We tend to think of jealousy in negative terms, but the truth is that God has every right to say, “I am a jealous God, and I expect the exclusivity of your worship.”
“You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image … You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God.”
- Exodus 20:3–5a
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Transcript: Hi, welcome to Five Minutes With Pastor Lutzer. I’m so glad that you have joined us, because today’s topic is the jealousy of God. We’re doing a series on the attributes of God. And perhaps you have not heard or studied the jealousy of God, and that’s gonna be occupying our attention.
The text of Scripture actually for today comes to us from the book of Exodus, where the Lord says, “You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the Earth beneath, or that is in the water under the Earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD am a jealous God.”
You know, oftentimes to modern minds it seems as if it is very strange that God should be jealous. Because generally, we think of jealousy in negative terms. Well, if you’re gonna be with me next time, I’m gonna show that it is our responsibility and privilege to be jealous, if we’re jealous about the right things. Jealousy is a very strong emotion, and God feels very deeply about the fact that He wants exclusive worship.
Somebody said to me, “Why is it that God is always interested in His own glory?” From Genesis to Revelation, you discover God says, “I do this for My glory. I do this for the jealousy of My name.” It’s because God values that which is most important, and has the greatest value; and of course, that’s Himself. He has every right to say “I am a jealous God.”
Now, Tim Keller has pointed out that in ancient times, when you had multiple gods, it was something like a democracy. You’re trying to keep all of them happy. In this relationship, it is entirely different. First of all, God says, “I’m not one God among many.” And secondly, the relationship is not that between a slave and a master, but a child and a Father. That’s why the jealousy of God is connected also with the love of God, and that we should love Him with all of our hearts, and leave nothing—no competition—anywhere.
Two ideas come to me very quickly—first of all, purity of worship. In the text that I just read, God said very clearly, “You shall not make carved images. You shall not bow before them.” And as you know, in the history of Christianity there has been a great debate about images and icons. I’ve been to churches where people bow down and they kiss icons. Clearly, in my mind, it seems as if this is a violation of Scripture. Because there should be nothing between us and God except the mediator, Jesus Christ. And all of the images get in the way. By the way, do you remember that story in the book of Numbers where Moses took a serpent and put it on a pole? And the people looked and they were healed. Later on in 2nd Kings—actually, I think it’s Chapter 18—Hezekiah has to smash that image because the people began to venerate the image. There’s always a danger there.
But let me say something else that pertains to every single one of us. Not only should this be a pure worship, but it should be total worship. God says, “I expect exclusivity and complete worship from you.” That means that every place in our hearts have to belong to Him. That’s why He tells us, very clearly, “Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart.”
One time I was—I think it was in Colorado—I was in a castle. And I remember that there was a rotunda area, and then multiple doors around. I want you to think of that as being your heart. Here’s your heart in the center, and here’s one door that says “Books I have read.” “Television programs I have watched.” “Sites on the Internet that I have visited.” Over here, there are also other doors: “Lies that I want to believe.” “People that I want to love.” “Commitments that I want to make.” “The desire to be something” is in this door.
Now, all that to say this: Can we allow God to come into every single door of our heart today? And say, “God, I give you all of the crevices. All of the things that are hidden. Because my desire is to worship You alone. You are a jealous God, but You are a jealous God because You love me, and You want the best for me. And the best for me is to worship You wholeheartedly.” It’s my desire, I hope it’s your desire too.
Thank you today for joining us, and I hope to see you next time. And today, go with God.