Our Jealous God

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God portrays himself in the Scriptures as a jealous God. We naturally misunderstand this attribute, giving it human implications, like a jealous wife who resents her husband’s job. The Hebrew word has the idea of being zealous and passionate. Dr. Ron Allen, seminary professor and theologian, writes,

Yahweh has zeal for the truth that He alone is God and that makes him jealous of any rival.”

Two aspects of this jealousy fit together.

As the only true God, he knows that he alone is worthy of worship. Therefore he is jealous of anything that usurps the allegiance that is rightly due him. He forbids the worship of any other gods, making it the foundation of the Ten Commandments, because he is passionate about his glory, his name, and his honor.

God’s jealousy benefits those who love him, and harms those who get in the way.

His jealousy demands exclusive devotion, just as a marriage demands exclusivity and protects against any intrusion. Those of us in a covenant relationship with God are protected and guarded by his jealousy. His uncompromising love for us desires our greatest good and he knows that worshiping Him alone is our ultimate good. Anything we give undue attention or affection to, other gods in our lives, whether relationships, materialism, or even a self-obsessed life, will lure our hearts away from Him, and consequently diminish our well-being. He loves us too much to let us settle for less than the best. And he is our best.

The apostle Paul expresses a similar sentiment to the Corinthians, telling them that he is jealous for them with a godly jealousy. He is afraid that their hearts might be led astray from their pure and sincere devotion to Christ (2 Corinthians 11:2-3).

Our jealous God guards what belongs to him—we belong to him. Our affections belong to Him. We are his. He bought us with a price, and you’d better believe he’s protecting his investment.

He will see to it that the work he began in us will be brought to its glorious conclusion. His persistent love won’t let us wander too far. He will go to the ends of the earth to bring us back, and He will discipline us when he has to, because he is jealous for our good.

How wonderful to discover the beauty in this virtue.

1 comment to Our Jealous God

  • Holly Steadman

    Yes! The Lord God Almighty will do what it takes to properly own His bride (the church) and zealously gather her to Himself–pure, spotless and white.
    This is such a great post to clarify His awesome and appropriate jealousy–“Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the Spirit He caused to live in us envies intensely.” James 4:5
    Love the clarified Hebrew meaning of “zealous and passionate” and the Dr. Ron Allen quote!