"You shall have no other gods before me. - You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” -Ex 20:3-6
I never really dwelt on this title of God and didn’t fully understand it.
Jealousy as I knew it didn’t seem to be a character I could associate with God.
Jealous people bear bad fruit. They are insecure, angry, envious. They want what someone else has. They will do foolish things to get what they want. They ruin relationships.
If anyone has felt the jealousy over a relationship where one has been rejected, cheated on, betrayed and ultimately replaced by another you can understand the strength of those feelings and may have seen some of the bad results of jealousy as mentioned above.
Through our recent church reading on Hosea I began to see God as a ‘jealous God’ but in a new light that would move my heart to say I am glad God has proclaimed Himself to be a ‘jealous God’.
Hosea is told by God ‘take a wife of harlotry’. (adultery, fornication, prostitution) (Hosea 1:2)
In reading Hosea, God parallels a defiled marriage relationship with the Israelites’ relationship to Him. (forsaking Him and following idolatrous practices) Relevant to the gospel is the parallel of Christ’s relationship to the church (his bride) and the same spirit of idolatry that is present today.
However, what stood out for me was God’s heart; the thread of His steadfast love throughout the story. Love is the motivation. His intense passion is for us to know Him and be known by Him. He is love and we are the object of that! The breadth and length and height and depth of that love He wants us to know! (Eph 3:18)
Wow, that is why God wants no other God’s before Him; no idols that we turn to instead of Him. His jealousy is our grace for He will let nothing separate us from His love.
In Hosea, the disciplines, punishments and consequences of forsaking God are evident which only seemed to make God’s steadfast love more profound.
This jealous God never stops pursuing us, never stops loving us. He stays in the details of our lives even when we are not in obedience. He stays to bring us back, to rescue, to redeem.
But they do not consider that I remember all their evil. Now their deeds surround them; they are before my face. -Hosea 7:2
And in the midst of it all with His alluring words and reminders, God’s thoughts towards us are revealed. His plans, His promises, His purposes will prevail. His steadfast love and faithfulness are unchanging. His jealousy has its cause.
past, Yet it was I who taught Ephraim to walk; I took them up by their arms, but they did not know that I healed them. - Hosea 11:3
present, "Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. - Hosea 2:14
future. For you also, O Judah, a harvest is appointed, when I restore the fortunes of my people. - Hosea 6:11
Thank you Lord, that You are a jealous God. Let us respond to how great a love you have for us and help us to recognize and remove idols from our hidden places.
Little children, keep yourselves from idols. -1 John 5:21