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Day 23 | Jealousy Definition

Read Exodus 34:1–28

God’s jealousy is not like our jealousy. When we think of human jealousy, the first things that come to mind might be wanting our friend’s car, our boss’ salary, or our neighbor’s spouse. The central issue in each of these scenarios is that we desire something that is not ours. But God’s jealousy is different.
God’s jealousy does not desire something He does not have. He already has everything. God’s jealousy desires to protect and keep what He already has. Think of it like your significant other, if you have one. In a monogamous relationship, you don’t desire to share your partner with someone else. If someone tries to take them from you, you intervene. You are, in a word, jealous for them.

So when we read in Exodus 34 that God is a jealous God, we must understand that this is a holy and righteous jealousy, not a sinful jealousy. His jealousy is for His people, like a groom for his bride. When His people leave Him for other gods, His jealousy burns deeply. But like any good relationship, in order for an expectation to be met, it must be communicated. This is why God, as He is establishing His covenant relationship with Israel, emphasizes here exactly what He expects from them. He expects their faithfulness.

We must also understand that to say God is jealous means that His jealousy runs as deep as His justice and His love. The ESV even translates 34:14, in part, “[God’s] name is Jealous.” God is perfect jealousy. This is why Paul can rightly describe himself in 2 Corinthians 11:2 as feeling a divine or godly jealousy. Jealousy, rightly directed toward protecting what is God’s, is an aspect of bearing the image of God.

Pray for 10 minutes