Duration: 365 days
A JEALOUS GOD
Today’s Bible Reading: Ezekiel 16:1–19
After reading this passage, we can’t help but realize that no one can accuse God and his prophet Ezekiel of being too subtle. This is just one of several extremely visceral passages in this book that graphically describe God’s deep care and concern for this people whom he had loved, raised and chosen out of all humanity. Any man who has held a child of his own will be stirred by the language God uses early on in this passage. Here again God is portrayed as a jealous God, furious that his people have rejected his overtures of kindness.
We often think of jealousy as a negative emotion, forgetting that it sometimes plays a positive role. In marriage, for example, if someone threatens your relationship with your wife, jealousy can spur you to take actions designed to protect your relationship. Of course, jealousy should never lead to violence or coercion. But jealousy nonetheless sometimes has a proper place in our relationships.
Ezekiel describes how God’s jealousy protected his relationship with his people. Using the image of an unfaithful wife, the prophet provides a vivid illustration of Israel’s idolatry. Israel, here portrayed as a young bride, doesn’t respond with gratitude. Instead, she chases after every other man who passes by. In this allegory the other men represent idols—false gods. And the husband, God, responds with intense jealousy.
The metaphor of marriage provides an excellent description of our relationship with God because marriage implies an exclusive relationship. God wants our undivided love and worship. However, just like the Israelites, we easily give in to the temptation to follow other gods. While we might not physically bow before false images, we often worship more subtle idols, such as money, pleasure, work and power. We need to realize that our sin offends God as much as did the sin of the Israelites. God wants an exclusive and intimate relationship with us, but we make that impossible when we follow other gods.
So what should we do? First, we need to remember that God loves us. He desires to rescue us and to lavish upon us his beauty and glory. But we must either choose God or continue to rebel against him. We can’t have it both ways.
Take a minute to picture yourself as a child in your father’s arms. Then set aside a few moments to thank him for everything he’s done for you out of his grace, care and concern. How will you act differently as a result of this lifelong experience?
To Take Away
- How do you respond to this description of a jealous God? Do you think a holy God can really be jealous?
- What competes with God for your time, energy and devotion?
- What steps can you take to remove other “gods” from your life and turn back in full allegiance to the true God?
Copyright © 2006 by Zondervan.