Jealousy doesn’t necessarily have to be a negative attribute, although it is often seen as an unhealthy and undesirable trait of humans. It stems from dissatisfaction and a longing for what another person has that you want for yourself. Depending on how a person confronts their feelings, it can either be a source of motivation to better oneself or may result in feelings of anxiety, worthlessness, hate, bitterness, and even verbal or physical violence.
Many people don’t know, including some Christians, that the Lord is a highly jealous God. The Bible depicts God as self-sufficient, self-existing, all-knowing, and all-powerful. He is the creator of all things in heaven and earth. The Lord is a perfect and righteous God. So why does the Bible portray the Lord as a jealous God?
What Does Jealousy Mean In The Bible?
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word “qanna” is used to describe God, which translates to jealous or zealous. Zeal is synonymous with passion, enthusiasm, and fervor. God’s jealousy emanates from His passionate and fervent affection for His children on earth.
On the other hand, jealousy can also mean envy when directed at humans. Being envious of someone else’s achievements, possessions, and qualities is a sin, as mentioned in Romans 1:2, “They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips.”
Though jealousy and envy are often used interchangeably, the two have different meanings. According to International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, “We are jealous of our own; we are envious of another man’s possessions. Jealousy fears to lose what it has; envy is pained at seeing another have.”
Why Did God Say, “I Am A Jealous God”?
As followers and believers of Jesus Christ, we cannot have any other god or idol other than the Holy God. The Lord God doesn’t want us to worship and serve another god or idols in any manner or form. He wants an exclusive intimate relationship with us.
- You shall not go after other gods, the gods of the peoples who are around you—for the LORD your God in your midst is a jealous God—lest the anger of the LORD your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth (Deuteronomy 6:14–15).
- Take care, lest you forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make a carved image, the form of anything that the LORD your God has forbidden you. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God (Deuteronomy 4:23–24).
- Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto 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 (Deuteronomy 5:9).
- For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God (Exodus 34:14).
- You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the 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 (Exodus 20:4–5).
- They made Him jealous with strange gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger (Deuteronomy 32:16).
Paul also expressed concern about those who might walk astray in the New Testament in 2 Corinthians 11:2: “For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.”
How Does The Jealousy Of God Differ From Human Jealousy?
God is ‘jealous’ for His glory and honor. The glory, praise, and fame should be solely His because He is our Creator and Savior. He is jealous when we worship false gods, honor a graven image, or engage in idolatry. Our service and worship rightfully belong to Him. An example is a husband having the right to be jealous if he sees his wife being romantic to another because the latter belongs to him alone.
Humans ‘envy’ others for things that they don’t have. While it may sometimes result in positive change, human jealousy is sinful when we envy and desire to possess what belongs to another person. Although someone might have the right to be jealous, it becomes a sin when it escalates to a crime or violence. It can lead to wicked thoughts and behaviors that undermine our faith and peace and, in extreme circumstances, endanger our life and the lives of others.
5 Things To Know About The Jealousy Of God
Godly jealousy is righteous and holy, for He is without sin and a holy God. Everything here on land and in the heavens is His. God does not lack anything and is self-sufficient, and it is only appropriate to claim what is rightfully His. God promised to be faithful to His covenant with us and expects us to do the same.
The Lord, your God, is an emotional being. He is not an emotionless and cold supreme being. He experiences divine joy, sorrow, anger, love, jealousy, and hatred of evil and sins. He has compassion, mercy, and kindness toward all His creations.
The jealousy of God is Him showing steadfast love to His people. His unfathomable love for us is as profound as His jealousy. Even so, unlike humans, God has no ill intent against His church or people. Instead, He will demolish what causes us to sin.
The Lord, your God, is jealous for the devotion, faithfulness, loyalty, and love of His people. God wants a close relationship with us founded on love, trust, and dedication. Worshiping graven images, strange gods, and idolatry would provoke His wrath.
God’s jealousy is not selfishness. It may seem selfish to some, but God loves us passionately and powerfully and wants the best for us. It equates to His passion for preserving and protecting His connection with us. For this, He will destroy anything that threatens to separate us from Him. It may bring us pain for a while, but its long-term benefit is something you can look forward to.
Our body is God’s temple, as quoted in 1 Corinthians 6:19, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?” Therefore, serving Him all our hearts, soul, and mind is only appropriate.
God intends that His name be protected and promoted, and he will intervene quickly and strongly to defend His honor. Hence, the first four in the Ten Commandments emphasize placing God above all else. It also reveals that our jealous God comes from wanting a deep connection with us. Thanks be to the Almighty, who only wishes for our happiness and salvation.