READ: 2 Kings 10-12, Psalm 110, Matthew 21, 2 Timothy 3
Jehu is not known for his balance. His driving was aggressive, he was ruthless (2 Kings 10:5), sarcastic (v. 9), devious (v. 18-19), zealous to wipe out others (v. 16), violent and severe (v. 24). Jehu killed Ahab’s 70 sons (cut their heads off), 42 of Ahaziah’s sons (just for being friendly with their cousins), and all the prophets of Baal. The scripture commends him for his violent acts.
We must be careful when applying Old Testament violence into this age of grace. On the one hand God does not change. God is still “angry at the wicked every day,” Jesus will still come with a “robe dipped in blood,” hell is still real, and those who rebel against God rejecting the amnesty offered in the cross will suffer violently there forever. On the other hand, the New Testament scriptures and the teaching of Jesus very clearly show us that the Kingdom of God does not advance by coercion.
There is something degenerate about loving violence. Paul lists “brutal” as one of the indicators of a wayward heart (2 Tim. 3:3). To enjoy watching (or causing) others to get hurt is to be like the devil. He kills and destroys. Cultures that promote violence (in their media, entertainment, and practice) are wicked. To enjoy watching violence is the spirit of the anti-Christ. Obviously, violent acts sometimes have to be performed for the righteous to protect the innocent, but they are never to be enjoyed and ever to be regretted.
The true follower of Jesus willingly suffers violence; he or she does not enjoy watching it. This is the great litmus test of our hearts: If we are willing to suffer, if we take this grant of suffering with relish (2 Tim. 3:12), we share in the heart of Jesus to lay down our lives for others. If we enjoy watching others suffer (even under the guise of entertainment), there is something fundamentally un-Christ like deep in our hearts.
There is yet a need for redeemed Jehus among the followers of Jesus. We need the radicals. We need those willing to do violence to their own wills. We need those who embrace suffering for the sake of the gospel. We need those who are imbalanced – as long as they are weighted towards absorbing any price to exalt Jesus among the nations.
Paul had an attraction towards violence: He was beaten with rods, with whips, with stones. He was shipwrecked, mocked, imprisoned, and repeatedly abused. Interestingly he could testify, “And out of them all the Lord delivered me!” God’s deliverance usually takes us through by grace, not by evacuation. Even Paul went on to his eternal sanctuary by having his head cut off. The only violence to which we should be attracted is that of suffering for Jesus, for the spread of the gospel to the uttermost parts of the earth.