Tuesday, November 19, 2013

He is a Jealous God

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Tuesday, November 19, 2013:  Ezekiel 39:1-40:27

“Therefore thus says the Lord God: ‘Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name—  Ezekiel 39:25 (NKJV)

Jealousy is usually considered a bad characteristic. William Shakespeare called it "the green-eyed monster." It is an emotion laden with insecurity, selfishness, and smoldering anger.  It fears the loss of something valuable.  It envies the possessions of others more fortunate.  It seeks to control and to stifle.  It is fired by distrust.  Jealousy is born out of a deficit -- an unmet need -- a sense of deprivation.    

How then can God call Himself a JEALOUS GOD?  If jealousy is a flaw, would that not make God evil?

One example of this conundrum is the recent words of Oprah Winfrey.  She wrote in her magazine O! that in her late 20's, she heard her pastor declare, "the Lord thy God is a jealous God, the Lord thy God will punish you for your sins."*  Her misunderstanding of such a statement kick-started the long journey of doubt that led her to the New Age religion she now embraces.

If God declares Himself to be a jealous God, it is obvious that "jealousy" may not be so narrowly and negatively defined.  J.I. Packer's book Knowing God is a modern classic all believers should read.  Chapter 17 deals specifically with "The Jealous God."  There he states,

"There are two sorts of jealousy among humans, and only one of them is a vice.  Vicious jealousy is an expression of the attitude, 'I want what you've got, and I hate you because I haven't got it.'... But there is another sort of jealousy: zeal to protect a love relationship or to avenge it when broken."

He goes on to say that any husband who felt no emotion at "the intrusion of an adulterer into his home" would be devoid of moral perception that is at the essence of marriage.

God's jealousy is not His sense of competition with challengers.  It is His zeal to destroy all that would hurt His people.  It is His passion to see us most blessed.

The jealousy of God is not a flaw in Him.  It is a virtuous, relentless affection that knows that He Himself is the best "thing" that could ever happen to any of us.  It is not wrong that He should beckon us into the greatest love story of all time.  He wants us for His own.

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