The Zeal of the Lord of Hosts
“Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations” (Isaiah 42:1, all citations are from the New American Standard Bible unless otherwise noted).
by Ernie Kuenzli
Isaiah’s prophecy of the Messiah in chapter 9 closes with the statement, “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will accomplish this” (Isaiah 9:7). The entire promise of the Messiah and his kingdom rests on the foundation of God’s
zeal. This reveals to us God’s commitment to bring His plan of salvation for mankind to fruition.
This commitment was first mentioned when the punishment for disobedience was pronounced upon our first parents. Even before
condemning Adam and Eve to death, God promised salvation in His statement to the serpent: “And I will put enmity between you and
the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel” (Genesis 3:15). In this vague prophecy, God actually promised that a child would be born “so that by the grace of God
he might taste death for everyone” (Hebrews 2:9).
Confirmed With an Oath
To Abraham, God confirmed His promise with an oath to strengthen our faith in His commitment to save mankind. “By Myself I have sworn, declares the LORD, because you have done this thing and have not withheld your son, your only son (17) … I will greatly multiply your seed as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the seashore; and your seed shall possess the gate of their enemies. (18) In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed” (Genesis 22:16-18). Isaac pictured God’s only begotten son, the man Christ Jesus, who would give Himself as a ransom for all (1 Timothy 2:5,6).
God’s zeal and commitment for man’s salvation stretch back before creation as Peter writes in 1 Peter 1:18-20: “Knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited from your forefathers, (19) but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. (20) For He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but has appeared in these last times for the sake of you.” “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. (17) For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him” (John 3:16,17).
The prophet Isaiah describes man’s undone condition and how it displeased the Heavenly Father. “Justice is turned back, And righteousness stands far away; For truth has stumbled in the street, And uprightness cannot enter. (15) Yes, truth is lacking; And he who turns aside from evil makes himself a prey. Now the LORD saw, And it was displeasing in His sight that there was no justice” (Isaiah 59:14,15). The lack of justice and righteousness God permits for a brief time, to teach mankind the exceeding sinfulness of sin. But His zeal prompts Him to resolve this rebellion once the needed lessons
Jesus AppointedGod’s love stimulated His zeal to offer His most precious possession, His only begotten Son, to reconcile the world to Himself. Only God had the power to make His son, the Logos, a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death (Hebrews 2:9).
Isaiah wrote, “Then His [God’s] own arm [Christ] brought salvation to Him, And His righteousness upheld Him. (17) He [Christ] put on righteousness like a breastplate, And a helmet of salvation on his head; And he put on garments of vengeance for clothing, And wrapped himself with zeal as a mantle” (Isaiah 59:16,17). God’s zeal became our Lord’s mantle or robe, leading him to zealously do God’s will, especially during his earthly ministry. Jesus neither did or spoke anything on his own. He said, “I can do nothing on my own initiative” (John 5:30). Later, Jesus added, “I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught me” (John 8:28).
God’s zeal did not end there. Once Jesus “proved himself the perfect son” (Hebrews 5:9 Phillips), “God highly exalted him, and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, (10) so that at the name of Jesus EVERY
KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:9-11). God raised Jesus as a great
spirit being, giving him the divine nature so that he could be the life-giving spirit, or the second Adam as the apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 15:45.
God’s zeal was further revealed in a second oath, His commitment to developing our Lord into a great, spiritual priest that would bring life to the human family. Quoting from the Old Testament, the apostle Paul wrote,
“So also Christ did not glorify Himself so as to become a high priest, but He [God] who said to Him, ‘YOU ARE MY SON, TODAY I HAVE BEGOTTEN YOU’; (6) just as He [God] says also in another passage, ‘YOU ARE A PRIEST
FOREVER ACCORDING TO THE ORDER OF MELCHIZEDEK’ (Hebrews 5:5,6, Psalms 2:7, 110:4). When Melchizedek blessed Abraham, he pictured this greater, spiritual high priest, our risen Lord, making the blessings promised to Abraham a reality (Hebrews 7:1-10).
In John chapter 5, Jesus linked his own reward with the resurrection of the dead. “Truly, truly, I say to you, an hour is coming and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. (26) For just as the Father has life in Himself, even so He gave to the Son also to have life in himself; (27) and He gave him authority to execute judgment because he is the Son of Man. (28) Do not marvel at this; for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs will hear his voice, (29) and will come forth; those who did the good deeds to a resurrection of life, those
who committed the evil deeds to a resurrection of judgment” (John 5:25-29).
Given for a Covenant and a Light
Through Isaiah, God said, “I am the LORD, I have called you [Christ] in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations, (7) To
open blind eyes, To bring out prisoners from the dungeon, And those who dwell in darkness from the prison” (Isaiah 42:6,7).
God’s zeal called our Lord in righteousness, watched over him during Jesus’ earthly ministry, and then raised him to be a great spiritual priest and mediator of a new covenant, and thus fulfill the great covenant God made with Abraham.