God is Jealous

A Shepherd’s Musings on Knowing God -Weeks 39 & 40

There are apparent contradictions in the Bible. Please note that I said, “apparent” contradictions.  The Bible never really contradicts itself, even though it may seem to do so because of our lack of understanding.  For instance, we find that God is jealous and also that jealousy is sin. This seems to contradict the Biblical teaching that God is perfect. Well, like we will see in a future devotional about God’s anger and wrath, what can exist in God in perfection is often sinful in man’s imperfection. Therefore, this is not a contradiction.  There is righteous jealousy and sinful jealousy.

The distinction between righteous jealousy and sinful jealousy is a matter of motive. What is the reason for one’s jealousy?  To be jealous of someone is sin (James 3:13-18), however, to be rightly jealous for someone is not (2 Corinthians 11:2-3). For example, if my wife is gifted in a certain way, I would be wrong  to be jealous of her for having that gift from God.  However, if my wife was being pursued by another man, I would be right to be jealous for her (Proverbs 6:32-35).

Noah Webster defines jealousy in this dual way:

That passion of peculiar uneasiness which arises from the fear that a rival may rob us of the affection of one whom we love, or the suspicion that he has already done it; or it is the uneasiness which arises from the fear that another does or will enjoy some advantage which we desire for ourselves (1828 Noah Webster Dictionary).

God is never jealous of us; He is jealous for us when we love something else before Him. The Old Testament gives us many examples where God is said to be jealous for the children of Israel.  They almost always refer to the fact that Israel had gone after other gods and had turned their back on the one true God.  Psalm 78:56-58 is a clear example, “Yet they tested and rebelled against the Most High God and did not keep his testimonies, but turned away and acted treacherously like their fathers; they twisted like a deceitful bow. For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols.

God commanded Israel about this in Exodus 20:3-6 and in so doing revealed His righteous jealousy, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.”

Our jealous God warned Israel about this in Exodus 34:12-15, “Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim  (for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.”

Are you comforted to know that God will go after you when you give your love and allegiance to another?   You should be!  Should we be jealous for others as God is?  Paul was, “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3).  Does God have reason to be jealous for you today?  If so, will you not give Him your sincere and pure devotion?  He is worthy of our faithful loyalty and highest love!

With Prayer, Mark |

© October, 2011 Scripture quoted: ESV – Emphasis added

Verses for our meditation:  God Is Jealous

Numbers 25:10-11, And the LORD said to Moses, “Phinehas the son of Eleazar, son of Aaron the priest, has turned back my wrath from the people of Israel, in that he was jealous with my jealousy among them, so that I did not consume the people of Israel in my jealousy.

Deuteronomy 4:23-29 & Deuteronomy 5:7-10 (Please look these up!)

Deuteronomy 6:14-15,  You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you— for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God–lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.

Deuteronomy 29:18-20, Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. The LORD will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven.

Deuteronomy 32:16, They stirred him to jealousy with strange gods; with abominations they provoked him to anger.

Joshua 24:18-20, “And the LORD drove out before us all the peoples, the Amorites who lived in the land. Therefore we also will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” But Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the LORD, for he is a holy God. He is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions or your sins. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then he will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.”

1 Kings 14:22,  And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.

Proverbs 6:32-35, He who commits adultery lacks sense; he who does it destroys himself. He will get wounds and dishonor, and his disgrace will not be wiped away. For jealousy makes a man furious, and he will not spare when he takes revenge. He will accept no compensation; he will refuse though you multiply gifts.

Zechariah 8:1-2, And the word of the LORD of hosts came, saying, “Thus says the LORD of hosts: I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath.”

1 Corinthians 10:21-23, You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Shall we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he? “All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.

2 Corinthians 11:2-3, For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.

James 3:13-18, Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

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One response to “God is Jealous

  1. Pingback: Is jealousy always sin? | Grace Bible Church of Dillon, Montana

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