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The Twenty First Day of Advent – December 23

His authority shall grow continually,
and there shall be endless peace
for the throne of David and his kingdom.
He will establish and uphold it
with justice and with righteousness
from this time onwards and for evermore.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.
Isaiah 9:7

What is your passion? What are you powerfully drawn to? What makes you feel really alive? People talk about their passion for golf, for running, for travel, cooking, a political cause, dogs, making money, and the list goes on. But did you ever think about God having a passion, or something He is powerfully drawn to? What might deeply move God?

Strangely, the Greek philosopher Aristotle thought of Deity as without passion, calling God the “Unmoved Mover.” (Aristotle, Metaphysics) He conceived of God as the cause of all things but separate from, uncaring, unmoved by anything God created. For Aristotle, God was infinitely distant. He was unapproachable, unaffected, lost in the eternal, not interested in the muck and chaos of the world. Why would God care? This question has plagued many throughout history and still does today.

What a different God is revealed to us in the Bible and in Christ’s manger and cross! The God of the Bible is the “Passionate Mover” of all things (Ephesians 1:11) who delights in giving Himself to others, and whose very essence is love (1 John 4:8). The Bible speaks of God’s passionate, never- ending love affair with His people Israel (Hosea 11:8) and His bride, the church (Ephesians 5:29-32).

It is the passion of God revealed in today’s scripture which compels God to save His people and erase evil from the earth: “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.” It is telling that the Hebrew word translated “zeal” is qinah; it is an emotive word coming from a root word signifying the “color produced in the face by deep emotion.” (Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon) We might imagine God’s face turning red with passion in bringing justice and righteousness for all of His creation. This is what God cannot stop thinking about! This is what moves God!

Old Testament theologian Gerhard von Rad regards God’s “zeal”, or qinah, as one of the most foundational attributes of God and as “an emotion springing from the very depths of [God’s] personality.” (Gerhard von Rad, Old Testament Theology) Another Old Testament theologian, Walter Eichrodt, adds to this, that qinah is “the basic element of the whole Old Testament idea of God.” (Walter Eichrodt, Theology of the Old Testament)

It is significant that qinah in other contexts is sometimes translated “jealousy”, suggesting the intense emotion a person has for guarding and protecting a wife or husband (Numbers 5:14; Proverbs 27:4). Thus, God is portrayed in Scripture as “jealous” for guarding and protecting His people. The zeal or passion of God for His beloved people is celebrated in the Old Testament’s Song of Solomon 8:6-7:

“Set me as a seal upon your heart,
as a seal upon your arm:
For love is strong as death,
passion [qinah] fierce as the grave.
Its flashes are flashes of fire, a raging flame.
Many waters cannot quench love,
neither can floods drown it.”

People sometimes talk about having a passion for God! But know that God has a passion for you! The fact is, God is powerfully drawn to you. Look at Jesus’ manger! Look at His cross! Nothing will stop God’s love in putting right our dark and broken world!

As Christians we look forward to Jesus’ coming again. It is ever the prayer on our lips, “Come, Lord Jesus!” But even more than we look forward to Jesus’ coming, Jesus does! “The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this.”


Beautiful Savior, You looked upon the world You created and declared it “Very good.” Though marred by our sin and rebellion, You do not give up on Your wondrous creation. You are keeping Your promise to make all things new. You have pursued us, smitten with a lover’s passion, never letting us go. You took our sins and suffered as though they were Your very own. Through Your stripes we are healed. We have been made ready to see You and our Father. Come Lord Jesus, come! Amen and Amen.

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