“Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of Israel, and will be jealous for my holy name” (Ezekiel 39:25).
We can be sure that if God repeats a fact time and time again that it is of vital importance. The theme of God’s jealousy is frequently repeated in Scripture, so it is important that we take note and understand what is being referred to.
“Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me” (Exodus 20:3-5 & Deuteronomy 5:7-9) … “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exodus 34:14) … “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24) … “Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about you; (For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth” (Deuteronomy 6:14-15) … “Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good” (Joshua 24:19-20).
The word “jealousy” puts us in mind of something that is wrong because we link it with “envy” and “selfishness”, but God’s jealousy is not the same as man’s negative emotion. His jealousy reveals something positive, for it expresses the fact that the Lord has possessive love for His people. When the word is used of God we must take note of its context, and in doing so quickly realise that it has to do with His relationship with us. He does not want that relationship broken through idolatry or mixing Him with other religions.
God is watches over everything and everyone that belongs to Him, and as a result guards and keeps them. They are not meant to belong to another; therefore it angers Him when they are taken by someone else. So instead of seeing this jealousy as an unattractive trait, we should view it as another facet of God’s faithfulness towards us. The One who has placed His name on us does not want to share us with anyone else.
He treasures His holy name and will not allow it to be used in any way that dishonours Him. Those who try to mix the God of the Bible with other so-called gods are walking on very dangerous ground. Those who create images as aids to worship are an abomination to Him. Both are destined to spend eternity in the Lake of Fire unless they repent of their wickedness. “Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God” (Galatians 5:19-21).
If God is jealous over His name and His people, it is certain that we ought to honour Him in the way He expects. Once we become believers we have the name of Christ upon us. “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let every one that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). This means that we must be careful about how we live for we represent Him before a sinful world. By living ungodly lives we are actually guilty of taking His name in vain. “Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain” (Exodus 20:7). To defile the name by which we are called is sinful.
Do we realise that we dishonour the Lord’s name by failing to speak up for Him before others? Not to do so reveals a lack of faith on our part and is a sign that something is wrong with our relationship with Him. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20). It is highly unlikely we will ever use His name as a curse word like the unbelievers do, but let us not overlook the need for godly living. The world may take God’s name in vain by the words, but all too often we take His name in vain through our actions.
God’s jealousy has to do with the covenant relationship He has made with those who trust and follow Him, but we cannot expect Him to be pleased when His name is ridiculed, abused and used as a curse. His name can save the sinner, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12), but as our opening texts state, all who will not honour Him are doomed to eternal destruction. “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24).