Redeeming Jealousy | Wanting God


ABSTRACT: To many individuals, the phrase jealousy is laden with damaging connotations. In Scripture, nevertheless, we learn that “the Lord, whose identify is Jealous, is a jealous God.” God is rightfully jealous for his personal glory and for the devotion of his covenant individuals. Holy jealousy additionally characterizes probably the most godly women and men, from David and Elijah to Jesus and Paul.

Hear the phrase jealous, and pictures of an insecure, abusive husband could come to thoughts. Certainly, sinful human jealousy has been the reason for numerous difficulties and heartache in human relationships. For a lot of in the present day, the phrase jealousy is all the time a foul one.

It may be perplexing for Christians, then, once they come throughout a passage like Exodus 34:14: “You shall worship no different god, for the Lord, whose identify is Jealous, is a jealous God.” How may an ideal, loving, affected person God name himself jealous? Is God insecure? Do passages like this merely characterize a primitive, Previous Testomony thought of God that’s fortunately completed away with by the point we get to the New Testomony? Perhaps that is only a human means of speaking about God that shouldn’t be taken significantly, or maybe jealous is a foul translation of a Hebrew phrase that would enable for a much less troublesome English phrase?

Regardless of confusion and aversion to this attribute of God, we should not reject or neglect this vital side of God’s character. The jealousy of God is an attribute that pervades the pages of Scripture and is a vital a part of God’s covenant love. To know why God would name himself jealous, and even intensify this description by turning it into one in all his divine names, we have to see Exodus 34:14 in its biblical context. That is additionally true for the lots of of different instances God declares or shows his jealousy within the Bible.

Jealousy and Envy

Whereas all human phrases are frail and restricted in describing God, we have to enable God’s verbal revelation to carry the ability and that means he intends for it to have. Jealous is definitely an excellent English phrase to translate the Hebrew phrase kana in Exodus 34. Kana (in addition to the Greek equal zelos) might be translated as zeal or envy in different places within the Bible. Zeal is a normal sturdy feeling to see one thing come about. Envy is a need to achieve possession of one thing that doesn’t belong to you, and it’s all the time sinful. Jealousy is a robust need to keep up relational faithfulness that you simply consider does belong to you. Jealousy could be sinful whether it is unwarranted or expressed in unsuitable methods, however it will also be a completely acceptable and righteous emotion. We don’t often make any distinction between envy and jealousy, which contributes to the public-relations downside jealousy has.

God’s jealousy is his righteous and loving demand of unique faithfulness from his covenant individuals. As a result of God rightly loves his personal glory, and graciously loves us, he calls for that we worship and serve him above all. In human historical past, God is most glorified by the undivided devotion of his redeemed individuals, and his final jealousy for his glory calls for this devotion. If he doesn’t care after we love idols greater than him, he would enable himself to be dishonored and allow us to accept a lot lower than he intends us to have from life. God’s jealous love calls for one of the best of us and {our relationships}.

In Exodus 34, God is giving Moses the central calls for of referring to him as his covenant individuals — a covenant he compares repeatedly to a wedding (Isaiah 54:5; Jeremiah 2:2–3; Hosea 2:2). God is the husband of his individuals, and we’re his bride. This metaphor solely intensifies after we get to the New Testomony (Matthew 9:15; Ephesians 5:22–33; Revelation 19:6–9). To worship any God however the true God is non secular adultery, and any husband who doesn’t care that his spouse dedicated adultery most actually doesn’t love her. Proper on the coronary heart of the legal guidelines of the covenant, God needs his individuals to know that this covenant relationship is everlasting and unique. He needs them to comprehend that he’s a private God establishing a private relationship together with his individuals, and that his individuals ought to relate to him as he’s, not as a extra user-friendly god of their very own making.

God’s Jealousy for His Personal Glory

All through the Bible, God is rightfully jealous when he’s dishonored, as we are able to see within the purpose God offers for the second commandment:

You shall don’t have any different gods earlier than me. You shall not make for your self a carved picture, or any likeness of something that’s in heaven above, or that’s within the earth beneath, or that’s within the water beneath the earth. You shall not bow right down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the youngsters to the third and the fourth era of those that hate me. (Exodus 20:3–5)

God calls for the constancy of his individuals as a result of he loves them, however finally as a result of he’s most glorified once they ascribe to him the consideration that belongs to him alone. God achieves this objective of creating himself recognized so that individuals will acknowledge, worry, worship, and obey him because the one and solely Lord. Each key stage of salvation historical past factors to this supreme goal. God’s covenant love and compassion aren’t any much less operational than his jealousy; he’s jealous for the devotion of his individuals as a result of he has the loving coronary heart of a father, however finally as a result of he wishes to guard the consideration of his identify.1

God has a singular proper to hunt his personal glory, a proper none of us ought to search to take for ourselves. Solely God deserves absolute honor, worship, and glory, and he reacts with jealousy and anger when these he has created don’t ascribe it to him, or once they need it for themselves. God is righteous and due to this fact values above all else what’s of final worth. He loves most what’s most worthy of being cherished, which is his personal character, being, and perfections. Due to this fact, God’s jealousy for his glory doesn’t battle together with his love. Certainly, his good justice and love necessitate his personal self-exaltation.

We see the identical jealousy for God’s glory within the ministry of Jesus. The portraits we regularly get of Jesus are typically restricted to his attributes that we discover comforting, like his compassion and mercy. Jesus actually is compassionate and merciful, and tells his followers to show the opposite cheek and love their enemies (Matthew 5:39). However what will we make of Jesus flipping over tables within the temple (John 2:14–15)? That doesn’t appear to be the Jesus most hear about on Sunday morning! The godly jealousy of Jesus stands behind his righteous indignation as he drove out the money-changers with a whip. His disciples acknowledged this perspective as the identical one which drove David. They recalled his phrases from Psalm 69 after Jesus cleansed the temple: “His disciples remembered that it was written, ‘zeal [zelos] for your own home will devour me’” (John 2:17).

Jesus is commonly considered very totally different from the God of the Previous Testomony. However he spoke typically of hell, and one of many final photos we now have of Jesus within the Bible is so terrifying that unrepentant individuals are crying out for rocks to fall on them relatively than face “the wrath of the Lamb” (Revelation 6:16). Jesus is certainly gracious and loving, however his grace and love are finally pushed by God’s glory. His jealous love induced him to hate sin and all that dishonors God a lot that he gave his life to conquer evil and idolatry as soon as and for all.

Jealous with God’s Jealousy

The prevalence of a client mentality and human-centeredness in up to date society simply leads our agendas and takes larger precedence than God’s glory. A need to be related and engaging can encourage a advertising and marketing mentality within the church that lacks jealousy for God’s honor. The heavy affect of secular psychology, with its therapeutic, self-centered method to ministry, can also detract from God’s glory being the supreme goal when Christians collect. These influences can lead the church to develop into a pragmatically oriented self-help group relatively than a God-glorifying group.

Then again, when God’s individuals deeply need that he be glorified in order that nothing competes with him for our devotion and worship, they need to expertise a godly jealousy that mirrors his. The Bible consists of many examples of godly people who find themselves jealous for God’s honor. Each time spiritual reform and revival was led to in Israel, behind it all the time stood a jealous chief. Whether or not it was Hezekiah smashing the sacred pillars and chopping down Asherah poles (2 Kings 18:3–4; 19:15–19), Jehoiada tearing down the home and altars of Baal (2 Kings 11:17–18), or Josiah eradicating the excessive locations (2 Kings 23:19), jealousy on behalf of God’s identify, and his unique proper to obtain worship and covenant constancy, was a main motivating emotion.

Among the many many examples and people who categorical godly jealousy, 5 of them stand out because the strongest: Phinehas, David, Elijah, Jesus, and Paul. The important thing passages that epitomize this attribute for every of them are Numbers 25 (Phinehas), Psalm 69:9 (David), 1 Kings 19:10–14 (Elijah), John 2:13–17 (Jesus), and a couple of Corinthians 11:1–4 (Paul). Every reveals his intense need for the preservation of God’s honor within the face of a problem to that honor.

Take into account Phinehas, for instance. Phinehas just isn’t a well known Previous Testomony determine in the present day, however he ought to be. He killed an Israelite man and a Midianite girl who have been flagrantly rebelling in opposition to God within the midst of Israel’s repentance for rampant unfaithfulness (Numbers 25:6–9). God responds by saying that Phinehas atoned for the sins of the individuals, stopped a plague, and saved many lives as a result of he was jealous for God’s honor in a means that mirrored God’s jealousy (Numbers 25:10–13). He stands as a Christ sort when it’s mentioned that he’s given a perpetual priesthood along with being a supply of atonement (Numbers 25:13).

Completely different Weapons

God calls Christians in the present day to really feel the jealous anger and indignation that all the godly leaders within the Bible (like Phinehas) skilled. Nonetheless, on this day of terrorist assaults within the identify of God’s honor, we can be fast to acknowledge that there are vital distinctions between the Previous Testomony saint, working beneath the law-based theocracy, and the New Testomony Christian, working beneath the brand new covenant and the lordship of Christ. Along with the roles of males like Phinehas, David, and Elijah, their theocratic context was based mostly on Previous Testomony law-covenant and direct instructions of God. This limits the bloody expression of their jealousy to their historic scenario. Phinehas’s killing of Zimri and Cozbi, David’s killing of Goliath, and Elijah’s destruction of the prophets of Baal have been acceptable manifestations of their godly jealousy for his or her contexts, however they not characterize God’s strategies beneath the brand new covenant.

Within the New Testomony, we nonetheless see God himself taking drastic, bodily motion on those that dishonor him (Acts 5:5–10; 12:23). However relating to people, a shift takes place within the New Testomony the place jealousy for God’s honor is now channeled by gospel proclamation and is, in some measure, placed on maintain till God unleashes his ultimate judgment (Romans 12:19–21). Jesus himself frowned upon violent reactions to behaviors that have been dishonoring to God. He rebuked Peter when he minimize off Malchus’s ear (Matthew 26:52). His response to James and John once they wished to name down fireplace to devour the inhospitable Samaritans appears to show the identical thought. He rebuked them and mentioned, “You have no idea what method of spirit you might be of; for the Son of Man got here to not destroy individuals’s lives however to save lots of them” (Luke 9:55–56).

Paul offers the identical perspective: “Although we stroll within the flesh, we aren’t waging warfare based on the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare will not be of the flesh however have divine energy to destroy strongholds” (2 Corinthians 10:3–4). And once more: “We don’t wrestle in opposition to flesh and blood, however in opposition to the rulers, in opposition to the authorities, in opposition to the cosmic powers over this current darkness, in opposition to the non secular forces of evil within the heavenly locations” (Ephesians 6:12). The godly Christian hates idolatry at least Phinehas, but Christ calls him to battle with totally different weapons. Phinehas’s spear has been changed by Paul’s epistles. The enemies of God deserve the identical daring indignation David felt, however righteousness, the gospel of peace, and the sword of the Spirit have changed his stones.

Christian leaders might imagine godly jealousy has little to do with most ministry endeavors, however central to our calling is that we abhor and denounce false instructing, even when we can be thought of divisive, illiberal, and uncharitable (Titus 1:9; Romans 12:9). Any distortion of the reality of God’s phrase amongst God’s individuals quantities to idolatry and non secular adultery. A devoted pastor will react with godly jealousy, amongst different virtues (2 Timothy 2:22–26), every time the clear instructing of Scripture is violated. In a correct effort to be irenic, gracious, and truthful, it nonetheless can be inconceivable to stay ambivalent when God’s phrase is ignored or distorted, particularly by those that declare to be his covenant individuals. God, whose identify is Jealous, calls for that his individuals stay dedicated to the true gospel with out compromise. The church is to be “a pillar and buttress of the reality” (1 Timothy 3:15), and its leaders are to “guard the nice deposit entrusted” to us (2 Timothy 1:14), so its theological gatekeepers should stay vigilant in these efforts.

Devoted Bride

What a staggering and great fact — that the God who’s completely self-sufficient (Psalm 50:12; Acts 17:24–25) has chosen to enter into an intimate relationship together with his individuals to the purpose the place he feels jealous anger if we’re untrue to him! And what a blessed pleasure to know that, by religion in Christ, the one good covenant-keeper, we are able to relaxation assured that someday we can be offered to our Lord pure and conformed to his picture (1 John 3:2–3).

Till that day, could the God whose identify is Jealous be honored by the shocking faithfulness of his bride, even when she is susceptible to wander.2


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