God’s Jealousy – A Really Good Thing

Posted: May 20, 2014 in Christian Living, Theology

Exodus 20:5 “…for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”

Many are thrown aback at the thought of God being a jealous God. This conjures up thoughts of the psycho boyfriend who seeks to control every move of his girlfriend’s life. Jealously in our culture is considered a vice – a lustful desire or excessive covetousness for what someone else has. Associating this description to God, the perfect being, seems insulting and demeaning to his character. If God is maximally great in all his attributes, it seems beneath him to be jealous in this fashion. Applying these notions of jealousy to God would be inappropriate; therefore his jealousy must be different.

The Hebrew word for jealous is gana meaning, “to have a zeal for.” Having zeal for another’s property is envy and is improper and sinful according to Ex. 20:17. But to have zeal for one’s own property is right. God is jealous for his people. He has great enthusiasm in the pursuit and desire of his people. We were created by God – to live with him, worship him, and enjoy him forever – for his glory and for our greatest good. God is the highest good and He desires the maximizing of his glory (to seek the maximizing of another’s glory would make that person god). Because He is a loving God, he desires the greatest good of his people. When we drift into the worship of another, any other person or thing, God is rightfully jealous.

Consider the love of a husband toward his wife. They have a sacred union together – each belonging to the other – loving and serving one another. Each spouse has the right and duty of jealousy for the affections of the other. If a husband sees the wife being lured away by another man, he has the right and obligation to be jealous. We would consider him a weak, passive, and unloving man who would not be jealous for his wife when seeing her embrace another. We should expect emotional hurt, righteous anger, and all-out pursuit from the husband. So it is with God. His jealousy is pure, righteous, and a wonderful thing for those who are in relationship with Him.

Our adultery committed against God rightfully provokes his anger and is deserving of his punishment. Yet He has chosen to love us, pursue us, and bring us back to him. He poured out his righteous anger on Jesus for our adultery. We are the unfaithful spouses, hurting the heart of God, stirring up his anger; but he has chosen to take out that just wrath on his perfect Son. What kind of love is this? To use marriage language, God is the perfect husband – suffering our adultery, yet pursuing us at the cost of his own life, just to make us his own. Weep for joy at this love that his been poured out for us. God’s jealousy is good, very good!!



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