Story of the Chosen People - Helene Guerber




The Chariot of Fire

Although Joram, Ahaziahís successor, was not an idolater himself, he allowed Jezebel to go on worshiping Baal, and to lead his people into evil ways. All this kingís attention was taken up with wars, in the hope of recovering the land which had fallen into the hands of the King of Damascus.

The hard yoke of Jezebel weighed more and more heavily upon the people of Israel, who, encouraged by their prophets, finally revolted. By Godís order one of these holy men sought Jehu, captain of the armies of Israel, anointed him king in Joramís stead, and told him that God was about to cut off the house of Ahab, and put an end to the idolatry in the land.

Jehu made known this divine message to his fellow officers, who not only joyfully hailed him king, but offered to help him overthrow Joram. They said that the moment seemed very favorable; for the king was ill from a wound which he had received in one of his battles a short time before.

Thus encouraged, Jehu made up his mind to lose no time, and, jumping into his chariot, he drove furiously toward the palace at Jezreel. The king heard that he was coming, and sent a messenger out to meet him and ask what he wanted.

Instead of answering this man, Jehu drove on, and soon saw Joram, the king, who had risen from his bed, and was riding out to meet him. The rebel captain drew his bow, pierced the king with an arrow, and left him dead in the bottom of his chariot.

Having thus killed Joram, Jehu quickly went on to the palace, where Jezebel, who was now sixty years old, but affected the airs and appearance of a young woman, leaned out of the palace window, and taunted him, saying: "What became of Zimri, who murdered his master?"

Instead of answering her, Jehu gave some orders to the servants standing beside her, and they flung her out of the window, down into the court, where Jehuís chariot wheels passed over her body.

In the general confusion caused by this sudden change of rulers, Jezebelís remains were forgotten; so the dogs of the city came upon them and devoured all but her head, hands, and feet; and thus was fulfilled the prophecy which Elijah had made when she unjustly caused the death of poor Naboth.

Jehu now put to death Ahabís seventy sons, all the courtiers, and the priests of Baal. Then after pulling down the temples, altars, and groves which had been consecrated to idols, he restored the worship of the Lord, not only in Samaria, his capital, but throughout his whole kingdom.

In the meanwhile, the prophet Elijah had been commanded by God to choose Elisha as his successor. Not long after he had done so, he felt that the time was drawing near when his earthly career would be ended; so he journeyed toward Jericho, accompanied by Elisha.

When they came to the banks of the Jordan, Elijah rolled up his mantle, and struck the waters with it, which parted and allowed them both to pass over dry shod. Upon reaching the other side, Elisha asked, as a parting gift, that a double portion of his masterís spirit might rest upon him.

Elijah listened to this request in silence, and then promised that it should be granted, provided his disciple were watchful and saw him taken away. The Bible now goes on to say: "And it came to pass, as they still went on and talked, that, behold, there appeared a chariot of fire, and horses of fire, and parted them both asunder; and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven. And Elisha saw it, and he cried: "My father, my father, the chariot of Israel, and the horsemen thereof!"

In this fiery chariot, Elijah the prophet was whirled Up out of sight, and as he vanished, his mantle fell down upon Elisha, as a sign that the new prophetís request had been granted. Elisha took up the mantle, and slowly retraced his steps. He tested his power by again dividing the waters of the Jordan with Elijahís cloak; and, going to the prophets at Jericho, he told them all that had occurred.