The Jealousy and Love of God
The Jealousy and Love of God
“Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.”
In our modern usage, jealousy is primarily used as a negative word. It describes resentment, bitterness, or hostility towards someone because they have something a person wants. In terms of relationships, we use it in the context of hostility and distrust of another, and, in most cases, it is used to describe an unhealthy attitude towards someone with whom you are in a relationship. However, the word can also have a positive meaning in that it can refer to one who so deeply loves another that they are protective in maintaining or guarding the relationship from anything that harms it. It describes one who is vigilant and devoted in their love so they protect the relationship from any intrusion. When the word is used to describe God, it speaks of God’s deep and tender love for his people and his desire to protect this relationship from anything that might destroy it. It should cause us to wonder that the God of the universe so loves us he desires an exclusive relationship with us. One that will not be threatened or in competition with any other.
This jealous love moved God to restore Israel from their exile and now address Israel with “gracious words, comforting words.” Instead of anger over their sin, he directly speaks what is good and pleasing (Verse 13). He has a deep awareness and sympathy for the suffering they experienced at the hands of the Assyrians and Babylonians. Yet, because of his jealous love, he acts against these nations (vs. 15). For a short time, God disciplined Israel because of their spiritual adultery. But now he turns his judgment upon the nations who mistreated Israel. Now he will restore Jerusalem and rebuild the city. The once deserted city and in ruins will be rebuilt, and overflow with prosperity for God has again comforted and chosen Jerusalem and bestowed upon them his unfailing love” (verse 17).
We see God’s faithfulness to his covenant event today in restoring Israel as a nation. However, God is not through with the nation, and there will come a time in the future when he give them spiritual life where they will fully embrace their Messianic King. Ezekiel prophesies this in chapter 37 and will be fulfilled when Christ returns, as the book of Revelation predicted.
But this unwavering love for Israel is the same love he has for us. The same love that moved God to protect his people and his relationship with them jealously is the same jealous love he has for us. Because he is a jealous God who will allow no rival, he continues to move in our life so that we might be fully committed to him. God's protective love for Israel is the same protective love he has for us. Just as he brought adversity to Israel to remove the unfaithfulness of the people, so he brings adversity in our lives to realign our focus so that we are entirely devoted to him; it is jealous love for us that moves him to restore us and purify us so that we might love him with the same devotion and faithfulness that he has for us. We sometimes need to step back and reflect upon his deep love for us, a love that does not tolerate rivals and continually moves him to act on our behalf. The God of the universe desires an exclusive relationship with him, and he works in our life to achieve that end. He loves us so much that he jealously guards our relationship with him like one guards their most precious possession, for that is what we are to God. That question we must ask ourselves, is do we love God so much that we are equally vigilant to protect this relationship from any intrusion?