What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think of the word “jealous”? Most often we think of a relationship because that’s where we find jealousy lurking more often than in other situations. I think envy is often misunderstood for jealousy. Webster defines jealousy as, “Suspicious or fearful of being replaced by a rival; resentful or bitter in rivalry; demanding exclusive love.” Envy is defined as, “A feeling of discontent or resentment for someone else’s possessions or advantages; any object of envy.” I felt it necessary to clarify the difference as they are far apart in meaning, yet are thought of as the same oftentimes.
Jealousy in a relationship can be very damaging if felt intensely, but I think a little bit of jealousy can be complimentary because it can make you feel special and loved. This is a human perspective of jealousy. But what comes to mind when you read in the Bible about God’s jealousy? Take a moment and ponder that……
A long time ago, Oprah said on her show, (google the youtube video if you wish), that she was sitting in church when she was about 27 years old and the preacher was speaking of how God is Omnipotent, Omnipresent, and how He is everything. Then, he stated that God is a jealous God. Oprah said she was enjoying that sermon until that part; then it struck her that God is all of that other stuff, but also jealous? Jealous of her? What kind of God is that? She goes on to say that it didn’t feel right in her spirit and that’s when she began to search for more than doctrine. This was when Oprah began exploring more of the New Age spiritual paths that she has touted and used to lead many off the path of Christianity, (that’s my personal opinion). Oprah misunderstood that God isn’t jealous OF her, He is jealous FOR her.
Exodus 34:13-15 ” But rather, you are to tear down their alters and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, 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.”
Deuteronomy 6: 14-16 ” You shall not follow other gods of the peoples who surround you, for the Lord you God in the midst of you is a jealous God; otherwise the anger of the Lord your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth. You shall not put the Lord your God to the test, as you tested Him at Massah.”
Zechariah 1:14 ” So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus sayeth the Lord of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy.”
God wants to be our only God. His jealousy should make us feel cherished and loved beyond measure. If you’ve ever felt the sting of infidelity, just imagine how it makes God feel considering His infinite capacity of love for us. Think about it…. God, the creator of the universe, the holiest of hollies, the God who made us in His own image, is jealous for us!! He wants to be our one and only, and He makes it quite clear how He feels when we trespass into idol worship…money, home, car, conceit, significant other, job, career, or basically whatever we chase after or put before Him. A great example of this is Ezekiel 23. Ezekiel tells of two sisters (an analogy that represents Samaria and Jerusalem) as prostitutes that lusted after Egyptian and Assarian idols therefore breaking their covenant with God. Read that chapter now, if possible, and you will gain an understanding of how God feels about our infidelity towards Him.
When I try to imagine in my mind that God would be jealous for me, I am humbled…..Me, the person who fails Him too often, makes mistakes, and who is stubborn and sometimes kicks against Him? That He would desire to be my one and only and feels a deep hurt when He isn’t first in my heart? That is a love I can’t comprehend, and it makes me sad to think of all the times I’ve hurt Him.
Remember the definition of jealousy? “Demanding exclusive love.” We were created to love and worship Him. Considering all of the ways He takes care of us, ultimately giving His Son to die for us, well, loving Him exclusively seems a very small demand to me.
This David Crowder song, “How He Loves Us”, has a line that states: “He is jealous for me, loves like a hurricane, I am the tree, bending beneath the weight of His love and mercy.”
That’s how I think of Gods love and jealousy for us, like a hurricane. Strong, powerful, relentless, and cannot be tamed. We can only bend like trees as the wind of His grace and mercy and love, and yes, jealousy, blows over us.