Our God is a burning, zealous God. The word in Hebrew for zeal is the same word for jealousy. It is the burning passionate heart of a Lover who wants the full object of His affection. He is radically committed to removing everything within and without that hinders love in order to have the One He loves. He has not given up on a dream to have a corporate bride who will be ready to marry His Son on that day He returns.
The zeal of the Lord is a precious topic because so much of our lives we imagine God as unemotional, stoic, abstract, and yet we find in the portraits of Jesus that He is the exact representation of the Father, the very radiance of His glory. We have no idea the yearnings and burning in His heart. He is not looking for subjects, He is looking for a bride. Most of our lives are spent living as if the end of our faith is God getting more subjects in His Kingdom in order to tell us what to do. We imagine that the only zeal He has in His heart is to look for opportunities to check us off of the list that qualifies us to be loved and blessed by Him. So much of life we spend seeing God’s discipline as His rejection of us, and if we just clean ourselves up enough then He would receive us, when it’s actually the opposite. He disciplines those He loves because He doesn’t want to give up on the highest dream He has for our lives. That is why He constantly sets up scenarios to prune us from within and without.
There is a long history of the emotions of God and His dealings with people. When Jesus comes to the religious leaders of the day in John 2, His first appearance in the temple is a highly emotional drama. It is His first public appearing in the Gospel of John. The first thing He does after His baptism is confront the enemies within. The very thing that is going to be said about Jesus in chapter two is zeal for His house consumes Him. It eats Him up. Hold that thought for a moment. What does it look like for the God who has all power in the universe, all the mental capacity you could ever imagine, and zeal eats Him up? Zeal consumes Him for the object of His affection.
In John 2, Jesus comes from the wedding in Canaan. He remembers a covenant He made. He recalls His desire to have a holy people who are a special treasure, a chosen people, a royal priesthood. His heart is yearning, zeal is rising. The Father has promised Him a bride. He has been waiting thirty years. It says in John 2:13, “Now the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who sold oxen and sheep and doves and the money changers doing business.” What does he do? He makes a whip of cords. What do you think Jesus was reflecting on while He was making this whip? I think He was remembering His covenant long ago that He made with Abraham. It’s not by accident that Jesus does this on Passover. He remembers, “I have history with you and it goes all the way back to the Exodus. I won’t share you with another. Do you remember Sinai?” He is stringing the cords together, “I came on Passover because I have a Bride. I started this thing in Sinai and I’m going to finish it.” This event has a history and Jesus is recalling it in His mind. Zeal for His house consumes Him.
In Exodus 19, they have come out of Egypt. God’s zeal for His people has crushed the most powerful empire on earth. He has come at the enemies who have struck His people and He is setting them free. On Passover, He finishes the job. In John 2, I believe Jesus is remembering that day when He romanced and brought them out of captivity. In Exodus 19 He tells Moses, prepare the people. I want them to be a special treasure above all the people on the earth. It’s the language of courtship. It’s the language of love. It’s the language of passion for an object of His affection. God wants Israel. He wants them to be a sign and wonder to the rest of the earth.
The story continues as He tells them to consecrate themselves because on the third day, He is going to show up, and He does. As He comes a trumpet gets louder and louder, a fiery cloud comes down and settles on the mountain. The mountain begins shaking. He is displaying His wonders. He is romancing them. This is where He gives them the ten commandments and He announces for the first time His name is jealous. It is the first time God ever uses the word zeal or jealous in the bible. It is the context of giving them the covenant of His jealous love. In Deuteronomy 4:24 God says, “For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.” His name is jealous!
Beloved, its not like the emotions of God are an option at the end of the age. It is not realistic to imagine that you can have theological paradigms and leave the emotions of God out. They are at the core of what is moving God to a crescendo at the end of the age. In John 17:23 Jesus prays to the Father, “Father, I desire that they also whom you gave Me may be with Me where I am”, passion breaking out in a prayer that is going to be answered by the Father. Planet earth is not coming to an end because of the sin of humanity. There is only one thing bringing the end of the age to a close, that is the burning heart of the jealous God to have us as His possession, His full possession.
The zeal of God is a mysterious thing. In this age, He is emphasizing His zeal because He wants us to enter into the most superior pleasures we can imagine. So, even as we enter into lifestyles of prayer and fasting He will begin to put His finger on our hearts because He is our jealous Bridegroom. He loves you so much, but He will not share you with anyone.
Father, thank you for strengthening me so I can feel and understand your emotions. Let me experience the most superior pleasures available in this life, send grace, and remove all that hinders Your love for me.
Allen Hood, 5/5/2008 6