BIBLE READING: Exodus 17-20
In James 3, the writer is expressing a severe concern for those that are jealous and envious. He says, “For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.” (James 3.16). In fact, James isn’t the only writer that warns us of the danger that jealousy presents to Godly people. Paul warns the church at Corinth against it in I Corinthians 3.3. It is even included in Paul’s list of the “works of the flesh” in Galatians 5, in which we are warned that if we continue in these works of the flesh, we will not inherit the kingdom of God. Even Jesus warns us of the dangers of jealousy in the parable of the Prodigal Son in Luke 15. Doesn’t it seem strange that with all of the warnings against jealousy we find this in our daily reading “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God…”(Exodus 20.5)? Do we see in this text that God is taking on a trait that He has specifically forbidden us to adhere to in our own lives? Certainly not! In fact, in the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, the word “jealousy” does continue to have a negative connotation in verses like Job 5.2 and Proverbs 6.34. However, the word also has a double meaning. The Hebrew word for jealousy is “qana” and it does mean “to be jealous” in the negative way, but it also can mean “to be zealous”. When we read that our God is a “jealous God”, the true meaning of the word is our God is a “zealous God”, in that he is passionate, fervent and obsessive with us. As we look at it within its context of Exodus 20.5, God doesn’t want us worshipping anything other than Him. Imagine it like you would your spouse, we don’t want our spouse to be jealous of us in the sense that could cause the problems that were mentioned in the previous New Testament passages. However, we do want our spouse to be zealous of us, in that they don’t want us to be passionate about anyone else. Isn’t that the way we want God to feel about us. We want Him to be passionate, enthusiastic and zealous about us. He desires all of us, not just a half-hearted commitment. He wants us to be fully devoted to Him and nothing else. He desires us so much that He was willing to send His Son for us to show us just how much He loves us. When we see God is a “jealous God”, is isn’t the slightest bit in a negative way. In fact, if anything, it should make us feel even more loved.