READ: Numbers 25-27, Psalm 49, Luke 5, 1 Corinthians 5
ZEAL FOR HOLINESS. Sexual sin led the people of God to idolatry (Num. 25:1-2). While all sin is heinous there is something about sexual sin that perverts from the inside out and affects others. Phinehas, the son of Eleazar the high priest, acts ruthlessly against sexual sin (puts a spear through the offending couple), stops the plague, turns back God’s wrath, and is rewarded with God’s covenant of peace (v. 12). The New Testament version of this zeal is found in 1 Corinthians 5 where Paul instructs, “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ…deliver such a one to Satan for the destruction of the flesh” (1 Cor. 5:3). Those in authority must deal harshly with sexual sin. We must be ruthless, zealous with God’s zeal against any sexual impurity in our own lives.
ZEAL FOR PRAISE. Nik Ripken in his book The Insanity of God tells of a Russian pastor unjustly imprisoned for seventeen years. In his cell, every dawn of those seventeen years, this pastor would rise, stand at attention on his bed, raise his hands toward heaven, and sing at the top of his lungs his heartsong to God. Fellow prisoners mocked him, but he sang on, zealous to greet each new day with praise to Jesus. After seventeen years, his captors marched him to a place of execution and the whole prison stood in their cells at attention and sang out this pastor’s praise song to the heavens. Not knowing how to respond, the communist authorities released him. We must be dedicated, zealous with God’s zeal, for praise. “The upright shall have dominion….in the morning” (Ps. 49:14).
ZEAL FOR THE IMPOSSIBLE. In Luke 5:4 Jesus tells Simon and his colleagues to “launch out into the deep and let down your nets for a catch.” Simon knows that history (after trying all night) is against him, but agrees to do so because Jesus asked. When Simon attempts what he knows is impossible, the harvest exceeds his ability to conserve – so he calls in other partners to help. When the impossible is granted, Simon is awed and horrified that God would use such sinful vessels and visit them in person. Our zeal for the impossible is only maintained in purity if we are both awed and horrified that God uses us to do the impossible. The impossible will not happen without humility and without dependence on one another. These seem to be God’s requirements for overwhelming breakthrough.
ZEAL FOR GOD’S PRESENCE. Jesus’ response to the impossible (healings, miracles, power unleashed) and the resulting fame and recognition was to “often withdraw into the wilderness and pray” (Luke 5:16). We cannot sustain zeal for God, nor steward it wisely, if we are not often in the presence of the giver of that zeal. The zeal of God is God’s to give, God’s to steward, God’s to renew. Only by being devoted to daily extravagant time with Jesus (Abiding) will God’s zeal bring life and not destroy us.