God’s jealousy: what it is and isn’t

“You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God, responding to the transgression of fathers by dealing with children to the third and fourth generations of those who reject me,
and showing covenant faithfulness to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.”
–Exodus 20:5-6

These verses right here have caused tremendous reverberations in the “faith” of many, including Oprah Winfrey, according to her own testimony, which caused her to abandon her Christian faith. In fact, if you listen to many skeptics, the question of God’s jealousy is often presented in opposition to His love. The question that is often forgotten to be asked is “why and what for?”

This statement falls right after the second commandment, which forbids the making of images to worship. The nature of idolatry, historically, ends up devaluing human life. Almost every pagan religion focused on idol worship shifts the value of life onto an object. The instant a person shifts their focus from a transcendent, personal God to anything drawn from the created order a disfunction begins to exist.

God’s love is based upon himself, and being that he is all-good, a concept that some have a hard time grasping, He desires the best for His creation, and that is Himself. When a person rejects God, they reject His love and His desire to give them the best. His jealousy is for the person who gets caught up in idolatry because what they are worshipping is not real and what it would lead them to: their ultimate destruction, physically, intellectually, and emotionally.

God’s jealousy (in the original language, His “zealousness”) is for people to know Him, and accord themselves the knowledge of who He is, and what He desires for their life, which is life. God’s desire is to protect us from what can harm us eternally, but because you can never force anyone to love someone, He gives people that choice. Rather than being offended and put off by God’s jealousy man ought to run toward it because of what it affords those who gladly receive His love.


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