Saturday, May 3, 2008

Is God a Green-Eyed-Monster?

Jealousy. This is what led Oprah to deny God's Word as truth. She stated that in her late 20's she was sitting in church taking in all that the Baptist minister had to say about God...until, he said that God was a jealous God. She said it didn't sit right with her. She wondered why God would be jealous of her if He was everything His Word says He is.

Now I wonder. If the words of a minister didn't sit right with her, did she sit down with God's Word and search for His truth?

If Oprah's understanding of "a jealous God" was that He was jealous of her, then I must give her credit for recognizing that something was wrong with the statement. But did she go to His Word or trust her feelings? Was the statement wrong or her understanding of it?

I want to do what I wished she had done (what I want to do in my own life and what I want to teach my kids to do in theirs)...I want to open up God's Word to learn the truth. I will not give an answer to Oprah's comment (although I have one) I will search His Word for God's answer to Oprah's comment.

Here's what I find in God's Word...

Exodus 20:5 - Moses is giving the ten commandments to the Israelites. And right there in #2 "You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or or worship them; for I am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments."

Exodus 34:14 - God is making a covenant with Israel and promises to do great things for them "wonders never before done in any nation in all the world", and commands that they obey Him, that they "Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God."

With a little study, it is clear that the statement is Biblical. God declares Himself a jealous God. So, what about Oprah's understanding of the statement? Is it Biblical?

She said that it didn't sit right with her. She wondered "If God is everything why is He jealous of me?" I went to the dictionary. There are a few definitions of the word "jealous."

The first of the definitions at were...

1. feeling resentment against someone because of that person's rivalry, success, or advantages (often fol. by of): He was jealous of his rich brother.
2. feeling resentment because of another's success, advantage, etc. (often fol. by of): He was jealous of his brother's wealth.

1) a. Resentful or bitter in rivalry; envious: jealous of the success of others.
b. Inclined to suspect rivalry.
2) Having to do with or arising from feelings of envy, apprehension, or bitterness: jealous thoughts.

If this is the meaning of jealous implied in the statement "Jealous God" then Oprah was right to find that statement troubling. That would be ridiculous for the Creator of everything to be envious of His own creation (made in His likeness, no less, Genesis 1:26) or resent their rivalry (Jesus Himself commands us to be like Him, Matthew 5:48) or any good thing we have (He tells us that "every good and perfect gift is from above." James 1:17). He made us in His image, what can we be that He would envy? He calls us to become like Him, how can He resent us as rivals? Every good and perfect gift is from Him, how can He be jealous of what we have that He has given?

That definition doesn't fit in the context of His Word. He is not jealous of us. In fact, in Galatians 5:20 He tells us that jealousy is an act of the sinful nature. He can't sin, He's perfect and Holy. So, what then does it mean that God is a jealous God.

Here are the other definitions of "jealous"...

3. characterized by or proceeding from suspicious fears or envious resentment: a jealous rage; jealous intrigues.

(God is all-knowing, He has no suspicious fears, He knows...)

4. inclined to or troubled by suspicions or fears of rivalry, unfaithfulness, etc., as in love or aims: a jealous husband.

(Again, He has no suspicions, He knows...)

5. solicitous or vigilant in maintaining or guarding something: The American people are jealous of their freedom.

(Hmmm, guarding something? Sounds like love...)

6. Bible. intolerant of unfaithfulness or rivalry: The Lord is a jealous God.

(Oh. Now that makes sense when inserted in every declaration of jealousy God makes in His Word.)

4)Vigilant in guarding something: We are jealous of our good name.
5)Intolerant of disloyalty or infidelity; autocratic: a jealous God.

It seems that God made a covenant with His people. He claims them as His own and does not tolerate them prostituting themselves to another. God is a jealous God.