Elijah anoints kings – lessons for today
When we look around at the rulers of this world today, it is easy to become despondent because, deep down and perhaps with a few exceptions, we do not rate them highly and some even are truly horrible. But then if we believe in God, it is well to be reminded that God is control and it is He who raises up and puts down rulers.
When it comes to amazing characters in the Bible, we are spoiled for choice. In my top drawer of such is Elijah the prophet, who I write about in my Prophets of the Bible book. The stand out event in his life (although there were a number) was his showdown with the Prophets of Baal on Mount Carmel when, with God’s help, he achieved a mighty victory over the then forces of darkness. Yet soon after we find him fleeing for his life in a fit of deep depression because wicked Queen Jezebel had threatened to kill him. But God miraculously protects Elijah and we read what He said when He eventually gets to speak to Elijah in powerful and choice words, in what the hymn, some remember singing at school, reminds us: not in the earthquake, wind or fire, but rather in a still small voice.
What I love about God’s dealings in this story is rather than obviously remonstrating with and rebuking Elijah or even addressing his concerns (other than reminding him that he was not alone) He tells him that there is a job for him to do and that he better get on and do it – and leave the rest to God. Uppermost, and perhaps solely, Elijah was instructed to anoint three people: Hazael, king over Syria, Jehu the son of Nimshi, king over Israel, and Elisha the son of Shaphat to eventually take over from him. Elisha, I get – the older I am, the more importance I attach to passing on the baton to the next generation (I know who my Elisha should be). But Hazael, who was no God follower and not a nice person, and Jehu who we read of later going off the rails when it came to leading the people away from God, it is not so easy to comprehend. (Actually, we find that the anointing of the kings was done under Elisha.)
There are two pertinent to this story things we need to be reminded of concerning the Almighty – He ever works in mysterious ways and those ways are perfect and just. So, when we read an odd verse (and there are plenty of them in the Bible) such as: “And it shall come to pass, that him that escapeth the sword of Hazael shall Jehu slay: and him that escapeth from the sword of Jehu shall Elisha slay” 2 Kings 19:17, we can only say amen Lord. When it comes to Elisha, it is all hunky-dory. Clearly, he was the right chap to take over from Elijah. We know Elisha requested a double portion of Elijah’s spirit and, for all intents and purposes, if we read on, we find he got it, even though Elijah was a hard act to follow. If we do a word search on Hazael and Jehu, and thanks to tools like Biblegateway.com, we are not only bemused as to how bad these men really were (thus begging the question why does Lord chose people like that) but we are also amazed, as we consider the eternal purposes of God and how he is able to find unlikely people who can carry out his plans.