Sin has consequences. I know this, but some days I wonder if I really believe it. My actions betray my confession and reveal a heart divided and deluded, thinking I can entertain my selfishness and pride and get away with it.
This is why I need the Scripture. Its testimony stands in stark contrast to my foolish thinking and confronts me with reality. Recently, God gave me a healthy does of reality while I was reading through the shocking scenes recorded in 2 Kings 9 & 10.
In case you don’t remember what happens in those texts, let me quickly run you through the “cliff-notes” version:
Jehu is anointed king over Israel by Elisha (through one of Elisha’s servants). Immediately upon becoming king, Jehu sets out to kill Joram (the previous king of Israel) and Ahaziah (the king of Judah). He succeeds in this mission, slaughtering both kings. He then has Jezebel thrown out a window to her death (where the dogs devour her corpse) and Ahab’s 70 sons murdered and their heads stacked in two heaps at the entrance of the city. But the bloodshed doesn’t stop there. Jehu continues by killing 42 of Ahaziah’s relatives, goes to Samaria where he kills the rest of Ahab’s family, then he massacres all the Baal worshipers in the land of Israel and turns their temple into a latrine.
These two chapters are filled with so much violence and so much death, it is only natural to ask “what in the world is going on?!” But, if you read through the chapters, you see an explanatory note repeated throughout the narrative. You find it in 9:36, 10:10, and 10:17.
I think 10:10 summarizes it best: “Know then that there shall fall to the earth nothing of the word of the LORD, which the LORD spoke concerning the house of Ahab, for the LORD has done what He spoke through His servant Elijah.”
These two bloody chapters are the fulfillment of God’s judgment against Ahab. The judgment was pronounced upon Ahab in 1 Kings 21:20-24.
Do you remember why Ahab was judged?
Ahab was being judged for murdering Naboth and taking his vineyard. It was a sin that both he and his wife, Jezebel, thought they had succeeded in covering. However, “all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:13)!
God sent Elijah to pronounce judgment and, 10 chapters later, we see that judgment fulfilled with violent force. This sin not only had consequences for Ahab and Jezebel, but for their children, for their associates, and for the people they led into idolatry. Their sin sent a shock-wave of judgment through the nation.
When you step back and view what is really going on in these two chapters (it is not just about a mad-man named Jehu, who is on a bloody rampage) you see that they stand as a powerful warning as to the seriousness of sin. God, the Holy One, will not tolerate it and His judgment often sends shock-waves through an individual’s life that extend even to those around them.
Think about this truth Biblically. Isn’t this what Genesis 3 & 4 show us? Adam and Eve rebelled and the first sin recorded outside the garden is the murder of one of their sons by the other! Or think about David’s sin with Bathsheba; his wickedness cost his family dearly, as the great king’s life takes a downward trajectory from 2 Samuel 11 to the end of the book. The same can be seen in Solomon’s life. His sin of treasuring his wives above his God resulted in the division of the entire kingdom. The point is a powerful one, repeated over and over again, especially in the Old Testament: sin has consequences.
But here is truly the fearful reality, its consequences often extend beyond an individual. The consequences extend beyond me (or you).
I am not an autonomous, isolated individual (no matter what my western mindset tells me!). I am a part of the lives of others. I am a part of a family, a church, a community, a nation, and the race of humanity. And my sin effects them, it has consequences for them as well as me. How truly sobering.
So, the next time my deceitful heart comes calling and says, “Ryan, don’t worry about the consequences! You can get away with it!” I’m praying that God brings the story of Jehu to mind, so that I one day don’t find my world at the mercy of God’s “Jehu for the moment.”