Exodus 20:1-7. And God spoke all these words, saying,
2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
3 “You shall have no other gods before me.
4 “You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. 5 You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, 6 but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7 “You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain, for the Lord will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
The Ten Commandments are not only from God, they are about God. What is God like? What motivates him? Clearly he is good and gracious. He brought the Hebrews out of the land of Egypt.
But we learn in the first three commandments is that God is also good and jealous.
1. No other gods.
2. No images of other gods.
3. No using God for your own purposes.
Why? Because he is a jealous God.
Now from where we’re sitting jealousy is not a good thing at all. It rips at our hearts. Makes us angry and bitter. Jealousy spits gossip from our lips and prays for the failures of others. It is a cruel slave-master. Maybe even worse than Pharaoh.
We turn to jealousy when our shortcomings are exposed for all to see. Jealousy prevents us from cheering on a competitor. It produces more and more “hate-likes” on Facebook. It often even turns us into full fledged liars. Mostly to ourselves.
Jealous only makes us more and more selfish.
Yikes. Jealousy rears it’s ugly head in Rhett.
But God is the exact opposite. His jealousy is exhibited only in his selflessness. His truth telling. His caring rescue. His jealousy reveals his covenant love for us.
What’s the difference? Why can God be jealous and not be destroyed but if we are jealous we literally start to die from the inside out?
The answer is this simple – he’s God. He’s actually perfect. He is pure goodness. Therefore he is good for us. He is the one that we all need in order to thrive in glory forever. So when God is jealous and thus motivated to pursue our worship of him it is actually and paradoxically a selfless act, never a selfish one.
Why? Because he does not need our worship, but we need to worship him. God knows he’s the only God (commandment 1). God knows our idols are bogus (commandment 2). And God knows he can’t actually be manipulated by our prayers (commandment 3). So these commandments are not actually for God’s good, they’re for our good. As a Trinity God is already perfectly self satisfied. His jealousy therefore doesn’t gain him anything that he doesn’t already have. But it gains us everything. It will save our lives.
The strange but true reality is that the cure for our jealousy is God’s jealousy. And God’s jealousy is expressed fully in Christ, and in our union with him.
How much does God love us? Just how jealous is he? Look at the cross and you’ll see. Union with Christ has swept us into the arms of our jealous lover. A lover who will never ever ever let go. He will never stop pursuing you. He’s the stalker you never knew you needed.
“To live is Christ” is to be not only pursued by a jealous God but also loved, cared for, and forever held by that same jealous God. God’s jealousy is what motivated the coming of Christ, the death of Christ, the resurrection of Christ and the indwelling of Christ. God’s jealousy is for our good. And allowing yourself to be loved by this jealous God is the only thing that can cure you of all the personal jealousies that tear at your soul every day.