A Jealous God

My friend Joy mentioned the concept of the prophets frequently referring to our “jealous God.” If jealousy is an attribute of God, she reasoned, and God is all Good, then jealousy cannot be intrinsically bad. Thinking about this, I guess it depends in part on how I express my jealousy. The text often says God is jealous for Israel, which I would take to mean God wants to be with Israel, to enjoy each other’s presence, to experience love in that relationship. That all seems like a very good thing, and something that people should feel for each other, particularly in a marriage relationship. It also means that God does not want to share that love with other gods, does not want His people turning their attention away from Him in inappropriate ways. It does not mean that God wants His people to have no relationships at all outside of Himself – He certainly encourages us to be in appropriate relationships with each other in addition to with Him. However, “appropriate” is the key word here – He does not want us giving worship to others that rightfully belongs to God. Jealousy certainly plays into this as well, as it well could in our human interpersonal relationships.