2 Kings 10:28-29 (NIV) 28 So Jehu destroyed Baal worship in Israel. 29 However, he did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, which he had caused Israel to commit–the worship of the golden calves at Bethel and Dan.
On verses 15-36: Having gotten rid of the house of Ahab along with a slew of others, Jehu now focuses on erasing the worship of the idol Baal in Israel. He invites all the prophets of Baal to the temple of Baal under the auspices that he is going to hold an assembly in honour of their god. Jehu even gives each prophet of Baal a special robe (which seems like a gift when in fact it just makes them an easier target). As these prophets make their sacrifices to Baal, Jehu’s men ambush the prophets of Baal and cut them down with the sword inside the temple. They also destroy the temple of Baal and begin using it as a urinal.
Jehu’s legacy is that he destroyed the house of Ahab (which he did in accordance with God’s command) (v30) and destroyed Baal worship in Israel (v28). However, there were two forces that Jehu did not destroy. First, Jehu continued to support the worship of Jeroboam’s golden calves (v29, 31) and thus did not follow the Lord wholeheartedly. Second, Jehu could not defeat the nation of Aram led by their king Hazael. Rather, during Jehu’s reign, Aram took over more and more of Israel’s territory (v32-33). After a 28 year reign as king over Israel, Jehu dies and is succeeded by his son Jehoahaz (v35-36).
What can we learn from all this? The life of Jehu as recorded in 2 Kings 9-10 reads like a mature-rated third person shooter game. It’s full of violent, bloody, merciless killing of those who have done evil by turning away from the Lord. You might ask, “How could God approve of such violence? Does it please God for His people to kill this way? Does God support terrorism?”
Here’s the problem: If God shows mercy to those who sin and lets them off the hook, people will accuse God of being unjust and indifferent to evil. But if God punishes those who sin (as he does through Jehu in 2 Kings 9-10), people will accuse God of being merciless and cruel. So what should God do? Amazingly, centuries after Jehu destroyed the house of Ahab and the prophets of Baal, God did the unthinkable: He punished evildoers AND He showed them mercy at the same time. How? By sending Jesus Christ to die on the cross on behalf of every sinner.
At the cross God condemned and punished all of our sins and placed them on Himself. At the same time at the cross God also showed us how unsurpassably merciful and loving God is, canceling our debt by paying it Himself. As people will hear me say at THRIVE Church, the cross of Jesus Christ is the intersection where justice and mercy meet.
That’s why, since Jesus died on the cross, God in the New Testament no longer commands that His people be modern day Jehu’s who go out and kill unbelievers for their idolatry. That’s because God has already dealt with people’s sins and idolatry at the cross. Justice has been served. Now God waits for us to respond and receive the mercy and grace that God makes available through Jesus Christ alone. And so instead of unleashing violence on unbelievers, God calls us to love them and to show them the same mercy and grace that God has shown to us, in hopes that they will turn to Jesus one day as well. Jehu is gone and Jesus has come, and we are called to follow Jesus.
Lord Jesus, thank You for being the God who hates sin but who loves sinners. Thank You for the cross where Your justice and mercy meet. May we be Christ-like representatives in our world and lead others to You, and doing it Your way. In Jesus’ name, AMEN!