God Gets Jealous?

By Dr. David Sylvester, Executive Pastor of Operations 


Who among us has not uttered the words, “Are you jealous?” Sometimes the words are thrown at someone we intend to poke or ridicule for childish behavior as if to imply that the other party lives perpetually in middle school, emotionally never graduating 8th grade. Jealousy is also our immature reaction to someone who achieves more, earns more, or attracts more approval than we do- it’s a disease of the soul and hard to cure and prevents us from experiencing the fullness of the Spirit and joy in our service and lives.  


The scriptures are clear and blunt; our God is a jealous God, but not the kind we generally envision. The Israelites spent considerable time and effort constructing a variety of gods, whether made of gold, wood, or other materials, or non-materials gods such as pleasure in all its perverted forms. What Israel did in rebellion is not unlike what many Americans do today as we craft and flaunt or conceal any number of gods, all of which are substitutes for the one true God. Our Lord has little patience when we do.  


The obvious question for me and all of us is, “What is my god?” Simply put, a god is any object or experience or secret passion which replaces or dethrones our Lord. However, God’s jealousy is a little different than ours. He wants to protect something He cherishes. 


One of my favorite writers and theologians is Dr. J. I. Packer, who taught at Regent University and said it best.  


“God’s jealousy is not a compound of frustration, envy, and spite, as human jealousy so often is, but appears instead as a . . . praiseworthy zeal to preserve something supremely precious” (Knowing God, 153). 


Yes, God is jealous, and his divine nature will not make room for other gods regardless of how much effort we expend to create one. His jealousy is zeal for that which is precious - his relationship with his kids.