Exodus 20:1-3. 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.
What is God like? What motivates him? Why does he do what he does?
To begin answering these questions we can look at the Ten Commandments. Often we think of the Ten Commandments as simply a list of rules to follow. A moral code. But they are much more than that. They are God’s revelation of himself to his people. Each commandment draws out the content of his character. And one of the most important aspects of God’s character is his jealousy.
Jealousy? Isn’t that bad?
For us as humans it sure is. Jealousy rips at our hearts. It makes us angry and bitter. It spits gossip from our lips and prays for the failures of others. 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.
It’s a cruel slave-master. Maybe even worse than Pharaoh.
But God’s jealousy is the exact opposite. His jealousy is exhibited only in his selflessness. His jealousy always flows from and 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 alone is actually perfect. He alone is pure goodness. Therefore, God is good for us. His love is good for us. It is what we all need in order to live and thrive. “In him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28). So when God is jealous for us, and provoked to pursue us, and rescue us, and even demand our love in return, it is always for our good, and therefore it is always a selfless act, never a selfish one.
Remember, God is a Trinity and therefore does not need our worship, love, or affection. But we need to worship him. We need to love him lest we die. God knows he’s the only God (commandment 1). He knows our idols are bogus (commandment 2). And he 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. The three-in-one is already perfectly self-satisfied. His jealousy therefore doesn’t gain him anything that he doesn’t already have.
But it gains us everything. In fact, it will save our lives.
And so here is the strange but true reality – 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? How jealous is he for us? Look at the cross and see. Our union with Christ has swept us into the arms of our jealous lover. A lover who will never ever ever let us go. A lover that will forever fight for us. 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.
Where have you seen jealousy creeping into your heart lately?
You in Christ
How does knowing the God is jealous for you bring your heart freedom?
Christ in you
What’s one way you can genuinely rejoice with someone that you have been jealous of?
Playlist: Jealous God
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