Lukewarm or Zealous? – Part 1 :: by Lea Sylvester

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the true creation of God; I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.” Revelation 3:14-16

The passage of scripture above describes a church that is neither on fire for Yehovah God nor cold. Instead, it is lukewarm. It describes many churches today and many Christians today. None would probably consider themselves to be categorized in this manner. However, a question all should consider is: how does God view us?

Christians can and should understand that we are now caught in a spiritual battle. We are on one side or the other. There is no middle ground nor is there a “white flag” of surrender. The battle is raging and God’s Word tells us that the gates of hell shall not prevail against His Church. Does this description sound like the church of today? Are Christians walking in the authority and power given them by the Lord Jesus Christ Himself? Most are taught that those things were for the early church. That is simply not true. The five-fold ministry is alive and well no matter what any man says. God is the authority on this matter.

There is an abundance of wisdom and knowledge to be gained from studying scripture and particularly the Old Testament. It is the foundational teaching of the entire Word of God. Yet, it is has been intentionally overlooked, not taught, minimized and now is the time to understand that we cannot afford the luxury of being ignorant any longer.

This writer previously discussed the significance of the account of King Balak and of Balaam, the account of these is found in the Book of Numbers. King Balak had hired Balaam, a gentile sorcerer/false prophet, to curse Israel. But God intervened and prevented Balaam from cursing Israel. Instead, he put a tremendous blessing in Balaam’s mouth to speak over Israel. Balaam couldn’t curse Israel, but he did tell King Balak how to make Israel fall. It was to entice them to serve other gods and lead them into sin. We can see many parallels in this account to where we are as collectively as a nation today as well as where we are individually in our relationship with our Heavenly Father.

In Numbers 25, we see that Israel was completely unaware of what was going on behind the scenes and quickly succumbed and was led into idolatry. Yehovah reacted fierecly:

“And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the Lord was kindled against Israel.” Numbers 25:3

Here we see that the Midianites had led Israel into worshiping their god – Ba’al. They did this by befriending them and inviting them to join their festivities which included all manner of worship of other gods and this was in direct violation of what our God would tolerate. He does not tolerate this now, either by the way. Immediately a plague broke out in the camp of Israel. The leaders ran to the wilderness tabernacle and fell on their faces weeping before God. They were pleading for repentance on behalf of all.

In the midst of this, an Israelite man brings a Midianite woman into the camp, right in eyesight of those weeping at the Tabernacle, and into his tent. We read that the plague of God’s wrath against the Israelites was stopped when Phinehas, son of Eleazar (the Head Priest), killed the Israelite man and the Midianite woman for committing their high-handed sin in view of the Tabernacle. “High handed” sin is considered one that was such an abomination to God that no atonement would cover it. It required death of those committing it. Remember this.

Phinehas showed zeal in what he did. In Numbers 25:11-13, he is commended by God for zealousness, and as a reward he was given a covenant of everlasting peace and the office of the High Priest.  Here is a question: What is zeal, and why was he rewarded so magnificently for his actions?

The definition of zeal is as follows: #07068 quin’ah kin-aw’  KJV: jealousy 25, zeal 9, envy 8, for my sake 1; 43. Ardour, zeal, jealousy, jealous disposition, ardour of zeal (religious zeal): of men for God, for the house of God, of God for His people. Ardour of anger: of men against adversaries, of God against men, envy (of man), jealousy (resulting in the wrath of God).

Ardor is a noun. It means enthusiasm or passion. #2205 zelos dzay’los; from 2204; properly, heat, i.e. (figuratively) “zeal” (in a favorable sense, ardor, in an unfavorable one, jealousy [figuratively, of God], or an enemy, malice: emulation, envy(ing), fervent mind, indignation, jealousy, zeal.

Romans 12:11 commands us to be “fervent in spirit” which literally means to be “burning, seething hot.” #2204 zeo dzeh’-o; a primary verb, to be hot (boil of liquids; or glow, of solids), i.e. figuratively) to be fervid (earnest), be fervent.

Revelation 3:15-16 states “I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot. So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth. #2200  zestos dzes-tos’; from 2204; boiled, i.e. (by implication) calid (figuratively, fervent): hot.

Thomas Watson declared: “Zeal is the flame of the affections.”  Samuel Ward said, “It is a spiritual heat wrought in the heart of man by the Holy Spirit.”  The Puritans understood zeal to be the ardour and eagerness of the soul towards God.

This writer’s definition of zeal is:

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

We are to passionately pursue God with all of our essence, all of our soul and with every fiber of our being.  “And, behold, one of the children of Israel came and brought unto his brethren a Midianitish woman in the sight of Moses, and in the sight of all the congregation of the children of Israel, who were weeping before the door of the tabernacle of the congregation” Numbers 24:6.

Before we see Phinehas the warrior priest, we see him weeping. He was sitting among the congregation of weepers who were broken over the sin of the nation. His brokenness was not so much that God would judge Israel, but rather that Israel had sinned against God. Phinehas was zealous for his God. He felt the weight of the sins of his nation. Brokenness before Yehovah is the prerequisite for zeal. We must empty ourselves of our agendas, our biases, our self-righteousness; so that our zeal may be righteous and holy.

“And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it, Saying, if thou hadst known, even thou, at least in this thy day, the things which belong unto thy peace! But now they are hid from thine eyes…For the days shall come upon thee, that thine enemies shall cast a trench about thee, and compass thee round, and keep thee in on every side, And shall lay thee even with the ground, and thy children within thee; and they shall not leave in thee one stone upon another; because thou knewest not the time of thy visitation…And he went into the temple, and began to cast out them that sold therein, and them that bought; Saying unto them, It is written, My house is the house of prayer: but ye have made it a den of thieves.”  Luke 19:41-46. Our Lord said this and it is poignant and moving. These words can be applied to churches and Christians of our time, as well-particularly in the Western world.

We see the same zeal in Phinehas as we see with Yeshua (Jesus Christ). Jesus felt the weight of the sins of his nation. He wept over Israel, and then was zealous for His Father in the temple. It was said of Him that “The zeal of thine house hath eaten me up.” Psalm 69:9, John 2:17.

Obviously zeal should be an important and vital characteristic of Christians. What is the purpose of it?  It is to defend the glory and honor of our God. Phinehas was zealous to protect God’s holiness to prevent defilement of the tabernacle. Jesus Christ was zealous to protect God’s holiness to prevent defilement of the Temple. David wrote in Psalm 119:139, “My zeal hath consumed me because mine enemies have forgotten thy words!”

Zeal is for repentance. “As many as I loved I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore and repent.” Revelation 3:19. Zeal is to turn away God’s Wrath, “Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, hath turned my wrath away from the children of Israel, while he was zealous for my sake among them, that I consumed not the children of Israel in my jealousy.” Numbers 25:11.

Zeal is for Good Works. Paul writes of Yeshua (Jesus Christ) in Titus 2:14, “Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Paul admonishes us in Romans 12:11 to be “Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” Paul writes in Galatians 4:18, “But it is good to be zealously affected always in a good thing, and not only when I am present with you.”

Zeal is necessary to Contend for the Faith. “Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.” Jude 1:3(b).

Zeal is necessary as an example for others to follow. Paul compliments the believers at Corinth (2 Corinthians 9:1-2) “For as touching the ministering to the saints, it is superfluous for me to write to you: For I know the forwardness of your mind, for which I boast of you to them of Macedonia, that Achaia was ready a year ago; and your zeal hath provoked very many.”

What is the source of zeal? Is this source given in Scripture? Yes and readers might be surprised where it is found. For many Christians today (and perhaps readers here) it has been a very torturous, rocky path on the journey from Churchianity to find the truth. Many of the beliefs we once held we find out to be false or nothing more than traditions of men. Many of the doctrines we once believed to be uniquely “NT Christian” have turned out to be firmly rooted in the Torah or in the writings of the prophets or “Old Testament.”

“Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness. And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints;” Ephesians 6:10-18.

Many of us will agree that the Armor of God is a defining attribute of the New Testament Christian. What is the source for Paul’s doctrine or writing on spiritual warfare and the Armor of God? The Old Testament!  And please remember II Timothy 3:16, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine.”

We find the source for this is Isaiah 59. A beautiful chapter that discusses the sin of Israel (1-8), their repentance (9-15), and the promise of the Messiah (16-21). It is also the source for Paul’s discourse on the Armor of Yehovah (God):

“And he saw that there was no man, and wondered that there was no intercessory: therefore his arm brought salvation unto him; and his righteousness, it sustained him. For he put on righteousness as a breastplate, and an helmet of salvation upon his head; and he put on the garments of vengeance for clothing, and was clad with zeal as a cloke. According to their deeds, accordingly he will repay, fury to his adversaries, recompense to his enemies; to the islands he will repay recompense.” Isaiah 59:16-18

“So shall they fear the name of the LORD from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the LORD shall lift up a standard against him.  And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the LORD. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the LORD; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, said the LORD, from henceforth and for ever.” Isaiah 59:19-21.

Let us compare the Armor of God we read about in Isaiah to Ephesians. We find the Breastplate of Righteousness in Isaiah 59:17 and in Ephesians 6:14. We find the Helmet of Salvation in Isaiah 59:17 and in Ephesians 6:17. We find the Garments of Vengeance in Isaiah 59:17 but not mentioned in Ephesians. We find the Cloke of Zeal in Isaiah 59:17 but not mentioned in Ephesians.  Things brings the question then, what is this garment of vengeance? Revelation 19 gives us the answer:

“And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war. His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood; and his name is called The Word of God. And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean. And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS.” Revelation 19: 11-16

The Garment of Vengeance refers to when Yeshua (Jesus Christ) returns as the Go’el ha Dam, the Avenger of Blood. The Messianic prophecy in Isaiah 59 points directly to Revelation 19. The Garment of Vengeance is reserved for the Messiah: “To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense,…” Deuteronomy 32:55.

So clearly, we see that zeal is something that must be within each believer in order to carry out our assignments or duties or work for God.  This is continued in Lukewarm or Zealous Part II.

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