GODLY JEALOUSY (I)
Jealousy often carries a negative connotation. In modern English, it is regarded as synonymous with envy, and is typically defined as “the thoughts and feelings of insecurity, fear, concern, and anxiety over an anticipated loss of status or something of great personal value, particularly in reference to a human connection” (Wikipedia). However, the early use of the term “jealousy” is distinct from “envy”. Envy refers to a feeling of discontentment and resentful longing aroused by another’s possessions or qualities. On the other hand, jealousy involves the fierce protection of what one perceives to be his.
Due to the common negative perception of jealousy, it may come as a surprise to some that the Bible describes God as a jealous God. In fact, God’s very name is “Jealous”. “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Exod. 34:14).
The difference between divine jealousy and human jealousy is that human jealousy is often stained with sin. A striking example of sinful human jealousy can be found in the life of king Saul. Despite knowing that God has determined David to be the next king, Saul’s jealousy caused him to make various attempts for David’s life. He wanted to hold on to the king-ship, but no man can stand in the way of God. The persistent sinful jealousy of Saul eventually led to his demise.
Sinful jealousy is also seen in the New Testament Church. One example is the Corinthian church where differing parties would bicker to exalt their own party (c.f. 1 Cor. 3:4). A second example is found in 3 John where Diotrephes is said to love the preeminence in the church, and rejected all whom he felt were a threat to his position (c.f. 3 John 9). Indeed, such an attitude revealed a lack of love, for love “envieth not . . . vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up.” (1 Cor. 13:4)
Sinful jealousy is often rooted in pride and covetousness, in which the creature desires something which does not belong to him. On the other hand, the jealousy of God is pure and free from sin, for it is rooted in His nature and character. The Scriptures teaches us that “God is a Spirit, infinite, eternal, and unchangeable, in his being, wisdom, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth.” (Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 4) There is no one that is higher than God. Therefore, God can rightfully be jealous over His honour and name, for these are due unto Him. God alone is worthy of all our worship and adoration.
God’s jealousy of His glory is evident in Exodus 34:14. All the other gods of this world are but false gods, and can never be compared to the one living and true God. Therefore, when man worships other gods, the LORD is rightfully jealous for they have exalted the creature over the Creator, and robbed Him of His glory.
God’s rightful and just jealousy behoves us to denounce all idolatry, and forms the basis of the Second Commandment “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me”(Exod. 20:4-5). The jealousy of God for His honour would lead and provoke Him to wrath against those who commit idolatry. They would certainly face the consequences for their sin.
The jealousy of God also teaches us that if we are to serve God, we are to be free from all idolatry and sin. Thus, when the children of Israel said to Joshua that they would serve the LORD, Joshua replied, “And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.” (Jos. 24:19-20) God’s jealousy must never be treated like a light matter. His jealousy demands our exclusive worship. No man can serve two masters. His master must be God and no one else.
God’s jealousy for His own name and glory is also clearly seen in Isaiah 48:9-11. “For my name’s sake will I defer mine anger, and for my praise will I refrain for thee, that I cut thee not off. Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction. For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another.” (Isa. 48:9-11)
When we do anything for our own glory rather than God’s, we are forgetting how jealous God is over His name and glory. Let us not think that God will turn a blind eye against this corruption and misrepresentation of His nature and character. In application, when man attacks God’s Word and says that God did not preserve His Word to the jot and tittle down through the ages, he is robbing God of His glory. Such men have trivialised the jealousy of God and are playing with fire. God will surely judge.
Let no man take lightly how fiercely God would go to defend His own name and Word. “God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.” (Nah. 1:2 KJV)
To be continued…
Lovingly in Christ,
Preacher Clement Chew
NOT LACKING IN SPIRITUAL GIFTS!
(RPG Reading for April 9, 2017)
“So that ye come behind in no gift. . .” (1 Corinthians 1:7a)
God did not leave the Corinthian Christians destitute of resources as they served the Lord Jesus Christ. As a confirmation of the testimony of Christ in the Corinthian Christians, God also provided them with the necessary spiritual gifts to use in their labour for Christ. The term translated “gift” is the Greek word charisma. It comes from the root word charis, which means “grace.” Paul wanted the Corinthian Christians to know that the spiritual gifts that they had were graciously given by God. The Corinthian Christians ought to be thankful for this privilege, and were to use these spiritual gifts faithfully for the glory of God.
Sadly, the Corinthian Christians failed to comprehend that these gifts were “graciously” given to them by God. Instead, they boasted about their gifts and abused them in the church. Paul responded to this issue later: the diversities of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:1-11); the purpose of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 12:12-31); the motive of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 13) and the proper use of spiritual gifts (1 Cor 14).
Every Christian will be granted at least one spiritual gift. Our duty is to use these gifts for “the edifying of the body of Christ” (Eph 4:12). “For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office: So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith; Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching; Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom 12:3-8).