Is God Jealous?

Few people have had as large an impact on American thought and culture in the last 20 years as Oprah Winfrey. Her television talk show and books influenced countless people. This would not have been a bad thing except that Oprah began advising her viewers on spiritual matters. Professing a belief in Jesus Christ at one time, she began advocating a brand of New Age spiritualism with statements like these…

  • “One of the mistakes human beings make is believing that there is only one way to live… but there are many paths to what you call ‘God.’”
  • “God isn’t something to believe, God is. God is.”
  • “God is a feeling experience, not a believing experience. If God for you is still about a belief, then it’s not truly God.”
  • “I thought Jesus came, died on the cross, that Jesus’ being here was about his death and dying on the cross when it really was about him coming to show us how to do it, how to be — to show us the Christ consciousness that he had and that that consciousness abides with all of us.”

After years of gaining the trust of her viewers, much of this spiritualistic tripe was accepted without question — even among Christian viewers. And, according to Oprah this journey into spirituality began with her gross misunderstanding of one word. Here’s Oprah…

Oprah had a real problem with the idea of God being jealous — as if being jealous is always a bad thing. We frequently associate jealousy with an abusive jealous boyfriend or an overbearing jealous girlfriend. And, in those cases, jealousy is wrong. Those people have no right to be jealous. But, does anyone ever have a “right” to be jealous?

Yes.

When a man and woman get married, they have committed themselves to one another in a covenant relationship. They have made a promise to one another. A husband has a right to the affections of his wife and a wife has a right to the affections of her husband.

If your spouse cheated on you would you we upset? Of course. You would have every right to be upset because they had broken the covenant they established with you. You would have a right to be jealous of their affections.

Do you think God has any less right of expectation for the affections of His people? Do you think He has no right to be jealous for us?

Let’s take a look at where God expresses His jealousy for His people…

“And God spoke all these words, saying, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. “You shall have no other gods before me. “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. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God…” — Exodus 20:1-5

God is speaking directly to His people, Israel. He created them, He delivered them from Egypt, He sustained them in the desert — He is their God. Notice, it is in His prohibition against idolatry and false gods that God mentions His jealousy. Why? Because He has every right to expect their unwavering praises, their undivided loyalty, and their unceasing worship. To give any of these things to another is tantamount to adultery. It is like a wife cheating on her husband. This kind of language is used all through Scripture to describe Israel’s tendency toward idols. They are compared to harlots, prostitutes, and adulteresses. In the New Testament, God’s people are described as the “bride of Christ.”

ThidMan1Are you beginning to see the connection?

A man’s bride is (or should be) precious to him. Christ’s bride is precious to Him. He died for her. He has every right to expect her affections and every right to be angry when those affections are directed toward another.

Is God jealous? You bet He is — with a righteous jealousy. And, if you are a believer in Christ, then you can take comfort in knowing He is jealous for you, having every expectation of your affection, because He has established a covenant with you through the shed blood of His Son. But you should also know that God does not look lightly upon us loving something else. His warning to Israel is applicable to the Church…

“Observe what I command you this day. Behold, I will drive out before you the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Take care, lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land to which you go, lest it become a snare in your midst. You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God), lest you make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and when they whore after their gods and sacrifice to their gods and you are invited, you eat of his sacrifice, and you take of their daughters for your sons, and their daughters whore after their gods and make your sons whore after their gods.” — Exodus 34:11-16

There is no question that God has a right to be jealous for our affections. The question that does remain is this: Are we making covenants with the inhabitants of the land where we reside? Are we chasing after the gods they chase after, sacrificing to the things they sacrifice to? Our land today is just as full of idols as the lands referenced in Exodus 34. We are not to chase after them.

Our God is jealous.

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About Chip
Chip is a graduate of Ouachita Baptist University in Arkadelphia, AR and Mid-America Baptist Theological Seminary in Memphis, TN. He served more than five years on the staff of the State Convention of Baptists in Indiana as Director of Communications and Public Relations, editor of the Indiana Baptist newsjournal, and regular contributor to the Baptist Press, the official news service of the Southern Baptist Convention. He currently earns his living as a writer. He serves his local church as a teacher and deacon and his local Baptist Association as a Seminary Extension instructor and supply preacher.

One Response to Is God Jealous?

  1. Pingback: The Need for Discernment | Thideology™

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