To many, the word “jealousy” conjures up images of a person with low self-esteem who is envious of another’s success, attractiveness, or relationship status. One who is jealous is seen as an adversary, someone who is unfriendly and full of petty hatred. A jealous person is depicted as insecure and petty, maybe domineering or fiercely competitive.
If humans, God’s carved image, are capable of experiencing jealousy, is it right to describe God as jealous? It was God who gave the first breath. Genesis 2:7 says, “And the Lord God formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man became a living being.”
To what extent does God’s jealousy stem from his omnipotence? Does the jealous God, like any weak human being, have resentment and bitterness? But how could our “perfect Father” simultaneously be envious of us?
- 1 What Does It Mean That God Is A Jealous God?
- 2 Why Is God A Jealous God?
- 3 Why Does God Have To Be A Jealous God?
- 4 How Does God’s Jealousy Differ From Human Jealousy?
- 5 What Hope Can We Draw From God’s Jealousy?
- 6 Bible Verses About God Being Jealous
- 7 Conclusion
What Does It Mean That God Is A Jealous God?
Knowing God means knowing he is a jealous God. After instructing his people not to create idols, God reveals himself as a consuming fire and a jealous God in the Ten Commandments. God commands his people to tear down altars dedicated to false gods in Exodus 34:14. God declares, “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” He has the right to our exclusive worship.
In these contexts, the Hebrew word qanna not only means “jealous” but also “zealous,” suggesting a deep concern for the subject at hand. We have faith that God truly does love us with an everlasting love and that he longs for us to be his people.
He is concerned about us falling prey to anyone else’s charms. As our Maker and Father, God’s desire is to keep us in his care so that he may continue to provide for us and care for us. The jealousy God condemns looks like that.
Why Is God A Jealous God?
According to Scripture, the jealous God wants nothing but the best for us. The apostle Paul compares his feelings toward the early church in Corinth to jealousy, writing, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Jesus Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him” (2 Corinthians 11:2).
The word “godly jealousy” appears in the preceding text. And what exactly is the meaning of jealousy and God’s jealousy?
What Does Jealousy Mean In The Bible?
In God’s Word, human jealousy is the first type mentioned. In Genesis 30:1, Rachel shows jealousy against her sister Leah as they compete for Jacob’s love. In a later verse (Genesis 37:11), we learn that Jacob’s sons were envious of Joseph, their brother, because Jacob preferred the first son of his favorite wife.
Even though God was working to preserve the whole family, the rivalry was a significant factor in the malicious betrayal of Joseph’s brothers towards him and his subsequent slavery in Egypt.
In light of examining God’s jealousy, it is crucial to note that the first examples of this human and sinful emotion occur in the context of broken families whose members have disobeyed God’s design for marriage and the family, as stated in Genesis 2:24.
So too, what is revealed about God being a jealous God has roots in human sin and the breaking of a marriage commitment, but also goes above these things through God’s sovereign grace.
For the first time, God’s jealousy is mentioned in the Bible. In Exodus 20:5–6, God tells his people, “You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
God’s jealousy is apparent at Mt. Sinai, where God forms a covenant with the rescued Israelites. This is the section of the covenant law where it is explained why people must abandon their idols and instead devote themselves entirely to loving and serving the Lord.
When we next hear of God’s jealousy, it is because he is restoring his vow with the promised land after they broke it by worshiping an idol (a golden calf) (Exodus 34:14; Exodus 32). God threatened to kill Israel because of their egregious treachery. However, because of Moses’ pleas, God not only forgave their wickedness but also decided to go up among them.
The grace Moses had received from God gave him the confidence to seek a revelation of God’s majesty. God kindly consented to reveal himself to Moses and rewrite the Covenant Law on tablets of stone, reestablishing the Covenant (Exodus 33–34).
Things You Should Know About The Jealousy Of God
Most of us don’t think of jealousy as a positive emotion. How, therefore, can we argue that God is a jealous God? That may seem blasphemous to others. Let’s examine this often-overlooked facet of God’s character.
- God Is A Deeply Feeling Being
Scripture contains stories of God’s love, mercy, kindness, compassion, and even hatred. Nevertheless, what about envy? There is an unquenchable flame of infinite love at the center of his psyche that he calls jealousy.
Aside from jealousy, God also feels anger, hence the phrase “consuming fire”, especially when mankind breaks his commandment against idolatrous worship of other gods or strange gods: “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14).
“For they provoked him to anger with their high places; they moved him to jealousy with their idols” (Psalms 78:58). Furthermore, Deuteronomy 4:24 describes God as “a consuming fire.”
- Jealousy Has Positive And Negative Aspects
Jealousy can signify both sinful weaknesses and wounded pride, on the one hand, and genuine love, on the other. Jealously is sometimes the expression of an excessively possessive spirit and, at other times, the fruit of care and concern for the welfare of the loved one. As we will see, the jealousy that burns within the heart of God is that of a good, godly, and holy God.
- The Jealous God Is Not Insecure
The Lord is jealous, not because he feels suspicious or insecure about himself. Jealousy stems from not knowing someone well enough to trust them, which derives from not trusting oneself. God cannot possibly be like that.
- Others’ Success Does Not Make God Jealous
The jealousy of God is not the same as saying he is unjustly envious of people’s achievements. Sinful jealousy usually stems from negative emotions like worry, resentment, and fear. However, nothing like that could ever describe God. Sinful jealousy wants to take control of something that isn’t really one’s own. It’s possessive, demanding, and doesn’t really care about the thing it claims to love.
- Jealousy Is God’s Passionate Energy
God’s jealousy is the force that motivates him to confront anything or anybody that prevents him from fulfilling his most profound wishes. God’s love for us is measured by the potency of his wrath whenever this connection is threatened.
The ancient Near Eastern term for envy refers to how anger may cause a person’s face to flush intensely red. God’s jealousy is not that of the green-eyed monster but that of a red-faced lover who will have no one else stand between him and his people.
- God Is Jealous Of People’s Love
God is likewise possessive of his spouse, which is his people, and feels envious of their unwavering commitment to him. The Holy God, like any loving spouse, can never and will never tolerate our spiritual adultery by worshiping other gods. How can we judge someone who doesn’t feel jealousy while someone else is courting their partner and threatening to gain their affection? Most of us would think such a person lacked moral integrity and genuine love.
Why Does God Have To Be A Jealous God?
It is not God’s will that our souls be lost to this world or its god, the devil. God desires communion with us so he may imbue us with his goodwill. If we can build this rapport with him, he’ll show us the way to a happy, tranquil existence.
On the other hand, the devil, the god of this world, is also at work. Also, he’s after our souls to sway us in his direction. He intends to do us in and appeals to our baser natures. When Christians talk about “the flesh,” they refer to the sinful tendencies and carnal desires that have been ingrained in them since birth (1 Peter 1:18) and are a direct result of Adam and Eve’s fall.
While the idea of being jealous is often associated with negative connotations, when applied to the Lord, it carries a different significance. His jealousy is rooted in his deep love and desire for an intimate relationship with his creation. He longs to be the greatest treasure in our lives, the one we hold above all else.
There are opposing forces at work here, and the Lord takes divine jealousy very seriously. He is passionately protective of our souls. With “God’s passion,” he urges us to fight.
How Does God’s Jealousy Differ From Human Jealousy?
When compared to human jealousy, God’s jealousy is much different. However, it’s difficult to know how to react to envy since it’s been given so many wrong labels. Jealousy in humans is a selfish emotion driven by feelings of inferiority. Sin has a taint on every one of us humans. That “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” is a sobering reminder from Romans 3:23. It is only through Christ, the Son of God, that we may be saved.
But there is no sin in God. According to Jesus, our heavenly Father is “perfect” (Matthew 5:48). The ancient Greek word for “complete” (teleios) comes from the word telos, which, according to Strong’s Greek Concordance, means “the finish” or “the peak.” When the Father says God is a jealous God, he’s not referring to the wicked humankind of jealousy but rather the appropriate, righteous jealousy a parent feels in claiming what’s rightfully his.
Sinful human jealousy stems from emotions such as resentment, envy, pride, and the ego. As Proverbs 6:24 puts it, “Jealousy arouses a husband’s rage, and he will show no mercy when he seeks revenge.” Jealousy is listed as a trait of the wicked (Romans 1:29).
What Hope Can We Draw From God’s Jealousy?
God’s jealousy reveals a lovely quality. In contrast, human jealousy shows that the envious individual loves himself more than the object of envy. God’s claim on our lives and his fatherly love for us are both reflected in his jealousy. Since God endowed us with free will, choosing to follow him and devote our lives to him is a matter of personal preference. We are made in his likeness (Genesis 1:2), and he wants us to choose him.
Jesus said in Mark 16:16, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.” There’s a lot on the line. The fact that the Lord feels jealous gives us reason to believe that we are wanted. God longs for our company because God chose us. Because of this, we may stop worrying about the future and focus on the now.
Do not be afraid of those who murder the body but cannot kill the soul, Jesus warns in the Gospel of Matthew. Instead, your most significant source of dread should be the one who has the power to destroy both your spirit and your body in hell. Is it true that you can buy two sparrows for a dime?
Despite everything, your Father will make sure that not a single one of them is left to perish. And each individual hair on your head has a specific number. For this reason, you need not be afraid; you are more valuable than many sparrows (Matthew 10:28–31).
Bible Verses About God Being Jealous
Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.— Exodus 34:14
For the Lord, thy God, is a jealous God among you, lest the anger of the Lord, thy God, be kindled against you and destroy you from off the face of the earth.— Deuteronomy 6:15
You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above, on earth beneath, or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.— Exodus 20:4-5
I am jealous of you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.— 2 Corinthians 11:2
Joshua said to the people, “You are not able to serve the Lord. He is a holy God; he is a jealous God. He will not forgive your rebellion and your sins.”— Joshua 24:19
The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord takes vengeance and is filled with wrath. The Lord takes vengeance on his foes and vents his wrath against them.— Nahum 1:2
When we say God is a jealous God, does it sound like he is doing it for his own acclaim and glory? Yes. However, it appears that God’s passionate love for you is both intense and mighty.
As a result, only God can really love and bless you while seeking his own glory and acclaim. The greatest act of love God could perform for you would be to pursue these with jealous passion. The greatest manifestation of God’s love for sinful humans is his jealous pursuit of your total allegiance and adoration. Nothing or no one other than God can satiate and fascinate your soul.