The Zeal of the Lord; July 13, 2021


Isaiah 37:32 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant,
and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
will accomplish this.

This phrase, “the zeal of the Lord,” appears repeatedly in Isaiah, most memorably in 9:7 in talking about Christ’s eternal kingdom. In Japanese, “zeal” is written very descriptively as “hot heart.” We don’t often think of God in those terms, but Isaiah had the sort of relationship with the Lord that enabled him to sense God’s passion for His people. It is dangerous to anthropomorphize God too much, that is, describe Him and think of Him as simply a glorified human being, but at the same time we need to remember that we are made in His image, (Genesis 1:27) so we get some of our characteristics from Him. There are many things about God that are beyond the power of human intellect to grasp, because God is infinite and we are clearly finite, and He is outside of time, having created the physical universe on which time depends, and we are created beings in the flow of time. However, God very graciously reveals things about Himself that we could never grasp on our own. Of course the greatest of those is His love, which is so incredibly magnificent that it caused Him to send His Son to die in the place of those who would believe in Him. That gives us real insight into His zeal, because it took a “hot heart” indeed to cause Him to do that. We can’t contain the entirety of His love, His zeal, but we can have the incredible privilege of being channels, instruments of that love, that zeal. God’s love will stop at nothing! From our perspective we often fail to recognize His love for what it is, so we need to ask Him to open our spiritual eyes to recognize it, and rejoice as He does so.

At this point in my life it is a temptation to succumb to the apathy that comes from burnout, but that is a lying trick of the devil. God’s love certainly hasn’t changed, and I must never forget that. The problem comes in my creating scenarios in my mind of what God’s zeal is going to do, and when things don’t happen that way I am deflated. In a way that is very good, because the last thing I need is to be puffed up! The antidote is genuine intimacy with my Lord, allowing Him to fill me with His Spirit so that I may grasp things about Him that I can’t understand with my mind. I am reminded of something I always discuss with couples before I do their wedding. Intimacy is of course a major topic for newlyweds, but we are too prone to box it in to the physical. I point out to couples that spiritual, emotional intimacy is far more important that the merely physical. I warn them that if they don’t cultivate and maintain heart intimacy, they will tire for the physical, and too often that leads to infidelity. However, when the heart intimacy is there, the whole package maintains its luster. I think one reason God created us male and female was so that we could taste His passion for us. I certainly wouldn’t say He is a sexual being, and talking like this can get confusing, since the devil has done so much to “dirty up” physical intimacy, but the New Testament speaks very clearly of the Church as the Bride of Christ, so we need to let the Holy Spirit straighten out our thinking.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I remember using Isaiah 9:7 in a dramatic reading I did for a speech class in college. I knew so little about Your zeal then! Help me indeed be an open conduit for Your zeal, however You want to use me, so that Your will may be done in and through me 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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