I’ve met a couple. In the beginning of their marriage it was all a bed of roses. As time went by, the husband began to verbally mistreat the wife and abuse her physically. The wife put up with it for many years, till she was convinced that her husband would not change his attitude, and she left him. After some time the husband sought her and proposed reconciliation. She answered, “I will never go back. You will not change. I don’t believe. And she did not return to him, despite the wonderful promises that he had made.
The reader will now hear the most extraordinary story of all. It is called THE ZEAL OF JEHOVAH. It is an astonishing story that begins like this: “Jehovah will go forth like a warrior, He will arouse His zeal like a man of war. He will utter a shout, yes, He will raise a war cry. He will prevail against His enemies” (Is 42:13). Jehovah was a man of war, and he was zealous of his wars. Why? Because the battle is Jehovah’s (1 Sam. 17:47).
The Lord Jehovah says: “Surely in the fire of My jealousy I have spoken against the rest of the nations” (Ezek. 36:5). Jehovah is against the gentile nations (Ezek. 36:6-7). He is so different from God, the Father of Jesus, who is in favor of all! “If God is for us, who is against us?” (Rom. 8:31).
The zeal of Jehovah is revengeful and unjust “How long Jehovah? Wilt Thou be angry forever? Will Thy jealousy burn like fire? Pour out Thy wrath upon the nations which do not know Thee, and upon the kingdoms which do not call upon Thy name. For they have devoured Jacob, and laid waste his habitation” (Ps. 79:5-7). We act unjustly when we pour our fury on the people who do not know us, and in the New Testament we read that God the Father does not take the times of ignorance into consideration (Acts 17:30). In the Old Testament, the nations respected Jehovah through terror, not through love “This day I will begin to put the dread and fear of you upon the peoples everywhere under the heavens” (Deut. 2:25). The love of Christ produces love in people “love one another even as I have loved you” (John 13:34). Jehovah terrorized Job (Job 6:4), terrorized the Psalmist (Ps. 88:15,16), terrorized the Canaanites (Ex. 25:27), terrorized Israel, his people (Lev. 26:16)…
“…Jehovah, whose name is Jealous” (Ex. 34:14). Whoever reads this passage and thinks that the zeal of Jehovah has the purpose of caring for, protecting, and defending, deceives themselves. In reality, his zeal destroys and consumes “For Jehovah your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deut. 4:24). He consumes the father, the son, the grandson and the great-grandson “You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, Jehovah your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me” (Ex. 20:4,5). What do the son, the grandson and the great-grandson have to do with the sin of their ancestor?
The zeal of Jehovah is a destructive anger “for Jehovah your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of Jehovah your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth” (Deut. 6:15).
The zeal of Jehovah works to do evil, and not to forgive sins “You will not be able to serve Jehovah, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. If you forsake Jehovah and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you” (Josh. 24:19-20).
The zeal of Jehovah is zeal avid for vengeance, therefore he broods over his anger till the moment of revenge “A jealous and avenging God is Jehovah; Jehovah is avenging and wrathful. Jehovah takes vengeance on his adversaries, and He reserves wrath for His enemies” (Nah. 1:2).
So great is the vengeful zeal of Jehovah that he loathed his own people, the apple of his eyes (Deut. 32:10); “For they provoked Him with their high places, and aroused His jealousy with their graven images. When God heard, He was filled with wrath, and greatly abhorred Israel” (Ps. 78:58-59). The wrath, the fury, and the zeal of Jehovah were such that he abandoned the Tabernacle, his dwelling place among men, gave his strength to captivity, and gave his glory into the hand of his adversary (Ps. 78:60-61). Angered, Jehovah did what he had said that he would not do: “MY GLORY I WILL NOT” GIVE TO ANOTHER” (Is. 48:11). An enraged man loses his mind, but it is inadmissible that a God should act like a man.
Let us consider the specific zeal of Jehovah for his people Israel. “They made him jealous with strange gods; with abominations they provoked Him to anger” (Deut 32:16). Let us read what was Jehovah’s reaction: “For a fire is kindled in My anger, and burns to the lowest part of Sheol, and consumes the earth with its yield, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. ‘I will heap misfortunes on them; I will use My arrows on them. They shall be wasted by famine, and consumed by plague and bitter destruction; and the teeth of beats I will send upon them, with the venom of crawling things of the dust. Outside the sword shall bereave, and inside terror—both young man and virgin, the nursling with the man of gray hair’” (Deut. 32:22-25). And the behavior of Jehovah has never changed to better. Evil is his favorite weapon. “‘For I have set My face against this city for harm and not for good,’ declares Jehovah” (Jer. 21:10). “Jehovah has kept calamity in store and brought it on us” (Dan. 9:14)
There is a reference to the zeal of Jesus in the Bible “And the Passover of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem. And He found in the temple those who were selling oxen and sheep and doves, and the moneychangers seated. And He made a scourge of cords, and drove them out of the temple, with the sheep and the oxen; and He poured out the coins of the money changers, and overturned their tables; and to those who were selling the doves He said; ‘Take these things away; stop making My Father’s house a house of merchandise’ His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘Zeal for Thy house will consume me.’” (John 2:13-17). What is the difference between the zeal of Jehovah and the zeal of Jesus? Jehovah, in his zeal, killed sinners and burned the temple with fire (2 Chr. 36:14-20). Jesus, in his zeal, drove sinners away to preserve the temple.
Secondly, Jesus was not speaking of a temple of stones, but of the temple of his body. The reference to the temple of Jerusalem was an illustration. Christ meant to teach that the true temple, that is, our body, is used for trade. The spiritual values of men are auctioned in brothels and banquet houses. Lastly, Jesus spoke of his resurrection when he said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19). Jesus taught that his work is to preserve the temple of the body of the Christian, but, if the Christian stains the temple of the Holy Spirit, he will not physically resurrect with Christ. When Jesus drove oxen, sheep, and doves away from the temple of Jerusalem, his intention was to teach that those sacrifices were useless, because it is written, “For it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Heb. 10:4). Also, the Father did not accept those sacrifices that Jehovah demanded “‘Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast not desired, nor hast Thou taken pleasure in them’ (which are offered according to the Law), then He said, ‘Behold, I have come to do Thy will.’ He takes away the first in order to establish the second” (Heb. 10:8,9).
By Pastor Olavo Silveira Pereira