Today’s AMI QT Devotional is provided by Charles Graham. Charles is a new intern with Kairos, who came aboard in September of 2017. He is currently studying at Talbot School of Theology to prepare himself for a life of service and ministry.
Devotional Thoughts for This Morning
“A Jealous God?”
“Love sees sharply, hatred sees even more sharp, but Jealousy sees the sharpest for it is love and hate at the same time.” – Arab Proverb
Jeremiah 17:10-19 NIV
“I the LORD search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve. ¹¹Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools. ¹²A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary. ¹³Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water. ¹⁴Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.”
For as long as it has existed, Christians have endured countless criticisms of the God we serve and adore. It seems God is a popular figure to constantly put on trial. Interestingly, while people seem rather comfortable with Jesus and His interactions with various people He meets during His ministry, the temperament of God in the Old Testament is often viewed as at odds with Jesus by skeptics, and is used as a constant point of attack. Outspoken atheist, Richard Dawkins, is one of many who lobs complaints his book, The God Delusion. Though not a very sophisticated critique, Dawkins pulls no punches, writing:
“The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic, homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully.” ― Richard Dawkins, The God Delusion
Now, while this excerpt and probably many (if not all) others in The God Delusion are undoubtedly erroneous to their core, Dawkins managed to squeeze a little truth into this quote: God is, in fact, jealous. When giving the 10 Commandments in Exodus 20, God states in verse 5:
“⁵You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me,” [NIV].
Here, we see God expressing His stance on idolatry to the Hebrews. Very clearly, they are not to create any carved or molded images of anything in Heaven or on Earth (Exod. 20:4 [NIV]), and any such images are certainly not to be used as objects of worship. God continues to identify Himself as jealous, and warns of the punishment awaiting those that hate Him, and their descendants. In this day and age, jealousy is, more or less, always used in a negative connotation in regards to one’s attitude, rightfully so. Jealousy can destroy relationships, whether romantic or otherwise, and even drive people to commit unspeakable acts. So why, then, does God openly describe Himself as jealous?
In fact, there are actually times where jealousy is justified. While the most widely used definition of jealousy pertains to hostility towards a potential rival, or someone with a perceived advantage, the correct definition to assign to God’s brand of jealousy, is this: intolerance of rivalry or unfaithfulness. It is in this way, that not only God’s jealousy is justified, but the human experience of jealousy as well. Doesn’t a man or a woman have good grounds to feel jealous if their spouse is unfaithful to their vows? Isn’t a man or woman justified in having no tolerance for that behavior? Likewise, God has no tolerance for anything that gets in the way of His relationship with you. A Covenant has been made, in blood, so that we may have fellowship with the living God, and when all is said and done, that fellowship continues and our relationship with Him grows. Dr. Ravi Zacharias, of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries (RZIM) said it best in one of his university speaking engagements: “when I say I love you, and you reject me, I hurt, because I feel like I’ve lost something, but when God says He loves you, and you reject Him, He hurts, because you’ve lost something.”
Unfortunately, at the time Jeremiah is writing and preaching to the kingdom of Judah, the Israelites had spent a great deal of time building idols; physically and spiritually. The Israelites had engaged in all manner of dishonor and injustice. In fact, the iniquities of the Israelites had grown so severe, Jeremiah goes so far as to describe their actions as analogous to prostitution. Henceforth, after searching their hearts and examining their minds, God found Israel as a nation to have forsaken Him, and moved in His (just) jealousy to dispossess the Israelites of their land.
Prayer: Father, I realize You have made promises to me, just as I have made promises to you… But the fact is, through my own faults, I fall short; I cannot hold up my end. But I have hope, because in Your faithfulness, You have sent your Holy Spirit to help and comfort me, as well as direct me to Your Word for guidance. And so, I cry out the words You put in Jeremiah’s mouth: “¹⁴Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.” In Jesus’ name, amen.
Lunch Break Study
Isaiah 55:8-9 [NIV]
“⁸For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. ⁹As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Questions To Consider
- Sometimes God displays qualities that humans view as negative such as jealousy, anger, wrath, etc. Why, then, is it alright for God to have or display these qualities, but not for us?
- What are some examples of God’s thoughts or ways being higher than ours?
- I don’t think it’s “alright” for God to do things that aren’t “alright” for humans to do, so much as we, as finite beings, don’t have a good enough vantage point or body of knowledge to judge the actions of God. As a timeless, omniscient being, the amount of information and variables that God can track when deciding on an issue is so far beyond what humans are capable of computing, to call it “impossible” for a human to make an informed decision on any given act of God, is a vast understatement. It would be like asking a microbe to solve M-Theory.
- Take your pick. Any conceivable positive attribute a human can have, God has in Himself, to the nth degree. God is infinitely more good, loving, moral, faithful, just, holy, etc. than any human could ever be. “As the heavens are higher than the earth,” so is God greater than anything else. There are none like Him, and none beside Him.
Christianity has been attacked and criticized from the beginning. People will twist and attack God’s words and actions to try and shake a person’s faith. Has your faith ever been challenged? I hope we can reflect on how deeply, biblically ignorant the age we live in, is. Together, let’s strive to trust in the Lord, and seek His guidance when these situations arise. God will make our paths straight.