Jan 31, 2014

A Jealous God?

Nahum 1:2  The LORD is a jealous and avenging God

Not exactly a verse that you and I highlight or underline in our Bibles.  In fact, we may be a little embarrassed that the Bible says this about our loving, merciful, kind, and gracious God.

Jealously is an ugly word that is usually considered a very bad thing.  It has overtones of selfishness, suspicion, and distrust.  We understand jealousy as possessive, demanding, and overbearing.  We find it repulsive.  It breeds tension and discord, it destroys friendships and marriages, and sometimes it degrades and demeans freedom and individuality.  We view jealousy as a horrible trait and we hate it.  But our normal view of human jealousy is not at all what God’s jealousy is like.

In Exodus 20:4-5 we are told that God is a jealous God “You shall not make for yourself an idol…You shall not worship them or serve them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God “

The root idea in the Old Testament word jealous is to become intensely red.  It seems to refer to the changing color of the face or the rising heat of the emotions which are associated with intense zeal or fervor over something dear to us.  In fact, both the Old and New Testament words for jealousy are also translated “zeal.”  Being jealous and being zealous are essentially the same thing in the Bible.  God's jealousy means that He is eager about protecting what is precious to Him:  namely you and me.

There are a lot things that God is rightly jealous for in us: our worship, our obedience, our trust, our faithfulness, our love, our devotion, and our protection.

Think about it.  To whom else do we owe these things?  Who or what else deserves these things aside from God?  It’s foolishness to waste these things on something or someone less than the best. 

Think about it this way:  My wife is the only woman worthy of receiving roses from me.  Now, were I to give roses to another woman, wouldn’t my wife have a right to be jealous of them?  YOU BET SHE WOULD!  Wouldn’t my actions be wrong?  YOU BET THEY WOULD!  And believe me, she would have every right to avenge me for doing something so foolish!  Listen, it’s much the same way when we give the things that are rightly God’s to another.

These things are rightfully God’s and when we give them to another He is jealous for them.  Why?  Because they belong to him alone, because he alone is worthy of them.  He will not share these things with another.

We may well know that…but what we often forget is that he is an avenging God.  Meaning he will go and get what is rightfully his.  Listen, if you are a born again child of God, he will not let you stray too far from him, when you stray He will pursue.

This sounds horrifying…God coming after me...and to a degree it is.  But listen, it’s also a comforting thing to know that he pursues us because he loves us and desires to protect what is His.   When God pursues us and when we come to our senses we do not find a God what laughs in our face, throws us in the corner and chastises us…rather we are met with his grace and redemption. 

This is a lesson that the nation of Israel learned the hard way, that’s what the book of Nahum is about.  For that matter though, this is a lesson many of us have to learn the hard way.

Some of you have learned this lesson the hard way.  You’ve seen your life fall apart because you were running from the Lord.  Maybe you’ve made huge mistakes and lost or nearly lost all you had.  You realized this was God’s way for pursuing you and you came to your senses and returned to God.  God got back what was His!  When we return, we find the matchless grace of a loving and jealous father ready to restore us, rebuild us, and return us to His purpose for our lives.

Hosea 6:1 “come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us, he has struck us down, and he will bind us up"

Some of you today may be running, but I want you to know that God will not let you run forever.  He will pursue you and he will win.  But when he does win, he does some amazing things in us. There is no reason to fear the jealousy of God.  His jealousy is a holy and good thing.  Think about it, he comes after me, not to punish me but because he loves me and rescues me from my sin and failure.

So if you are in the hard times, if you are at rock bottom, if you are feeling the guilt and shame of your sin, if your world is spinning out of the control of your hands…learn that God is jealously good...return to him and you will be met with his amazing grace.