Whose Name is Jealous

God has given many names to himself for our sake throughout Scripture. Perhaps one of the most powerful names given is recorded in Exodus 34:14 (WEB), "For you shall worship no other god; for Yahweh, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."
As Christians we are taught elsewhere in Scripture that jealousy is dangerous and wrong to maintain in our hearts, and this is true. Yet here we read in Exodus that the God whom we serve identifies himself to us by the name of "Jealous." While the nature of jealousy is something that is much too powerful for man to bridle in his heart, God tells us that his very nature is jealous and gives himself "Jealous" as a name. Consider, that the Almighty God of the universe who is all powerful, all knowing, has all things at his disposal, and is unstoppable in his plans is also jealous. But what would God be jealous for if he already has all things? If you review the verse above you will notice that God does not yet have all things that he will have. He does not as yet have all mankind's praise and worship. The Almighty God will not lose any contest for praise and worship because of his awesome power, love, and grace.  One day the nations will roar with praise and worship of the Lord God Almighty, Revelation 15:4. But how can we be sure this will happen? The power of God is unrestrained in this purpose. But if God is so powerful, why the delay? God is also patient for each one to come to repentance. But can we be sure that God will not give up on the mission of leading hardened rebels to praise Him? We can be assured because his very name is Jealous and he is jealous for our salvation.
The Powerful Effect of Jealousy in Man
Solomon in the book of Proverbs shows us just how powerful jealousy really is. He says, "Wrath is cruel, and anger is overwhelming; but who is able to stand before jealousy?" (Proverbs 27:4 WEB). Consider the powerful emotions of anger and even fury when a man gives himself fully over to them. Yet Solomon in his wisdom teaches us that jealousy is greater than both. Let's briefly look at a number of examples of human jealousy and the effects on those involved.
In Genesis we read,
1) When Rachel saw that she bore Jacob no children, Rachel envied her sister. She said to Jacob, "Give me children, or else I will die."

2) Jacob's anger burned against Rachel, and he said, "Am I in God's place, who has withheld from you the fruit of the womb?"

3) She said, "Behold, my maid Bilhah. Go in to her, that she may bear on my knees, and I also may obtain children by her." 4) She gave him Bilhah her servant as wife, and Jacob went in to her. 5) Bilhah conceived, and bore Jacob a son.
Genesis 30:1-5 (WEB)
Rachel's jealousy drove her to demand children or death and finally to give even her own husband to her maidservant.
Further in Genesis we read that Joseph had dreams that he would rule over his family. The family's response: "His brothers envied him, but his father kept this saying in mind" (Genesis 37:11 WEB). Later, propelled by jealousy, his brothers sold their own brother into Egyptian slavery and told their father a devious lie, that Joseph has been devoured by ferocious animals. In truth jealousy had turned Joseph's brothers into ferocious animals.
Even those called to minister before the Lord are not immune from the terrible effects of jealousy. In the book of Numbers we read,
25) Yahweh came down in the cloud, and spoke to him, and took of the Spirit that was on him, and put it on the seventy elders. When the Spirit rested on them, they prophesied, but they did so no more. 26) But two men remained in the camp. The name of one was Eldad, and the name of the other Medad; and the Spirit rested on them. They were of those who were written, but had not gone out to the Tent; and they prophesied in the camp. 27) A young man ran, and told Moses, and said, "Eldad and Medad are prophesying in the camp!"

28) Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of Moses, one of his chosen men, answered, "My lord Moses, forbid them!"

29) Moses said to him, "Are you jealous for my sake? I wish that all Yahweh's people were prophets, that Yahweh would put his Spirit on them!"
Numbers 11:25-29 (WEB)
Thankfully Moses rebuked Joshua for his jealousy to remind us all that God gives his Spirit to whom he chooses.
Later, in Israel's history, is recorded the tragic account of Saul's jealousy toward David.

6) As they came, when David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, the women came out of all the cities of Israel, singing and dancing, to meet king Saul, with tambourines, with joy, and with instruments of music. 7) The women sang to one another as they played, and said,

"Saul has slain his thousands, and David his ten thousands."

8) Saul was very angry, and this saying displeased him. He said, "They have ascribed to David ten thousands, and to me they have ascribed only thousands. What can he have more but the kingdom?" 9) Saul watched David from that day and forward. 10) On the next day, an evil spirit from God came mightily on Saul, and he prophesied in the middle of the house. David played with his hand, as he did day by day. Saul had his spear in his hand; 11) and Saul threw the spear, for he said, "I will pin David to the wall!" David escaped from his presence twice.

1 Samuel 18:6-11 (WEB)

Solomon also reminds us that jealousy may work powerfully in the heart of an offended husband, "For jealousy arouses the fury of the husband. He won't spare in the day of vengeance" (Proverbs 6:34 WEB).
Just how terrible is jealousy? The Gospel itself reminds us that it was envy, a relative of jealousy, that Christ exposed at the cross. "When therefore they were gathered together, Pilate said to them, 'Whom do you want me to release to you? Barabbas, or Jesus, who is called Christ?' For he knew that because of envy they had delivered him up" (Matthew 27:17-18 WEB).
And because of ignorance, unbelief, and the remaining sinfulness in men's hearts the battle with jealousy continues even though Jesus has forgiven the sins of all men. Even as early as the book of Acts we read "The next Sabbath, almost the whole city was gathered together to hear the word of God. But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted the things which were spoken by Paul, and blasphemed" (Acts 13:44-45 WEB). Lord God please deliver your people from the dread effects of jealousy in our hearts.
The Over-Powering Jealousy of God
The effect of jealousy in man is powerful. However, the jealousy of God is over-powering, consuming, and an unquenchable fire. We have already read that he has given himself the very name of Jealous. Scriptures also teach us, "For Yahweh your God is a devouring fire, a jealous God," (Deuteronomy 4:24 WEB), "You shall not bow yourself down to them, nor serve them; for I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me; and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments" (Deuteronomy 5:9-10 WEB), "You can't both drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons. You can't both partake of the table of the Lord and of the table of demons. Or do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?" (1 Corinthians 10:21-22 WEB). The power and jealousy of the Lord will not be outdone. If we find ourselves consumed with jealousy, God help us to hand it over to the Lord Jesus and His solution before we are destroyed.
God's Jealous Strategy With Our Idols
In the introduction to this article we highlighted Scripture that explains God's purpose. He is jealous for us to praise and worship Him with our whole heart. But what if our heart is divided? What if idols remain in competition with the Lord in our lives? I understand from Scripture and from personal experience that our wise and loving Heavenly Father also has a strategy to deal with these imitation gods because of His jealousy. First we should not imagine that God is threatened by even the most difficult idol. It is not as if His hands become sweaty and nervous before the big game as He wonders who will finally win the heart of His people. There is absolutely no question in His mind though there may be in ours. And if there is any question in our minds God will do the most unusual thing. He will reluctantly, because of his love for us, but willingly allow us to give ourselves to the service of whatever idol we have chosen. If he wants to win our heart completely how could he do it any other way? He is so jealous and powerful He waits patiently until all our idols have crumbled and our hearts are truly ready for Him. His jealousy demands everything from us and he will do with nothing less.
Perhaps he is reluctant because of the pain he knows we will experience when our idol crumbles. If we have harbored an idol for ourselves, even serving it our entire lives, God is preparing for the day when that idol will be proved to be what it has been all along, worthless trash. God has no doubt about his victory over every idol in our lives because it is true that he is worth all our praise and worship. The great promise from the Lord himself is that he will change our hearts so that we ourselves will gladly trash all our idols in favor of the Lord. No longer will we attempt to serve the Lord with 99% of our heart in order to find a home for that one coveted idol. No longer will we tempt the Lord saying, "Lord I will give you everything, if you will but give me this one thing." This is a simple explanation of Isaiah 30:15-22 as well as my own experiences with idols.
God's Jealous Strategy with Israel
Not only is God prepared to take radical measures with our idols, He is also currently taking radical measures to win back the heart of his people, Israel. Israel is close to the heart of God in many ways. His Holy Scriptures came through them. The Messiah Himself was physically descended from them. In history future, believing Israel, will play a part in demonstrating the grace of God to the world. God himself has even called Israel the "Apple of His eye" in Deuteronomy 32:10 and Zechariah 2:8. But things are not yet as they should be or will be. Israel as a people, like all of us, turned from the living God to serve idols. And God in his jealous anger handed them over to these idols. God says of Israel, "They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God. They have provoked me to anger with their vanities.I will move them to jealousy with those who are not a people. I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation" (Deuteronomy 32:21 WEB).
Paul explains in Romans 11:11 that this dynamic is still at work between unbelieving Israel and believing Gentiles. We believing gentiles are the foolish nation chosen to provoke Israel. So we see the consuming jealousy of God goading the jealousy of Israel so that at the right time God can quench the fire of man's jealousy with the fire of His love. How can you not be filled with joy anticipated as you read Zechariah 8:1-8,
1) The word of Yahweh of Armies came to me. 2) Yahweh of Armies says: "I am jealous for Zion with great jealousy, and I am jealous for her with great wrath."

3) Yahweh says: "I have returned to Zion, and will dwell in the middle of Jerusalem. Jerusalem shall be called 'The City of Truth;' and the mountain of Yahweh of Armies, 'The Holy Mountain.' "

4) Yahweh of Armies says: "Old men and old women will again dwell in the streets of Jerusalem, every man with his staff in his hand for very age. 5) The streets of the city will be full of boys and girls playing in its streets."

6) Yahweh of Armies says: "If it is marvelous in the eyes of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my eyes?" says Yahweh of Armies.

7) Yahweh of Armies says: "Behold, I will save my people from the east country, and from the west country; 8) and I will bring them, and they will dwell within Jerusalem; and they will be my people, and I will be their God, in truth and in righteousness."
The Christian and Jealousy
We have shown how jealousy can destroy a believer's life. James speaks most openly about these wicked desires,
1) Where do wars and fightings among you come from? Don't they come from your pleasures that war in your members? 2) You lust, and don't have. You murder and covet, and can't obtain. You fight and make war. You don't have, because you don't ask. 3) You ask, and don't receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
James 4:1-3 (WEB)
Unfortunately many us know from personal experience that jealousy is terrible. Yet can anything be gained from an understanding of the effects of jealousy? Oddly enough, Paul, says in Romans 11:13-14 (WEB), "For I speak to you who are Gentiles. Since then as I am an apostle to Gentiles, I glorify my ministry; if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh, and may save some of them."  No doubt if jealousy could eventually lead someone to Christ that would be good. Paul also said, "For I am jealous over you with a godly jealousy. For I married you to one husband, that I might present you as a pure virgin to Christ" (2 Corinthians 11:2 WEB). If we were jealous for someone to know Christ that would be good as well.
The Christian and Christ's Jealousy
The cross of Jesus Christ is the final demonstration of God's jealousy for his people and their salvation. What in the entire universe could possibly come close to threatening the jealous love that Christ has showed to his people while on that cross? Nothing, absolutely nothing will ever, ever even come close. His jealous love is matchless and undefeated. All have been God's enemy, but even if you happened to be the worst enemy of God your sin has been quenched in the blood of the cross as if it were nothing. Christ's forgiveness was and is without gall, spite, or vindictiveness and is free, perfect, forever, guaranteed, and precious.
Friend, come to Jesus Christ and see!


Good Advice, it's always

Good Advice, it's always helufpl to hear that jealousy happens to everyone :)I haven't felt jealous for a while but it's something I used to feel a lot - and it's such a horrible, negative, time-consuming, energy-sapping emotion! And you are so right, don't you just hate yourself when you feel jealous?!Looking back, I think my moments of jealousy were triggered by moments of low self confidence. Both of which can be worked at - phew!!

Thanks for the comment.  Of

Thanks for the comment.  Of course our jealousy is bad because it is rooted in selfishness.  However, God's jealousy is rooted in his loving ownership over our lives.  He is our creator and so it is right for him to be jealous for our complete devotion to him, not because he is selfish, but for our own good.  We are designed to worship and serve the Lord and so we are most blessed when we give the Lord our everything.