When the LORD first spoke through Hosea, the LORD said to Hosea, “Go, take to yourself a wife of whoredom and have children of whoredom, for the land commits great whoredom by forsaking the LORD.” So he went and took Gomer, the daughter of Diblaim, and she conceived and bore him a son. And the LORD said to him, “Call his name Jezreel, for in just a little while I will punish the house of Jehu for the blood of Jezreel, and I will put an end to the kingdom of the house of Israel. And on that day I will break the bow of Israel in the Valley of Jezreel.”
Now that we have solved the mystery of the missing kings from Hosea 1:1, let’s tackle Hosea1:2-5. I am going to withhold comment right now about Hosea’s marriage arrangement, for when we move into Hosea 2. I think that will be the best place to address Hosea’s marriage in parallel with the worship practices in the Northern Kingdom, as well as the reasons behind them. They are presented pretty vividly for us there, so let’s hit the pause button on that issue and return to it then.
The first child born to Hosea and Gomer is a son that God instructs them to name “Jezreel”. Jezreel, geographically speaking, is a fertile valley in the Northern Kingdom near Galilee that was made rather infamous because of some horrific deeds that were committed there a few generations back by Jehu, the last anointed dynastic king in the Northern Kingdom.
Jehu did not start out as a king, but rather was a captain in Israel’s army under King Joram, the son of Ahab and Jezebel. Elisha the prophet, operating under the movement of the Holy Spirit, sends a young man, a son of one of the prophets to seek out Jehu and anoint him king over Israel. As the young man anoints, him he gives Jehu a task to carry out….. destroy all of Ahab’s house, leave no one alive.
After he receives the Kingdom he wastes no time in obeying the prophet. Something tells me there was likely no love loss between Jehu and Ahab’s family. He immediately sets out for Jezreel, where Ahab had built a palace, and Joram is resting from wounds he had received in battle with the Syrians. Joram, king of Israel, and Ahaziah, king of Judah ride out together when they hear of Jehu’s coming. To Joram’s surprise, Jehu is not there to receive orders or deliver a message but to end his rule, and end it he does with an arrow in the back as he tries to flee from Jehu. Jehu then continues into Jezreel where Joram’s mother Jezebel is and instructs two eunuchs in her house to toss her out of a window, which they appeared to be glad to do. Jehu then turns his attention to the remaining sons of Ahab, there were 70 of them living in Samaria being cared for by great men of the city. Jehu instructs Samaria to choose the best one as a king, and get ready for battle. They were afraid of Jehu, so rather than fight they say, “tell us what you want us to do and we’ll do it”. Jehu basically says bring the heads of Ahab’s sons to Jezreel, which is done the very next day. They are placed in two piles outside the gate of the city and Jehu takes full responsibility for these actions before the people. All these things happened at Jezreel. You can read the Bibles account of these events in 2 Kings 9:1-10, 9:30-37, 10:1-10.
Towards the end of 2 Kings 10, specifically in verse 30, we are told that
“the LORD said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in carrying out what is right in my eyes, and have done to the house of Ahab according to all that was in my heart, your sons of the fourth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.”
After reading Hosea 1:2-5 this might strike us as a confusing. If God commanded Jehu to judge Ahab’s house, and then after Ahab’s house was judged by Jehu, God openly states that He is pleased with Jehu’s obedience in the matter, why then in Hosea 1:2-5 is God going to bring judgment upon Israel for the blood shed there? The answer I think can be found in two crimes committed by Jehu that occurred in or just outside Jezreel along with these events.
First, when Jehu goes to judge the House of Ahab, he heads to Jezreel to pay Joram and Jezebel a visit, but there is another king there, Ahaziah king of Judah, which we mentioned earlier. Ahaziah accompanies Joram as he rides out to see what Jehu is doing there. After Jehu executes God’s judgment upon Joram, he then turns, pursues, and executes Ahaziah as well. Now Ahaziah may not have been a great guy, but Jehu’s authority was to rule in Israel and judge the House of Ahab. He was not granted authority in Judah nor instructed to judge David’s house. Joram’s execution was just because it was God’s judgment, not Jehu’s. Ahaziah’s execution was murder, plain and simple. You can read the Bibles account of these events in 2 Kings 9:27,28
Second, after further judging Ahab’s House in the execution of Ahab’s 70 sons, again something that Jehu is called and granted authority to do, he does the unthinkable. Even if we think Ahaziah was killed under some sort of guilt by association, honest mistake on Jehu’s part, what happens next cannot be labeled as such. While riding out of Jezreel towards Samaria, Jehu runs into a group of royal travelers from Judah, 24 of Ahaziah’s family members, princes in Judah, a party numbering 42 people. They are taken captive alive, and slaughtered in a pit at Beth Eked. You can read the Bibles account of these events in 2 Kings 10:12-14.
These are the driving events that is fueling God’s judgment upon Jehu’s House and with it, an end to the Northern Kingdom. The blood of Ahab’s House was justly shed and commanded, the blood of David’s House was an atrocity, completely unjustified murders. These events also cannot be isolated from our Biblical Theology. God had promised to bring a King from David’s House to rule forever, one that would be a son to God and have the right to call God His Father. Of course we are talking about the Lord and Savior Christ Jesus. Jehu’s assault on David’s line was an assault on the Gospel and brought the just wrath of God upon his family. Every time the Gospel is assaulted it brings a severe judgment down upon the perpetrators. Think of Moses striking the rock twice and not getting to enter the Promised Land. Seems harsh if we view it without the lens of Biblical Theology. Moses’ second strike marred the Gospel picture. Jesus would only be crucified for men once.
“Behold, I have come to do your will.” He does away with the first in order to establish the second. And by that will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all. And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices, which can never take away sins. But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.
Jehu, well meaning as he may have been, (and I doubt he was) had no authority to extend judgment to David’s House. The Shedding of the blood of that line was reserved for another day, on a Roman cross, for all mankind. And while Ahaziah’s blood and that of his relatives was extracted against their will by the force of Jehu’s sword, Jesus’ blood was willingly given……He willingly laid down His life, for those of us, sinners as we are, blessed by faith to be called friend by Him.
Soli Deo Gloria