When I think of God, I often like to view him as a gentle grandfather who loves me and is quick to forgive my sins and my shortcomings. It’s a common perception…and one that may not be completely wrong.
However, there are some uncomfortable images of God in scripture, too.
Not because they paint God in a bad light, but because they show that God actually cares how we live our lives.
Exodus 34 is one of those…
14 for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God, Exodus 34:14 (ESV)
What an image! God is jealous of those who call themselves His followers! (not in the pithy sense of being envious of us but that He is unwilling to share us with other -nonexistent- gods)
Now, I know what you are thinking…Exodus is the Old Testament and We don’t live by the Old Testament. God is now a gracious, merciful, and forgiving God that overlooks my shortcomings (and occasional worship of other things) through the blood of Jesus.
Not so fast…Jesus, in the New Testament, has a few things to say about God being the ultimate priority in our lives, too.
21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Matthew 7:21–23 (ESV)
33 but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven. 34 “Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. 35 For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. 36 And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. 37 Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. 38 And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Matthew 10:33–38 (ESV)
In fact, we consistently see that God wants us to be wholly devoted to Him and no other.
Some things change…but some things stay the same.
God is STILL a jealous God and He is unwilling to share us.
This literally sends chills down my spine because I know that I often will place something (or someone) else in a place of priority over Him.
I yell louder at football games than I sing in worship.
I would rather buy stuff for myself than give to those in need.
I can spend days…DAYS…binge watching a new series on Netflix and struggle to spend 1 hour reading through Numbers.
At that’s just for starters.
Thankfully, when we give our hearts solely to Him, there is grace and mercy when my priorities slip.
4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— Ephesians 2:4–5 (ESV)
God is jealous because He loves you and wants to be the absolute priority in your life.
Are there things that are taking priority over Him, right now in your own life?
God is rich in mercy to forgive us, restore us, and heal us when we fail.
Be thankful that He wants you all to Himself!