You can’t really appreciate the mercy of God if you don’t understand the wrath of God. And if you don’t have a handle on the justice of God, then you aren’t going to appreciate the grace of God. In a nutshell, if you don’t understand one, you can’t appreciate the other. When it comes to love and jealousy, I think many of us don’t appreciate the jealousy of God because we don’t understand the love of God.
It is very clear in Scripture, God is on Mt. Sinai and He reveals his name and He said, ‘I the Lord your God am a jealous God,’ and then it is repeated in Exodus 34 where it says, ‘Do not worship any other gods for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.’ God is jealous.
What exactly does that mean? Jealousy typically has a negative connotation. So let me make a distinction. God is certainly not jealous of anything. He is God. He can’t be. But God is jealous for and there is a difference between jealous of and jealous for. God is jealous for everything He created because it is his, because it belongs to HimGod is jealous for you. He is jealous for your love. He is jealous for your time. He is jealous for your devotion. He is jealous for your heart. Why is God jealous for you? Because He infinitely loves you. His jealousy is an expression of His love.
I think I understand this as a husband and a father. I’m jealous for my wife. And that’s the way it should be. And I am jealous for Parker, Summer and Josiah, my children. I am jealous for them, in a protective sense, in a loving sense. And they are jealous for me and that’s the way it should be. Jealousy in a holy context can be a wonderful expression of love and I dare say that a lot of the problems we have in our culture are because we don’t understand jealous love.
Let me put it this way, I want my kids to grow up to love God and then secondly, it would pretty awesome too if they loved me. Now if you said to me, ‘Mark, I’ve got some great news for you, two of your three kids are going to love you,’ that is not great news. I won’t accept that. I want all three of my kids to love me. Two out of three doesn’t get it done for me because I am jealous for them.
We talk about God’s unconditional love and that God loves everyone and I think somehow we feel like we get lost in the “everyone,” in the billions of people that are on this planet. How can I be that significant if there are billions of people? You are not arguing with me, you understand that because I love each of my kids uniquely and it is not good enough if they don’t love me. Here’s what I think we don’t comprehend, and maybe it takes a little bit of thought, but listen, to an infinite God, seven billion is a lot less than three is to a finite dad. Does that make sense? If we could just understand that God is jealous for you, your name, your life, your heart, and nothing else will substitute.
So what is it that provokes His jealousy? It is anything that diverts our attention or our affection to someone or something else. Anything that displaces God is an idol, and it is those idols that God hates.
In Ezekiel 9, the glory of the Lord leaves the Temple. He will not share His glory. But that is not the end of the book. In Ezekiel 47, the glory of the Lord returns. That’s the good news. Until you come to a point of conviction, then you don’t come to a point of confession. Until you come to a point of confession, you are outside of relationship with God. But I have a promise for you, the Bible says if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
One last thought, you can’t just confess your sin, you need to destroy the idol. I know a lot of people who have confessed their sin and then they go right back and bow down to the Canaanite goddess of fertility like the backslidden Israelites. You’ve got to destroy the idol! I don’t know what that looks like or what that means for you, but God is jealous for you and He is never going to give up on you. He can’t because He loves you!
Taken from THE GOD ANTHOLOGY: JEALOUSY. Preached at National Community Church, Washington D.C. Used by permission.