In these bulletin articles, we’ve been going through a list of questions and answers contained in the Westminster Larger Catechism, published in the 17th Century. We’ve been looking at God’s law as summarised in the ten commandments and started by examining the first commandment: ‘You shall have no other gods before me’ (Exodus 20:3). We’ve seen that the first commandment requires that you acknowledge and worship God by remembering, esteeming, honouring, loving, desiring, fearing, trusting, hoping, delighting and rejoicing in him. But how else can you worship God?
The Bible regularly encourages those who worship God to be zealous for him. For example, the apostle Paul writes: ‘Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord’ (Romans 12:11). A Greek lexicon says about the word used here by Paul and translated as ‘zeal’ in English means ‘to be stirred up emotionally, be enthusiastic/excited/on fire’.
Zealousness manifests itself in different ways. For examples, Jesus is described as being ‘zealous’ in his actions in clearing the temple. We read in John’s gospel: ‘His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me”’ (John 2:17).
Another example of commendable zeal for God is from Phineas in the Old Testament: We read: ‘While Israel was staying in Shittim, the men began to indulge in sexual immorality with Moabite women, who invited them to the sacrifices to their gods. The people ate and bowed down before these gods. So Israel joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor. And the LORD’s anger burned against them. The LORD said to Moses, “Take all the leaders of these people, kill them and expose them in broad daylight before the LORD, so that the LORD’s fierce anger may turn away from Israel.” So Moses said to Israel’s judges, “Each of you must put to death those of your men who have joined in worshiping the Baal of Peor.” Then an Israelite man brought to his family a Midianite woman right before the eyes of Moses and the whole assembly of Israel while they were weeping at the entrance to the Tent of Meeting. When Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, saw this, he left the assembly, took a spear in his hand and followed the Israelite into the tent. He drove the spear through both of them– through the Israelite and into the woman’s body. Then the plague against the Israelites was stopped; but those who died in the plague numbered 24,000. The LORD said to Moses, “Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest, has turned my anger away from the Israelites; for he was as zealous as I am for my honor among them, so that in my zeal I did not put an end to them. Therefore tell him I am making my covenant of peace with him. He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites”’ (Numbers 25:1-13).
Are you zealous for the LORD? Do you know what it is to feel fire for his glory? Sadly, we are not as zealous for God as we should be. Which is why we must repent and ask God to forgive our breaking of the first commandment and not worshiping him as we ought. Have you asked God to forgive your lack of zeal for him?