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The word jealous has many meanings, like: “unable to tolerate unfaithfulness”, “possessiveness”, etc.

Let us see the statement of God. Talking about worshipping graven images and other gods, He declares:

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; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:5, 6)

Since God is our Creator, He alone is worthy of worship. If we are unfaithful in rendering worship to Him, and give the glory to another, it is an insult to God; and He will show His displeasure to let us know what we are doing is wrong.

Notice to which group of people He shows His displeasure. It is to “them that hate me”, He says. He does not say, to them that “don’t know me”, but to them that “hate me”. You cannot love or hate someone unless you know that person very well. So these people know God and hate Him, and therefore, He shows them His displeasure.

Can a holy God, be a “jealous” God? Can these two attributes-holiness and jealousy-go together? Listen to what Joshua says:

He is a Holy God; he is a jealous God. (Joshua 24:17)

So Jealousy and holiness can go together. Jealousy is not always a negative trait. It is a positive attribute at a given context. It all depends on the perspective and how you apply it.

Hatred is right if it is “hatred to sin”; but hatred is a negative quality if it is “hatred to a person”. Love is a positive quality-we have got to love one another. But love could be wrong, if we “love sin”. So also jealously for the right thing is a positive quality and jealousy otherwise is a negative trait!

We are God’s treasured possessions. We are His by creation and He paid a very great price to purchase us from eternal destruction too. Doesn’t God, therefore, have a legal right to be jealous or dearly concerned over His own heritage? Doesn’t He also have the right to show us His displeasure if we flirt around with false gods, after knowing Him?

God says in the book of Ezekiel:

I will be jealous for my holy name. (Ezekiel 39:25)

Doesn’t He have a right to protect His holy name? The children of Israel nearly spoilt the name of God by committing abominable sins in the sight of the heathens. And God had to prove to all, who He is, and not what these children of His showed Him to be to the world.

In Zechariah God talked about His jealousy for His place. He said:

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. (Zechariah 1:14)

Yes, these two places were God’s special places! What happened there reflected God’s character and God had to be jealous and protect His name in these two holy places.

Look at Paul who, under inspiration, wrote to God’s church, the bride of Christ. He said:

For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. (2 Corinthians 11:2)

God’s jealousy is a “godly jealousy”. Paul mentions about the marriage of Christ and the church. Christ is the faithful husband, and the church should remain faithful. The Holy Spirit, speaking through Paul, had this burden of carefully watching over the purity of the church, as it is the lovely bride of Christ, the Son of God.

Yes, our God is a jealous God. He is very possessive of all His treasures. Even when one sheep was lost of the hundred, He went after it until He found it. It just shows His deep love and possessiveness, which is such a blessed trait. And this kind of jealousy is good for the safekeeping and happiness of all His creatures!