Spiritual zeal may be easier to describe than it is to define. It captures the idea of fervent passion, couples passion with purposeful devotion, infuses devotion with energetic enthusiasm, and focuses that enthusiasm with spiritual intensity on God and His will. In brief, it takes God’s will to heart so much that it cannot but shine through in every aspect of a person’s life. When Jehoida hid Joash for six years following Athaliah’s coup de tat, he turned his entire focus toward correcting this error and placing the rightful on the throne. Therefore, in the seventh year he put in motion a plan to put Joash on the throne, even though he was only seven years old. He found willing helps among the captains and through them summoned help from the Levites and leaders throughout Judah (2 Chr. 23:1-2). He assembled this collection of people and explained his plan to restore the seed of David to his rightful place of the throne (2 Chr. 23:3-5). However, despite his desire to have as much help as possible, he took holiness too seriously to excuse some breach of God’s covenant—even with pure motives (2 Chr. 23:6). Regardless, the mission he undertook depended on securing the young king’s safety—even if it meant personal sacrifice in the process (2 Chr. 23:7). Thus, the people followed Jehoida’s instructions and anointed Joah as king (2 Chr. 23:8-11). But when Athaliah heard the commotion, she cried “Treason!”—an ironic statement to be sure. Nevertheless, at Jehoida’s command, officers took her from the temple and executed her (2 Chr. 23:12-15). However, for Jehoida, throwing off the illegitimate reign of Athaliah was not enough. Instead, he led the people to dedicate themselves to being the LORD’s people in behavior and dedication as well as in name. So they destroyed the temple of Baal and all its idolatrous associations and restored worship to the LORD in the temple (2 Chr. 23:16-19). Having fought to destroy the evil influences of Athaliah, they then set Joash on the throne and rejoiced in what the LORD’s providence had made possible (2 Chr. 23:20-21).
Jehoida’s zeal for the LORD and His covenant made him just the leader Judah needed in a time of turmoil and spiritual despair. More than that, he serves as an example to us even today of what we can accomplish if we will but regain the passion and enthusiasm for God that He expects us to have. To do so, however, we must see that zeal is not a fleeting emotion, nor is it a passing fancy. It is the ever-abiding ardor of those who truly love God. Therefore, people zealous for the Lord:
(1) Let God’s Word determine what God’s people should do instead of turning to the world or personal opinions (2 Chr. 23:3; Jn. 17:17).
(2) They take holiness seriously and refuse to compromise truth (2 Chr. 23:6; 1 Pet. 1:16).
(3) They protect the King and His reputation rather than their own (2 Chr. 23:7; Gal. 2:20).
(4) Their enthusiasm for God’s Word is not limited to hearing it preached but extends to taking action accordingly (2 Chr. 23:8-11; Jas. 1:22).
(5) They stand up to man-made authority out of respect for divine authority (2 Chr. 23:12-15; Acts 4:19-20).
(6) They dedicate themselves to being the LORD’s People, identifying themselves by obedience to the Lord’s will instead of presumption or tradition (2 Chr. 23:16; Mt. 15:8-9). Why do they do all this?
(7) They respect the throne and the One whom God has made to sit on it (2 Chr. 23:20; Col. 3:1-2).
It is not enough to have just one of these traits. People with zeal have them all.