Last week, our bible study group started our study of the book of the prophet Malachi and oh my, did God speak to us! We literally never made it past Malachi 1:4 and what an intense discussion we had. I've now woken up on a Sunday morning and God is giving me further insight into our discussion about His love for His people. The book of Malachi begins with God sending His prophet, Malachi, to speak to the people and priests of Israel about their wickedness and right from the beginning, God is being questioned. God is being asked 'How have you loved us?'. The group agreed it was a little insolent to ask that question of God when their entire history was filled with the wonderful acts of God for them and against their various enemies!
One of such accounts is in the book of Isaiah 36 where the King of Assyria sends his messenger to tell the people of Israel to surrender to them or face destruction. The proud (of his Assyrian-ness) messenger boasts of all the other nations that his king has taken and how the gods of those nations failed to protect them from his wrath. King Hezekiah warns his people not to respond to the blaspheme of God, rightly expectant of God's wrath falling on the Assyrians for their insolence and blaspheme. And massive applause 👏 to Hezekiah for not trembling. After consulting the prophet Isaiah, God promises that His 'zeal' will accomplish the salvation of the people of Israel after the downfall of Assyria.
Zeal (noun): great energy or enthusiasm in pursuit of a cause of an objective
How powerful and satisfying for our spirit to serve a God who has such great passion and zeal for His people. We know God is a jealous God and His zeal has accomplished more than pouring out blessing for His people. His zeal has also brought destruction to those who go against His word. The zeal for God is what led Jesus to clear the temple of those who were trading (John 2:13-25). God's zeal and passion, fuelled by love, is what keeps us daily and prevents the plans of the enemy from coming to pass against us. The same zeal is fuelled by our obedience and faith in Him, as demonstrated by Hezekiah when the Assyrians came to threaten him into submission. Remember what a zealous God you serve the next time the enemy comes with his lies. When the enemy challenges you, foolishly, remind yourself of the zeal of God. The zeal that led Jesus to the cross, to give up His life for ours; it was no ordinary act. It was ZEALOUS!
Now, knowing all this, knowing how much God is consumed by His passion for us, do we burn with the same zeal for God? That's the question for today - Do you burn with zeal for God and His ministry? For each of us that yearns to have a closer relationship with God, we must be capable of doing what Jesus did in the temple (more on that later) and FEEL the way God feels about and for us!
Psalm 69:9 says "...for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me."
So does it? Does zeal for God consume you? Paul, when he was Saul, was consumed by so much passion that he persecuted the very people who would become his brothers and sisters. God was able to utilise that passion and all of us, even today, are still benefiting from that zeal. We are learning from that zeal and sparks of zeal are being ignited in us. That's our prayer everyday, that God's zeal for us will never die and our zeal for Him will burn brighter and brighter! Amen!