God Is Jealous

“Take heed to yourself, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land where you are going, lest it be a snare in your midst. But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God)” Exodus 34:12-14

When we think about the word “jealous”, we often think about the negative sense of it.  It’s quite true that jealousy can be sinful if it is unwarranted or expressed in wrong ways, but it can also be an appropriate and righteous as well. For example, Paul told the church in Corinth that he felt a divine jealousy for the saints there (2 Corinthians 11:2) What did Paul mean in saying this? Paul was earnestly protective and watchful of the people. Positively, jealousy communicates a zeal in seeking the honor and welfare of someone, whether oneself or someone else.

The Bible teaches us that God is jealous in this way. He is earnestly protective of His own honor and glory (Isaiah 48:11). He is earnestly jealous of His own worship. God lovingly and righteously demands exclusive faithfulness from His covenant people. In the renewal of the covenant that is spoken of in Exodus 34, God gave Moses the central demands of relating to God as His people. God warned them to take heed, lest they covenant with the people in Canaan and it would become a snare for them. Further, note that He commanded them to destroy the altars and idols in Canaan. Why? God’s people shall have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3) God’s people shall not make carved images, nor worship them. “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). God has “fervent zeal for His own worship, and His revengeful indignation against all false worship, as being a spiritual whoredom” (Westminster Larger Catechism 110). This should give us great pause as we consider God’s holy zeal for His own worship and the worship we bring!

As we remember and think about the names of God, how often are we mindful that one of His names is, Jealous? Yahweh, Jehovah, Elohim, Adonai, Abba may readily come to mind. Yet, Jealous, is also a divine name of God.

Beloved, let us remember today our God’s name is Jealous. His jealousy for His own honor, glory, and worship is good and right. God demands absolute loyalty from those whom He loves and has redeemed. He requires covenant faithfulness from us, His people. As the people Moses led faced strong temptations to worship another, we too wrestle with the same. Our hearts are idol factories. We are weak and too easily drawn away to the crafting table inside. Yet, God is jealous. He loves us. He hears our prayers. We need to pray daily that God would destroy the idols in our hearts, get them out of our lives, and turn our appetites away from them. We need to pray daily that He would work in us to be wholeheartedly loyal and faithful to Him. Our worship must be to God, and God alone. He alone is worthy. We must give it to no one and nothing else.