In several places throughout the Bible, we are told that God is “a jealous God.” And while jealousy is otherwise considered negative, in God’s case jealous means zealous and it’s necessary for Him to defend us against sin.
“Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
Several translations substitute “jealous God” for “zealous God.” And indeed, God has the most committed interest and enthusiasm for His creation – humankind. So much so, the Lord here identifies his very name as “jealous.”
In the Exodus verses that follow the one above, God speaks about not worshiping or taking up any of the ceremonial practices associated with other gods and idols. And rightly so, Canaanite nations were sacrificing their children in the fire. None of these gods were the creator of the universe.
God’s actions here are not solely of jealousy for a lack of reverence, but also to protect human souls from the sins and horrors of misguided worship.
Jealousy and envy are often confused. It is worthwhile to take a moment to clarify this.
According to Psychology Today, psychologists agree on a standard distinction:
“Envy occurs when we lack a desired attribute enjoyed by another.
Jealousy occurs when something we already possess (usually a special relationship) is threatened by a third person.”
By the above definition, we can see that jealousy is a very accurate term for God’s viewpoint. Humankind was something God already possessed – he created it. But humankind is threatened by a third person – Satan – who seeks to replace himself on God’s throne and tempt mankind to worship him, and according to Revelation, the beast.
The Bible warns that in the end times, the inhabitants of earth will be forced to worship the beast.
“The second beast was permitted to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who refused to worship it to be killed.”
According to Revelation 14:11, is not going to work out too well for anyone who worships the beast.
“For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.'”
– Romans 10:13
God is ready to love and protect every human being. But he cannot do that unless that person develops a relationship with Him. I can only occur when a person willingly acknowledges that God is the one and only God. The Lord will not make anyone do it. Loving and worshiping God must come of out of a person’s own volition.
God’s jealousy is kind of like all those over-aired television commercials, which play in every major city, where attorneys proclaim: “They will fight for you.”
That is God’s promise. He is every believer’s advocate. He is fighting for every single soul to protect it against sin that seeks to separate humans from God and the promise of eternal life, peace, joy and happiness.
God has to be jealous and zealous to protect every human being against the forces of darkness and evil.
“Or do you suppose it is to no purpose that the Scripture says, “He yearns jealously over the spirit that he has made to dwell in us”? But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.”
– James 4:5-7