By David Baumann

A Reading from 2 Kings 9:17-37

17 In Jezreel, the sentinel standing on the tower spied the company of Jehu arriving, and said, “I see a company.” Joram said, “Take a horseman; send him to meet them, and let him say, ‘Is it peace?’” 18 So the horseman went to meet him; he said, “Thus says the king, ‘Is it peace?’” Jehu responded, “What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me.” The sentinel reported, saying, “The messenger reached them, but he is not coming back.” 19 Then he sent out a second horseman, who came to them and said, “Thus says the king, ‘Is it peace?’” Jehu answered, “What have you to do with peace? Fall in behind me.” 20 Again the sentinel reported, “He reached them, but he is not coming back. It looks like the driving of Jehu son of Nimshi; for he drives like a maniac.”

21 Joram said, “Get ready.” And they got his chariot ready. Then King Joram of Israel and King Ahaziah of Judah set out, each in his chariot, and went to meet Jehu; they met him at the property of Naboth the Jezreelite. 22 When Joram saw Jehu, he said, “Is it peace, Jehu?” He answered, “What peace can there be, so long as the many whoredoms and sorceries of your mother Jezebel continue?” 23 Then Joram reined about and fled, saying to Ahaziah, “Treason, Ahaziah!” 24 Jehu drew his bow with all his strength, and shot Joram between the shoulders, so that the arrow pierced his heart; and he sank in his chariot. 25 Jehu said to his aide Bidkar, “Lift him out, and throw him on the plot of ground belonging to Naboth the Jezreelite; for remember, when you and I rode side by side behind his father Ahab, how the Lord uttered this oracle against him: 26 ‘For the blood of Naboth and for the blood of his children that I saw yesterday, says the Lord, I swear I will repay you on this very plot of ground.’ Now therefore lift him out and throw him on the plot of ground, in accordance with the word of the Lord.”

27 When King Ahaziah of Judah saw this, he fled in the direction of Beth-haggan. Jehu pursued him, saying, “Shoot him also!” And they shot him in the chariot at the ascent to Gur, which is by Ibleam. Then he fled to Megiddo, and died there. 28 His officers carried him in a chariot to Jerusalem, and buried him in his tomb with his ancestors in the city of David.

29 In the eleventh year of Joram son of Ahab, Ahaziah began to reign over Judah.

30 When Jehu came to Jezreel, Jezebel heard of it; she painted her eyes, and adorned her head, and looked out of the window. 31 As Jehu entered the gate, she said, “Is it peace, Zimri, murderer of your master?” 32 He looked up to the window and said, “Who is on my side? Who?” Two or three eunuchs looked out at him. 33 He said, “Throw her down.” So they threw her down; some of her blood spattered on the wall and on the horses, which trampled on her. 34 Then he went in and ate and drank; he said, “See to that cursed woman and bury her; for she is a king’s daughter.” 35 But when they went to bury her, they found no more of her than the skull and the feet and the palms of her hands. 36 When they came back and told him, he said, “This is the word of the Lord, which he spoke by his servant Elijah the Tishbite, ‘In the territory of Jezreel the dogs shall eat the flesh of Jezebel; 37 the corpse of Jezebel shall be like dung on the field in the territory of Jezreel, so that no one can say, This is Jezebel.’”

Meditation

When the movie The Exorcist came out in 1973, viewers were terrified for days. We could probably guess that many of those viewers had, in fact, led spiritually sheltered lives. Never having had to face real evil head-on, they also did not know how to take God and his power seriously.

Many times in history, including within living memory, there have been reigns of terror driven by violent and evil people whose lives were, and are, at fierce enmity to God. The reign of Ahaz and Jezebel was one of these. By Jezebel’s decree, the faithful were persecuted, God’s prophets were hunted down, the innocent were fleeced, and justice was perverted. When God told the great prophet Elijah to anoint Jehu as king, usurping the house of Ahaz, the time had come for judgment. God’s servants were about to meet evil head-on.

Jehu’s coming spells Jezebel’s doom. Knowing that her end is here, with stunning impudence, she draws herself up and asserts her queenship. She taunts Jehu and slanders his God-given anointing — not unlike what a demon might do when confronted with a priest planning its dismissal! Even as she’s about to be “exorcized” from her throne, Jezebel effectively flips the bird to God and his faithful ones.

Facing evil isn’t easy. And in the short term, the faithful may appear to be the losers. But facing evil challenges us to commit ourselves firmly to God, and as we do this, we learn that his power is truly unassailable. In the culminating scene of The Exorcist (the book, not the movie), the exorcising priest claims the victorious power of God as he confronts the demon, and boldly reminds it of the truth: “You’re a loser! You’ve always been a LOSER!” God’s purpose will win. Can I get an “Amen”?

David Baumann has been an Episcopal priest for 47 years, mainly in the Diocese of Los Angeles and the Diocese of Springfield. He is now retired and has published nonfiction, science fiction novels, and short stories.

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Daily Devotional Cycle of Prayer

Today we pray for:

The Diocese of Central Florida
The Diocese of Tennessee