Jehu accomplished the mission God gave him, throwing King Joram’s body into Naboth’s vineyard in Jezreel, and becoming king in his place. He went on to kill Jezebel and completely wipe out both Ahab’s descendants and the prophets and priests of Baal as well.
Yet, in the first chapter of Hosea you read this: And the LORD said to him, "Call his name [Hosea’s son] Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, v 4. Now is that fair? God gave the man a mission and he fulfilled it, and now his descendants will be punished for the very thing God told him to do?
No, God did not punish Jehu for his obedience. In fact, he rewarded him. And 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," 2 Kgs 10:30. The problem was the reason he obeyed. Later on, when far more needed doing to restore Israel to God, he failed. But Jehu was not careful to 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, v 31. When you pick and choose the commands you will obey, you are making it obvious that you are only doing what you want to do, not what God wants you to do. What should have been the hallmark of his obedience became the thing that made his rebellion obvious—he hadn’t really obeyed then either.
Obedience doesn’t count when it’s what you want to do anyway. The true test of obedience comes when you don’t want to do it, when it costs you something, when it makes trouble in your life.
When you say, “It’s just this time, God won’t care because I have done everything else right,” you are condemning yourself just like Jehu did. Killing the house of Ahab made him king; of course he wanted to do it. But getting rid of the golden calves? Now that might have angered his new followers. Don’t want to rock the boat, do we? After all, God, I can accomplish more if I stay in power longer, right? I can just imagine such rationalizations springing to Jehu’s mind, the same sort of rationalizations we use when we want to get out of a difficult moment our faith has put us in.
Examine your faith this morning. Why are you faithful? Have you ever fudged a little? Was it because of your own likes and dislikes, or maybe your fear of the consequences? Did you fail to obey because in that one instance you simply didn’t want to? If so, then the fact that you have ever obeyed only means that in those cases you didn’t mind doing so, and that means you were only serving yourself and not God.
Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul…. For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become accountable for all of it. Josh 22:5; James 2:10.