Zeal—Is It a Vital Christian Virtue?

Is it indispensable for a true Christian to have zeal? Will we suffer loss and be punished by God, if we lack zeal? The answer to these questions is, “yes”, because zeal is defined in Scripture as to be “hot, in earnest, to be fervent”  (compare Strong’s Concordance No.2204 (Greek)). The spiritual virtue of zeal is rendered as “strong love” in Isaiah 37:32 (compare “Easy To Read Version”).

Jesus Christ has this zeal, for we read in Isaiah 59:17 that He “was clad with zeal as a cloak”, wearing it over His armor. This means, we are to be fervent in all aspects of the armor of God, which is described in Ephesians, chapter 6. This includes the belt or girdle of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, feet to proclaim the gospel of peace, the shield of faith, the helmet of salvation, the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God, and finally praying always. These are all parts of the armor. Isaiah 59:21 emphasizes the sword of the Spirit: “My Spirit [which] is upon you, and My words which I have put in your mouth, shall not depart from your mouth…”

God expects us to have zeal and a strong love for His Word and not to sanitize, whitewash or soften it, so that it has no effect on the hearers. “For the word of God is living and powerful” (Hebrews 4:12).

In Ezekiel 3:4, it is stated: “Son of man, go to the house of Israel and speak with My words to them!” And what is the purpose? “… hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me” (Ezekiel 3:17). What warning is this? For example, “One-third of you shall die of the pestilence, and be consumed with famine in your midst; and one-third shall fall by the sword all around you; and I will scatter another third to all the winds, and I will draw out a sword after them… and they shall know that I, the LORD, have spoken it in My zeal, when I have spent My fury upon them” (Ezekiel 5:12-13).

Why must we speak these words to them? The answer is here: “If you do not speak to warn the wicked  from his way… his blood I will require at your hand” (Ezekiel 33:8). We must show Israel and all peoples the soon-coming worldwide destruction. In Matthew 24:14, we read that the gospel of the Kingdom is to be announced to them  “as a witness…”  Strong’s Concordance No.3142 (Greek) defines giving witness as including giving “evidence of the Decalogue (the ten commandments) in the sacred Tabernacle, to give a testimony”, so that our nations can avoid this destruction and show repentance by keeping the Ten Commandments.

Why does God want us to speak such terrible words of a warning witness to the houses of Israel, Judah and all nations? Focusing on Judah as an example, God explains His purpose for His warnings, through His Church, in Jeremiah 36:3 and 7, when He says: “It may be that the house of Judah will hear all the adversities which I purpose to bring upon them, that everyone may turn from his evil way, that I may forgive their iniquity and their sin… For great is the anger and the fury that the LORD has pronounced against this people.”

Do we have the zeal to do this?

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