Why Did God Condemn Jehu?

Was Jehu condemned for carrying out the command God gave him? Troy Lacey and Tim Chaffey explain this alleged contradiction.

Greetings and God bless!

I and my Bible study came across a somewhat difficult passage recently. It is Hosea 1:4, where God condemns Jehu for the bloodshed at Jezreel. When we compared a corresponding passage in 2nd Kings 9, it says that God told Jehu to “strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets…” (NKJV chapter 9 verse 7).

The unspoken question at Bible study was, “why did God condemn Jehu for following through on His command?” It seems contradictory. The only commentary I could find on that verse in Hosea seems to indicate that Jehu’s “bloodthirsty” attitude was the defining factor in receiving God’s condemnation. Is it truly that simple? Jehu’s attitude was it, or did we miss something in our study?

Best Regards,
C. C.

P.S. I also just wanted to voice my support for Ark Encounter. It’s great that someone is finally making one—about time if you ask me. :)

Hi C. C.

Thank you for contacting Answers in Genesis and for your support of Ark Encounter.

In carrying out judgment on Ahab, God commissioned Jehu to destroy Ahab, the king of Israel, and his family.

You shall strike down the house of Ahab your master, that I may avenge the blood of My servants the prophets, and the blood of all the servants of the Lord, at the hand of Jezebel. For the whole house of Ahab shall perish; and I will cut off from Ahab all the males in Israel, both bond and free. (2 Kings 9:7–8)

So if God commanded Jehu to wipe out the house of Ahab, why did Hosea prophesy that God “will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu”?

2 Kings 9–10 explain Jehu’s zeal in eliminating Ahab and his line, including the notoriously wicked Queen Jezebel, Ahab’s wife (2 Kings 9:33). He even went so far as to kill King Ahaziah of Judah (2 Kings 9:27).

However, when he came to Jezreel, Jehu exceeded his mandate by killing “all who remained of the house of Ahab in Jezreel, and all his great men and his close acquaintances and his priests, until he left him none remaining” (2 Kings 10:11). Although God did commend Jehu for wiping out Ahab and his line (2 Kings 10:30), Jehu was never praised for his excess. In fact, Hosea 1:4 seems to indicate God was upset with Jehu’s bloodthirstiness.

Jehu also slaughtered a large gathering of Baal worshipers and essentially “destroyed Baal from Israel” (2 Kings 10:28). Yet, as far as we know, God never commanded Jehu to do this, even though the Lord despised the worship of Baal. Jehu was never commended for this action either.

Although Jehu fulfilled God’s command to exterminate the house of Ahab, he didn’t have the right motives for doing so. Here is a summary some of the good and bad done by Jehu.

However Jehu did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who had made Israel sin, that is, from the golden calves that were at Bethel and Dan. And the Lord 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.” But 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. (2 Kings 10:29–31)

Jehu’s actions provide an example for us today. There are many people who think they are serving the Lord and they work with great zeal in trying to accomplish God’s work. Saul, later known as the Apostle Paul, was the same way before his conversion (Philippians 3:4–6). However, in the case of both of these men, their hearts were not right before the Lord. Even though Jehu was zealous to end the worship of Baal in Israel, he allowed idolatry to continue in Bethel and Dan. Saul was so zealous in trying to accomplish God’s work that he persecuted Christians.

We must learn a lesson from these people. It doesn’t matter how hard we work for the Lord if we aren’t truly obedient to His Word. May we always be careful not only to do the Lord’s work, but to do His work in His way and in His strength.

We hope this has been helpful,

Troy Lacey and Tim Chaffey, AiG–U.S.


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