Thus Says the Lord
Hosea 1:3-5, NLT
3 So Hosea married Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she became pregnant and gave Hosea a son. 4 And the Lord said, “Name the child Jezreel, for I am about to punish King Jehu’s dynasty to avenge the murders he committed at Jezreel. In fact, I will bring an end to Israel’s independence. 5 I will break its military power in the Jezreel Valley.”
2 Kings 9 & 10 tells the story of the Jehu’s ruthless murders that he used to establish and secure his position as king of Israel. Hundreds of people were killed. Elisha the prophet commanded a young understudy to anoint Jehu king and commanded him to eliminate the entire house of Ahab (2 Kings 9:6-10), and all of Jehu’s subsequent murderous actions are approved by the Lord according to 2 Kings 10:30. This is an instance where two biblical perspectives are diametrically opposed to each other. Elisha, his prophetic tradition, and the authors of 2 Kings say that the slaughters perpetrated by Jehu were at God’s command and approved by God, versus Hosea who says that they were morally detestable. The different traditions within the Bible are not always in agreement with each other. When the Old Testament says, “Thus says the Lord” it is proper for us to question if repugnant acts done by people really were approved by the divine and holy God or if they were only approved by a human author with a limited and prejudicial perspective.
Our reading of the Old Testament must always be filtered through our reading of the New Testament and our knowledge of God’s benevolent, loving nature as revealed by Jesus. Jesus told us that God is love, and that his nature is that of the loving Father who patiently waits for his prodigal son to come home and his elder, judgmental son to adopt the Father’s actions of forgiveness, understanding, compassion and welcoming (Luke 15:11-32). Jesus never approves violence for the sake political change or retribution, as some of the traditions of the Old Testament do. Nor does he condone the slaughter of those of a different religious perspective. Instead, he recommends love for our opponents and praying for them (Matthew 5:43-47). So, while we should read the Old Testament and learn from it, we must filter its often partisan perspectives through what we have learned from the divine Son of God about the benevolent nature of God. It is Jesus who was the very person of God who walked among us. It is he who, instead of taking the lives of his opponents, sacrificed his own life that we might discover the depth of God’s compassion for us.
Lord Jesus, give us discernment. May the words of scripture teach us about God and how we can live in right relationship with the One who loves us. Amen.
Dr. Dan Darby serves Coldspring UMC. If you're in the area they would love for you to stop by and visit their church.
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