Bible Study: God is a Jealous God

In this post, learn why God is a jealous God, what it means to your relationship with Him, and most importantly, what it teaches about the nature of God.

Did you know that in your Bible, you will read numerous times that God is a jealous God? Yes, that’s correct. However, have you ever wondered why God is jealous? Isn’t being jealous a sin? Why would God feel jealousy? Does this mean God is sinful?

This is an interesting and significant topic that we should discuss. Why? Because the answer to this question can help you defend your faith and most importantly, improve your relationship with God.

So, in this post, let us take a look at why God is a jealous God.

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Bible verses showing God is a Jealous God

Multiple times, especially in the Old Testament, you will read that indeed, He is a jealous God.

Here are some of the Bible verses about jealous God:

Exodus 20:5-6

“You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me, but showing mercy to thousands, to those who love Me and keep My commandments.”

Exodus 34:13-14

“But you shall destroy their altars, break their sacred pillars, and cut down their wooden images for you shall worship no other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God”.

Deuteronomy 4:24

“For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God”.

Deuteronomy 5:9

“You shall not bow down to them nor serve them. For I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children to the third and fourth generations of those who hate Me”.

Deuteronomy 6:15

“For the LORD your God is a jealous God among you, lest the anger of the LORD your God be aroused against you and destroy you from the face of the earth”.

Deuteronomy 29:20

“The LORD would not spare him; for then the anger of the LORD and His jealousy would burn against that man, and every curse that is written in this book would settle on him, and the LORD would blot out his name from under heaven”.

Joshua 24:19

But Joshua said to the people, “You cannot serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins”.

Ezekiel 39:25

“Therefore thus says the Lord GOD: Now I will bring back the captives of Jacob, and have mercy on the whole house of Israel; and I will be jealous for My holy name”.

Nahum 1:2-3

“God is jealous, and the LORD avenges;
The LORD avenges and is furious.
The LORD will take vengeance on His adversaries,
And He reserves wrath for His enemies;
The LORD is slow to anger and great in power,
And will not at all acquit the wicked”.

Wow! Can you see how the Bible emphasized the jealousy of God to the point that His name is even called Jealous?

The Surprising Reason Why God is a Jealous God
Do you know why God is called a Jealous God?

How the Jealousy of God affect the faith of people

Now, a lot of people have used the jealousy of God to call Him an unreasonable, wicked, and narcissistic God. Because of the misunderstanding of the Jealousy of God, a lot of people have become unbelievers, atheists, and even weak in faith.

I want us to focus on a subject matter that has been used by a lot as “proof” that we should stop worshiping God. This is an important topic because if you can’t explain to yourself and others, it is possible that your faith will be wounded.

For many atheists, this is their Aha moment. “Aha, see, how can you worship a God who is always Jealous?” 

Richard Dawkins, perhaps, the most prominent atheist in the world today, said that:

“God breaks into a monumental rage whenever his chosen people flirted with a rival god. The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction: jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak.”

Oprah Winfrey, a popular pop culture icon, admitted that she was turned off to Christianity after confirming from a preacher that God is indeed a jealous God. Atheists claim that God is an impatient, petty, and insecure deity.

Using the Bible Against the Jealousy of God

Atheists would then go on to quote Galatians 5:19-21:

Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies… of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.

They would also add 1 Corinthians 13:4:

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.”

Now, if you don’t have a strong relationship with our Heavenly Father, your faith can easily be shaken. 

Do you want to learn more? If yes, you will love the book, “Is God a Moral Monster” by Paul Copan. In this book, you will learn why God seems to be a harsh and sadistic God in the Old Testament. Click here to learn more.

How do you study the subject God is a jealous God?

If you don’t read and study your Bible, you can easily be persuaded to abandon your faith because, on the surface, the arguments of these non-believers seem to be plausible and convincing UNTIL we seriously study the matter.

How about you, when presented with this argument, will you be able to defend your faith?

Thus, I believe we need to examine this topic because finding the right answer will not only prove that Christianity is true, but will also strengthen your relationship with God.

What is Jealousy?

 The first thing we need to discuss is, “What is jealousy?”

The popular definition of jealousy is it is a negative emotion. 

Wikipedia says, jealousy “generally refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern over a relative lack of possessions or safety.” 

Psychology Today, a popular website of psychologists, says that jealousy “is a complex emotion that encompasses feelings ranging from suspicion to rage to fear to humiliation.”

Now, this is the type of jealousy that Paul was talking about when he wrote Galatians 5:19-21

Having this kind of jealousy leads to sin. 

However, what the world missed out, including the atheists and non-believers is that there’s another type of jealousy — the righteous jealousy.

Let me make this very clear: if your jealousy springs out of self-centeredness and selfishness, then that’s immoral jealousy. 

However, take note of this, if your jealousy springs out of love, concern, and justice, then that’s righteous jealousy.

2 Corinthians 11:1-2 prove my point. We read, 

“Oh, that you would bear with me in a little folly—and indeed you do bear with me. For I am jealous for you with GODLY jealousy. For I have betrothed you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.”

This confirms the truth that there’s righteous and godly jealousy and there’s that wicked jealousy.

The Great Betrayal of Jerusalem to God

I want us to understand why Yahweh is a jealous God to the point that He was willing to ascribe Jealousy in His name. 

In fact, if you read the Bible, you would find a lot of verses stating that God is a jealous God. 

But why?

Let’s read the kind of love that God has for His people. 

We read in Ezekiel 16:6-8, 15-22, 31-34. If you want to read more about the insane adulterous acts of Jerusalem, you should also read Ezekiel 23.

“And when I passed by you and saw you struggling in your own blood, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ Yes, I said to you in your blood, ‘Live!’ 7 I made you thrive like a plant in the field; and you grew, matured, and became very beautiful. Your breasts were formed, your hair grew, but you were naked and bare.

8 “When I passed by you again and looked upon you, indeed your time was the TIME OF LOVE; so I spread My wing over you and covered your nakedness. Yes, I swore an oath to you and entered into a covenant with you, and you became Mine,” says the Lord GOD. Ezekiel 16:6-8

But you trusted in your own beauty, played the harlot because of your fame, and poured out your harlotry on everyone passing by who would have it. 

16 You took some of your garments and adorned multicolored high places for yourself, and played the harlot on them. Such things should not happen, nor be. 17 You have also taken your beautiful jewelry from My gold and My silver, which I had given you, and made for yourself male images and played the harlot with them

18 You took your embroidered garments and covered them, and you set My oil and My incense before them. 19 Also My food which I gave you—the pastry of fine flour, oil, and honey which I fed you—you set it before them as sweet incense; and so it was,” says the Lord GOD.

20 “Moreover you took your sons and your daughters, whom you bore to Me, and these you sacrificed to them to be devoured. Were your acts of harlotry a small matter, 21 that you have slain My children and offered them up to them by causing them to pass through the fire? 22 And in all your abominations and acts of harlotry you did not remember the days of your youth, when you were naked and bare, struggling in your blood. Ezekiel 16:15-22

“You erected your shrine at the head of every road, and built your high place in every street. Yet you were not like a harlot, because you scorned payment. 32 You are an adulterous wife, who takes strangers instead of her husband

33 Men make payment to all harlots, but you made your payments to all your lovers, and hired them to come to you from all around for your harlotry. 34 You are the opposite of other women in your harlotry, because no one solicited you to be a harlot. In that you gave payment but no payment was given you, therefore you are the opposite.” Ezekiel 16:31-34

Can you now see the great betrayal and wickedness of Jerusalem to her Husband, Yahweh? 

Thus, it is no great wonder and surprise for us to see that God was ready to wipe out Israel after the golden calf incident in Exodus 32. This betrayal happened only a few days or weeks after they said “I do” to God’s covenant. 

The golden calf incident is like a husband finding his wife in bed on their HONEYMOON!

The 10 Best Books that Prove Christianity is True

Why God is a Jealous God

Now, tell me, who would not be jealous of what God’s people have done to Him? 

Who will not be hurt, who will not feel anger, who will not feel sadness? 

If a wife does not feel jealous when her husband flirts with another woman, do you think that that wife really loves her husband? 

If you don’t love that person, you wouldn’t really care, right? 

A marriage WITHOUT the potential of jealousy isn’t a true marriage at all. Being Jealous is only an appropriate response when your spouse is beginning to get interested with another man or woman.

You now begin to see a different side of God’s nature. 

God INTENDS to be our passionate, loving, and committed Husband. 

God isn’t just an impersonal, absent God who doesn’t care about His people. On the contrary, He feels jealous when we try to flirt with other paganistic, non-biblical, and faithless religions!

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God is a Jealous God for our sake

Now, here’s something we need to realize: God is not jealous because of His own benefit, but He is jealous for our own benefit

Yahweh is the supreme, eternal, and majestic Ruler of this vast universe. 

He is infinite. 

Whether we love God or not, whether we praise Him or not, whether we obey Him or not, He is still God. When He asks us to love Him, praise Him, and obey Him, it is not for Him, but for us.

God is jealous when we worship our wealth, other people, our career, our education, and the pleasures in this world because He knows that it will lead to our own destruction

Indeed, God does not need us, but out of His great and enormous love for us

He sent His Son to die for us. He established a new covenant with us that we enter in during our baptism.

The problem with atheists and enemies of the Bible is that they read the Bible to find fault. They are like ancient Israel who chose to worship foreign gods because they can manipulate them. All you need to do is make sacrifices and you can go on with your immoral life. 

However, it is different from the God of the Bible. Yahweh demands a positive change in your life, to turn your back from sin. 

He wants us to live and thus, He wants us to stay in a close relationship with Him and not play harlotry with other gods.

“I am a Jealous God”

So, brethren, why is God a jealous God? 

Because He loves us. 

He is jealous for our own sake. 

He is jealous because He wants us to stay on the path of righteousness. 

God’s jealousy does NOT spring from immaturity and selfishness, but it springs from outward concern for us and His sense of mercy and justice. 

May we all have the proper understanding of God’s jealousy, nature, and love. And may this understanding move us even closer to our Heavenly Father.

Recommended book:

Is God a Moral Monster?: Making Sense of the Old Testament God book

This post is inspired by the book, “Is God a Moral Monster?” by Paul Copan.

In this book, you will discover how to explain difficult Bible verses clearly. From slavery to the killing of an entire nation, see why God is painted as a sadistic, murderous, and evil deity. Learn how to defend your faith and draw closer to your Creator.