2 Kings 9-10

Good, But Not Good Enough.

“Thus, Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship from Israel. 29 He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, the great sin that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to commit.” ­– 2 Kings 10:28-29 NLT

Jehu isn’t exactly a household name, but he stands as a semi-bright spot on the landscape of Israel’s dark history. He was chosen by God to take the throne of Israel and to punish the descendants of Ahab for his years of wickedness and rebellion against God. Jehu was hand-picked by God and anointed by the prophet of God. And he took his new role as king seriously. In fact, he took it so seriously that Elisha warned the prophet who was being sent to anoint him, “Say to him, ‘This is what the Lord says: I anoint you to be king over Israel.’ Then open the door and run for your life!” (2 Kings 9:3 NLT). Jehu was going to waste no time getting acclimated to his new role. He immediately kills King Joram, the king of Israel, as well as King Ahaziah of Judah, who had made an alliance with the king of Israel. The Jehu began to methodically wipe out every descendant of Ahab he could find. He also killed every priest of Baal as well as all Baal worshipers he could find, as well as 70 of King Ahab’s sons. He cleaned house – Baal’s house that is. He tore down the sacred pillar and wrecked the temple, converting it into a public restroom. We’re told that Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship from Israel.

Sounds great, doesn’t it? He was obedient. He did what God had told him to do. HOWEVER! Yes, the story of Jehu’s exploits contains that awkward and tension-packed word. He didn’t exactly finish what he began. “He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, the great sin that Jeroboam son of Nebat had led Israel to commit” (2 KINGS 9:29 NLT). Why in the world would he be so committed to getting rid of the prophets of Baal, every worshiper of Baal, as well as the temple and idols of Baal, but leave the golden calves in Bethel and Dan that Jeroboam had set up as replacements of Yahweh? It would seem that his decision was based on convenience. Since Baal was tied directly to the reign of Ahab, it made good political sense to disassociate himself from Ahab’s gods. But if he got rid of the golden calves, then the people would have no place to worship; leaving them Jerusalem as the only option. This was unacceptable to Jehu as the new king of Israel. He could not afford the risk of any of his people coming back from Jerusalem ready to reconcile with their southern brothers. There was also more than a possibility that Jehu saw the golden calves as not idols, but simply as representations of Yahweh Himself. When Jeroboam came up with the idea of the golden calves in the first place, he had told the people, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt! (1 Kings 12:28 NLT).

While Jehu received more than a passing grade for his removal of all descendants of Ahab and is destruction of all remnants of Baal worship, he failed in one fatal respect. “But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit” (2 Kings 10:31 NLT). Jehu’s reign would last an amazing 28 years – an eternity for a king in those days. But his reign would not be marked by complete obedience. God would never have his whole heart. He was content to give God partial obedience, partial commitment, and partial worship. He would never be a man like David – a man after God’s own heart. Jehu is a powerful reminder of partial obedience and incomplete devotion. Jehu knew what God expected. Nothing less than his best. “Listen, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord alone. And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today” (Deuteronomy 6:4-6 NLT).  Wholehearted obedience. Wholehearted commitment. Wholehearted devotion. God wanted all of Jehu, but only got a part of him.

Father, You want my whole heart. But on my own, I am incapable of loving You wholeheartedly. I am incapable of obeying You completely. I am lousy at worshiping You alone. But You have given me a new heart and a new desire, and filled me with Your Spirit, so that I have a new capacity to love You – wholeheartedly. Thank You for making it possible for me to love and follow You wholeheartedly. Amen

Ken Miller
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men