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The Jealousy of God

Also see   Hated By God

Carol Brooks

Envy and Jealousy
God Is a "Jealous" God
Jealousy Vs. Envy
The Context
God's Covenant With Israel
Separation And Holiness
The Relationship Between Christ And The Church Is Likened To Marriage

Envy and Jealousy

Examples of envy and jealousy in the Old Testament. The third example shows the severe consequences envy can have.

    1. Genesis 37 tells us that Joseph's brothers were so resentful (Heb. qânâ) of their fathers affection for Joseph, that they sold him into slavery (Genesis 37:28. Acts 7:9)

    2. A little later on when Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, she became jealous (Heb. qânâ) of her sister; and she said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I die."  (Genesis 30:1 NASB)

    3. When they became envious (Heb. qânâ) of Moses in the camp and of Aaron, the holy one of the LORD, The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, And engulfed the company of Abiram. And a fire blazed up in their company; The flame consumed the wicked. (Psalms 106:16-18 NASB)

    Note that the Hebrew word qânâ used in the examples above has also been translated zealous. See Examples in Footnote I

Both envy and jealousy are evils strongly condemned in the Scriptures, Proverbs directly warns against envying sinners and evil men.

    Do not let your heart envy (Heb. qânnâ) sinners, But live in the fear of the LORD always.  (Proverbs 23:17 NASB)

    Do not be envious (Heb. qânnâ) of evil men, Nor desire to be with them; (Proverbs 24:1 NASB)

In the New Testament, Romans 1:29 says unrighteous people are

    filled with all unrighteousness, wickedness, greed, evil; full of envy (Gr. phthonos) , murder, strife, deceit, malice; they are gossips,  (Romans 1:29 NASB)

Galatians includes both in the 'deeds of the flesh' warning that those who "practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God."

    Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy (Gr. zelos), outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying (Gr. phthonos) , drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 5:19-21 NASB)

    Thayer's Greek Lexicon says zelos (translated jealousy) is an envious and contentious rivalry.

Both Matthew (27:18) and Mark (15:10) used phthonos when they said the chief priests and elders handed Jesus over to Pilate because they were envious of His ministry.

     So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, "Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?" For he knew that because of envy (Gr. phthonos) they had handed Him over. (Matthew 27:17-18 NASB)

God Is a "Jealous" God

What has probably struck thousands of Christians as being more than a little odd is the fact that the word 'jealous' was also used in connection with the Most High. However, this particular word was only used in five passages in the Pentateuch.

    Then God spoke all these words, saying, "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before Me. "You shall not make for yourself an idol, or any likeness of what is in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the water under the earth. "You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous (Hebrew qannâ ) God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, (Exodus 20:1-5 NASB)

    for you shall not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous (Hebrew qannâ) is a jealous (Hebrew qannâ) God (Exodus 34:14 NASB)

    "For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous (Hebrew qannâ) God. (Deuteronomy 4:24 NASB)

    'You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous (Hebrew qannâ) God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me, (Deuteronomy 5:9 NASB)

    for the LORD your God in the midst of you is a jealous (Hebrew qannâ) God; otherwise the anger of the LORD your God will be kindled against you, and He will wipe you off the face of the earth. (Deuteronomy 6:15 NASB)

This In fact, Oprah Winfrey says hearing in church that God was 'jealous' was a key moment in her quest to "to take God out of the box". See transcript in Footnote I . She ultimately went on a spiritual trek through the dangerous theology of the New Age taking who knows how many impressionable viewers with her. 

More About Oprah Winfrey

Also See Overview of The New Age

However, there are several factors that we have to take into consideration. The first being that jealousy and envy are not necessarily the same emotion.

Jealousy Vs. Envy
The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia explains how they are different:

    'We are jealous of our own; we are envious of another man's possessions. Jealousy fears to lose what it has; envy is pained at seeing another have." [01]

The following definitions all focus on one aspect of the word.

    The Free Dictionary: To envy is to feel unhappy because someone else possesses or has accomplished something you wish you had yourself. Jealousy is resenting someone who has gained something that you think you more rightly deserve. It also refers to the anguish caused by fear or suspicions of unfaithfulness. [02]

    Cambridge Dictionary: a feeling of unhappiness and anger because someone has something or someone that you want [03]

However, although Merriam-Webster echoes the above definitions they add that jealousy is also "vigilant in guarding a possession" [04]

 Which is exactly how we should understand this word as applied to God.  It was an expression of zeal to protect a relationship. If a person who catches their wife in adultery is not angry, then one has to assume that he does not really care about the marriage or his wife.

The Context

God's description of himself as jealous only occurs in the context of idolatry. See the passages from Genesis above.

Joshua reminded Israel that God would consume them if they served foreign gods.

    Then Joshua said to the people, "You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins. "If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you." (Joshua 24:19-20 NASB)

In the New Testament God's jealousy is mentioned in 1 Corinthians 10:22 - again in connection with idolatry

    No, but I say that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. You cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we? (1 Corinthians 10:20-22 NASB)

The Father regards the worship of idols as a direct insult to himself thus to join in worship or in the observance of pagan feasts would unfailingly provoke his wrath

 But Why?

God's Covenant With Israel
The word Covenant which means a pledge or commitment usually involves an alliance between two unequal parties - the stronger one pledging protection and help to the weaker in return for some form of vassal status. In the Old Testament solemn agreements or covenants were made between God and Moses Abraham and Noah that had tremendous significance for  generations to come.

It was the nation of Israel that was entrusted with the Law, the temple, the promises. They were the only ones given the commands and revelations of God to preserve and pass down. They were given the honor of the temple services and without benefit of printing presses, copying machines, or even paper, undertook the momentous task of hand copying the Old Testament countless times over many centuries. To them alone was given the honor of being the nation that the Messiah was born into, thus becoming the light to other nations. As first born, they were given the privilege of the Gospel being proclaimed first to them, before it was to the Gentiles.

Moses: The Mosaic Covenant was significantly different from the other two inasmuch as it was temporal and bilateral ( involving both parties) - conditioned upon faith and obedience to His laws. God promised numerous blessings such as wealth, victory over their enemies, ownership of the land, and long life if they kept His commandments (Deuteronomy 28:1-14). The terms clearly stipulated that disobedience and/or faithlessness would break the covenant and the promised blessings withdrawn. (Deuteronomy 28:15-68). As Moses warned them

    "But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, (Deuteronomy 30:17-19 NASB)

    "I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. "You shall have no other gods before Me. (Exodus 20:2-3 NASB)

 However, in neither case was there any mention of eternal life.

See Jesus and The Law

Abraham: God's covenant with Abraham was very different. It was unilateral - that is undertaken by one side only. It promised Abraham that all the nations of the earth would be blessed through his descendants. The Messiah had to be born somewhere, and it was Abraham's descendants who were chosen to bring forth Him who was to be the salvation of the world...

    "In your seed all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because you have obeyed My voice." (Genesis 22:18 NASB)

    "I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; (Genesis 26:4 NASB)

See Part II of What And Where is 'Heaven'? - The Promises and The Prophecies
God made three interconnected and inseparable promises to Abraham. What we forget is that the third was firmly rooted in real estate.

Babylon founded by Noah's great-grandson Nimrod reached its zenith under Nebuchadnezzar in the sixth century BC. The Babylonians worshipped a pantheon of deities (many of whom were associated with celestial bodies) and built impressive temples devoted to them. This kingdom would prove itself a mortal enemy of not only the nation of Israel, but of God Himself. Although the physical city of Babylon no longer exists, the tentacles of its spiritual heritage morphed as it spread far and wide digging its claws into the world of men.

The other kingdom began with a single man who, very possibly, lived where ziggurats were erected to false gods. He was called out of this land to journey some distance away to Canaan to sow the seeds of God's kingdom that will eventually destroy the first.

In summary, it is the tale of Two Kingdoms. Man was building a kingdom dedicated to his gods and Abraham was called out of that hotbed of apostasy to sow the seeds of God's kingdom on earth.

See Daniel’s Amazing Prophecies - The Rise And Fall Of The Empires

See From Babel To Babylon
(Note: there is clear Scriptural evidence that Babel and Babylon were the same place).

 Separation And Holiness
They Jews were rescued from serfdom in Egypt and given a country apart from every other nation where God, by means of the laws He gave them, endeavored to teach them holiness and right living. They were to be holy because God was holy and dwelt amongst them. This tiny nation was meant to be a bright light in the middle of a dark world filled with pagan beliefs and idolatrous practices... God's servants chosen to carry His truths to other nations of the earth.

They were to remain separate from the surrounding nations because only separateness would keep them faithful to the one true God and away from pagan practices thus ensuring they were fit to receive and retain the truth committed to them.

Faithfulness to the one true God was epitomized in the first commandment "You shall have no gods before Me" (Exodus 20:3), and the most severe condemnation all the prophets hurled against the nation was against spiritual adultery. The simple reason was - the people would have seriously jeopardized God's plan for the Messiah of the world to come from this tiny nation if they accepted the strange gods of the nations around them. So closely was the relationship of the nation of Israel to God patterned after the marriage covenant that God looked on their turning to idols as adultery

    "Lift up your eyes to the bare heights and see; Where have you not been violated? By the roads you have sat for them Like an Arab in the desert, And you have polluted a land With your harlotry and with your wickedness. (Jeremiah 3:2 NASB)

See Holiness
There is little or no emphasis on sin in the modern church. It lies breathing its last, buried below mega star preachers, flamboyant preaching, worship teams that could find work in many Broadway productions, large crusades, exciting revivals, and glitz and glamour that Hollywood could be proud of. Yet the Bible says "Without Holiness, No Man Shall See God!" (Hebrews 12:14) in view of which perhaps it would be wise to know exactly what it means by holiness.

The Relationship Between Christ And The Church Is Likened To Marriage
In Matthew 22:1-14, Jesus likens the kingdom of Heaven to a marriage feast. This feast will take place at the Second Coming of Christ, when the church will be united with the Bridegroom for all eternity. In the book of Revelation, John speaks of marriage of the Lamb, where the bride is the church and the Lamb is Christ

    "Let us rejoice and be glad and give the glory to Him, for the marriage of the Lamb has come and His bride has made herself ready." It was given to her to clothe herself in fine linen, bright and clean; for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. (Revelation 19:7-8 NASB)

    Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth passed away, and there is no longer any sea. And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, made ready as a bride adorned for her husband. (Revelation 21:1-2 NASB)

Paul speaks of being jealous over the Corinthians with a "godly jealousy". He was instrumental in betrothing them to one husband and desired to present them blameless to Him when He returned.

    For I am jealous over you with Godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one Husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2)

God is depicted as a faithful husband who will fulfill His part of the covenant, it is up to us to fulfill ours.

Footnote I - Zealous

    He said, "I have been very zealous for the LORD, the God of hosts; for the sons of Israel have forsaken Your covenant, torn down Your altars and killed Your prophets with the sword. And I alone am left; and they seek my life, to take it away." (1 Kings 19:10 NASB)

    So the king called the Gibeonites and spoke to them (now the Gibeonites were not of the sons of Israel but of the remnant of the Amorites, and the sons of Israel made a covenant with them, but Saul had sought to kill them in his zeal for the sons of Israel and Judah).  (2 Samuel 21:2 NASB)

    Then the LORD will be zealous for His land And will have pity on His people. (Joel 2:18 NASB)

    So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, "Proclaim, saying, 'Thus says the LORD of hosts, "I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.  (Zechariah 1:14 NASB)

Footnote II - Oprah

     I took God out of the box because I grew up in a Baptist church and there were rules, belief systems and doctrines and I happen to be sitting in church in my late 20s and I was going to this church where you have to get there 8 o clock in the morning where you couldn't get a seat and a very charismatic minister and everybody was just into the sermon and this great minister was preaching about how Great God was and how omniscient and omnipresent and God is everything and then he said "And The Lord Thy God Is a Jealous God and I was caught up in the rapture of that moment until he said Jealous. and something struck me, I was like about 27-28, I was thinking God is awe, God omnipresent and God is - and God is also jealous? .. God is jealous of me? and something about that didn’t feel right in my spirit because I believe that God is love and that God is in all things and so that's when the search for something more than doctrine started to stir within me.” You can listen to what she has to say On YouTube beginning around the 1.20 mark. Copy and paste https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7CurUQCpEk into browser

What I don't understand is how Oprah being an intelligent woman, did not eventually realize that the word 'jealous' has more than one meaning.

End Notes

[01] International Standard Bible Encyclopedia Online. Envy. https://www.internationalstandardbible.com/E/envy.html

[02] The Free Dictionary. Jealousy. https://www.thefreedictionary.com/jealousy

[03] Cambridge Dictionary. Jealousy. https://dictionary.cambridge.org/us/dictionary/english/jealousy

[04] Merriam-Webster. Jealous. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/jealous


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