What does it mean to say that God is a jealous God?

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“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:5).

When God gave the Ten Commandments to His people, He commanded loyalty and worship to Him alone as the Creator of all. God was jealous in the sense that He expected full love, not merely a partial, lukewarm commitment from His created beings.

This intimates the love and care the Lord has for his own children (John 3:16), His hatred of idolatry and all false worship, His displeasure against idolaters, and that He resents everything that leads His beloved children to spiritual adultery and eventually death. Thus, the displeasure of God against all evil, because it destroys His dear children, is fitly called jealousy.

God doesn’t share His glory with idols (Isa. 42:8; 48:11). He declines the worship and service of a divided heart (Ex. 34:12–15; Deut. 4:23, 24; 6:14, 15; Joshua 24:15, 19, 20). Jesus Himself said, “No man can serve two masters” (Matt. 6:24).

To set one’s affections upon false gods of any kind, to place one’s trust in anything besides the Lord, is to “hate” God (v. 6). Those who do so inevitably bring trouble and suffering not only upon themselves but also upon those who come after them. God loves His children very much and he can’t bear to see them get destroyed by evil.

Paul, also, provides an example of divine Jealousy in 2 Corinthians 11:2, “I feel a divine jealousy for you.” In what way was Paul jealous? Paul desired for the church to be fully committed to Christ. Therefore, his jealousy should be understood as a protecting of their relationship with God.

In His service,
BibleAsk Team


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