Another facet of love…
“Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so…” is a well-known children’s chorus for most of us. He loves us, we know. But have we ever paused to consider just how He loves us? What is this love like? Is it sugary sweet in true Hollywood style or perhaps a more distant, theological love? Does it ever expect anything in return?
Yesterday I was struck by a description of God’s love in a more recent Christian song from Kim Walker. It begins with the words “He is jealous for me”. This is a surprising opening for a worship song, to say the least! Although it sounds rather strange at first (or even egocentric), we can rapidly realise that the words spring directly from the Bible. God loves us with a jealous love.
The jealousy of God is not often mentioned in Christian circles today. Perhaps it is because we confuse coveting and jealousy and therefore tend to categorise all jealousy as sin. There exists, however, a healthy jealousy, in much the same way as there exists a healthy anger. God is depicted as occasionally getting angry and He is also described as sometimes being jealous. In fact, it is this jealousy that reveals the depth of His love for us. Although God loves us regardless of our behaviour, He does desire a response from us to His love. He knows that He alone is worthy of our worship. He is our Creator, our Sustainer, our Lover – and that is why He is “Jealous”. He wants what is rightfully His.
If you have ever felt jealousy, it is because you have felt love, for jealousy cannot be aroused in a heart that is indifferent, distant or cold. It is only aroused when love is discarded. If someone or something occupies the space that should be ours in a relationship, the natural response is indignation, jealousy.
Moses had a very particular revelation of God. In Exodus 34:14 he states that God’s very name is “Jealous”. Later, Moses returns to the same attribute of God and prompts the Israelites to obey God because “the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God” (Deuteronomy 4:24). It is no coincidence that Moses refers to the consuming fire of God in the same sentence. God’s jealousy burns for us. Not only does He love us like a mother or draw us to Himself like a Lover, His heart also burns with jealousy for us when we do not respond to Him. He desires to have us without reservation. Perhaps in our age we have reduced God to someone too “nice”. We have clipped the claws of the Lion for our convenience. Yet the Bible makes it clear that God will not settle for second place very easily. If people reject Him and turn to other things for fulfillment, God’s jealousy will be roused.
There are two reasons for the theme of this paper: the first is to invite us to evaluate our own hearts. Are we provoking God to jealousy in any way? If so, then what is taking God’s place in our lives? Why is it there? Which needs are we not allowing God to meet?
The second reason for discussing God’s jealousy is to enable us to intercede more effectively. When we intercede for individuals or nations, we can call on God to move because of His jealous love. We can ask Him to fill us with a holy fire for those we are praying for.
Place me like a seal over your heart,
Like a seal on your arm;
For love is as strong as death,
Its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
Like a mighty flame.
(Song of songs 8:6)