Worship God Because He Is Jealous
When is the first time you remember being jealous? 

Contemplating this question, my mind went back to my first year in school.  Kindergarten.  Half-days at a big school were significant steps for those of us who had a stay-at-home mom and grew up before preschool, was a typical school district offering.  I don’t remember being scared of it.

But what I do remember is being jealous because my younger brother (one school year behind) was still at home with Mom.  By himself at home with Mom while my older brother and I were at school.  I remember one time Mom was relating what they had done that morning (remember – I was onl  y gone half a day), and it included having a cup of tea together at some point.  I remember thinking it was so unfair!  

I never got to have tea by myself with Mom!  Never mind that I don’t really like hot tea.  I was jealous!

What about you?  Were you envious of a sibling?  A person who took over your spot as someone’s best friend?  Your parents’ attention?  A co-worker’s advancement?   Depending on your age, you may have experienced jealousy over all of these types of things in your lifetime.

Jealousy is not what we would call a positive character trait.  

God is Jealous

Merriam-Webster’s definitions of jealousy include terms that can help us understand why God included the Tenth Commandment prohibiting coveting.  He clearly instructed us not to be hostile or show resentment of our neighbor’s relationships or possessions (Exodus 20:17).

Despite commanding us to avoid coveting (a form of jealousy) in Commandment 10, God’s Word describes Him as jealous in Commandment 1.  While we might feel justified in our envy, ours is typically based on a higher view of ourselves than warranted.  

“Jealous” is such a key part of His character that not only does God describe Himself as jealous, He even introduces “Jealous” as one of His names

 You must worship no other gods, for the LORD, whose very name is Jealous, is a God who is jealous about his relationship with you.  Exodus 34:14 (NLT)

God is Justified in His Jealousy

According to Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary, it is probably “more appropriate to understand it as ‘zealous.’”  God is not envious, seeking worship that could be rightly placed elsewhere.  God’s view of Himself is appropriately placed. He is holy in every way, completely set apart, and incomparable.   He is the only legitimate object of our worship.

Moses challenged God’s people to be ever mindful of God’s unique and unrivaled nature as they prepared to enter the promised land. 

“Now search all of history, from the time God created people on the earth until now, and search from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything as great as this ever been seen or heard before?... So remember this and keep it firmly in mind: The LORD is God both in heaven and on earth, and there is no other. Deuteronomy 4:32, 39 (emphasis added)
Because of His incomparable nature (in every way), God is justified in His zeal for our full attention and surrender.

For a brief list of examples of the ways God is unique, see my post Worship God Because He Is Above.

I found this illustration from John Piper helpful.  It explains God's righteous jealousy in terms we can understand and includes the benefits afforded His people because of it.

God is jealous, like a powerful and merciful king who takes a peasant girl from a life of shame, forgives her, marries her, and gives her not the chores of a slave but the privileges of a wife—a queen. His jealousy does not rise from fear or weakness but from a holy indignation at having his honor and power and mercy scorned by the faithlessness of a fickle spouse…

Since God is infinitely jealous for the honor of his name, anything and anybody who threatens the good of his faithful wife will be opposed with divine omnipotence. That’s good news for the faithful wife — the faithful people of God.

What a wonderful king we serve!

PRAYER:  Lord, you are rightly jealous.  But it is not right when we experience envy for ourselves based on a prideful view of ourselves.  You are greater than all, and all honor and glory belongs to you.  Help us to adore your jealousy because It magnifies your incomparable nature.  And help us put aside all ungodly envy in our hearts so we can worship you fully.
PERSONAL REFLECTION:  Do you struggle with unwarranted jealousy?  What Is your biggest trigger?  Is It a certain person or some kind of material desire?  How can considering God’s righteous jealousy help you put aside your unrighteous attitude?


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