A tale of three stings

Published 3:56 pm Saturday, January 20, 2024

In 1985, a sports television company mailed letters notifying lucky winners in the D.C. area of free tickets to a Washington Redskins’ home game. The winners were invited to a pre-game party to claim both their tickers and a chance to win an all-expense paid trip to the Super Bowl.

When 100 winners arrived, they were divided into smaller groups and placed in separate rooms. That’s when federal marshals and D.C. police arrested each one. The “winners” had been carefully chosen by the fake sports television company, all wanted for various crimes. 

It was one of the best sting operations ever conducted.

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But Scripture boasts an even better sting. It occurred some 3,000 years ago, devised by a Hebrew army commander, who had just seized Israel’s throne.

If you missed my column last week, here’s a recap. Stay with me—I can do this in four sentences.

Jehu, an army commander, received a surprise visitor one day while Israel was at war. That man was a prophet, who informed the commander that God had anointed him King of Israel. 

Jehu then told his men, climbed into his chariot, and led them to the city where King Joram (also called Jehoram) was staying. Joram raced out to meet his general, no doubt thinking there was news from the battle. 

But Joram immediately realized treason was afoot, turned his chariot, and ran. Jehu chased him, firing an arrow, which pierced the heart of the evil king. (2 Kings 9:1-37)

What was Joram’s evil?

Joram was part of the dynasty of the worst king of Israel. His father, Ahab, had decided to destroy the worship of God and had murdered all the prophets he could find.

Why would a Jew do that? 

Ahab sought to please his foreign wife, who wanted all of Israel to worship her god, Baal. Scripture says, “There certainly was no one like Ahab who gave himself over to do evil in the sight of the Lord, because Jezebel his wife incited him.” (1 Kings 21:25)

God had lost His nation—for 36 years, the worship of Baal became the state religion. 

Yet God had a plan. He chose Jehu, not just to seize the throne but to destroy the evil worship running rampant across the nation. And Jehu did it immediately, giving Israel back to God in one day. 

How?

Jehu devised a sting. Here’s what happened: 

“Then Jehu gathered all the people and said to them, ‘Ahab served Baal a little; Jehu will serve him much. Now, summon to me all the prophets of Baal, all his worshipers and all his priests; let no one go missing, because I have a great sacrifice for Baal; whoever is missing shall not live.’ 

“But Jehu did it in deception, in order to eliminate the worshipers of Baal. 

“And Jehu said, ‘Proclaim a holy assembly for Baal.’ And they proclaimed it.

“Then Jehu sent word throughout Israel, and all the worshipers of Baal came, so that there was not a person left who did not come, and … the house of Baal was filled from one end to the other … 

“Then Jehu entered the house of Baal … and he said to the worshipers of Baal, ‘Search carefully and see to it that there is here with you none of the servants of the Lord, but only the worshipers of Baal.’ 

“Then they entered to offer sacrifices and burnt offerings.

“Now Jehu had stationed for himself eighty men outside, and he had said, ‘The one who allows any of the men whom I bring into your hands to escape shall give up his life in exchange.’

“Then it came about, as soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, that Jehu said to the guard and to the royal officers, ‘Go in, kill them; let none come out.’ … 

“So Jehu eradicated Baal from Israel.” (2 Kings 10:18-27)

God had finally said, “Enough!” 

We’ll never know how badly the Lord’s people suffered at the hands of Ahab and Jezebel, but we understand something of that world. We live in a country that grows daily in its disrespect for God and holiness.

Scripture promises another sting. “At that time there will be two men in the field; one will be taken and one will be left. Two women … one will be taken and one will be left.” (Matthew 24:40-41)

Stay close to God.

“Choose for yourselves today whom you will serve … for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” (Joshua 24:15)