The history of the kings of Israel is primarily a mixture of a few good ones and the rest abysmal, some righteous but most of them were evil. The meaning of evil comes to bear through illustration of the people of God abandoning the covenant. Evil is faithlessness to the God of creation especially from His rescued people Israel.
Often the refrain, “and he did evil in the sight of the LORD” speaking of a kings’ rule because they, “…departed not from the ways of Jeroboam’s sin the son of Nebat…” The accusation was making Israel worship Baal which is no god at all, and the first commandment was continuously being violated, “You shall have no other gods before me.”
Doing evil in the sight of the LORD is not being careful to walk humbly before Him which is in accordance to the law of the LORD God of Israel (done with all the heart—10: 28-31). Image bearers are created to worship their Maker, but when He is ignored idolatry is inevitable. Consider the text;
“28 Thus Jehu eradicated Baal out of Israel. 29 However, as for the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel sin, from these Jehu did not depart, even the golden calves that were at Bethel and that were at Dan. 30 The Lord said to Jehu, “Because you have done well in executing 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.” 31 But Jehu was not careful to walk in the law of the Lord, the God of Israel, with all his heart; he did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam, which he made Israel sin.”
Acute is the sad reality that for most of Hebrew history, the LORD God of Israel is not loved by Israel as a whole. Instead He is despised seen in the berating, hating, persecution and death of Israel’s prophets which God sent to the people. This evil resulted because God’s word was rejected.
This theme is increasingly clear to me as I read the Scriptures and I must confess it never ceases to perplex me. I’m perplexed at the relentless idolatry they fall into and God’s relentless tender mercies in spite of their treason. This mercy of course is because of the covenant God made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob to bless the nations through his seed (13:22-23). What am I missing here in the text?
“22 Now Hazael king of Aram had oppressed Israel all the days of Jehoahaz. 23 But the Lord was gracious to them and had compassion on them and turned to them because of His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and would not destroy them or cast them from His presence until now.”
Perhaps it’s the sad reality of our rebellion in the Garden where we are created to rule and reign as God’s vice regents but we’ve treated that glorious mandate like sewage excrement. What glory has been given to mankind and the tragedy is deeply lamentable.
In Christ the effects of The Fall are being reversed and yet in this present evil age we the covenant people go to our own “high places” of porn sites, work places or play places. The idolatry is ever lingering and yet Yahweh for His names sake demonstrates mercy toward us.