About the time, give or take some(sort of, maybe) Elijah was nearing the end of his ministry a sort of unusual, slightly confusing thing happened. The King of the Southern Kingdom of Judah, Jehoram(son of Jehoshaphat), received a letter from Elijah condemning him for his evil ways and predicting his ultimate doom. The reason this seems confusing is because of the timing involved in the writing/deliverance of this letter. All of this was transpiring around the time Elijah was whisked away on a chariot. A cursory reading through 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles seems to indicate that this letter was sent to King Jehoram AFTER Elijah’s translation to Heaven. What could be happening here?
First, chronologies and timing in the books of Kings and Chronicles can be challenging; I won’t even attempt to break them down. Sometimes events seem to appear not necessarily in the order in which they occurred. It may be that this is the case here.
We aren’t told that Elijah delivered the letter, just that he wrote it. It’s quite possible events occurred in the order they were written, but that this letter was simply delivered by another after the translation of the prophet. This would not be a first at all. We can see an example of this from 1 Kings 19 when Elijah was tasked to appoint Hazael to be king of Syria. We see later, that it was actually Elisha who ultimately fulfilled this mission on behalf of Elijah in 2 Kings 8. So, it would not be unusual or out of bounds for another to complete a mission Elijah had been given.
No matter the timeline surrounding this event, God seems to have given Elijah a prophecy concerning it, and it turned out to be quite accurate.
What seems really interesting is why Elijah was involved in this in the first place; after all his ministry was to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, and Jehoram was ruler in the Southern Kingdom of Judah. Jehoram was a pretty bad guy, by the way. He had served, apparently as co-regent with his father Jehoshaphat, during the last years of his reign. His father was a Godly king, but Jehoram did not seem to learn that lesson. Upon his father’s death, even though he was appointed king as the firstborn, he killed all of his own brothers and others who might be threats and turned his back on God. What on earth happened here? This is what happened:
2 Chronicles 21:6 And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, like as did the house of Ahab: for he had the daughter of Ahab to wife: and he wrought that which was evil in the eyes of the Lord.
Legacy matters, friends. The legacy of the house of Ahab, which Elijah had spoken against for most of his career, never went away. It simply spread. In light of this, a letter from Elijah to a king of Judah was not really unusual at all.
Surely Jehoram knew better. People know other people’s business, and surely he knew the things that have transpired to the north of him with Ahab and Jezebel; yet, he chose to marry into that family! As much as I would like to foist the blame for this on Jehoram’s head, we should not be shocked completely here. Although he likely did not object to this marriage, it seems the groundwork had been laid by his very own Godly father:
2 Chronicles 18:1 Now Jehoshaphat had riches and honour in abundance, and joined affinity with Ahab.
We know already that even the Godly Jehoshaphat had is issues; a big one was that he was too willing to mix it up with folks he frankly should have stayed away from. Legacy matters, my friends; what we do in this life has repercussions in this life. Things never really got better in Judah, and ultimately events were set in motion here that resulted in their very destruction and captivity. How would we like to bear the load of knowing our part in such a thing as this?