In Exodus 34, we see that Moses went back up Mount Sinai after the people of Israel had sinned by making the golden calf. While he was there, God renewed his covenant with the people and once again wrote his commands onto stone tablets. And God promised to drive out the peoples before them, giving to them the land of Canaan.
However, God also warned them that they were not to make a covenant with the peoples of the land. He told them to tear down the altars and the pillars used by the people of Canaan to worship their gods. And they were to do this because they were to worship no other god.
What’s interesting is that, as he gave these commands, the Lord described himself as a jealous God. In fact, he said that his name is Jealous. In this way, he’s telling us that jealousy is part of his character.
This is confusing to many of us because we think of jealousy as a bad thing. We think of it as sinful. And in most cases it is. However, we fail to realize that there’s a form of jealousy that is good and even healthy.
Think of it in these terms: I’m married, and have been for almost 14 years. And I can honestly say that I’m jealous for my wife. I’m as jealous for her now as I was when we first began dating. What I mean by this is that I love her and that I want her for myself alone.
I don’t mean by this that I forbid her from having friends. Nor do I try to keep her from interacting with others. However, I’m unwilling to share her with another man. I want her affection for myself alone. If I found her giving her affection to another man, or if I saw a man trying to gain her affection, I would be insanely jealous and angry.
Even though this is a form of jealousy, it’s good because this is how God designed marriage to work. He intended marriage for one man and one woman. We’re commanded in various ways throughout Scripture to remain faithful to our spouse. So it’s only fitting that this jealousy is a part of the marital relationship.
The same thing is true when it comes to our relationship with the Lord. His intent, as he states it throughout Scripture, is that he should be our God and that we should be his people. He created us that we might be his people, and he redeemed us for the same reason. And, because of this, he’s jealous for us. He’s unwilling to share us with anything or anyone else. He wants our affection for himself alone.
When we think of it in these terms, the first commandment is more than a law for us to follow. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s pure gospel. What it tells us is that the Lord loves us so much that he’s unwilling to share us. It demonstrates his great affection for us.
If your spouse was willing to share you with someone else, or if they desired to share you with someone else, it would cause you to feel unloved. You would feel less than cherished. And, once again, this relates to God’s jealousy for us.
The fact that he is jealous demonstrates not selfishness. It shows us how much he values us. It reveals that we’re cherished. It reveals that we are prized and precious in his sight.