I wish I could think of a better or more positive-sounding title, but this one about sums up the lesson I took from 2 Kings, Chapter 10.
Honestly, this was a hard chapter to read and an even harder chapter to write about because I think of God as a loving, merciful God, who sent Jesus to save us, but sometimes I forget just how holy He is, and the magnitude of what He saved me from.
The beginning of the chapter tells us that wicked Ahab had seventy sons in Samaria. King Jehu wrote letters to the rulers of Jezreel, to the elders, and to those who had reared Ahab’s sons, challenging them to a fight. His letter reads:
“Now as soon as this letter comes to you, since your master’s sons are with you, and you have chariots and horses, a fortified city also, and weapons, choose the best qualified of your master’s sons, set him on his father’s throne, and fight for your master’s house. (vv 2-3).”
But the text goes on to say that the rulers and elders were afraid of a battle with the king, so they acquiesced, saying, “We are your servants, we will do all you tell us; but we will not make anyone king. Do what is good in your sight (v 5).”
So King Jehu writes them another letter, saying, “If you are for me and will obey my voice, take the heads of the men, your master’s sons, and come to me at Jezreel by this time tomorrow (v 6).”
Was Jehu expecting the elders and rulers to actually do what he asked? I’m not sure, but the sarcastic tone of the first letter suggests that he may have been upping the challenge to battle, perhaps thinking that they would appoint themselves a king from Ahab’s sons and go to war with him. Then again, maybe he knew they wouldn’t.
Regardless of Jehu’s intent, the rulers and elders were more than willing to kill Ahab’s sons in order to save their own skin. This, even though some of them had helped raise Ahab’s sons!
They slaughtered Ahab’s seventy sons, put their heads in baskets and sent them to Jezreel (v 7).
Jehu made a speech the following morning. He said, “You are righteous. Indeed I conspired against my master and killed him; but who killed all these? Know now that nothing shall fall to the earth of the word of the Lord which the Lord spoke concerning the house of Ahab; for the Lord has done what He spoke by His servant Elijah.” The story goes on to tell us that Jehu killed the rest of Ahab’s family, acquainances and priests. Then later, he killed the remaining members of Ahab’s family in Samaria (vv 11-17).
This part gave me pause for a minute. If God is loving and merciful and good, how could He possibly sanction such a massacre?
Well, to understand, we have to get to the bottom of the reason God was angry at Ahab and his family. They were not nice people. They were Baal-worshipers who practiced and condoned the practice of rituals such as sacrificing of children in the fire, ritual prostitution, and other terribly heinous, lewd and violent acts. Not only had they turned their backs on God, but they were responsible for the slaughter and destruction of innocent lives, whether they participated in it directly, or whether they condoned, encouraged and allowed it.
Not only this, but God had sent Elijah to warn Ahab that he was only bringing destruction to himself by participating in Baal worship (1 Kings 17-18). Think about it, even after all that he had done, Ahab could’ve changed the course of his fate by turning from the idolatry and heinousness of Baal worship, and choosing to follow the Lord. God had a multitude of patience with him and gave him a chance to put a stop to the awful things that were happening, but Ahab wouldn’t listen.
This story gets even sadder, as we shall see. Jehu ultimately destroyed the temple of Baal and all of its worshipers, thus putting an end to the atrocities as the Lord had warned Ahab to do earlier.
God said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in doing what is right in My sight, and have done to the house of Ahab all that was in My heart, your sons shall sit on the throne of Israel to the fourth generation.” It goes on to say that “Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart; for he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, who had made Israel sin (vv 30-31).”
What was the sin? It was allowing the golden calves that were still at Bethel and Dan. Basically, he got rid of one system of idolatry and allowed and condoned another. He knew God’s truth and exchanged it for a lie.
I started thinking how this applies to us in the present day. Our actions have consequences. We can choose to squander our health with addiction, unhealthy habits, reckless behavior, etc and the end result is years of life lost and pain to those we love. We can choose to commit a crime and be put to death or serve time in prison. We can choose to turn away from the Lord and miss out on the untold joy and blessings that come with choosing to follow Him.
The bad news is that we’re all guilty of disobeying God in some form or another. How many times have I, have we, hurt others out of selfishness, anger, pride? But the good news is we have Someone who loves us so much that He saw humanity, even in our worst moments, as lost sheep that need a Shepherd.
After the reign of Jehu, Israel continued to get worse. The world continued to get worse. Sound familiar today? There is no way politics was ever going to change people’s hearts. Humans would still, and do still, operate from selfishness and sin a lot of the time.
God knew we needed more than an earthly king. He knew we needed divine redemption. He knew we needed forgiveness. He knew we needed One who could break the chains of destruction and sin in our lives. He knew we needed hope. He knew we needed Jesus.
Do you know that He loves You so much that He is willing and able to help you, right now, to have a clean slate, a fresh start? No matter where you are in life or geographically, no matter how far down you have gone, no matter what you’ve done? Like Ahab, He loves us so much, He is calling us – calling us to follow Him.
If you’ve never heard the good news, let me tell you. See, God knows we’re guilty. He knows that no matter how hard we try we’ll never be perfect. But because He’s holy, atonement is required for our sin. See, that’s why Jesus stepped down from Heaven and came and endured ridicule, scorn, being cold, hungry, and ultimately nailed to the cross. He did it willingly. No one forced Him to. He could’ve said, “Nope, never mind. Those people just aren’t worth it.” Oh, but friend, He loved us so much He didn’t want to leave us like this. He thought you and I, even with all our mess, were worth suffering and dying for. Then, after He gave His life for us, He rose from the dead after three days and promised to prepare a place for us in Heaven, a wonderful place where there won’t be any more sorrow or tears. And He doesn’t leave us here on earth like He found us either. He came to break those chains of sin that hold us back, whether they are addiction, anger, fear, whatever they are, He promises to change us and never leave us, to walk us through this life and on into the next. He said, “The thief [Satan] does not come except to steal, and to kill and destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly” (John 10:10).
But like Ahab, like Jehu, we have a choice. We can say yes or we can say no and turn away. But He promises that if we accept His gift of forgiveness, salvation and hope, He won’t let us down. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).”
Father, I thank You for Your wonderful Gift of grace. I pray that I would honor You with my actions. I know I sin on a daily basis, Lord, but I thank You that You never leave me, and I’m sorry for the ways in which I fail. I know I could never repay the debt of love I owe You. I just come to You with a humble, grateful heart and I thank You, Father, for Jesus and for my salvation. I ask that You show me anything in my heart that is not honoring to you and help me to change it. I want to be faithful, I want to follow You. I pray for anyone reading this who has never known You or Your great love and mercy, that they would make the decision to put their faith in You, Lord, and therein find hope and forgiveness. Help us all to know You more. In Jesus name, Amen.