A Jealous God

By Francis Frangipane
(En EspaƱol)

Have you ever sensed spiritual resistance, as though some power much greater than you was deliberately opposing your success? We often assume it is the devil who is fighting us. Allow me to suggest that, on some occasions, what is standing in your way may not be an enemy at all; it may actually be the jealousy of God.

Is the Almighty jealous for us? Yes. The Lord describes Himself often in the Bible as "a jealous God" (Ex. 20:5, 34:14; Deut. 4:24, 5:9, etc.). We should expect He would be jealous since we have actually been created for His pleasure. While His covering, nurturing love accepts us as we are, a time comes when He begins to confront the false gods, the idols, that rule in our hearts. Indeed, anything in us that denies Him full access to our souls -- anything that stands between our hearts and His -- becomes His enemy.

The revelation that His jealousy will fight against our hidden idols can be frightening if we are intent upon sin, yet it can also be liberating if we desire intimacy with Him. For He will not allow us to find enduring fulfillment in something apart from Him.

Listen to His command in Exodus: "Watch yourself that you make no covenant with the inhabitants of the land into which you are going, or it will become a snare in your midst. But rather, you are to tear down their altars and smash their sacred pillars and cut down their Asherim -- for you shall not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God" (Ex. 34:12-14).

Oh, let us hear God's heart in trembling fear. The Lord's very name is Jealous. Jealousy is central to His nature. Indeed, it is an abomination that false gods should occupy our hearts, for we are the temple of God.

A Land of Idols

Israel committed many sins, but the worst of them involved idol worship; idolatry, beyond all others, tried God's heart. How does that relate to us, you ask? We don't have other gods in our society. Yes, we do. Though they are not standing openly in our city squares (usually), the idols in our land are just as demanding. In fact, our nation is full of false gods that influence both our actions and our thoughts. Since we each were created to worship God in focused purity, God must confront the idols in our hearts. Indeed, from His view idolatry is unfaithfulness.

Recall the Lord's word: "No one can serve two masters" (Matt. 6:24). One of the most dominant idols in our culture is obsession with wealth. Even though our currency says "In God We Trust," it is more often the dollar we rely upon, not God. In fact, while billions of the world's poor starve, we are addicted to spending our wealth selfishly upon ourselves.

Jesus also said in Matthew 6:24, "You cannot serve (bow before) God and wealth." God, not money, must be our master. If we tithe, give to the poor, and do not let money rule us, wealth can certainly become our servant, and thus a blessing to us and others. But if we allow finances to rule us, mammon can easily become a false God adding stress and greed to our existence. Yet remember: Jesus did not say we couldn't have money; He said we couldn't serve money. The voice of mammon must be subdued if the Lord alone is to be our Master.

Betrothed to One Lord
Consider the powerful influence that entertainment, sports, fashion and the drive for success and materialism have over American society. If the Lord has to compete with our passions, then we are harboring idols in our hearts. Fear also is a powerful idol that rules many souls, especially during these times.

We must see God's jealousy as His desire to love and shelter us through life. He is without the dark, evil elements that human jealousy has. But even with our finite understanding, we know jealousy is response to unfaithfulness in a loved one. Once human jealousy awakens, it easily can become a consuming fire. If this has happened to you, then you know somewhat how our unfaithfulness affects the Lord's heart. Paul certainly was thinking about this when he wrote, "For I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy; for I betrothed you to one husband, so that to Christ I might present you as a pure virgin" (2 Cor. 11:2).

James 4:5 says, "He jealously desires the Spirit which He has made to dwell in us." Yet James also said, "You adulteresses, do you not know that friendship with the world is hostility toward God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God." (James 4:4).

The Lord jealously desires our spirit; He calls us into oneness with Him, where we live fearlessly and radiantly as His bride on the earth. Sometimes, as I seek the Lord, I call Him by His name "Jealous." It has a profound effect on my heart. I know He knows me and loves me. As I surrender to Him, I actually advance deeper into the secret chambers of His love. Yet should I pursue other things at the expense of my time with Him -- even this writing itself -- I feel the fire of His jealousy. I am hemmed in and unable to advance anywhere except toward Him.

Lord, I repeat the words of the Psalmist: "Draw me and I will run after You." Master, I confess, I am like a dog on a leash, pulling from one side to the other. Train me to walk at Your side. Help me to rest in Your love. Thank You for jealously desiring that we should walk together through life. Amen.