2 Kings 9:30–10:36, Galatians 1:1–2:21, Proverbs 7:1–9
The OT makes God look heartless, yet those who think so have a limited understanding of the seriousness of sin. The NT says, “The wages of sin is death . . . .” and the horror stories of the OT show how many sinners paid those wages in a gruesome manner.
God told Elijah to anoint Jehu as king of Israel. Elijah’s protégé, Elisha, had one of the sons of the prophets do the deed. Soon after, Jehu proceeded to kill all his predecessors. First Jezebel was tossed out of a window and died a gruesome death. (2 Kings 9:30–36)
Then the seventy sons of Ahab were slaughtered and their heads sent in baskets to Jehu at Jezreel. (2 Kings 10:6–7) Jehu struck down all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, all his great men and his close friends and his priests, until he left him none remaining. On the way to Samaria where he would rule, he met relatives of Ahaziah king of Judah and killed them too. When he got to Samaria, he struck down all who remained associated with Ahab in Samaria, wiping them out, which is what God told Elijah would happen. (2 Kings 10:11-17)
After that, Jehu went after the idol worshipers. He invited them to a special ‘worship’ service and as soon as they were in one place, he had them put to the sword and turned the house of Baal into a latrine. (2 Kings 10:25–27)
Then the Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”
Yet Jehu did not walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He did not turn from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin, namely kept those golden calves for objects of worship. (2 Kings 10:28–31) He was put on the throne by God and did what the Lord wanted in some things, but not in others.
Apart from ruling a kingdom, I’m not much different than Jehu. I do right and I also disobey. But proud people like me find it difficult to admit, even as a sinner saved by grace, that I still sin. I want to be in charge, but cannot conquer my sin nature. I long for perfection, but cannot attain it. This is not because the salvation of Jesus Christ is imperfect, but because my sinful nature still tries to rule my life, resisting the will of God and not completely eradicated until I see Him face to face.
In this life, my standing before God says I am perfect in Christ, but my experience in life is far from perfect. This is why the Word of God gives me warnings like this: “My child, keep my words and treasure up my commandments with you; keep my commandments and live; keep my teaching as the apple of your eye; bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.” (Proverbs 7:1–3) If I were a perfectly behaving child, then God would not need to tell me to behave myself.
Yet wonder of wonders, He declares me justified, but not by my behavior. It is as Paul wrote to the Galatians: “We know that a person is not justified by works of the law but through faith in Jesus Christ, so we also have believed in Christ Jesus, in order to be justified by faith in Christ and not by works of the law, because by works of the law no one will be justified.” (Galatians 2:15–16)
In fact, any effort to please God by my behavior is futile. “For through the law I died to the law, so that I might live to God. I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.” (Galatians 2:19–21)
Notice that the route to overcome sin is faith, but also by death: I have been crucified with Christ. Yet I live by the resurrected life of Christ. I know, this is a mystery —it requires faith to make it visible and practical.
Actually, personal righteous is much the same as the kingdom of God; it is already here, yet not yet here. I am righteous but not yet righteous, saved from the penalty of sin, being saved from the power of sin (even though some days I don’t feel like it) and one day will be saved from the presence of sin. This victory is now, but not yet now. Like Jehu, I need to keep putting my sinful nature to death until Christ totally establishes His kingdom rule. I long for the day when I no longer stray from the reality of what He has done to make me His child.