Lukewarm or Zealous? – Part 2 :: by Lea Sylvester

As we continue from Part I we see that zealousness is a requirement for effective service to God in our Christian life. What is the Cloak of Zeal as mentioned in the previous commentary? Could the Tallit be a physical representation of this spiritual principle?

The account of Gideon gives us an accurate view of this essential topic. In Judges 6:1-24, we see that Gideon is shown as a man of fear and doubt. He threshes wheat by the winepress because he is afraid of the Midianites. When God tells him that he will save Israel he doubts those words and doesn’t believe. Then something happens that changes him completely.

“But the Spirit of the LORD came upon Gideon, and he blew a trumpet; and Abiezer was gathered after him.” Judges 6:34

This sounds awesome, doesn’t it?  The Ruach (Holy Spirit) of God is shown here and we see Gideon blowing a shofar, a trumpet as we refer to it. But the translation we have in the KJV is a bad translation that obscures what really happens. What does it really mean for the Holy Spirit  to come upon someone?

#03847 labash law-bash’ or labesh law-bashe’: to dress, wear, clothe, put on clothing, be clothed is the correct way to view this. This verse literally means that the Holy Spirit of God clothed Gideon. It doesn’t mean Gideon got goosebumps or the hair stood upon his arms. It doesn’t mean he ran around the village hooting and hollering. It means the Holy Spirit enveloped him, outfitted him, from head to toe!

Immediately, we see Gideon change and take charge and lead the Israelites to victory. Gideon became “zealous” against the enemies of Yehovah (God).  Many of us “picture” a Roman soldier when we read the account of the Armor of God, as described by Paul in Ephesians. But, as has been pointed out in detail, the “cloak” was not mentioned there but in Isaiah 59. What is the cloak of a warrior? The cloak provided warmth and protection from the cold. It was nearly waterproof and provided protection against rain and water. It provided bedding for sleeping. It provided comfort and the feeling of security. Could we then say this is the “Cloak of Zeal”? Does not the Holy Spirit do all of these for us?  The Cloak of Zeal is the Spirit of God (the Holy Spirit) enveloping us and operating through us to accomplish his purposes.

We must understand that the Armor of God is not just a title; it literally is the Armor that God used in Isaiah. And, unlike David, who couldn’t use Saul’s armor, the Holy Spirit makes it a perfect fit for us and teaches us how to use the armor to do battle. Let’s go back to Numbers 24 and look again at the story of Phinehas.

“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. And when Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron the priest, saw it, he rose up from among the congregation, and took a javelin in his hand; and he went after the man of Israel into the tent, and thrust both of them through, the man of Israel, and the woman through her belly. So the plague was stayed from the children of Israel.” Numbers: 24:6-8.

“And those that died in the plague were twenty and four thousand. And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying, ‘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. Wherefore, say, Behold, I give unto him my covenant of peace. And he shall have it, and his seed after him, even the covenant of an everlasting priesthood; because he was zealous for his God, and made an atonement for the children of Israel.” Numbers 24:9-13.

We must realize that Phinehas did not act impulsively. He was a Levite, and their duty was to protect God’s holiness against defilement at any cost. Phinehas’ heart was right before God. He was at the tabernacle weeping over the sins of Israel when this event occurred. He did not act on his own emotion, but operated under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit. His actions were fully condoned by God. There is a definite time and place for zeal.

We see other examples of zealousness for God in scripture:

Miriam and Aaron murmur against Moses over his wife (a Midianite). Moses is unaware this happens. God defends Moses and severely chastises Miriam and Aaron. This can be found in Numbers 12:1-10.  We see the account of the people speaking against Moses at a place called Zin. There was no water. God tells Moses to speak to the rock and he will bring forth water. Instead, Moses strikes the rock and vindicates himself, and does not defend God. As a result, Moses cannot enter the Promised Land.  The account of this event is found in Numbers 20:1-12.

Of course, as discussed here, Israel rebels and commits idolatry (and adultery) with the Midianites. Phinehas alone stands and defends the honor of Yehovah and is greatly rewarded.

God defends our honor. He looks past our faults and to the rest of the world he declares us righteous and without fault by the blood of the Messiah. He expects the same from us. When Moses did not defend the honor of God, it cost him dearly. When Phinehas defended God’s honor, it rewarded him greatly.

Do we, as Believers, see times or events happening today when we are not defending the honor of God? Are we ever to separate our “faith” from the rest of our life? Many of us see clearly the things happening that dishonor God. But, we don’t say a word. Is this what we are expected to do? What about on our jobs or in our families or with friends? Do we just look the other way and do nothing?

“Turn, O backsliding children, saith the LORD; for I am married unto you…” Jeremiah 3:14.

Husbands, how many of you would not defend the honor of your wife with your very life? How can we do any less for God? Why do we? Is it because we are told that we must be “tolerant” or “out of love” we look the other way? What is our first love? To whom do we answer? We are to be zealous for God and for the things of God at all costs. Scripture makes this abundantly clear. Anything less is what is considered “lukewarm.” Do we want to be considered lukewarm? No way!

The reward for zealousness is clear. We see how Phinehas was rewarded. This was with an unending covenant that cannot be broken. This was spoken of by the prophet Malachi:

“And ye shall know that I have sent this commandment unto you, that my covenant might be with Levi, saith the LORD of hosts. My covenant was with him of life and peace; and I gave them to him for the fear wherewith he feared me, and was afraid before my name. The law of truth was in his mouth, and iniquity was not found in his lips, he walked with me in peace and equity, and did turn many away from iniquity.” Malachi 2:4-6.

We find later that Phinehas assumed a major role in leading the Israelites into the Promised Land as the “War Priest.” Do we know of another high priest that was zealous for God and defended his holiness? Do we know of another high priest who will lead the war into the promised land? Do we know of another high priest with an everlasting covenant of peace (a/k/a the Prince of Peace)?

This zealousness cannot be stressed enough. It is stressed in God’s Word. “Then stood up Phinehas, and executed judgment: and so the plague was stayed.  And that was counted unto him for righteousness unto all generations for evermore.” Psalm 106:30.

To “execute judgment” also is translated as to intervene or intercede. “Plague” also is translated as “slaughter.” Why the slaughter? Because Moses once again did not follow the words of God.

Brothers and sisters, zeal is a part of the armor of God. The source of zeal is the very spirit of God that descends upon us and envelopes us and through his spirit we can use the armor to do battle for his purpose. The pre-requisite of zeal is brokenness before God. Our Father expects us to defend his honor as he defends ours.  Zeal is for repentance, to turn away God’s wrath, for good works, to contend for the faith, and as an example for others to follow.  Failing to defend the honor of God can have grave consequences but defending his honor is greatly rewarded.

What does it mean for us to have a spirit similar to that of Phinehas, and reflecting God’s own zeal? It means that we should speak out on behalf of God’s truth in doctrine and in life, that we should oppose wickedness and unbelief. Society should hear from us, the circle of our immediate acquaintances should hear from us, the church of the Lord Jesus needs to hear from us. We should insist that due worship and honor and acknowledgment be accorded God, the Lord of hosts. We should be indignant for his honor!

Men are bold to insist that they be given their rights, or that respect should be had for lax and vague values which run counter to or fall far short of what God has prescribed in his Word. But we should be insistent in our announcement of what God has spoken in his Word. There is to be a firmness in our stand, a boldness in reference to God’s authority and in reference to the uniqueness of Jesus as Savior. There is to be a zeal in contending for the whole range of doctrines and standards of conduct set forth in the true religion revealed in Scripture. Moreover, we are to exemplify these truths by a life that is holy and temperate.

There must be public opposition to sin. There must be unashamed proclamation of the truth of the gospel. That is what it means to share the zeal of Phinehas. This is a zeal of fidelity to the Lord.

We see prophecy unfolding at a spectacular rate. We see events happening that are disturbing and which may leave us wondering what went wrong. Look at America today! WE are told we cannot name the name of Jesus! But we must tolerate the name of pagans. This is not what we are to do and it is boldly pointed out here. If Christians had been awake the last 30 years or so, it is very possible we would not find ourselves in the predicament we now face. But we serve an Awesome God. It is up to us dear brothers and sisters. We are called by His name. Let us fall on our face before Him and confess of our sins and of the sins of this nation. Let us turn away from our wickedness and if we are guilty of dishonoring God by not honoring him and defending him, let us quickly set that right. We must collectively ask for mercy and forgiveness on a personal level as well as corporately for our nation. God has given the USA a time of grace. What will be the end? Will we see the seriousness of the hour and do as we know we must or will we sit on our hands and watch this window of opportunity pass us by?  Seek the Lord while He may be found. Put him first in your lives and in all things honor him! Do all as unto him. Let your light shine before men for we are to have a light that cannot be put out. Darkness is coming, let us quickly be about our Father’s business!

This writer’s heart is very heavy and burdened for not only the unsaved but also for those who are not living the life that they should by putting God first. He will bring the mighty to humility. He will reckon with those who have been deceptive and this means from the top of the government to the bottom of society. Seek to walk in His perfect will and do all you can in these last hours. We are to be the salt of the earth. What does salt do? It is a preservative! There is great rot everywhere we look. Be the salt, be the light! Be zealous for our Lord! Let it be known that we stand for the one True God and we will exalt His name forever! Stand! Be fervent! Be diligent! Rise and shine, for the Glory of the Lord has come. He goes before us, making the crooked paths straight. He confounds the enemy and he uses the simple to confound the wise. Let us not ever be lukewarm but fiery hot and zealous for God!

It is my prayer that this commentary speaks to those who read it and touches the hearts of those as well. We all must wake up and do as we know God expects us to do for Him. Let us not be lazy or lax in anything. For the glory of our Father, let’s arise!

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