To be jealous for God’s name means that we have zeal to see Him honored: the kind of jealousy God commends, not the kind the world provokes.
“Therefore thus says the LORD GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name.”
- Ezekiel 39:25
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Transcript: Hi, welcome to Five Minutes With Pastor Lutzer. I’m so glad that you have joined us in our study of the attributes of God. And today we continue our study of the jealousy of God. If you were with us last time, I explained why it is that God has every right to be jealous for His glory.
Sometimes we think that jealousy for us is always sinful. We think, for example, of Saul, the great king who was jealous because of what David had done. You remember how the women said, “Saul has slain his thousands, but David is tens of thousands”? And Saul was so jealous that a demonic spirit entered him and began to trouble him. Jealousy is a terrible sin.
But I need to tell you that there are times when we should be jealous for His holy name. As a matter of fact, that’s our text actually, from Ezekiel chapter 39 verse 25, where the text says simply this: “Therefore, thus says the LORD our GOD: Now I will restore the fortunes of Jacob and have mercy on the whole house of Israel, and I will be jealous for my holy name.”
There are at least three instances in the Bible where God commends jealousy. Phineas, in the old Testament in the book of Numbers. The children of Israel were committing immorality, and He actually killed a couple that were involved in fornication. Now we don’t do that today. Someday, I may explain why it is that we have very different arrangements in the Old Testament from the New. But the point is, God says, “He was jealous for My name, and he adverted My wrath upon Israel.” God commended him for his jealousy of God’s holy name.
Let me give you a second instance of jealousy, and that is Elijah. Elijah had just been on Mount Carmel. He showed the greatness of God there, and later on he’s hiding in a cave and he says to God, “I have been jealous for your name.” Elijah was very concerned about the idols, and he wanted the name of God hallowed. When we think of that kind of jealousy, it’s more of a protective word. It has to do with the zeal that we should have for God.
One more example, and this may be the most critical. In 2 Corinthians chapter 11, the apostle Paul says to the Corinthians, “I betrothed you to a husband as to a pure virgin”—that is to say, he was saying, “I want you to be a pure virgin for your husband Jesus.” But he says, “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy, because your heart is being torn apart and your allegiance is going to another ‘Jesus.’” By the way, we don’t know what that Jesus was like, but this much we know. It was so much like the true Jesus that Paul says, “I fear that you might not know the difference.” How relevant for our culture.
So you and I should be jealous for God—zealous for God. We should be zealous for God when we see our culture turn away from Him. We should be zealous for God when we see our school systems teaching that which is unholy to our children. We should be jealous for God when we think of our own homes where, oftentimes, God is not honored.
Let us ask ourselves this question: when Jesus was in Jerusalem, He said these words: “The zeal of Thine house has eaten me up.” Maybe that’s a good way for me to put what I’m trying to say. To be jealous for God’s name means that we have zeal to see Him honored. The kind of jealousy that God actually commends.
Perhaps I can simply tell you that it’s something like taking a very beautiful white dress—maybe even a wedding dress—and see it splashed with mud. There’s something inconsistent about that. There’s something that wants us to make sure that the dress gets cleaned.
When we see God’s name being profaned in so many different ways in our culture, let us be able to say, as God says in His holy Word, “I am jealous for My holy name.” Today, I want you to be thinking about this. And as you go about your duties, ask God to show you areas in which God is not being honored, and let us be a people who become zealous—jealous—for God’s holy name.
So glad that you joined us today. Hope that you join us again next time as we continue our study of the jealousy of God. And today, go with God.