Jealous does not seem an appropriate attribute to associate with God. However, that is exactly what God calls himself in Exodus 34:14. “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” El Kanna is His name here in Hebrew.
How does jealous fit God? By definition, jealous is: very watchful in guarding or keeping like jealous of your rights, resentfully suspicious of a rival like a jealous husband or wife, and requiring exclusive loyalty. The first and last meanings fit God but not resentfully suspicious. God knows all, sees all and is holy so He could not be resentfully suspicious. He is watchful in guarding our loyalty and requiring that we worship only Him. The context of this verse in Exodus is recorded just after the incident with the golden calf. While Moses was on the mountain receiving the 10 Commandments, the children of Israel had melted gold and fashioned a ‘god’ of gold to worship. Moses was extremely angry when he returned and smashed the tablets and destroyed the idol. In Exodus 34 God was explaining His nature to Moses and states that He is a jealous God desiring that they worship only Him. The first 4 of the 10 Commandments are about our exclusivity in worshiping only God. 1-Have no other gods before me. 2-Do not make any graven images to worship. 3-Do not misuse the name of the LORD your God. 4-Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy. (Exodus 20) God demands our love and devotion. He promises us just as He promised Abraham and his descendants, “if only you fully obey the Lord your God and are careful to follow all these commands I am giving you today. 6 For the Lord your God will bless you as he has promised,” Deuteronomy 15:5-6a Joshua gave a similar plea as he neared death in Joshua 24:14, 15 “14 “Now fear the Lord and serve him with all faithfulness. Throw away the gods your ancestors worshiped beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. 15 But if serving the Lord seems undesirable to you, then choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, But as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”
The message is clear- God is a jealous God and desires that we worship only Him. Jesus promises in John 15 that abiding in Him (worshiping, loving and serving only him) will bear much fruit in our lives. John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” He alone is the source of our power for living. In John 15:10 Jesus tells us that abiding involves keeping His commandments- loving and worshiping only Him. “If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.”
Will you strive to put away idols and worship only Him? The Senior level students in my Bible Study Fellowship class had an activity recently as we were studying Joshua and the Israelites persistence in holding onto their idols. The students were challenged to come up with something that could be an idol for every letter of the alphabet. Remember an idol is anything you put above God in your life. Here is a start-see if you can finish the list. A-ambition, B-beauty in nature, C-computer games, D-dreams, E-exercise, F-family, G-goals…. M-money….Z-zealous for_______. All of these can be good things but put in the place of worshiping God they become idols.
May you reflect today on your life and what things might become idols and draw your attention, devotion and love away from God.