16,17).

The Bible speaks much about serving God; Romans 6:17, however, adds the aspect of doing so “from the heart.” An excellent example of someone who served God, but not from the heart, is Jehu, King of Israel.

If you were to look up Jehu, you’d probably find him listed as the only King of Israel during the divided Kingdom, who is not listed as an evil king. Known mostly for ordering the eunuchs to throw Jezebel out the window and to her death, Jehu was God’s instrument to exact judgment on the house of Ahab (2 Kings 9:7 cf. 1 Kings 21:17-24). But Jehu would also be next in the line of the kings of Israel to seek to serve himself above the God of Israel.

The Northern Kingdom of Israel had been in a steady decline in the 90 years since the kingdom split, and Jeroboam I began to rule in 931 BC. Choosing idolatry instead of serving God, Jeroboam and those after him wanted to distance themselves from a posture of obedience to God. Not realizing that by wanting to be free from the constraints of serving God and preferring to seek a false sense of liberty, all they were doing was producing a new kind of slavery for themselves. Those who put anything in the place that only God belongs will find themselves not free, but enslaved to that thing.

Jehu moved quickly once anointed by God to be King and told to destroy the whole house of Ahab (2 Kings 9:6-8). In his zeal, he killed the kings of both Israel and Judah (Joram and Ahaziah), Jezebel, seventy sons of Ahab, forty-two relatives of King Ahaziah of Judah, and all the prophets, priests, and worshippers of Baal. He also “brought forth the images out of the house of Baal and burned them” (2 Kings 10:26). Some question if he went further than his mandate required, but God commended and praised Jehu (2 Kings 10:30). Unfortunately, it seems Jehu did this more for his own gain than in service to God. For the very next verse (v. 31) tells us that Jehu “took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.”

Jehu was quick to serve God when it served himself, but like many others, he was quick to refuse to serve God when doing so didn’t fit his plans and desires—demonstrating that his service to God was never from the heart but from convenience. The result of Jehu’s refusal to serve God meant that his kingdom would be cut short (2 Kings 10:32 cf. Hos. 1:4), and he would find himself serving man instead of God.

God’s plan for Israel was for them to serve Him, never for them to need to become the servants of the Gentiles. But refusing to serve God meant Israel constantly found themselves having to serve Gentiles and their kings. For Jehu, that meant serving Shalmaneser III of Assyria, of which we have the first image from a pagan nation of a king of Israel. And what is this king of Israel doing? The image is of Jehu bowing in service to Shalmaneser.

Discovered in 1846, the Black Obelisk details Jehu’s submission and sending of tribute silver, gold, tin, and even a royal scepter to symbolize Assyria’s dominance over the Kingdom of Israel. Unwilling to bring his rightful tribute to the Lord and serve Him, he was ready to bow in submission to a Gentile king.

King Jehu served God on his terms and not from the heart, which means he was never really serving God, but himself. It is no surprise then that Paul says that our service should be “as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Eph. 6:6,7).

It’s not enough to serve God when it suits us; God seeks those who will serve Him when it’s easy and when it’s difficult, when in the spotlight or the shadows, when recognized as the leader or forgotten amongst men. But we can be sure, “brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).

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