“Come with me and see my zeal for the LORD!” (2 Kings 10:16).
I went on a lot youth trips as a teenager—camps and retreats with games, Bible studies, late nights and early mornings. One constant at these events was the altar call. And like a lot of church kids, I went forward more than once over the years, so much so that the experiences blur together in my memory.
But I do remember this one time during an altar call when I felt convicted about the music I was listening to. So, on the way home, a friend and I decided to trash all our secular music as soon as we could. The next day we met up at his house, resolved to part with our worldlier music in one glorious, zealous, and committed act of devotion to God. Well, actually, it was a lot of little acts of devotion. I had a lot of music—hundreds and hundreds of cassette tapes and CDs—and they couldn’t all be obliterated in a single motion.
But we did it. Together, my friend and I destroyed them. We used a mallet and a hammer to smash them all to pieces—little tiny plastic shards of secular music. After all, we didn’t want anyone else to be able to listen to them. Needless to say, the mess in my friend’s driveway was a thing to behold. All these years later, how I approach music has changed, but my hope is to live even more committed to the Lord.
Now, I know it’s not the same thing by a longshot, but when I read the word zeal in today’s passage, I feel like I understand Jehu a bit. He laid waste to the enemies of the Lord, and then he killed the Baal worshipers who’d used the temple as a latrine, just as if they were top-40 CDs stacked in a pile on my friend’s driveway.
Sadly, while Jehu did as the Lord commanded early on, he failed to be faithful in his reign as king over Israel. “He did not turn away from the sins that Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to commit—worshiping the gold calves that were in Bethel and Dan” (2 Kings 10:29). After going to such great lengths to rid the land of idolaters, he became an idolator himself.
Zeal for the Lord is good, but we also need to be faithful in driving out idolatry from our lives. As John Calvin once said, “Man’s nature, so to speak, is a perpetual factory of idols.” We need to cultivate a passion and commitment to the Lord that does not wax and wane, prepared to remove whatever obscures the glory of the crucified King. He is unlike Jehu or any other earthly king, and His passion and love for us never fails.
Written by Matt Redmond