Summary: “Thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
God is Jealous
October 2, 2011
Over the past several weeks we’ve been looking at some of the attributes of God. This morning we’re going to see one that doesn’t get a lot of attention—His jealousy.
“Thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
Moses climbed to the top of Sinai and received two stone tablets on which were written the Ten Commandments. But he was gone too long and the people made for themselves a golden calf saying, “These be thy gods, O Israel, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt” (Ex. 32:4). Moses came back down the mountain, saw the idolatry, and threw the tablets on the ground breaking them.
He had to go back up to Sinai a second time to get the Commandments again. There God renewed His promise to drive out the inhabitants of the land, and He warned:
Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee: 13But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves: 14For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: 15Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice; 16And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods. 17Thou shalt make thee no molten gods (Ex. 34:12-17).
God knew that the Israelites were prone to worship the gods of Canaan, so He warns: “Thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
We typically think of jealousy as something negative (maybe the same as envy), but all five times this Hebrew word is used in the Old Testament it only describes God (never man) and it always follows the forbiddance of idolatry: “you shall not worship other gods because I’m a jealous God.” So, in this case “jealous” means that God is intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness.
In other words, “I’m not going to tolerate spiritual fornication. I’ll be provoked to anger if you stray.” The whole book of Hosea was written with this as the central theme:
And the Lord said to Hosea, Go take thee a wife of whoredoms and children of whoredoms: for the land hath committed great whoredom, departing from the Lord (Hos. 1:2).
You see, here’s the point:
God sees unfaithfulness as prostitution
I think it’s hard for us to really appreciate God’s view of sin. We tend to divide it up into categories and make some worse than others. Pornography isn’t as bad as adultery, hatred isn’t as bad as murder, and covetousness isn’t as bad as theft.
And so in this way we’re able to indulge just a little in some of the lesser things and we don’t have to feel as bad or deal with as many consequences. But what does God say?
To obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams. 23For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry (I Sam. 15:22-23).
What was Saul’s sin? He didn’t kill all the people and animals! God was clear in His command to leave nothing alive (I Sam. 15:3), but Saul disobeyed. This wasn’t just a shortcoming to God—it was witchcraft and idolatry. Saul worshiped other gods when he listened to the voice of the people rather than the Lord (:24), and “because thou hast rejected the word of the Lord, He also hath rejected thee from being king.”
Do you see how serious it is when we sin in even the little things? Rebellion is a slap in the face of God, and He’ll not put up with it because He’s jealous.
It’s in His very nature to be jealous
for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God
I don’t remember reading this verse before this week, and I was awestruck that God not only accepts jealousy as a trait, but He even takes it on as a name. The Great I AM is also Jealous. He goes by the name Jehovah and YAHWEH, but He also goes by Jealous. It’s not just something He feels; it’s who He is! He’s intolerant of rivalry and unfaithfulness; He demands worship to the exclusion of anything else in creation.
When His ark was captured and stored in the Philistine temple, He made their little god literally fall over so that his head and hands broke off (I Sam. 5:4).