2 Kings 10-11: Blood
June 18, 2020
TODAY'S BIBLE READING:
Jehu now slaughters Ahab’s descendants (10:1-17). This does not make for pretty reading—and again, as so often in the Old Testament, we must remind ourselves that Jehu is functioning in the Old Testament theocracy as a vehicle for God’s temporal wrath. In the New Testament the wrath of God is revealed more generally, and finally at judgment day, and the New Testament church does not bear the power of the sword. His zeal, then, for God becomes a model of being valiant for truth, of not taking half-way measures with regarding to sin in our own lives, or the lives of city and church and culture.
Jehu threatens those who are protecting Ahab’s seventy sons with war (10:1-3). They do not wish to fight against him and so instead they deliver to Jehu the heads of these seventy sons (10:4-8). The words that he gives to Jehonadab summarize his attitude (10:16-17). This is all his “zeal for the LORD” and is to prove everything “according to the word of the LORD that he spoke to Elijah” would be accomplished.
He acts with canny deception next, and gathers all the prophets of Baal pretending that they are going to join him in a great worship celebration to Baal (10:18-19). Instead, once they are all gathered, he has them all killed, and Baal’s edifice turned into a latrine (10:20-27). We cannot approve of Jehu’s deception, nor say that the ends justify the means. But we can approve of his zeal.
What is remarkable about all this, despite his zeal and his understanding of the connection between God’s blessing and his people’s faithfulness to God, is that Jehu himself is still walking in the sins of Jeroboam. While he gets rid of Baal, he keeps the worship of the golden calves in Bethel and Dan (10:28-29). There is none so blind as those who think they see, and our passion for truth may leave us open to sin in another area. The answer is to, as Jehu pointedly did not, be “careful to walk in the law of the LORD” (10:31). The Bible countermands our biases, and a faithful reading of it and listening to it with fullness of heart is the best remedy to guard against blind spots in our own lives.
Now we get to Judah, and find that the mother of the killed king decides that instead of going to mourning, it is her opportunity to seize the throne. She attempts to kill off all other potential claimants to power (11:1), but her evil intention is thwarted by Jehosheba who manages to protect one Joash (11:2-3). In due time, the priest Jehoiada makes a covenant with the guards and shows them the true heir to the throne (11:4). They then proclaim him king (11:9-12), and when Athaliah cries “treason” (extraordinary hypocrisy given her murder of all those children of the royal family), Jehoiada ensures that she is put to death (11:13-16). And the true king is put on the throne, and the people rejoice (11:19-20).
Bloody times, betrayal, when the heroes of the story are themselves men of blood. Let us pray that we not live in such days, and if we find that we do, ask ourselves (as Tolkien famously made Gandalf give sage advice) “what to do with the time that is given to us.” Fear God, seek his wisdom, live according to his Word, and serve him only.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Josh Moody (Ph.D., University of Cambridge) is the senior pastor of College Church in Wheaton, IL., president and founder of God Centered Life Ministries, and author of several books including How the Bible Can Change Your Life and John 1-12 For You.
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