Saddam Hussein, shortly after seizing power in Iraq in July 1979, joined with ruling elite members of the Ba’ath Party to execute 22 people who had opposed his ascent to power. The Ba’ath Party Purge violently removed any competition to Hussein’s rule.
Hussein was following in the footsteps of a host of rulers throughout world history. That list includes King Jehoram, the son of Jehoshaphat. At age 32, Jehoram’s youthful choice to walk in the ways of wickedness colored the full tenure of his reign.
As the rightful, firstborn heir of the kingdom, Jehoram easily could have chosen to live at peace with his brothers, who had inherited far less than him and had far less power than him. But being insecure, he saw his siblings as potential rivals rather than as supporters (v. 4). Jehoram’s act of fratricide led to judgment from God that included war, destruction of his household, and his own excruciatingly painful and prolonged suffering (vv. 12–14).
The root cause of all this suffering was Jehoram’s spiritual choice to do evil like King Ahab rather than follow the Lord like King David (v. 6). Every word of judgment that God had promised through the prophet Elijah was fulfilled. Eight years later, Jehoram was dead—“to no one’s regret” (v. 20).
Jehoram had everything going for him: a godly heritage, a nation at peace, an extended family, and all the material advantages anyone could want. But none of that could save him from the consequences of his choice to pursue the path of sinfulness. We must never put our trust in God’s blessings and gifts and ignore the Lord, the Giver of all. Only faith in His Son, Jesus Christ, will save us from our sins.
Paul asked the Corinthians, “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Cor. 4:7). Both their identity as chosen people and their ability to live in a way to please the Lord were gifts from God—unearned and undeserved. Make a list of gifts and blessings in your life, and then pray through that list thanking God for all He has given you.