Jehu reigned for 28 years (2 Kings 10:36), and yet the book of 2 Kings only really tells us about the events of him coming to the throne. Obviously other major events happened throughout his reign (otherwise it would have been one of the quietest reigns of any king in the ancient near east), yet the Bible chooses to focus on just the bloodbath of his rise to power. But why?
Sometimes these Old Testament events seem rather far removed from us. How are we to understand and apply such passages today? Clearly we're not supposed to imitate Jehu, but what's it all about?
Jehu is actually unique among all the kings of the northern kingdom of Israel because he's the only one that God had anointed. Before Israel split in two its kings were anointed, but after the split we're only told of three kings who were anointed: two in the southern kingdom of Judah, and Jehu alone in the north. That means that Jehu, unlike any other king of the northern kingdom, was God's anointed.
If we really want to understand the Old Testament and what it has to do with us today, the New Testament tells us how. After Jesus' resurrection, He met some disciples on the road to Emmaus, and 'beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.' (Luke 24:27). Notice it says 'in all the Scriptures'. What Jesus was showing His disciples after His resurrection was that the whole of the Old Testament was a book about Him. So if we want to understand the Old Testament properly, we need to see Jesus.
So what's Jehu got to do with Jesus? We can very easily look at Jehu and simply see a murderous coup, but that isn't really what happened. Jehu didn't murder his way to the top; he was commissioned and sent by God to execute judgement on His enemies. He brought down Jezebel and all of Ahab's family who had purged Israel of the worship of God and brought in the cult of Baal. He cut off the false prophets who were leading the people after false gods (2 Kings 10:18-28). Jehu was God's anointed who brought God's judgement on God's enemies.
Of course Jehu wasn't perfect and the justice he brought wasn't perfect. Although he 'destroyed Baal from Israel' (2 Kings 10:28), going on from there he 'took no heed to walk in the law of the Lord God of Israel with all his heart' (2 Kings 10:31). He was God's anointed and He brought God's judgement, but he was still a sinful man.
But there is One who will come and bring God's judgement perfectly, One who is without sin, One who is like Jehu, only much much better. When we see Jehu, this imperfect anointed bringer of divine judgement, it should make us look forward to the perfect Anointed bringer of divine judgement.
For the true Anointed One, the One to whom all those anointed in the Old Testament point, the Christ has come and will come again. Jesus the Anointed One has come and judged God's enemies of sin and Satan through His powerful Cross. And He will come again to bring the final fulfilment of God's judgement upon those who stand against God at the last day (Rev. 19:11-16). Jesus is like Jehu, only better. Much better.