Glowing Author #32
Jealous God? I’ve always found that a puzzling reference. Which is why I’m pleased to welcome Ava Pennington as our guest today. Ava is the author of One Year Alone with God: 366 Devotions on the Names of God (Revell Books).
God calls Himself jealous in several places in the Bible:
Exodus 20:5– You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…
Exodus 34:14–Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.
Who or what is God?
Many ideas circulate in our world as to who or what God is. Some come from various religions. Some are passed down from generation to generation, even among Christians, but that doesn’t make them right.
People often speak of “my God” or “your God.” My God is a God of love. My God would never allow pain or suffering. Many of us have a favorite mental picture of God. But if the source of our understanding is not what God says about Himself, then we will be guilty of trying to make God into our image – molding Him to fit our expectations and desires.
It doesn’t help that names and attributes of God which brought comfort to countless generations are now often misunderstood in our culture. For example, when God calls Himself Jealous, this name is often taken out of context and viewed with a twenty-first century perspective.
Why would God call Himself jealous? After all, isn’t jealousy a negative characteristic? Aren’t jealous people simply revealing their insecurities and their desire to possess what they don’t have? Oprah Winfrey once said she believed there are many more paths to God than just Christianity, and she couldn’t worship a God who is jealous of her.
This misunderstanding occurs because of two errors. We do not understand the true meaning of the word jealous, and we take God’s statements out of context.
In our culture, we have come to understand the primary meaning of “jealous” as being petty or suspicious of a rival. The word jealous is often used interchangeably with envious. But another meaning of the word refers to vigilance in guarding or protecting something or someone.
The use of this name is always in reference to protecting His people from worshipping anything other than Him. Is it because God is insecure, worried that something better might replace Him in the hearts of His people? Absolutely not! The message of the Bible is that God wants the best for His people. When we chase after other things – things that can’t satisfy us – we lose what is best for us: God, Himself.
So, our jealous God is jealous in that He guards and protects us from those things that are not in our best interests. Loving, earthly parents are protective of their children’s choices and grieve when their children succumb to things that will be destructive influences in their lives. Should we expect anything less from the God who created us?
What is your understanding of who God is?
Does it line up with who God says He is?
Connect with Ava:
Through Twitter: http://twitter.com/AvaPennington