The divided kingdom of Israel made it possible for God to control his peoples’ destiny through a balance of power. Bassha’s evil influences on the people of Israel was counteracted by Asa’s reforms and dependence on God. King Ahab’s wicked deeds were offset by Jehoshaphat’s devotion to God and obedience to his word.
Jehu was made king of Israel at a time when the kingdom of Judah was extremely vulnerable. All the male descendants to the throne had been killed except one (2 Chronicles 22:10-11). Athaliah, the daughter of king Ahab, was reigning over the land of Judah while her grandson, Jehoash was hidden away in the temple of God (2 Chronicles 22:12).
Jehu’s cleansing of Israel began with the death of king Joram (2 Kings 9:24) and Jezebel (2 Kings 9:33), then he had all of Ahab’s seventy sons put to death (2 Kings 10:7). After that, Jehu dealt with the idolatry that had taken over the people’s hearts. Jehu’s first action was to befriend the leader of a conservative movement in Israel named Jehonadab (2 Kings 10:15). Jehu invited Jehonadab to participate in his effort to rid Israel of Baal worship. “And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot” (2 Kings 10:16).
Jehu’s zeal for the LORD could have been described as righteous indignation over the Baal worship that Ahab had instigated. Ahab had gone so far as to build a temple for Baal in his capital city of Samaria (1 Kings 16:32). When Jehu called all the Baal worshippers to a solemn assembly, it says in 2 Kings 10:21, “And they came into the house of Baal; and the house of Baal was full from one end to the other.”
Jehu put and end to Baal worship in Israel (2 Kings 10:28), “but Jehu took no heed to walk in the law of the LORD God of Israel with all his heart: for he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel to sin” (2 Kings 10:31). Jehu was not devoted to God. More than anything, Jehu wanted to punish Ahab for what he thought he had done wrong, compromise Israel’s position of power.
Jehu knew God, but he didn’t have a personal relationship with him. Jehu didn’t pray or ask the LORD for guidance. He merely carried out the assignment he was given to cut off the house of Ahab (2 Chronicles 22:7). Jehu’s zeal for the LORD served the purpose of restoring Israel to a position of power, but it didn’t last. The shift was only temporary until Jehoash was able to take the throne and reform the kingdom of Judah.