2 Kings 10:28-31
In the aftermath of the reign of king Ahab and his wicked Sidonian Queen Jezebel, the kingdom of Israel was pretty messed up. Jeroboam had launched them on a trajectory of idolatry when he established the golden bulls in Dan and Bethel. Ahab followed that downward trajectory and buried them deeper in the muck and mire of witchcraft, spiritism, and everything that was detestable to God. Through the prophet Elijah, God had promised to eradicate Ahab’s family from the planet.
Jehu was the man chosen for the job. He was the physical tool used by the hand of God to bring justice to the family of Ahab, much like Joshua’s leadership was the tool used to bring justice to the Canaanites. Jehu did a fabulous job at it. Through him Israel was cleansed of all the Baal worship that Ahab and Jezebel had introduced.
Jehu was a hero, right? Jehu was a spiritual giant in Israel right? If God grades on a curve, then, yes, he was. The problem is that God doesn’t grade on a curve, He grades by a constant standard. Jehu was the one and only king in Israel’s history that tried to make an effort to pull the nation out of sin, and yet, there was the issue of those silly bulls in Dan and Bethel. Jehu didn’t touch those. It’s as if Jehu was a kickoff receiver in a football game who caught the ball in his own end zone, plowed ahead down the field, juked and faked and sprinted his way past the 50, past the 25, and got all the way to the one yard line…about to score…then dropped the ball. All that work for nothing. What a waste.
So where is the hope in this devotional? Who is the hero in this story? The hero is Jehu’s partner, Jonadab.
Read this clip from the Word in Life Study Bible:
People sometimes excuse or justify their immoral behavior with the attitude that “everybody’s doing it.” But that notion is false. Not everyone is doing it. Not everyone is giving way to popular opinion. Some people maintain their moral convictions—even those which are not based on specific biblical teachings.
Jeremiah shows us an example. The wicked people of Judah were faithless when it came to keeping the covenant, so God gave them a case study in loyalty. He told Jeremiah to offer wine to a group of people called the Rechabites (Jer. 35:2), a family descended from Jonadab the son of Rechab (35:6). The Rechabites refused Jeremiah’s offer (as God knew they would), based on a centuries-old tradition established by their ancestor.
In the days following King Ahab’s evil rule in Israel, God raised up Jehu (see 2 Kin. 9:2) to completely destroy Ahab’s descendants. In carrying out this task—which Jehu did with zeal—he recruited Jonadab to join with him (2 Kin. 10:15–17). Perhaps to display his loyalty to the Lord, Jonadab commanded his descendants to refrain from drinking any alcohol, and to live in tents as nomads (Jer. 35:6–7), just as the Israelites had lived in former times. The Lord did not command Jonadab or his family to live this way. Jonadab established these rules, and his descendants followed them of their own free will.
Thus the Rechabites showed that it is possible to remain faithful and obedient to God, no matter what other people may be doing. After all, if this family could remain loyal to convictions that were not even prescribed by God, then surely the rest of the people could hold fast to beliefs and standards that God had commanded (35:12–16).
The same principle applies today. Here and there in modern society, we find groups of people who steadfastly maintain traditions or lifestyles that they have inherited from their ancestors. They go about their business seemingly undeterred by the fads and fashions of the surrounding culture. But if these groups are able to hold onto their convictions, is there any reason why those of us who claim to follow Christ should not maintain the moral standards and doctrinal truths that the Lord has established in Scripture?2
Like it or not, we live in a world that is more like Israel than like Judah. Our society and our churches have been seriously infected by very worldly philosophies. What those philosophies are and where we draw the lines are issues for another time and for serious consideration. For now, ask God to reveal to you where the compromises have been made in your own life. Ask yourself how you could be more like the Rechabites than like Jehu.
2Word in life study Bible. 1997, c1996 (electronic ed.) (Je 35:12). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.