Zeal vs. Brokenness


It’s a good thing to be devoted to the Lord.  It is always noble to see someone giving their all or making dedications to follow the Lord with all their heart.  I think at some point and time all of us have experienced this euphoria where we cast off whatever we think we are to God and then we decide to dedicate ourselves fully to him.  But there is a question that arises, can our dedication or desire ever be useful to the Lord and if so, how will He ever be able to use that desire effectively for His purpose?


In the bible, there is no person who exemplifies zeal or desire more than Jehu, the son of Jehoshaphat (2 Kings 9:20).  At the time of Jehu, Israel was in spiritual ruin because of their two wicked Kings.  Israel’s King Joram who was the son of Ahab and Jezebel and Judah’s King Ahaziah who was the son of Jehoram.  Both of these men did evil in the sight of the Lord and the Lord pronounced judgment on King Joram and then consequently on King Ahaziah (2 Kings 8:27, 9:8).  The Lord God was going to use Jehu as His instrument of judgment (2 Kings 9:1-13).


To demonstrate Jehu’s zeal for the Lord below is the list of the killing spree Jehu went on after he was anointed King over Israel.  It is also worth mentioning that Jehu had God’s full permission to do whatever it took in order to eradicate the filth from Israel (2 Kings 9:7-10,10:30):


  1. Conspiring and killing Israel’s King Joram and Judah’s King Ahaziah (2 Kings 9:14-29).
  2. Killing King Joram’s mother Jezebel who was a disease to Israel (2 Kings 9:30-37).
  3. Ordering the death of Ahab’s seventy sons (2 Kings 10:1-11).
  4. Killing King Ahaziah’s forth-two brothers (2 Kings 10:12-14).
  5. Killing the rest of Ahab’s family (2 Kings 10:15-17).
  6. Topping it all off by eradicating and murdering all the Worshipers of Baal (2 Kings 10:18-28).


God used this man to wipe out and destroy all of the people who were causing havoc to God’s purposes in Israel, and Jehu was zealous to do it:


2 Kings 10:16


And he (Jehu) said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the Lord…


Jehu made this comment to Jehonadeb (a compatriot) while he was in the middle of his assigned killing spree.  The above passage clearly shows that Jehu was a zealous man who would stop at nothing in order to complete the task assigned to him by the Lord.  You might be asking, ok, he was zealous, what’s the point?  Look at what the bible says about Jehu at the end of his career…


2 Kings 10:29-31


Howbeit from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin, Jehu departed not from after them, to wit, the golden calves that were in Bethel, and that were in Dan.  And the Lord said to Jehu, because thou hast done well in executing that which is right in mine eyes, and hast done unto the house of Ahab according to all that was in mine heart, thy children of the forth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.  But Jehu took no heed to walk in the Law of the Lord God of Israel with all of his heart:  For he departed not from the sins of Jeroboam, which made Israel to sin.


Jehu was zealous toward God.  Jehu indeed wanted justice and he wanted the filth to be eradicated from Israel but he also wanted to follow his own heart.  What I am trying to demonstrate by Jehu’s life is that even if one has incredible zeal or passion for the Lord, that unless that zeal is turned into total brokenness (sanctified obedience), a man’s efforts will ultimately be frustrated. 


We know that by the verse below God can always work within our zeal or quite possibly our own selfish error…


Romans 8:28 


And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.


So even if our zeal is misdirected then that same zeal can be orchestrated by the Lord to do some good, but is this truly how we want the Lord to work in us?


Notice what is says about Jehu’s life…


…But Jehu took no heed to walk in the Law of the Lord God of Israel with all of his heart:


Because Jehu did not fear God to turn fully to Him then he missed a huge aspect of God.  The part he missed cost him blessing and ultimately left him with the testimony of a man who was zealous for God, but on his own terms (he trusted in work efforts rather than obedience efforts).  Notice what God says…


…thy children of the forth generation shall sit on the throne of Israel.


Anyone who knows the bible knows it is a decent honor for the Lord to proclaim that He is going to honor your seed for the next four generations.  But anyone who knows the bible also knows this is a limited blessing.  For the Lord to assign a limited generational blessing, four generations, is a direct rebuke to Jehu’s limited service toward the Lord.  God is quietly honoring and rebuking Jehu at the same time.  He is basically saying, “Jehu, you did everything I assigned for you to do, thank you, but then you did not learn Me… because you did this then I will bless you in part, but like you, I will not do anything more.” 


How about you?  Do you want the Lord to “not do anything more” with you.  Do you want the Lord to say, “Well done good and faithful servant, well… kind of.” 


A lot of people have zeal for the Lord.  We sacrifice, we petition, we read, we pray and we do anything and everything we think the Lord might require of us.  We say, “Because we have zeal for the Lord, nothing will be impossible for us.”  Well, this is just not true.  Let me use an example. 


A boy who is playing with a ball loses the ball into the street.  That same boy then proceeds to zealously run after the ball.  At the same time that zealous boy is hit by a car and is crushed to his death.  A lot of zeal, no good results.  What I am trying to say is that zeal is blinding (2 Samuel 21:1-2).  It can blind you into thinking you know what to do and it can actually make you so prideful that you can fall into the condemnation and snare of the devil (1 Timothy 3:6-7).  If this ever happens then your worth to the Lord will greatly diminish and you will be like the crop that got tangled up in the thorns (Matthew 13:7).  You will become a plant but you will never yield much because you were choked out by ignorant servitude. 


If you have true zeal for the Lord then this zeal will be shown by your faithful, submissive and sanctified obedience.  If you really love the Lord then you will obey Him…


John 14:15


If ye love me, keep my commandments.


Matthew 16:24


Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself,  take up his cross, and follow me.


If zeal is true then this effort will turn into God’s will for your life which is sanctification (1 Thessalonians 4:3).  The sanctification process can be described as suffering yielding obedience and then in turn, obedience yielding suffering (please read “what is a Christian’s training” located in Vol.1).  During this process you learn the Lord.  If suffering is true then it will turn into a teachable spirit.  If a teachable spirit is true then it will turn into obedience which the Lord can bless (Hebrews 5:8-9).  Many people say that they love the Lord… they are passionate for Him… that they have such great zeal for Him but they never end up really listening to Him.  Never end up doing or acting on what He commands or says.  They never turn into obedient Christians who are willing to turn over their wicked opinions or passions and deny themselves upon the Lord’s altar.  They never accept or voluntarily make Jesus Christ their head and they never make Jesus Christ their Lord (1 Corinthians 11:3, Ephesians 4:15, 5:23).  They are a “headless body of Christ.” 


Isaiah 64:6


But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness (zeal, desire) are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.  


Proverbs 3:5


Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding...


We need to become a people who yield our lives over to the Lord and who learn to trust Him.  He knows in our zeal we want to make a difference but He also knows how to use us to make that difference.  If we will allow all the desire and zeal within us to turn into obedience then the Lord will have a foundation to work on.  This will result in a powerful work being done inside of us which will result in the change God wants to see, both in us and in the world we are trying to change.  Do you love God?  Do you love Him enough to submit yourself under His guidance and to let go of your own heart?  Will you allow your passion and zeal to become broken for the Lord so that He can turn it into obedience that He can bless?  Then remember the story of Jehu.  You are not more zealous than him.  He exemplified zeal, but he also exemplified the tragedy of what can happen when a man relies on his zeal rather than relying on the ways of the Lord.  The Lord will turn your zeal into something good, but you must be willing to surrender it to him.  God knows how to make something good (Jeremiah 29:11-14), only let Him channel all the passion you have and allow Him to turn it into process (obedient surrender) so that you will abide in His power, and not your own pride (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).  By doing this, by listening to the Lord, you will truly show the Lord that you love Him and that your zeal toward Him is real.


Psalm 69:9


For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up (I have turned my zeal into brokenness); and the reproaches of them that reproached thee have fallen upon me (and I am suffering for my choice but am also being made perfect.  Hebrews 5:8-9).


If you want a full understanding of the life of Jehu please read 2 Kings chapters 9 and 10.