Friday, December 10, 2021

Advent Words Day 13 ~ Zealous


Day 13: Zealous

How does Paul define God’s holy people? As those who are “eager to do what is good.” (Titus 2:14)

The NIV here has lost some of the intensity of the original translation, which is captured better by the NASB and some of the other translations. The NASB says it this way: “zealous for good deeds (works)”. While eager is similar to zealous, it just feels to me like “zealous” has more intensity and impact. The word has more passion.

The dictionary definition of zealous is an intense emotion that compels one to action. When one has zeal, they are devoted, dedicated, have intense enthusiasm, are totally committed. This definitely fits Paul’s intent here in Titus 2:14, that Christ’s people who are His very own would be zealous to do good works.

In the Old Testament the word is most often used in regard to jealousy. Our God is a jealous God. But note its use in Isaiah 9:2-7, the prophecy of the coming Messiah:

“The people walking in darkness
    have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
    a light has dawned.
You have enlarged the nation
    and increased their joy;
they rejoice before you
    as people rejoice at the harvest,
as warriors rejoice
    when dividing the plunder.
For as in the day of Midian’s defeat,
    you have shattered
the yoke that burdens them,
    the bar across their shoulders,
    the rod of their oppressor.
Every warrior’s boot used in battle
    and every garment rolled in blood
will be destined for burning,
    will be fuel for the fire.
For to us a child is born,
    to us a son is given,
    and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
    Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God,
    Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
Of the greatness of his government and peace
    there will be no end.
He will reign on David’s throne
    and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
    with justice and righteousness
    from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the Lord Almighty
    will accomplish this.”

God’s plan for a Messiah, a Savior that would bring light, joy, peace, freedom, justice, and righteousness; the one who would be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, and Prince of Peace “awoke the zeal of God” (Charles Spurgeon).

Throughout the Bible we are told of God's unfailing love for His people and His faithfulness in doing what He has promised He will do. God promised a Messiah, a just King who would redeem His people. Commentator Bob Utley says the zeal of God "is the guarantee of its reality". God the Father's intense love and devotion for His people is the motivation for Him to fulfill His promise.


During the Advent season we celebrate the fulfillment of that promise in the birth of Jesus Christ. Love came to earth. God was faithful to His people. God's zeal to fulfill His promise of the Messiah calls us to respond in devotion to His Son as those zealous for good works.


On the night of his birth an angel declared that our Savior, Christ the Lord, had been born. A host of angels made a zealous response:

Glory to God in the highest,

and on earth peace to men

on whom His favor rests!

Luke 2:14

Share how you express today's word on social media using #adventwords2021. You can also share in the Words Challenge Facebook Group.

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