And that’s the story of Jehu’s wasting of Baal in Israel.
But for all that, Jehu didn’t turn back from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, the sins that had dragged Israel into a life of sin—the golden calves in Bethel and Dan stayed.
God commended Jehu: “You did well to do what I saw was best. You did what I ordered against the family of Ahab. As reward, your sons will occupy the throne of Israel for four generations.”
Even then, though, Jehu wasn’t careful to walk in God’s ways and honor the God of Israel from an undivided heart. He didn’t turn back from the sins of Jeroboam son of Nebat, who led Israel into a life of sin.
It was about this time that God began to shrink Israel. Hazael hacked away at the borders of Israel from the Jordan to the east—all the territory of Gilead, Gad, Reuben, and Manasseh from Aroer near the Brook Arnon. In effect, all Gilead and Bashan. (2 Kings 10:28-33)
Idols are abhorrent to God, but like most Israelites, Jehu just didn’t get it. He had led a rebellion, killed Joram, a son of Ahab, and killed every member of Joram’s family, including Jezebel, Ahab’s wife and the queen mother. Then he wiped out all the prophets, servants and priests of Baal, tore down Baal’s temple, and desecrated his altars.
Despite all of that, however, he did not undo the problem that Jeroboam, the first rebel king of the Northern Kingdom of Israel had created at the founding of the nation: the golden calf idols in Dan and Bethel. Jehu only got rid of Baal worship. Though that was a good thing and God blessed him for it, guaranteeing that his royal dynasty would endure for four generations, it wasn’t enough.
Why? Human beings are the image and likeness of God, to be loved just as God is loved. Creating idols stands in the way of recognizing the full value of human beings as God’s only image. We’re supposed to catch a glimpse of God in each other, not get distracted by idols. Loving God is easy, since he doesn’t cut us off on the freeway, or otherwise bug us. But as John pointed out, if we claim to love God, who we can’t see, but hate the people whom we do, then we really don’t love God. How we treat the real image of God—other human beings—reflects whether and how we really love God.