In the book of Ezra, the children of Israel that were in Babylonian captivity were given permission to return to Jerusalem to rebuild the temple of Lord. Thousands of God’s people would return and many of the people gave generously to rebuild the temple. After several months back they began to offer burnt offerings and worship again, and we read in Ezra 3:8, that in the “second month of the second year” after their return that the people began to work on the house of the Lord and that a new foundation was laid. This caused those that remembered the previous temple to weep and caused others to shout with a great shout to the Lord. It would seem like God’s people were on the right track and were following after the Lord, but it would not be long until their zeal was basically gone. Opposition came against them and for many years they stopped building the house of the Lord. God would send two prophets to the people: Haggai and Zechariah. These prophets reminded the people what they were supposed to be doing and who they were supposed to be serving. The people once again began to work on the temple. The temple, the law, and the wall help us to see what God’s people look like when they are zealous for Him.
But what does it really mean to be zealous or have zeal? In the New Testament, the word for zeal is zelos. According to Strong’s Concordance, this word means “to have warmth of feeling for or against, to be zealous or jealous.” The root of this word carries the idea that these feelings are boiling within you. Imagine for a moment a pot of boiling water. It is not very hard to determine when water is boiling, but when the water is still unless you carefully analyze the water and the surroundings, you might not be able to tell if the water is hot or not. When you are zealous there is energy, enthusiasm, and passion. You can tell when someone is zealous, and you can tell what they are zealous about.
As Christians, we are to be zealous for God. We are to have a strong, enthusiastic, and boiling desire for God and for His Word. In 2 Corinthians 7:7, Paul, after having shown how much he cares for the people in the opening verses of this chapter, discusses the zeal the people in Corinth had for him. He goes on in verse 11 to talk about their zeal once more when describing the zeal that had been produced in them through Godly sorrow, repentance, and their desire to live for God.
We are to be a people that are zealous for God. In fact, that is what Christ redeemed us to be. We are to be, “His own special people, zealous for good works.”, Titus 2:14. Like Paul reminded the Church in Philippi in Philippians 1:27, I think we need to be reminded that our manner of life is to be “worthy of the Gospel of Christ” and we are to “stand firm in one spirit and strive together side by side for the faith of the Gospel.” We need to be zealous for God, His Word, and His people. We need to take that zeal that we have for God into the world and let others see God living in us. People need to know who we belong to and who we serve. Let us all continue to live a zealous life for God so that one day we can enter into that heavenly home with Him forever.