In Exodus 34:14, God says about Himself: “Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.” We tend to view jealousy as a negative character trait, but God says that His very name is Jealous. Obviously if God is jealous, then His jealousy must be of a different kind than what we are normally exposed to. God’s jealousy has to do with protecting His own honor. God says “I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not yield my glory to another or my praise to idols.” (Is. 42:8) God will not share the praise that is due His name with anyone or anything else.
At first glance, this may seem to be a negative trait in God. Some ask if God is an egomaniac. We know in our hearts that to be jealous for our own honor is inherently wrong, so why is it not wrong for God to be? It is not wrong because God truly deserves His honor, and we do not. Isaiah 43:7 says, “everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory, whom I formed and made.” All things were made to bring God glory. God is the only unmade thing, He is the only creator, we are creature. In eternity past God chose to make us for one purpose, to bring Him glory and honor and praise. Romans 1:25 is an indictment on the human race: “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator – who is forever praised. Amen.” God’s jealousy is stirred when we give the honor that is due to only Him to other and lesser things. We were made as worshipping beings, we are always worshipping something. The problem is that there is only one being in existence that deserves that worship and we have chosen lesser things.
What we love and what we worship is not a neutral choice for us in regards to the effects on our heart. It is not as if the effect on us is the same whether we worship God or we worship money or self or idols. We are only truly joyful and satisfied when we are worshipping God because it is how He created us. When we worship and love something instead of God, we are living in a way that will never truly satisfy us. This is why God’s jealousy for His own honor is the best thing for us as well. When God demands that we worship and serve Him alone, He is protecting His own honor and commanding us to live lives that will bring us the fullest and truest joy. John Piper says that “God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.” God’s glory and our satisfaction go hand in hand. What a glorious truth that is!
Because of who God is and what He has done for us, we belong to Him and He is jealous for us. The church is the bride of Christ and He will not share the love of His bride with another. So as the Psalmist said, “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of his holiness!” (Ps.29:2)
God, there is no-one like You. You are altogether different from Your creation and the only one worthy of worship and adoration. Help our hearts to truly see how worthy You are and how satisfied we can be worshipping You alone. Help me to be more jealous for Your honor than I am. Be glorified in me.
By Patrick O’Rourke, Groups Minister at Redeemer Church