I have no other way to describe this passage than violent. I’m not kidding, it’s a violent that would even make Quentin Tarantino squirm. The majority of this passage is filled with the endeavor of Jehu to rid Israel of Baal worship, which is just one giant massacre. We learn that he succeeds in doing that and he is honored by God for doing that. Baal worship was creating major problems for Israel. Despite that violence, the story ends surprisingly tragic. After all of his efforts to turn Israel back to God, the sin that was plaguing the dynastic history of Israel was still in place.
Have you ever met people like that. They have this very strong sense of moral responsibility for other people and will go out of their way to make sure that those who are not morally in line on a specific topic need to be set straight. Make not mistake, Jehu was used by God to eradicate Baal worship from Israel, but he missed a major part of God’s plan. He was relentless to pull people away from what was obviously wrong, but forgot that God also is calling us to something. God is not simply trying to tell us what not to do but is also giving us a mission and a task as a people. Also, there is always something that God wants to change. He wants to take us to better places and those places can look vastly different than we would expect them to be.
To take this a little deeper, its not a bad thing that Jehu was acting on his moral conviction. Those things are not bad to have, but morality and ethics are not the bases by which we live. Character and virtue are the driving forces of our identity. When we live by character and virtue, we become consistent, honorable, valiant, loving, and many other things that define us as Christians. It’s easy to think that moral power can change the world, but it takes humility to believe that it is the Spirit’s power that transforms us (Romans 12:1). We really cannot change anything without God directing us, but we can be sure that every good thing that is every attempted is from God speaking into us and challenging us to create better worlds and live like heroes of faith.
Jehu was used by God the same way many humans are used by God. They are driven from religious zeal and try to eliminate anything that opposes certain rules. If we are to seek true heroism as found in Christ, we have to find the heart of the matter and speak in love. We have to seek people instead of law. We have to work with conviction and not coercion. It is always astounding when people begin to force people to follow a way of life have their character deteriorate. People who experience this most in their lives usually are in a community with low creativity and a high sense of legalism. Although some think that even if you are legalistic that you are at least doing the right thing. One thing that this story and even other stories in the Bible show us is that is not true. Even in modern times, some people are following a strict conservative rule book, but when you look at their hearts and their missions, you only see that they want rules and not relationship. The worry about the Bible being historically factual than letting it speak truth into their lives. They worry about fitting around certain taboos rather than letting the love of Christ guide their lifestyles.
What would happen if we choose creativity, conversation, and conviction over coercion and legalism? What usually happens is a real and vibrant faith. People begin to experience a real, loving, and creative God. The world begins see Jesus as the changer of lives and the creator of heroic stories. We begin to live the heroic stories we were made to live and become the changers of the world.