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Finish Strong

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

Jehu is an interesting character to study in the Bible. You can read all about him in 2nd Kings 9 and 10. He was the son of Jehoshaphat and the grandson of Nimshi.

Because of the wickedness of King Joram, the Lord moved upon the prophet Elisha to anoint Jehu as the next king of Israel. When Jehu saw that the people were in favor of this move, he mobilized his men and moved on both Joram king of Israel and Ahaziah king of Judah, Joram's ally, defeating them both. He then went on to execute Queen Jezebel, wife of the evil King Ahab, for the murders of so many innocents while they were in power. Jehu fulfilled all that the Lord foretold about the house of Ahab and the current kings of Judah and Israel. He made sure that there were no more descendents left for Ahab so that the sin of the house of Ahab would finally be atoned. He also went on to execute all the false prophets of Baal who were leading the people of Judah away from the Lord. He tore down the temple of Baal and turned it into a latrine. Overall, the Lord used Jehu to help turn Israel away from the sin of Idolatry, albeit temporarily.

I wish that were the end of the story. But when you continue to read in 2nd Kings, you see that Jehu did not finish strong. He allowed the continued worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan and soon followed in the footsteps of the wicked kings of Israel. One of the saddest verses in the Bible, in my opinion, is 2nd Kings 10:31, which says “Yet Jehu was not careful to keep the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam, which he had caused Israel to commit.”

It is so important that we finish strong. I remember reading about John Stephen Akhwari, a Tanzanian marathon runner and former African marathon champion, who competed in the 1968 Olympics in Mexico City. Although he previously beat the eventual winner of that marathon – Mamo Wolde of Ethiopia – Akhwari did not win this time. Apparently, the high altitude in Mexico City took a great toll on the runners, where nearly 25% of those who started the race did not finish because of cramping from an inadequate oxygen supply. Although Akhwari also suffered from cramping, he faced even greater challenges. He fell during a collision with other runners, injuring his knee, shoulder, and head. But, instead of quitting, he bandaged up his knee and continued to run. He finished last, over an hour behind Wolde, but he did not quit; he finished the race his nation sent him to run. In my book, that is finishing strong.

The apostle Paul reminded us of this in 2nd Timothy 4, verse 7, as he was awaiting execution at the Mamertine prison in Rome. He said, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” Paul started off poorly – persecuting Christians and having them jailed and executed – but he finished strong. He ran his race until the end. In this race we call life, you don’t win a ribbon, a plaque, or even a gold medal; our rewards are much better. Paul goes on to say in verse 8: “Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day – and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for His appearing.” Paul also exhorts us in Galatians 6:9, “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Those who persevere are not only going to be given a “crown of righteousness,” but it will be placed on our heads by the Lord Jesus himself. Certainly, that will be worth all the pain, frustration, and persecution that we face down here. I doubt any of us will face the difficulties that Paul endured, yet he thought it was well worth the effort. How much more so for us.

You may be trying to serve the Lord and are being confronted with difficulties, frustrations, and persecutions of all kinds. It is important that we remember that we are in a race and we need to finish strong. Don’t be like Jehu; be more like Paul, or like John Stephen Akhwari. Finish strong. Don’t allow setbacks to discourage you. We will not know until we are in Glory what our efforts here on Earth will mean for the Kingdom of God. God will guide us through our momentary troubles if we just don’t give up. Finish strong – it will be worth all the effort.

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