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A Zealous Love

( [email protected] ) Aug 14, 2010 02:19 PM EDT

— Psalm 115:6–7 They have ears but cannot hear, and noses but cannot smell. They have hands but cannot feel, and feet but cannot walk, and throats but cannot make a sound. And those who make idols are just like them, as are all who trust in them.

We tend to equate jealousy with pettiness and selfishness. We see it as a vice, not a virtue. But when God was giving Moses the Ten Commandments and said He was a jealous God, this is not the type of jealousy He was speaking of. If we were to substitute the term "zealous" for "jealous," it would help in our understanding of it.

God is zealous in His love for you, and He wants you to be zealous in your love for Him. God loves you and wants an exclusive relationship with you. For example, doesn't a wife want her husband to be faithful to her? Doesn't a husband want his wife to be loyal to him? Doesn't a parent look out for his or her children and care about their welfare? Of course.

This is essentially what God was saying when He told Moses, "I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God who will not tolerate your affection for any other gods" (Exodus 20:5). In other words, "I want your complete love. I don't want you to bow down before other gods."

When the Israelites worshipped the golden calf while Moses was on Mt. Sinai, they rationalized their behavior by saying it was "a festival to the Lord" (Exodus 32:5). Call it what you like, but it was blatant idolatry. And a person who really knows God, who has experienced a new birth, and is living in fellowship with Him should not need an image or representation to be able to pray. Something is not right when believers feel they need that.

This is a problem because it gives us a false concept of what God is really like. And if the image is false, then the thought of God is false—and ultimately it will produce a character that is false.

Used with Permission