For thou shalt worship no other god:
for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Names mean something, especially in the Kingdom of God. As you read through God’s Word, notice how often we are told the meaning behind the different names people give to their children. God even tells the parents in some instances what they are to name their children. And in some cases He changes a person’s name to represent something significant in their lives. Abram meant “high father” in Hebrew, but when God made a covenant with Abram and promised him to be the father of many nations, He changed his name to Abraham which means “father of many.” Jacob meant “supplanter” however later in his life when he wrestled all night with the angel of the Lord in order to receive a blessing, the Lord changed his name to Israel which means “God contended” or “he struggles with God”.
I have a bookmark that I use frequently which lists the different names of God and what they mean. The names of God are important because they reveal to us His Character. Anything in this world that is good, is good because it is consistent with His Nature and Character. Anything that is evil or wrong is so because it contradicts the very nature of God.
One name of God that I’ve discovered recently though is not listed on my bookmark – El Qanna. That is the word used in Exodus 34:14. God is telling us not only is He a jealous God, but His very name means Jealous. This posed a problem for me the first time I put much thought into it. We’ve been taught that jealousy is wrong. In fact, further down in the Ten Commandments, which this verse is a part of, it specifically talks about coveting what is not yours – being jealous! So then how can one of God’s names (El Qanna) mean Jealous? How can He be named Jealous when jealousy is wrong and we know that anything that is wrong is so because it contradicts the very nature of God?
As I pondered this question, prayed and studied Scriptures about God’s jealousy (and there are a lot of them!) I began to notice something - two little words that pointed to something huge – the words OF and FOR. When we think of jealousy, the jealousy that is “bad” we are referring to our being jealous OF something or someone. We are coveting what they have or what we perceive them as having. This type of jealousy leads only to hatred and bitterness. Even when it seems to be for something good, for example, when I see a couple praying together and I begin to feel jealous of what they have. Whether I mean to or not, bitterness begins to creep into my heart because I’ve perceived them as having something which I desire. This is not to say I can’t desire to pray with my husband one day as I see them doing, but if I am not careful the enemy will plant a seed of jealousy in my heart that will flower into bitterness and anger – towards them, towards my husband and even possibly towards God Himself.
However, when God is described as being a jealous God, He is jealous FOR us. You may ask, what is the difference? Beloved, the difference is huge and it is critical. God is jealous for us and the relationship He has with us. When Scripture refers to God as a jealous God, it is talking about His Jealousy to remove anything that hinders the relationship for which He created us. God’s jealousy is a righteous jealousy that arises when sin threatens the covenant relationship we experience with our Creator.
In all cases where Scripture describes God as being jealous if you look closely you will see this jealousy has arisen because sin of some shape or form has attempted to break the covenant relationship the Lord has with His people.
One song which has a very strong meaning for me is Nicole C. Mullin’s “Call on Jesus”. The end of the chorus says:
When I call on Jesus
Mountains are gonna fall
Cause He’ll move heaven and earth
To come rescue me when I call
This overwhelms me with emotion when I think of a love so great that Jesus would actually move heaven and earth to come rescue me. Think of the bond between a mother and a child and how women have been known to have superhuman strength to rescue their children when needed. God loves us even more than a mother’s love for her children.
Now add to that a righteous jealousy that burns within His heart anytime something attempts to come between us. I for one am stunned by this. He would do absolutely anything necessary, even dying on the cross to defeat the sin that attempts to destroy the relationship we have with Him. Can you even begin to imagine the love that is behind this righteous jealousy?
There is a battle going on all around us Beloved – a battle raging because of jealousy. The enemy was jealous OF man whom God loved and created in His own image. This jealousy consumed him until he was filled with anger and bitterness and in rebellion against God he became determined to destroy the very thing that God loved. God is jealous FOR us and will arise against anything the enemy in his anger and bitterness tries to use to tear apart that covenant relationship. The enemy’s jealousy is rooted in bitterness and anger. God’s jealousy is rooted in His righteous love for us, His creation. I am so very thankful to be friends with and loved by a righteous God who is jealous for me.
As we begin to develop our friendship with God by beholding Him through his Word, worship, prayer, and confession we should also strive to be jealous – jealous for our friendship with God. We should develop a righteous jealousy which arises within us whenever sin threatens to harm that friendship. Beloved, let’s become a people who are jealous FOR our friendship with God.
(Angela, Dineen and I adore you and thank you for adding your wisdom and love for Christ in this series. You always inspire us to see Jesus and His love in ever amazing ways. BIG hugs, Lynn)