Zeal

A conflagration contained; a fire focused; a torch in transit, a fervent flame—Zeal is all these things.
When Jesus, whip in hand, disturbed the peace of an ordinary morning in the Temple, His disciples were reminded of the psalm that said, “The zeal of Your house will consume me.”

Zeal. Jesus demonstrated it that day. He was a conflagration barely contained, a fire totally focused on the profanity before Him in the sacred space dedicated to praise. He was a burning torch of righteous indignation moving through the crowd, a fervent flame of wrath spreading justice with every step and every crack of the whip.

The zeal of His Father’s house was burning, but it was not consuming Him.
The fires of the Spirit of God do not consume the good, only the bad and there was nothing bad in Jesus, no rotting fuel of iniquities hidden or strange substance of sin. The fire of the Spirit burned with a pure, white heat from the depths of His pure heart out to the end of the whip in His hand. And the work of the Spirit was done—reform of His Father’s House, at least for that morning. He was the Refiner’s Fire incarnate, purifying the House of God, consuming the bad and refining the good.

The last prophet in the Old Testament predicted this. “Suddenly the Lord you seek will come to His temple! He will be a Refiner’s Fire to purify the sons of Levi.” The merchants of cheap grace were not suited up for His zeal and they got burned. Instead of profit, they found a prophet, the Messenger of a New Covenant of a holy fire that cleanses the soul.

There is no need to fear the Zeal of the Lord.
We all have a natural fear of fire and well we should. Fire out of control is a devastating force. The Zeal of the Father’s House is a cleansing force, a purifying process of revolutionized thinking and corrected behavior. It is like the fire Moses saw in the burning bush—bright enough to light an already sunlit day, hot enough to bend the air in a desert wasteland at noonday—but still a fire that left the bush intact.

This is a powerful picture of the work of the Spirit in our lives. The Lord wants to strike fire in our hearts, the way He did Cleopas and his friend on the road from Emmaus to Jerusalem. The fire is in The Book. Sparks jump when we read it in faith. A focused flame leaps from the page to our heart as the Holy Spirit inscribes the Word of God into our hearts just as the finger of God did on the stone tablets Moses carried down the slopes of Zion.

Then we can be a conflagration contained; a fire focused; a torch in transit, and a fervent flame in this world.

Scriptures:
Psalm 69
Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me. I am worn out calling for help; my throat is parched. My eyes fail, looking for my God. … For I endure scorn for your sake, and shame covers my face. I am a stranger to my brothers, an alien to my own mother’s sons; for zeal for your house consumes me, and the insults of those who insult you fall on me. When I weep and fast, I must endure scorn; when I put on sackcloth, people make sport of me. … O God, protect me. I will praise God’s name in song and glorify him with thanksgiving. This will please the Lord more than an ox, more than a bull with its horns and hoofs. The poor will see and be glad — you who seek God, may your hearts live! The Lord hears the needy and does not despise his captive people. Let heaven and earth praise him, the seas and all that move in them, for God will save Zion and rebuild the cities of Judah. Then people will settle there and possess it; the children of his servants will inherit it, and those who love his name will dwell there.
Malachi 3:1-4 NIV
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner’s fire or a launderer’s soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the Lord will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the Lord , as in days gone by, as in former years.
John 2:13-17 NIV
When it was almost time for the Jewish Passover, Jesus went up to Jerusalem. In the temple courts he found men selling cattle, sheep and doves, and others sitting at tables exchanging money. So he made a whip out of cords, and drove all from the temple area, both sheep and cattle; he scattered the coins of the money changers and overturned their tables. To those who sold doves he said, “Get these out of here! How dare you turn my Father’s house into a market!” His disciples remembered that it is written: “Zeal for your house will consume me.”
Romans 12:9-13 NIV
Love must be sincere. Hate what is evil; cling to what is good. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves. Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. Share with God’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Prayer:
Lord Jesus, set my soul on fire! Ignite my mind with Your burning truth. Make my spirit a torch blazing in this dark hour. Like those two of my forebears on the road to Emmaus, flame my heart and fuel my steps with the fires of Your grace. I will not fear the “zeal of Your house” for I know it to be a fire that burns but does not destroy me. Let me hear Your words from the burning tree of Your Book as it lights my path. I will not fear the darkness of the hour for Your illuminating fire burns eternal. Amen.

Song:
Send the Fire
Composer: William Booth

1. Thou Christ of burning, cleansing flame,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Thy blood-bought gift today we claim,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Look down and see this waiting host,
Give us the promised Holy Ghost;
We want another Pentecost,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

2. God of Elijah, hear our cry:
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To make us fit to live or die,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To burn up every trace of sin,
To bring the light and glory in,
The revolution now begin,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

3. ’Tis fire we want, for fire we plead,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
The fire will meet our every need,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
For strength to ever do the right,
For grace to conquer in the fight,
For pow’r to walk the world in white,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

4. To make our weak hearts strong and brave,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
To live a dying world to save,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!
Oh, see us on Thy altar lay
Our lives, our all, this very day;
To crown the off’ring now we pray,
Send the fire, send the fire, send the fire!

Semper Reformanda!
Stephen Phifer

© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved

What can you do when the fire within seems to be dying?  Read “Dim and Flaring Lamps” at: http://stevephifer.com/dim-and-flaring-lamps/

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