In this way, Jehu destroyed every trace of Baal worship from Israel. He did not, however, destroy the gold calves at Bethel and Dan, with which Jeroboam son of Nebat had caused Israel to sin.
Nonetheless the Lord said to Jehu, “You have done well in following my instructions to destroy the family of Ahab. Therefore, your descendants will be kings of Israel down to the fourth generation.” But Jehu did not obey the Law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart. He refused to turn from the sins that Jeroboam had led Israel to commit.
(2 Kings 10:28-31)
Jehu did much of what the Lord told him to do, but he did not obey God with all his heart. He had become God’s instrument for carrying out justice, but he had not become God’s servant. As a result, he gave only lip service to God while permitting the worship of the golden calves.
Why did Jehu destroy the idols of Baal but not the golden calves in Bethel and Dan? Jehu’s motives may have been more political than spiritual. (1) If Jehu had destroyed the golden calves, his people would have traveled to the temple in Jerusalem, in the rival southern kingdom, and worshiped there (which is why Jeroboam set them up in the first place; see 1 Kings 12:25-33). (2) Baal worship was associated with the dynasty of Ahab, so it was politically advantageous to destroy Baal. The golden calves, on the other hand, had a longer history in the northern kingdom and were valued by all political factions. (3) Baal worship was anti-God, but the golden calves were thought by many to be visible representations of God, even though God’s law stated clearly that such worship was idolatrous (Exodus 20:3-6). Like Jehu, it is easy for us to denounce the sins of others while excusing sin in our own lives.
Prayerfully check the condition of your heart toward God. We can be very active in our work for God and still not give him the heartfelt obedience he desires. Are there any areas of your life where you would honestly characterize your willingness to be obedient as halfhearted? Why? Then ask God to help you be willing to live wholeheartedly for him.