Green with Jealousy

What is your favorite colour? How does it make you feel? On one side of the spectrum, the colour green has a longstanding history of being associated with feelings of sickness, greed, jealousy, and envy. On the other end of the spectrum green can be a colour that represent abundance, growth, and renewal. Our definition depends largely on context. 

I was reading in Exodus chapter 34 the other day and I had to stop to better understand the words found in verse fourteen. The chapter recounts the time when Moses goes before the Lord to receive for a second time the ten commandments. The verse reads, “do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”. 

The primary dictionary definition of jealous is a “feeling or showing envy of someone of their achievements and advantages”. If this is true, how do we deal with the understanding that our God, who is perfect, be a jealous God? What is he jealous of? 

Human jealousy is most often tainted or spoiled by the influence of sin that clouds our thoughts. Human jealousy is often seeded with feelings of envy, a “painful or resentful awareness of an advantage enjoyed by another joined with a desire to possess the same advantage.” 

Remove the influence of sin, the human condition from jealousy and mix it with the pure and unconditional love of God and his jealous nature becomes righteous and holy. 

In the context of Exodus 34 and other places in scripture God’s warnings of jealousy is a response to the idolatry of his chosen people. The second presentation of the ten commandments was in a sense a renewal of the covenant God made with his people to bring them out of slavery into the promise land. 

The word qannoʾ translated as jealous is used only to describe God. Behind the word is a sense of intensity and qualifies the actions and unique jealousy or zeal the Lord has for his people. Our God, our creator, cares deeply for and protects his people, those who have chosen to follow him. The motivation of his jealousy is filled with a pure and fervent love that reaches beyond anything we as finite humans can comprehend. 

God does not change. He continues to be a jealous God. It is only by his grace and mercy that we can be in good standing before him. The same love and protection that brought his people to the promise land continues to lead and guide us to the promise of life with him after death. He still desires our full attention to his will for our lives, to live a life that shines his love and light in the world. 

The idols of this world, the sin in our lives, constantly pull at our faithfulness to living God’s will for our lives. We are called to love the Lord with all our hearts, souls, and mind. (Matt 22:37) Knowing that he is a Jealous God, that his love for us is pure and has our best interests at heart should be the motivation to inspire our faith, hope and trust in him. 

I am thankful that my God is a jealous God. This often-overlooked part of his character fits together with the whole of who he is. It is my hope and prayer that as we continue to grow in our knowledge of who our God is we learn how to reflect his character in our own lives so others can see him. 

A Rock Song or a Song about a Rock?

Rock music is a genre of music that has captured the listening ear of music enthusiasts for many generations. Within this wide-ranging genre, you have subgenres like, classic rock, hard rock, punk rock, progressive rock, indie rock, rap-rock, funk rock and even Christian rock. Rock music has a unique set of characteristics that defines its sound. It combines elements of rhythm and blues, jazz, and country music.

Here and there throughout scripture, there are some songs and prayers that refer to God as a “rock”. These narratives reveal to us some of the characteristics of who God is and how he relates to us as his people.

When we read the story of Hannah (1 Sam. 1&2) she sings a prayerful song from her heart saying, “there is no Rock like our God”. She had overcome bitterness, misery, and depression when the Lord answered her prayers. Her song describes a God who is mighty, powerful, caring, compassionate and just. 

The word translated “rock” in this verse is used to characterize who God is. It carries the idea of God as a support and defense. For Hannah who fervently poured out her heart and soul to God in a time of need, He was the rock that she so needed to stand on. 

The song of Moses found in Deuteronomy 32 was recited in the presence of the whole assembly of Israel. Verse four of the song says, “He is the Rock”. Here we have the same word Hannah used to describe God, this time conveying power and stability. Moses uses this word to declare that God has been true to His covenant promise, to bring the people out of bondage and into the land promised to their fathers. 

The Psalmist David wrote in his song that God was his “rock of refuge”, “a strong fortress” (Psalm 31:2-3) He uses these words again is Psalm 18 as he celebrates the hand of the Lord protecting him from his enemies. 

So far in these examples we have seen some of the characteristics of God revealed to us through the stories and experiences of real people. God is our Rock, our support, defense, power, stability, strong fortress, refuge, and protector. These unique combinations of characteristics describe a God who is alive and active in the lives of his people both then and now. 

The famous words of the Sermon on the Mount end with a parable that teaches in simple terms the success of the builder who builds his house on the rock. This beautiful picture points us to one thing; knowing, understanding, and living (practicing) out the word of God in our lives will not end in destruction but in life everlasting. 

One can say there are many different types of rocks in this world, and they would be correct. But the solid rock that has and continues to provide such strong characteristics as described here is set apart from all others. This rock is none other than Jesus Christ, the son of God who lived among us, died as a sacrifice for us, and overcame death so that we could continue to stand together with him. 

Do you know what the rock you are standing on in life is made of? What are its characteristics?  I invite you to stand with me on the solid rock of Jesus Christ.