Sunday, April 17, 2016

April 17 - 2 Kings 10

Today's reading in our daily plan is 2 Kings 10. Take a moment to pray, asking God to speak to you from this passage. Then read, using the following notes and questions to help you get everything out of the passage.

SAY WHAT? (What is the passage saying?)

  • In the previous chapter we saw the new king, Jehu, carrying out justice against the evil former king, Ahab, and his family. Here we find Jehu locating seventy more "sons" (verse 1, which probably referred to sons and grandsons. Why so many? Because Ahab probably had dozens of wives) to kill off. Jehu threatens a military confrontation (verse 3) to get the leaders of Samaria to kill off Ahab's sons themselves.
  • The leaders of Samaria send the heads of the seventy sons of Ahab (verses 7-8). Jehu (in verses 9-10) pretends he has nothing to do with the death of the seventy so he can place the blame on the Samaritan leaders.
  • God had warned Ahab that if he did not change his evil ways and stop leading the people away from worshipping God and towards worshipping Baal, he and his family would be destroyed. In verse 10 Jehu refers to that.
  • In verse 11-14, Jehu goes beyond his responsibility of bringing justice to Ahab's family and, purely out of self-interest, kills off everyone else who was associated with Ahab's reign and a few others. In another place in the Bible (Hosea 1:4-5), one of God's prophets (spokesmen) announces punishment for this needless slaughter. Ironically, Jehu himself had worked for Ahab so, really, he should have been one of the people killed.
  • Later in the chapter (verses 18-36) Jehu seeks to end Baal worship by killing off all the ministers and priests of Baal. From our context, this may seem wrong, but consider: Israel was not a typical nation. They were a "religious" nation, founded by God and they were supposed to be dedicated to worshipping Him alone and representing Him to the rest of the world. Also, Baal worship included things like child sacrifice. It was truly evil and included destroying life.
  • Jehu destroyed Baal worship, but he did not (verse 29) destroy the gold calves the Israelites wrongly worshipped. Why? There are several possible political reasons. Baal worship was anti-God, but people thought of the golden calves as representing God (though they did not, and God strictly forbade them) and they had a long history and popularity with the people. Perhaps Jehu didn't want to do something that would upset his subjects. Or perhaps Jehu worshipped the gold calves himself. So Jehu denounced the sins of others, "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" (verse 31).

SO WHAT? (What are the underlying principles?)

  • Jehu, who thought and said he was representing God, did some things God wanted him to, but also went far beyond what God wanted by slaughtering a whole group of people without reason.  Throughout history people who claimed to be representing God or following the Bible have mixed in their own personal ambition or cruelty and done things God would never condone. Some in our society will point out these historical atrocities done in the "name of God." Help them to see that that people who have done this were serving their own political ambitions and not serving God.
  • Jehu did some things God wanted him to (justice for Ahab's family, get rid of Baal worship) but in other areas of his life ignored what God wanted (by killing off others and continuing to allow worship of the golden calves). Too many people do the same, obeying God in some areas of their lives, but ignoring what God wants in other areas of their lives.
  • Jehu denounced the evil of others, but continued in his own evil ways. Jesus talked (in Matthew 7:1-5) about the hypocrisy of pointing out the sins of others while continuing in our own sins.

NOW WHAT? (How will you personally apply this passage?)

  • As someone who is reading the Bible, you're probably a person who is doing some of the things God wants you to, and also someone who notices some of the sins of other people. The question is: While you obey God in some areas, and possibly judge others for their disobedience of God, are there areas of your life where you continue to ignore what God says and disobey Him? For instance:
  • We could make a great case that the thing that's most important to God is that you share your faith with people who don't have faith, so they can come to know Him. Are you obeying God in that? Do you actively look for opportunities to tell others about Jesus and invite them to church?
  • In the Bible, God talks more about money than any other topic, so we could make a good case that you being generous in giving part of your income back to Him is the thing that's most important to Him. Are you obeying God in that? He commands we give Him back ten percent of what we bring in, are you doing that?
  • God tells us in the Bible that sexual sin is uniquely powerful in its negative effects (see, for instance, 1 Corinthians 6:18-20), so we could make a great case that having sex outside of marriage, or lusting after people, or looking at porn are the sins to be the most carefully avoided. Are you obeying God in that? God says we should not allow even a "hint" of sexual immorality into our lives (see Ephesians 5:3), is that true in your life?
  • The point is: Just like Jehu, it's easy to obey God in some things and feel good about ourselves, but ignore what God says and disobey Him in other things. We need to obey God in all things. And we certainly can't judge and denounce others for their sin, while we're guilty of sin of our own.