Duration: 365 days
Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 6:1–10
Even if you’re not a die-hard fan, at some point you’ve probably flipped channels and stumbled across a reality police show. You know—the ones airing wild car chases, stupid criminals or messed-up couples engaged in nasty fights. The magnetic pull of these shows is powerful, because it shows a side of life that not everyone otherwise glimpses. Watching what others try to get away with, overhearing their lame excuses and observing how the cops handle the situation satisfies our morbid curiosity.
If you watch enough footage, you soon learn that the domestic calls are the ones that strike fear in the heart of even the bravest police officer. When a man or woman learns of a cheating lover, the fireworks start. Emotions take over, and people act outside their normal behavioral parameters. A mild-mannered wife becomes a venomous monster. An otherwise upstanding husband threatens murder. And during the crossfire between lovers, people get hurt. Jealousy is an emotion that overrides normal behavior; its effects are unpredictable and volatile.
But this passage shows us, through the prophet Ezekiel, that one of the emotions God demonstrates is righteous jealousy. Because of his holy nature, of course, God isn’t capable of out-of-control emotions or actions. Yet from the beginning of his relationship with Israel, God described himself as a jealous lover. He loved the Israelites and desired their faithful love in return. God saw their worship of other gods as adultery. Through Ezekiel God warned that he wouldn’t tolerate such acts. Because God created his people and chose them, they belonged to him. Despite God’s warnings through his prophets, the Israelites still sought other gods. Eventually, “grieved by their adulterous hearts” (verse 9), God rendered his judgment.
In much the same way, God wants your love. He created and chose you, and he jealously desires you solely for himself. He doesn’t want any person, any sporting event, any activity, any job or anything else to stand in the way of his relationship with you.
In case you think you’re off the hook because Ezekiel warned only the Israelites, think again. Hundreds of years later the apostle James echoed the prophet’s thoughts: “You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God” (James 4:4).
So take some time to search your own heart. What other gods cause you to grieve God? What in the world lures you away from him? What pleasures or priorities compete for first place in your life?
To Take Away
- What in your life—perhaps a person, an activity or a job—competes with God for your ultimate loyalty?
- What steps can you take to remove yourself from situations where other “gods” take priority over the true God?
- Why should you take these steps? What are the benefits of having nothing else standing in the way of your relationship with God?