Zeal Illustrated by the Character of Jehu
2 Kings 10:16
And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.

In regions where civilisation has made but feeble advances, opinions grossly erroneous prevail concerning some of the most valuable productions of the earth. Substances which, among nations enlightened by science, are daily introduced with signal utility in medicine, in manufactures, in various arts which embellish the paths of life, are indiscriminately neglected and despised: or, in consequence of mischievous effects produced by a rash and unskilful application of them, or by heterogeneous mixtures with which they are debased, become objects of aversion and of dread. Or having been found, in casual trials, to be imbued with beneficial powers; they are extolled as invested with a kind of magical influence, and are blindly employed as possessed of universal efficacy. Similar misconceptions not unfrequently predominate even among ourselves concerning highly estimable endowments of the mind; and predominate from similar causes, a very inaccurate insight into the nature of those endowments, and a hasty and unwarrantable use and appropriation of them. Them by some genius is admired as an ill-powerful talent, grasping without an effort the treasures of Taste and Knowledge; while by others it is depreciated as unfitting the intellect for patient research, and terminating in tinsel and superficial attainments. And thus it is that industry at one time is dignified as nearly superseding the necessity of penetration and invention; at another is degraded as cold, plodding, servile, insensible to refinement, the associate of pedantry and dulness. Among mental qualities there is scarcely, perhaps, one more commonly misunderstood and less accurately appreciated than zeal. One class of men, surveying with indignation the timidity and selfishness of the lukewarm, applaud that conduct in themselves as unsophisticated zeal, which is deeply tinged with indiscretion, insubordination, and unchristian vehemence. An opposite class, deeming zeal but another name for fiery intolerance and enthusiastic wildness, abhor it as restless, sanguinary, and fanatical; and look with suspicion on moderation itself, until it has subsided so low as scarcely to be distinguishable from apathy.

1. The undertaking in which Jehu was engaged was the extermination of the family of Ahab. By the murder of Naboth, and by habitual idolatry, Ahab stood condemned to death under the impartial justice of the Divine law. The sentence was denounced. It is not however by a single characteristic that genuine zeal is ascertained. In colour the counter may exhibit a perfect resemblance of the unadulterated gold. But how stands the comparison as to. weight, as to solidity, as to ductility? Let us bring the zeal of Jehu to the test of additional criterions.

2. In the prosecution of his object Jehu speedily displayed a ferocious and cruel spirit.

3. Zeal necessarily bears a character of publicity. It manifests itself in action; and, when directed to objects of extensive importance, is constrained to labour before the eyes and amidst the concourse of men. Genuine zeal for religion, thoroughly imbued with the spirit of Christian humility, though it cannot retire from notice, courts not popular observation. Steadfast, yet unobtrusive, it submits to the general gaze, to the general noise of tongues, which, without relinquishing its appointed office, it cannot avoid; but pushes not forward vain-glorious pretentions, delights not to become the spectacle of wonder, the theme of applause.

4. The zeal that is from above is, first, pure. However ardent in the prosecution of its object, it resorts not to means which are unjustifiable. It abominates craft and duplicity. It abhors the suggestions of that worldly wisdom, which teaches to do evil that good may come.

5. Genuine zeal for religion is, in the strictest import of the terms, zeal for the Lord. Its prime object is the glory of Jehovah, the honour of His name, the purity of His worship, the influence of His law. Is such the zeal of Jehu? Are his cruelty, his ostentation, his falsehood, no more than heterogeneous mixtures, stupendous indeed in collective magnitude, yet no more than extraneous impurities, unnaturally adhering to a latent yet actual zeal for religion; clouding and debasing the living flame, yet without extinguishing or superseding it?

(T. Gisborne, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And he said, Come with me, and see my zeal for the LORD. So they made him ride in his chariot.

WEB: He said, "Come with me, and see my zeal for Yahweh." So they made him ride in his chariot.

Zeal for the Lord
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