During my quiet time I have been going through a study by Beth Moore called "Breaking Free". Today, I was reading in Exodus 20:4-5 (In the midst of the 10 Commandments) Exodus 20:5 says, "...for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God..." Now, I definitely see how this could be a stumbling block for many. As I read this I was reminded of a time I heard an interview with Oprah. She was talking about a time when she was in church and this verse was read. She said she immediately thought, why would I want to worship a God who is jealous of me?
Now, my instant reaction to her saying this was, "Wow, how conceited and full of yourself do you have to be to think that the God of the universe is jealous of you?" But, as with many areas in the Bible, our English translations don't always say accurately what the original text meant. The Hebrew and Greek languages have many many different words to describe different aspects of something. (For example, we have one word for "love" and that can mean "I love ice cream" or "I love my husband". Either way we use the same word...The Greek, however, translates many different forms of love. Eros, for example, is erotic love. Agape is the unconditional, self-sacrificing love...Our language looses a lot in translation.)
But, back to the jealous God and Oprah's question. Why would we want to worship a god who is jealous of us? I certainly wouldn't... But, the LORD God, the God of the universe, the Creator, is not jealous of you. He owns the "cattle on a thousand hillsides" (Psalm 50:10). He created everything, including you and me. What Exodus 20:5 is saying is God is jealous FOR you. He loves you so much, He wants what is best for you to such an extent, that He is jealous FOR you. 2 Corinthians 11:2 talks about a "godly jealousy". Being jealous OF someone or something is a sin. God cannot sin. This "godly jealousy" is pure and holy.
As a parent, I want what is best for my children. I yearn for them to succeed, to thrive. If I see them doing something that I know will harm them, will derail them from success, it angers me, it hurts me...I am not angry at them, per say, I am angry for them. If, as parents, we react that way with our children, how much more does God, Who loves completely, fully and without fail, react that way when He sees us falling into the bondage of sin. He sees we are on a path that will harm us, that will derail us from the blessings He has planned for us. He is so in love with us He is jealous for us, wanting only what is best for our lives.
The rest of Exodus 20:4-5 talks about idols. "Do not make an idol for yourself...do not bow down to them..." Now, this is important. God is not, in any way, jealous of other "gods". (And, by the way, a god is anything we put in our lives above the LORD God. You may not think you worship anything, but God has implanted in everyone an internal desire to worship. If you are not worshiping the One True God, you are worshiping something...your job, the Wii or PS3, money...the list can go on and on) The LORD knows that worshiping these things is not what is best for you and therefore it hurts Him, angers Him, to see you following them. These things cannot save you, they cannot deliver you from despair, they hold no real glory.
Only God can save. He knew you before you were born. He knows every hair on your head. He loved you so much He sent His only Son to the earth to die for you. If you were the only person in the world, He still would have died for you. There is nothing in your past, nothing in your present and nothing in your future He doesn't already know. If there were anything too big for Him, His death would have been pointless...but it wasn't.
Jesus died for you. He died for me.
He chose to do this because He desires to spend eternity with us, He desires to bless us, He desires to give us peace. He has our best interest at heart. Above all else He desires for us to know Him, to love Him, to believe in Him, to trust and worship Him and Him alone. There are such bountiful blessings in store for those who do.