God’s Glorious Attributes
HIS NAME IS JEALOUS
By Rayola Kelley
Years ago, a certain celebrity walked away from God after hearing her pastor state that, “God is a jealous God.” She voiced her insult towards this truth by saying that a God who is jealous is not a God she wants to believe in and serve. The question I have is why did she take offense over this attribute of God? Is it because her concept of God was unscriptural? Is it because she was looking for a reason to reject the holiness of God so she could walk into unbelief?
Paul warned of a time when, “they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:3-4). It is clear that this celebrity had itching ears. It is not that she had a hard time believing that God is a jealous God; rather, she chose not to believe it in order to justify her itching ears that were attracted to the New Age, which included possessing a Christ consciousness, instead of the person of Jesus Christ, the Son of the Living God, God in the flesh.
This celebrity was not necessarily insulted by the truth because she had been exposed to it for years, but suddenly she was awakened and challenged by it. It made her uncomfortable because she might have to consider God in another light that would tear up the silly concepts she already possessed about Him; and sadly it became obvious that she would rather hold to her foolish notion about God so she could control and adjust her beliefs about Him to fit her narrative.
Another reason this celebrity possibly felt justified in walking away from God could come down to her understanding of jealousy. God’s jealousy and man’s jealousy are not the same. Jealousy is a natural response, but the reasons and manifestation behind it differs with the spirit that is in operation.
This celebrity probably considered God’s jealousy in light of man’s jealousy, causing her to falsely judge and accuse Him. Sadly, after she justified stripping God of His glory in her mind, she used her celebrity platform to preach and promote New Age concepts to millions, and unless she repents, she will find out how God’s jealousy will manifest in His judgment of her.
When we make mention of jealousy, we all know what it is. It is one of the most powerful emotions we can feel. It is hard to face because who wants to admit they are jealous? After all, unjustifiable jealousy is often a manifestation of insecurity that is often transposed on the one the jealousy is directed at, along with speculation that turns into accusation, anger that ends in vengeance, and obsession that becomes tormenting.
In order to understand how jealousy works in God, we need to understand how it works in man in order to bring forth a contrast. When you look up the word “jealousy” in Strong’s Concordance, such words as zealous (passionate response), anger (antagonism), covet (earnest), and envy (motivation) are used to define it. It is a desire that appears to be provoked into action. What we will see is that God’s jealousy is provoked, while man’s jealousy is often a matter of pride that goes awry.
The Bible is clear what man’s jealousy is. Let us begin with the Old Testament and New Testament counterparts of each other: Proverbs and James. These books both contain wisdom. Proverbs 6:34 states, “For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance.” We are shown in this Scripture how intense jealousy is. Unabated, it turns into rage and will seek vengeance and as Song of Solomon 8:6 points out, it will prove to be as cruel and insatiable as the empty, lifeless grave.
The New Testament often refers to jealousy as “envy.” Jealousy will envy what it wants but cannot have. It is often based on pride which manifest itself in indifference or cruelty. James 1:13-16 states, “Who is a wise man and endued with knowledge among you? let him shew out of a good conversation his works with meekness of wisdom. But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.”
Jealousy for man comes out of comparing something that is regarded as being inferior that exists in his life with something that is considered superior in someone else’s life, which creates envy. It is important to point out that Jesus was delivered up by the chief priests because of envy (Matthew 27:18; Mark 15:10). These religious leaders saw that their religious kingdom was being threatened by the Lord, and that they would lose power over the religious masses. It is from this premise that jealousy will prove to be treacherous and will justify sacrificing anything, whether it be truth or the Son of the Living God, to maintain influence and power.
Paul experienced the treacherous, wretched fruits of such “religious” envy as pointed out in Acts 13:45 and 17:5, and we can clearly see this same envy operating today in some religious circles, by certain religious leaders. Man is being exalted over Jesus, experiences over truth, causes over righteousness, and personal doctrines over godly wisdom. At this point men will do wicked deeds, including crucifying the righteous, in the name of God.
The Apostle Paul makes this statement, “He is proud, knowing nothing, but doting about questions and strifes of words, whereof cometh envy, strife, railings, evil surmisings” (1 Timothy 6:4). Pride is at the core of such jealousy and is often allowed to take a foothold because of how something makes a person feel. In other words, it is not a matter of what is true; it all comes down to how
it makes one feel about self. As previously pointed out if something makes a person feel uncertain, insecure, and vulnerable, there must be something wrong because the feeling is intense and seems logical, but the problem is, it is rarely justifiable because during its escalation it becomes blinded by irrational feelings and conclusions.
The real motivation behind envy is the natural spirit in which self sits on the throne and pride reigns from it. James 4:5 confirms that it is the natural spirit in us that lusts to envy, and when envy is given an audience, pride will step on the scene, giving arrogance the right to logic out that the person who possesses that which is considered superior, may be condescending or undeserving of it. From the pinnacle of arrogance comes haughtiness in the form of resentment because it is in some way unfair. The resentment of haughtiness descends into spite that proves to be unkind, judgmental, and cruel. Proverbs 27:4 describes the fruit of envy in this way, “Wrath is cruel, and anger is outrageous; but who is able to stand before envy.”
Envy is part of the works of the flesh and is always present when carnality is in operation (1 Corinthians 3:3). Paul feared seeing it among the Corinthian believers, knowing that it would produce strife and that those who walk in it would never inherit the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:21; 2 Corinthians 12:20). Once envy takes root, it begins to invade our being like a noxious weed, setting us up to feel robbed, mistreated, overlooked, and abused, causing us to live in a state of malice and envy (Titus 3:3). The problem with envy is that it begins like a small seed. It seems natural to be envious of what others may have, but it can take captive affections that become a tormenting desire, producing a sense of unfairness. This can turn into bitterness and strife, culminating in resentment that can turn into anger, resulting in insanity that turns into rage. This small seed will produce paranoia, delusion, division, and destruction. This is why Proverbs 14:30 calls envy, “the rottenness of the bones.”
The question is what are we as believers, who possess an eternal inheritance, envious of? It is easy to become envious towards a sinner who seems to be unfairly rewarded for being bad, but in what way are they rewarded and by whom are they being rewarded? Let us be honest, much of our envy is directed towards images erected by the world and things that are temporary. We can easily desire to possess the false images put on display by this world and own lifeless things that add nothing to our eternal inheritance, while coming under the god of this world, Satan. Ultimately, we will be required to sell our soul, and Jesus made it clear in Matthew 16:26, “For what is a man profited if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”
The Bible gives us clear instructions about this matter. We are not to let our heart envy sinners or the workers of iniquity, knowing their end; rather, we are to fear the Lord all the days of our lives (Psalm 37:1; Proverbs 23:17). We must avoid being envious at what is foolish that stands judged and of worldly prosperity that will prove to be temporary; and, it is for this reason we are told not to envy those who oppress others and not to choose their wicked ways (Psalm 73:3; Proverbs 3:31). Envy clearly perverts all just judgment and this is why Peter instructs us in 1 Peter 2:1-2 to lay aside all envy and desire what is pure.
Clearly, envy is sinful, but what about covetousness? To covet something can be a delight, not only to ourselves, but to others; an honorable longing where one will not settle for less but instead press forward to what is excellent; or, it can be a point of envy where one will have to defraud someone to gain something that is not rightfully his or hers to gain. The last commandment of the ten commandments is clear that we are not to covet what belongs to our neighbor, whether it is a spouse or possession because it would require us to commit some type of trespass, fraud or theft, to possess it (Exodus 20:17). However, we can covet that which is excellent such as the best heavenly gifts, but we do so in the right spirit (1 Corinthians 12:31). In other words, we covet honorable things, not out of competition or to gain some type of notoriety, but to enhance the quality of our spiritual life and character for the purpose of benefiting others.
When you study envy, it is never associated with God because it is fleshly, nor will you find coveting accredited to the Lord because He is just and perfect in all of His ways; therefore, He has no need to long for or desire something that is more excellent or worthy of pursuing because He is the ultimate end to all that is good and excellent (James 1:17).
It is for this reason we are told in Exodus 34:14, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” This brings us to what will provoke real jealousy in man and God and that is unfaithfulness.
Jealousy towards a spouse was considered such a serious matter that a judgment was set forth about it in the Old Testament in Numbers 5:11-31. The man could not just operate in suspicion about his wife’s faithfulness, it had to be justified because it would slide into something that was considered dishonorable. The Lord provided a means to test if a woman was unfaithful to her husband. However, if the woman was guilty of adultery, there was a judgment put in place where consequences would fall upon the unfaithful wife, taking any personal vengeance out of the husband’s hands. Vengeance belongs to the Lord because He will be just in all matters (Romans 12:19).
If you could question the aforementioned celebrity at the beginning of this article and ask her if the one who shared her life preferred someone over her, would she be jealous? If she had any feelings for the person and valued the significance of her place in his life she would. No person wants to share their spouse with anyone else. A relationship between a man and woman should be special where the two of them hold a very important, intimate place in each other’s lives and hearts. That place should be honored, guarded, and maintained at all times.
As we know, one of the commandments was to not commit adultery. Jesus stated that if a man lusts after a woman with his eyes, he has already committed adultery. God is clear about His attitude towards adultery: those who openly committed it were to be put to death because it polluted both the people and the land. This sin falls into the sin of fornication, (all illicit sex), which is a sin that is committed against one’s body, defiling the inner man because of unholy agreement (Exodus 20:14; Leviticus 20:10; Matthew 5:27; 1 Corinthians 6:17-20, and see 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
God made marriage the means in which a man and a woman could become one in agreement (same spirit) in unity (same mind), in purpose (same will), and in relationship (as one, completing each other). The Apostle Paul explained how marriage was to serve as a revelation of the mystery of Christ and the church, His bride (Ephesians 5:29-33).
This brings us to God and His relationship with Israel. He chose her, called her, redeemed her, and entered into a covenant, a binding relationship with her. He adorned Israel as only a loving husband could in a vineyard prepared for her (the Promised Land), but Israel became unfaithful and pursued other gods.
God had clearly warned the Jewish people that any idolatry would provoke Him to jealousy. God’s jealousy is associated with His holiness and His glory will depart from people and the land when sin is reigning. All things must be pure to be accepted by Him. Clearly any sin, whether it be idolatry (graven images) and fornication (which includes sodomy), would meet with His jealousy. After all, He was rightfully jealous over His name, His people, the land, and Jerusalem. He proved to be a loving fair husband, and because of who He is and His faithfulness towards them, He deserved no less from them. To lightly esteem Him, use His name without awe and respect, forsake the covenant, and pollute His land and temple, would mean His jealousy would burn like a fire, proving to be a consuming fire that would not stop burning until all judgement has been executed and corruption has been purged from the land and the temple (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 4:24; 5:9; 6:15; 32:15, 16, 21; Joshua 24:19; 1 Kings 14:22-24; Psalms 78:57-58; 79:5; Ezekiel 8:3, 5; 16:28, 42; 38:19; 39:25; Joel 2:18; Zephaniah 1:18; 3:8; Zechariah 1:14).
As the nation of Israel slid into spiritual fornication, God sent prophets to warn the people of the grave consequences that would fall upon them, but they did not listen. They continued to chase after other gods, and in the case of Judah, they even tacked Jehovah onto their mixture of religious activities as if to throw some type of bone at Him to pacify Him.
All the time, their spiritual adultery was provoking the Lord to jealousy that would end in anger, judgment, and vengeance. He would become a jealous husband who in Jeremiah 3:8 served papers of divorcement to the Northern Kingdom of Israel, allowing the people to be slayed and scattered to serve as an example to Judah, the Southern Kingdom, as to what would happen to the people if they did not repent of their idolatry.
In playing the spiritual harlot, the people of Judah became foolish by provoking the Lord in greater ways. In the end, Judah would become a greatly “chastised wife” with Jerusalem and the temple stripped of their glory and burned, the leadership brought down in utter defeat, some of the people taken into captivity, and the rest tasting death due to pestilence and famine, or were slaughtered in the streets of Jerusalem.
The question is how can people who declare they know God betray and walk away from Him to serve other gods? The people of Judah presumed that since they were the chosen people, in the chosen land and living in the chosen city that God surely wouldn’t judge and destroy His city and temple. What they did not understand is God in His holiness could do no less. He did not need them to fulfill His promises to Abraham, for He would simply raise up another generation to fulfill His promises to the great patriarch.
Here comes another question. Has God ceased to be jealous about His name, over His people, and His land in the dispensation of Grace? Are people who are calling Him by name provoking Him to jealousy with their worldly preferences, idolatrous pursuits, wicked practices, and downplaying the corruption that is defiling the land?
God’s jealousy became a fire to His people, but as you study you realize that God has always had a remnant. He either delivered them from His judgment or marked them so they would be delivered through it. For those who call Him by name we need to make sure we are part of the remnant, that we share in His jealousy over His truth, His people, and His kingdom so that we will stand for what is right, withstand the corruption of this present world and continue to stand regardless of how wickedness takes center stage, knowing in the end we are standing on the winning side.