If you ask someone for descriptive names of God, most will give you names such as —He if Faithful, He is Just, He is Kind, He is Loving, He is Powerful. These are all so very true and found throughout Scripture. But there is one name of God that is often left out when his attributes are listed with his name and that is the name Jealous. Exodus 34:14 says this: “For the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
He is not jealous in the exact way we understand jealousy. Our jealousy is often rooted in a lack of trust and possessiveness. Lace it with even but a small dose of envy and this type of jealousy Scripture says “rots the bones” (Prov 14:30). But there is a jealousy that is actually righteous. It is the jealousy of when a covenant relationship is violated by the bringing in of another—an adulteress relationship.
Interestingly when one looks at God’s jealousy throughout Scripture, it is always found in the context of worship. “You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Ex 20:5; Deut 5:9). “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex 34:14). God is jealous for our undivided worship. And worship in this context is more than just singing songs. It is the unadulterated obedience and the singleness of our affections to Him alone.
God, in covenant relationship with his people, is jealous of any other lovers. He does not share himself with other gods and/or other loves. This is not a popular understanding. It is contrary to a culture that is increasingly moving toward ‘all roads lead to God’ and ‘it doesn’t matter what I do and how I live as long as I’m a good person.’ But God makes it clear—‘if you want me, there must be no other lovers nor will I tolerate flirtation.’ And isn’t this what every committed, covenant relationships asks? That when there’s an “I do” in a relationship that there’s an “I don’t” to all others? It’s not bondage, it’s freedom—freedom that can only be found in the context of commitment. How much joy is there in a relationship when there are secret others on the side?
God is a perfect gentleman. He does not force himself on others. He gives all mankind the choice to love him or not. But one thing is for sure, if we choose Him He wants all of us or none of us. There is no other option.