We last looked at Ahaziah's terrible death and the death he brought onto his men because of his own sin. At about this time, when Jehoram is just made king, he is walking a path other than with God. Jehoram is taking over for Jehoshaphat, who had a relatively good relationship with God. But Jehoram married Ahab’s daughter. His life looked a lot more like Ahab than Jehoshaphat. Jehoram chose the legacy of Ahab’s evil over the legacy of Jehoshaphat’s love of God. Elijah must be sick of all these kings doing their own thing. Elijah finishes delivering a message to one, and he’s right on to the next guy who is breaking God’s rules and leading His people from God.
Jehoram had killed everyone in his way to be made king. He would stop at nothing, and did whatever it would take to get there. Also, Jehoram wasn’t an ally to his neighbors. He provoked them, causing generations of enemies, and built “high places” of worship in the mountains of Judah. Essentially, every command God gave as protection to His people, Jehoram discarded.
My dad is known for his letter writing. He’s not a confronter, but if he’s unhappy with his government, a company he’s dealt with, or a vender for his business, he will write them a letter. We’ve teased him about his letter writing for years. It’s one way of getting his point across, and a few select times, he’s even gotten favorable responses.
Well, Elijah decides to take the letter writing approach this time. This is his short, sweet, and to the point letter to Jehoram:
“Thus says the Lord God of your father David, ‘Because you have not walked in the ways of Jehoshaphat your father and the ways of Asa king of Judah, 13 but have walked in the way of the kings of Israel, and have caused Judah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem to play the harlot as the house of Ahab played the harlot, and you have also killed your brothers, your own family, who were better than you, 14 behold, the Lord is going to strike your people, your sons, your wives and all your possessions with a great calamity; 15 and you will suffer severe sickness, a disease of your bowels, until your bowels come out because of the sickness, day by day.’”
Well, that sounds unpleasant. I’m sure it’s not exactly what Jehoram was expecting to hear that day when he opened his mail. You have to wonder if he even paid Elijah’s letter any attention. But just as God had promised through Elijah, so it happened. The Philistines next door invaded. They carried off Jehoram’s possessions and even his family. All that was left was one son with him.
God then struck Jehoram with some sort of bowel disease. He was a disgrace. After two years of sheer agony, he finally died. [It’s very descriptive at the end of 2 Chronicles 21, if you want to read exactly how his death takes place.] His people were so disgusted by his life and rule that they didn’t give him a king’s burial ceremony. More disgraceful than that, they didn’t even bury him with the kings. He died at age 40, after only being a king for 8 years. He died without family, followers, or possessions. It says when he died his people did not regret it. They were glad he was gone.
Now, there are a lot of descriptions of people’s lives in Scripture, many of them I hope to exemplify. But I read Jehoram’s story with a pit in my stomach. It’s not fear exactly; it’s caution.
Have I received words of counsel that I have discarded because they were not what I wanted to hear? The consequences of my actions may not have the far reaching effects of Jehoram’s but if I’m completely honest, it does cause me to examine my life for an extra second. I’m sure Elijah’s letter was followed with eye rolls from Jehoram and then a prompt crumbling and dumping into the trash can next to his desk.
I often don’t want to hear that my leadership is not worth following, or that I am not headed where I ought to be. I want to trust my wisdom alone. But I need to hear words of wisdom from others.
Who are you listening to?
Whose advice are you taking?
Where is it leading you?