December 16, 2014

Isaiah 9:7 The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

This has always been an interesting phrase to me. It’s translated pretty consistently, with the variations being between “LORD Almighty” and the more literal “LORD of Hosts,” but they all say “zeal.” Just what is zeal, anyway? The Japanese expression is literally “hot heart.” Some philosophers and theologians get all up in arms over what they call “anthropomorphism,” attributing human characteristics to God, but let’s face it: the Bible does it all the time. It may seem illogical that the Creator of the universe would have emotions, for example, but this is only one of many passages that would seem to make it very clear that He does. When we insist on thinking of Him as an old man in the sky, that is very limiting to our grasp of who and what He is. That’s indeed anthropomorphism, imagining Him to be as we are, instead of understanding what it means that He made us in His image. (Genesis 9:6) We are rational, creative, and emotional beings because He is. If He weren’t, how could He be love? (1 John 4:8) Coming back to this phrase in this verse, I feel it says that God is passionate about salvation; He really cares. Some deists posit Him as a heavenly watchmaker, winding up the universe and then leaving it alone, but that completely ignores verses like this. We need to understand that God really cares; He’s not dispassionate. That’s why Peter could say so famously, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7) “Cares” there of course includes the meaning of “takes care of,” but it certainly means that we matter to God. I think that’s what Psalm 116:15 is all about: “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” God is passionate about His creation and especially about us, so much so that He sent Himself, in the Person of His Son, to take the penalty for our sin and make it possible for us to live with Him eternally. (John 3:16)

This is of course what Christmas is all about, as He has had me say repeatedly in recent days. When familiarity has dulled the wonder of Christmas I need to get a fresh vision of His passion for us that brought it all about. I will have several more opportunities to share publicly this Christmas season, and I need to let His passion infect and motivate me. After all, “enthused” means “filled with God!” Not just before groups but in personal encounters as well, I need to let God’s love bubble over through me, drawing others to Him. I’ll have at least one such opportunity today, and I must make the most of it. I need to let God’s zeal operate in and through me, to accomplish His will for His glory.

Father, thank You for the genuinely refreshing day yesterday, and for the “attitude adjustment” You’ve been doing on me. Help me meet each day throughout the rest of the season, and throughout the rest of my life, with Your zeal, Your love, Your grace, Your wisdom, so that all of Your purposes for me may be fulfilled, on Your schedule and for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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