Zeal for the LORD

What are we to make of Psalm 69? Of special interest is Ps 69:5-12 of which was remembered by the disciples (John 2:17) after Jesus drove the money-changers from the Temple:

O God, you know how foolish I am;
my sins cannot be hidden from you.
Don’t let those who trust in you be ashamed because of me,
O Sovereign Lord of Heaven’s Armies.
Don’t let me cause them to be humiliated,
O God of Israel.
For I endure insults for your sake;
humiliation is written all over my face.
Even my own brothers pretend they don’t know me;
they treat me like a stranger.
Passion for your house has consumed me,
and the insults of those who insult you have
fallen on me.
When I weep and fast,
they scoff at me.
When I dress in burlap to show sorrow,
they make fun of me.
I am the favorite topic of town gossip,
and all the drunks sing about me.

The Hebrew word translated in this version as ‘passion’, derives from the Hebrew word, ha’n>qi (qin´â) , for which ‘jealousy’, ‘envy’, or ‘ardent zeal’ more properly reflects the understanding of the Hebrews in Jesus’s day. A deep appreciation of this word’s meaning has significant theological meaning in that it addresses the question of whether one can be too zealous in his love for the LORD?

Jesus’s behavior in the temple exemplifies the meaning of qin´â and the Hebrew scriptures were undoubtedly on the minds of His disciples when Jesus went after the ungodly in the temple (John 2:17). God expects man to return his love. However, the love God desires is not an emotion. Rather, love for God is a structured, covenantal relationship defined by both ritual and deed. To love God, therefore, is to conform our lives to His will. The word, qin´â, takes this understanding of love for God one step further in that it denotes a passionate, all-consuming behavior whose ultimate objective is to protect God’s honor in the face of the ungodly acts of men and nations. The acts of Phinehas, Jehu, and Saul (2 Sam 21:2) are emblematic of this kind of zeal. Indeed Phinehas and Jehu are described as having such ardent zeal for their LORD that the horrible deeds they commit, the violation of His commands, are overlooked.

The message though is clear: These men stirred the wrath of God who is so “zealous for His holy name” (Ezek 39:25) that they not only escaped punishment but were exalted. The godly (esp. Messiah) are consumed, therefore, by an ardent zeal to exalt God by maintaining purity of worship (Psa 69:9), and obedience respecting the whole of God’s word (Psa 119:139). Are we then surprised that Isaiah’s characterize of the coming messiah is as if He had “wrapped himself in a cloak” of qin´â (Isa 59:17)

Hard though it might be to contemplate, Jesus’s actions in the temple mirrored those of Phinehas, Jehu, Elija, and Saul before Him. As the Messiah, Jesus, imbued as He was with an ardent zeal for God, was to protect God’s holy name and His holy temple even at the cost of His own life.

Now, go and study

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1 Response to Zeal for the LORD

  1. Kali says:

    , God leads us into sacrifice. What do I mean by that? Meaning, I could look at oherts, or even take the example of the rich young ruler and give up all my money and all my possessions but, is that what God has asked me to do? MAYBE HE HAS ANOTHER PRIORITY in terms of what He wants you to sacrifice. For example, in my life, I could give up a whole host of things to prove/show my love for Him but, then the only thing He is after at that moment is for me to believe Him when He says that He loves me even when I feel like I could not deserve that love or that blessing. It’s often such a greater sacrifice for a person struggling with something to give or believe God in that thing that goes against their nature or their works. (I dont’ know if that made sense! if not, let me know I’ll try to re-word Inviting Him into our darknesses and failures and believing that because of Jesus we are worthy or can be forgiven and moving on with God out of condemnation. You could attempt to sacrifice some stuff but, God-directed sacrifice is always more fruitful. As I said before if you can just give Him free reign where you’re at and invite Him into all of your dark and dusty rooms and let Jesus come sit with you in those rooms and talk to Him about them that is also love. Frankly, I’m kind of excited about your journey and hope that you can simply invite God in and, let Him share in all parts of you. I have found in my experience, He is very faithful to do His work quite often at His own pace and in His own time and quite often because He’s very all-seeing about who we are and what we need. If you can trust Him with your life to the fullest measure that you are able to at the moment This is love! Believe me He will do the rest!

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