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Then the LORD said to him:

     “ Call his name Jezreel, 
      For in a little while
      I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu, 
      And bring an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel.” -Hosea 1:4 NKJV

I started the book of Hosea a while back, and the first time I read through the first chapter I understood that God was painting a picture. God is showing Israel’s spiritual harlotry through Hosea’s life, his wife, and his children.God commands Hosea to take a harlot for a wife, and the three children she bore’s to Hosea are all given symbolic names to help us understand how Israel had strayed, and what was going to happen to the Israelites. I was familiar with the book of Hosea, so I had a basic understanding of how the story, and the picture of Israel’s Harlotry, was going to look like. That was about all I knew, and expected to pick us some tidbits along the way as I read back through it. But there something was tugging at me (hello Holy Spirit), and bugging me about verse four. Why call the first child Jezreel, and why was the blood of Jezreel going to be avenged on Jehu? Didn’t Jehu do the Lord’s will by wiping out Ahab, Jezebel, and the worshippers of Baal? What did this verse mean?

First, I want to say that I am so glad that I asked these questions because if I had been content to just slosh my way through the book, and not looked into the why behind this verse, I never would have had one of the best times I’ve ever experienced in God’s Word. So, my first encouragement for you is to ask God “why?” when you come across something in God’s Word that you don’t understand, and be willing to look through the scriptures to find the answers. God will speak to you in the most amazing ways, and you will get know the God of the universe in such amazing ways it will blow your mind. The Word of God is so worthy of our time and investment. Right around the time I got saved a Pastor told me the simplest, but most profound, statement pertaining to your walk with Jesus Christ, (he even prefaced his statement with, “this sounds cliché, but it’s true”) “the more you put in, the more you get out.” So, get to know Jesus Christ better and more intimate than you ever thought possible. What else is there really?

Now, Back to Jezreel and Jehu. God says “I will avenge the bloodshed of Jezreel on the house of Jehu” What is Jezreel? I had to go back and look at 2 Kings 9 and 10 to get the answer because I couldn’t remember if Jezreel was a place or person, and I wanted to know what God was avenging. As I reread the story, I remembered that Jezreel was the city where Naboth the Jezreelite had a vineyard (1 Kings 21) that the King of Israel, Ahab, wanted for himself, but could not persuade Naboth to sell the field to him. The king’s wife Jezebel had Naboth killed by deceit, and took the field for Ahab. By the mouth of Elijah, God would prophesy to about Ahab, “In the place where dogs licked the blood of Naboth, dogs shall lick your blood, even yours.” (1 Kings 21:19) Then, in reference to Jezebel “And concerning Jezebel the LORD also spoke, saying, ‘The dogs shall eat Jezebel by the wall of Jezreel.’” (v. 26). So, we see there is going to be bloodshed in Jezreel, but why is God avenging this blood on the house of Jehu?

The reason I asked why is God punishing the house of Jehu is because wasn’t Jehu appointed by God to strike down the house of Ahab as he did? In 2 Kings 9:7-10 after Jehu is anointed king, God says “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. So I will make the house of Ahab like the house of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, and like the house of Baasha the son of Ahijah. The dogs shall eat Jezebel on the plot of ground at Jezreel, and there shall be none to bury her.’” So, yes God did appoint Jehu do wipe our the house of Ahab, and Jehu would do just that with great zeal and fury. As you read on in 2 Kings you see that Jehu even cunningly gathers up all the idol worshippers of Baal and has them slaughtered with great Zeal. At first glance, the zeal of Jehu even seems to compare with the zeal of the great king Josiah, and that Jehu should be commended. In fact, God does commend Jehu in 2 Kings 10:30, 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.”  So again, why is the blood of Jezreel being avenged on the house of Jehu?

As I looked closer, there are two things that show us why God would repay Jehu for the bloodshed of Jezreel:

First, God called Jehu to wipe out all the house of Ahab. The meaning house refers to all the men in his family, and most likely all of Ahab’s sons, so that Ahab’s name would be cut off. So, Jehu would be completely justified, and even commendable, in killing all the men of Ahab’s family, but Jehu goes a step farther in his rage in 2 Kings 10:11. It reads, “So Jehu killed 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.” The question is this: Did God tell Jehu to kill anyone besides the house of Ahab? The answer is no. Yet, Jehu shows us his heart in that he disregards the command of God, and fulfills his own rage by killing all the friends and priests of Ahab. God did not command Jehu do all that he did, and as the anointed of God, Jehu has an extra responsibility to represent God correctly with his actions, and he does not. Jehu misrepresents God in this situation in a way that reminds me of the way Moses misrepresents God when God tells Moses to speak to the rock, so that water would flow from the rock. Yet, Moses adds to the command of God by chastising the people, and then striking the rock twice, misrepresenting God (Numbers 20).  God cares about the disposition of our hearts towards Him, and Jehu did not love or revere God, but seemed to only care about following orders to get what he wanted: the kingdom.

The second detail that shows us why God judges Jehu is in 2 Kings 10:31, “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.” We see that Jehu’s heart truly did not belong to God. Jehu walked wickedly according to his own heart, and the wicked kings before him. So, even though Jehu was appointed to do the work of God, and did some commendable things before God, his heart was not for God, and therefore he was judged, and Israel was cut off while the house of Jehu was reigning.

We now see clearly how this little piece of scripture in Hosea 1:4 shows the amazing providence of God, as well as his amazing righteousness and perfection. Next time out, we will look ahead a couple of verses in Hosea, and focus more on the amazing accuracy of the Word of God, and why we should be absolutely passionate, and completely invested in the Word of God.

May God bless you, and grow you in His Word and in His love.