Spiritual Food for Thought for the Weekend
“God Is a Jealous God”
Exodus 34:11-17 (NASB)
“Be sure to observe what I am commanding you this day: behold, I am going to drive out the Amorite before you, and the Canaanite, the Hittite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite. 12 Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. 13 But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim 14 —for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God— 15 otherwise you might make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land and they would play the harlot with their gods and sacrifice to their gods, and someone might invite you to eat of his sacrifice, 16 and you might take some of his daughters for your sons, and his daughters might play the harlot with their gods and cause your sons also to play the harlot with their gods. 17 You shall make for yourself no molten gods.”
We typically think of the word “jealous” with a negative connotation, because after all, didn’t God say, “You shall not covet?”—meaning, you shall not be jealous of your neighbor, but be content with what you have. Don’t you find it strange then that God refers to Himself as a Jealous God? Yet there is a difference between a righteous jealousy and an unrighteous jealousy. Righteous jealousy is one that is jealous for what actually belongs to you; whereas, unrighteous jealousy is one that is jealous (or envious) of what does not belong to you. For example, if I were jealous of my friend who just bought a brand new car, that would be an unrighteous jealousy. And unrighteous jealousy breeds discontentment—and discontentment can spiral into all kinds of problems.
An example of righteous jealousy that I read says this: If another man comes up to my wife and flirts with her, I would clearly be jealous. I would be righteous in my jealousy because my wife and I are committed to one another. She belongs to me and I belong to her. Can you imagine if I were completely okay with it and just let it happen without stepping in? It would actually be a bit absurd if I were not jealous at all.
God is jealous for the people of Israel because He calls them His people—meaning, they have entered into a covenant relationship with Him. As much as His people belong to Him, He is committing Himself to them and saying that He belongs to them. We see this theme throughout the Bible – God’s jealousy for His people. God doesn’t want His people entering into covenants with other gods. He warns them again and again not to whore after other gods in the land that they are about to enter, but this is exactly what Israel does.
When you look at the history of Israel, it’s actually pretty sad. God spends the majority of the exodus years trying to convince His people of His love for them and make them into a holy nation. But shortly after they enter the Promised Land, they turn quickly to idols; and for hundreds of years they do exactly what God tells them not to do. In fact, if you look at the history of Israel, only small portions of their existence as a nation are spent on being faithful unto God. For the most part, they are unfaithful, constantly giving themselves to idol worship. It culminates with Solomon building a temple for the LORD, but immediately filling this temple with idols from all ends of the earth for political expediency.
Though many of us may no longer have idols made out of wood or stone, we have many idols of the heart that we need to address. There are many altars and sacred pillars in our lives that God is instructing us to smash and destroy. Could it be that as you are moving forward in life, there are dangerous idols that must be destroyed so that you could remain faithful unto God? Maybe you are graduating college, and the idols of money and recognition are at the doorstep. Or you are about to get married, and the idols of your spouse and future children are ones that God wants you to give to Him. Maybe you are considering transitions in life and the idol of “your plans” is what God wants you to release to Him. Whatever may be an idol of your heart, remember that God is jealous—He’s jealous because He loves you with a passion and you belong to Him. He asks you to destroy these idols before they destroy you. Let’s never forget that our God is a jealous God, who is rightly jealous for us!
Prayer: Father God, thank You for Your love for me, and that You are jealous for me and for my heart. As much as I want to love You with all of my heart, it is difficult, because there are so many temptations and possible idols every corner I turn. But Lord, help me to destroy these snares, so that I may rightly love You as you have passionately love me. In Jesus’ Name I pray. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: 1 Samuel 30-31