Emulation is to unlawfully desire to envy and covet. In particular, emulation is a desire to become like persons of note.
1611 Bible Definition of emulation. 1 obsolete : ambitious or envious rivalry. 2 : ambition or endeavor to equal or excel others (as in achievement) 3 : imitation.
Emulation is very close to jealousy; but jealousy is more of a resentment of the success of others and a bitterness or hatred, or a desire to exact revenge; while emulation is a desire to be like or excel the person by any means including unlawful means; and in the Ekklesia, usually involves desiring to take over the chief seat to be like others receiving adulation from the brethren.
The sin of emulation is rampant in today’s COG Groups and is a root cause of much organizational division. It is an expansion of the spirit and intent of the commandment:
Exodus 20:17 Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
There is a meaning of covet which is to lawfully desire; but the most often used form of covet is to unlawfully desire for ourselves what belongs to others, or to seek to obtain by unlawful means the chief seat and the preeminence over others.
While many grasp and claw their way to the top, David was an example of earning his way through faithfulness to God and patiently waiting on God to exalt him.
In very many things there is a lawful side and an unlawful side. For example alcohol in moderation is lawful, but excessive use is not lawful. Sex is lawful within the sanctity of marriage and not lawful outside marriage.
Emulation means to be jealous of others and unlawfully desire and seek to acquire by any means [even unlawful means] what they have; in particular those intangible things of status, position or authority.
In this, many have even been jealous of God, desiring to be some great person in the eyes of the people; even trying to set themselves up as coming between the people and God.
Luke 14:7 And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them.
Jesus here uses a wedding as his instructional point, when he could have used the word feast. I am sure that he had his own wedding feast and the conduct of his own disciples in mind. Teaching that we must not strive for the chief seats, but serve in honest zeal and humility, and wait for God to reward us according to our works; whether they be good or bad by the word of God.
14:8 When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him;
Better to start low and be exalted by God; then to exalt ourselves and be abased by God.
14:9 And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room. 14:10 But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.
I suggest a Bible word study on the word “Covet” and its physical and spiritual meaning as well as exalting the self. You will see that this quickly moves into the area of pride and its opposite: Humility.
Works of the Flesh: Emulations (Coveting)
John the Baptist’s Godly Response to Jesus’ Growing Ministry
In the third chapter of the Gospel of John, we read that John the Baptist was baptizing in Aenon near Salim some time after he had baptized Jesus; and at that same time Jesus also was baptizing people in Judea. Some of John Baptist’s disciples came to John and reported that Jesus was in Judea baptizing and that much more people were coming to Him to be baptized, inferring that Jesus was doing a much bigger work now than John was. But John saw the bigger picture and refused to feel slighted or jealous because Christ was baptizing more than he was. (John 3:22-31)
The apostle John, the author of the Gospel of John clarifies this (John 4:1) by saying that Jesus Himself did not baptize, but His disciples were performing the actual baptisms. So the disciples of John and the disciples of Jesus were both baptizing people at the same time in different locations, but this caused a certain question to arise amongst the followers about who was doing the most in their ministries.
Because John’s disciples were loyal to him as their rabbi/teacher, they were concerned that someone that John had previously baptized, was doing a greater work than he and that this Jesus could very well be in competition with him, even greatly exceeding John’s ministry. In their reporting they even exaggerated the situation by saying “all are coming to Him” insinuating that all the people were running to Jesus rather than to John. It seems that they were taken up with concerns that John was losing disciples to another teacher. It appears that they had missed, or had forgotten, the foretold role of John the Baptist; to be a forerunner of Jesus Christ, not to compete with Him once Jesus began His ministry.
John told them that “a man can receive nothing except it be given him from heaven”, meaning that any ministry or gifts that a person receives actually come from God, not from himself. It is God who is in control of what happens in each individual’s life. If we understand that it is God that gives to us our portion and what we are to do, then it doesn’t matter how great or how little our works are; as long as we are doing the best we can and are being faithful to what has been given to us to manage. If we are faithful in little, that counts as much as being faithful in much; but it is the faithfulness that is important.
If we stay faithful to our responsibilities even if they are small in comparison to others, God will eventually give us much more to be stewards of in the future according to our abilities and the diligence we showed in our lifetimes. It may not even be until we are assigned our place in God’s Kingdom, but even then it is all up to God.
John the Baptist compared himself as being like the friend of a bridegroom; who had been given the job of making all of the arrangements and to manage all the details in preparing for the wedding feast. But when all the arrangements are in order and the bridegroom comes, then he (John) must step back out of the way and let the Bridegroom take the limelight. His joy is that he did his part well to prepare for the Bridegroom. He was content to let Jesus have the preeminence now and rejoice that the preparations were progressing as planned and to be glad for the Bridegroom.
John further elaborated that he was not interested in being on the same par with Christ, and that his job was to only go before Him to get the people ready for Christ’s appearing. He could rejoice that what he had been given to do was being accomplished and that he had witnessed the fulfillment of what his whole ministry had been about; foretold to him from his infancy. John told his disciples that he now needed to start fading from the scene and let Christ become the prominent teacher and Rabbi and be allowed to fulfill His divine mission on earth. “He must increase, but I must decrease”. John the Baptist, even when baited by his own disciples to become jealous of Jesus’ growing work, stayed a humble and gracious man.
John was content with his role in life knowing that he had been appointed to be the “voice in the wilderness” before Jesus’ appearing, and that he had been given the privilege of becoming Jesus’ friend. John the Baptist had the honor of being used by God to be the predicted herald of the first coming of the Messiah and preparing the way for Him. The coming of Jesus to fulfill prophecy was the greatest event taking place at that time in the history of mankind and John had been chosen to be a prophet of that prophecy, yet he remained humble. (Luke 1:76-80)
John 3:22 After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized. 3:23 And John also was baptizing in Aenon near to Salim, because there was much water there: and they came, and were baptized. 3:24 For John was not yet cast into prison. 3:25 Then there arose a question between some of John’s disciples and the Jews about purifying. 3:26 And they came unto John, and said unto him, Rabbi, he that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him.
3:27 John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven. 3:28 Ye yourselves bear me witness, that I said, I am not the Christ, but that I am sent before him. John 3:29 He that hath the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, which standeth and heareth him, rejoiceth greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice: this my joy therefore is fulfilled. 3:30 He must increase, but I must decrease. 3:31 He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.
What Does it Mean to Manifest Emulations – A Work of the Flesh?
This week we are looking at “emulations” a work of the flesh from Paul’s list in Galatians 5:19-21.
Galatians 5:19 Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, 5:20 Idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, 5:21 Envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like: of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God.
The definition of emulation is to be jealous and to envy others. The Greek word for emulations is zelos (Strong’s #2205) and means (a) eagerness, zeal, enthusiasm, (b) jealousy, rivalry, ardor, malice. (Strong’s Concordance)
This word can also mean to be zealous and to be full of enthusiasm as with spirit fueled zeal to serve God. The root zē (-zeal) can be used both negatively (“jealousy”) and positively (“zeal”) depending on the context.
The Hebrew word for envy, jealousy, zeal is qinah from qana (Strong’s #7068) and means jealousy or envy — envy(-ied), jealousy, X sake, zeal. qinah: ardor, zeal, jealousy. (Strong’s Concordance)
1611 Bible Definition of emulation. 1 obsolete : ambitious or envious rivalry. 2 : ambition or endeavor to equal or excel others (as in achievement) 3 : imitation.
Emulation is very close to jealousy; but jealousy is more of a desire to exact revenge, while emulation is a desire to be like the person by any means including unlawful means and in the Ekklesia usually involves desiring to take over the chief seat to be like others receiving adulation from the brethren.
Emulation is very similar to carnal jealousy and we know that worldly jealousy is having a resentful desire for someone else’s possessions, or advantages, or position in life. It means to covet or envy what someone else has; to envy their gifts/talents, or what another person has been given to do.
The resentment of carnal jealousy is missing from emulation, which is a desire to have – by any means – without the thought of resentment or revenge and is more of a coveting of position.
Examples For the People of God and What We Can Learn From Lessons Recorded in History
What do all of these examples of people in the Bible and how they handled their jealousy mean for God’s children today? All these accounts are given to us as examples to glean the lessons they teach and to learn from them. The apostle Paul addresses this and tells us not to follow in the ways of carnal men who failed to obey and failed to remain faithful to God.
1 Corinthians 10:11 Now all these things happened unto them for examples: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come. 10:12 Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall. 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.
God wants us to study these lessons and heed what He has to say about learning how to master these types of spiritually destructive behaviors that put us on the path to destruction. But He is also reassuring us that all of these temptations, which are common to all humans (of which jealousy is also one of them), can be overcome with His help. He will provide a way of escape and a way to overcome if we will only run to Him when we recognize these behaviors and attitudes within ourselves. He then says to FLEE from idolatry. And “emulation” is a type of idolatry because it is putting oneself above everything else, including God. The apostle Paul concludes this passage of Scripture warning us also to flee from these things, “Wherefore, my dearly beloved, flee from idolatry.” (1 Corinthians 10:14)
As we experience jealousy and emulation being played out in ourselves and in the lives of others; we can see that it is a very ugly character trait and it begins to work in humans from the time we are infants. Jealousy and emulation are everywhere.
How can we get control over these tendencies and instead just appreciate who we are and what we have? Even though the whole world around us is steeped in the throes of envy, jealousy andemulation, we as God’s children must learn to exhibit a better way (God’s Way). God expects us to be lights to the rest of this dark world in which we live rather than to be conformed to it.
Romans 12:1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
Here, in the following verse, Peter describes fleshly lusts [the evil desires and passions of the flesh,] as being at war against the nature of God within us and that is exactly what it feels like sometimes, a type of war going on between what we carnally want to do and what we know we should be doing. Peter tells us that if we overcome and abstain from these negative emotions, we then can be examples for others who will see our “good works”; and the works will contradict the evil things they had to say about us.
1 Peter 2:9 But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light; 2:10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy. 2:11 Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; 2:12 Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.
And Paul further describes this concept and how we need to be constantly vigilant in seeking to overcome the pulls of the flesh. This is talking about all of the works of the flesh, but just as we have been studying, we come to see that the fleshly works are all intermingled and work either in tandem with one another, or with one leading up to produce the others; i.e. jealousy leads to anger, anger to hatred, hatred to murder; etc. So in essence, this series of studies about conquering all of these works of the flesh are lumped together in a package that these verses call sin and evil. Paul tells us to recognize these powerful emotions when we do war with them and then seek our help through our Lord and Savior who promises to help us to get the victory over them.
Romans 7:14 For we know that the law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin. 7:15 For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. 7:16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. 7:17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. 7:18 For I know that in me [that is, in my flesh,] dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.[I have the intention and urge to do what is right, but no power to carry it out.] 7:19 For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. 7:20 Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. [fixed and operating in my soul].
7:21 I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. [rule of action of my being] 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: 7:23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. [in the sensitive appetites and wills of the flesh]. 7:24 O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this [the shackles of] death? 7:25 I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.
Feelings of jealousy and emulation may be humanly unavoidable, but ultimately we are responsible for how we deal with this emotion; and here Paul tells us to overcome by taking into pourselves the mind of Christ. How do we do that? By seeking Him daily, putting Him first, imbibing of His Holy Spirit by studying and memorizing His Word and then meditating on it day and night and applying it to our lives.
King David wrote of the objects of his meditation, which were: God’s Word, God’s laws, precepts, statutes, commandments, and judgments. David then internalized and incorporated these laws and statutes into his own nature and applied them to his life, letting God’s Word become the very core and basis of his spiritual being, who he was, and who he was becoming. If we will incorporate these same habits we will find it easier and easier to have the victory over the carnal nature of jealously, and as we become more and more secure in our relationship with our Lord.
Psalm 119:15 I will meditate in thy precepts, and have respect unto thy ways.
Psalm 1:2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
As often as we can, we must take time out during the day to study and meditate as we sit quietly, or maybe while taking a walk, or while having our prayer and study time. We also can train ourselves to always be meditating no matter what we are doing, as we go about our daily activities, thinking about spiritual things, asking ourselves if this is something Jesus would want me to be feeling about a certain situation? Or how would He handle this difficulty that I’m having? And then filter everything that enters our mind through the grid of the Word of God with all of its precepts and commandments. Singing or listening to psalms and spiritual songs are a way of meditating, as well, as we go about our day.
Psalm 119:147 I prevented [rose before the dawn] the dawning of the morning, and cried: I hoped in thy word. 148 Mine eyes prevent the night watches, that I might meditate in thy word.
When we feel that we are up against a struggle we can draw close to God by fasting and through intense heart wrenching prayer, just as David says he had to do to overcome his evil inclinations.
Psalm 51:10 Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.
James 4:7 Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. 4:8 Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded. 4:9 Be afflicted, and mourn, and weep: let your laughter be turned to mourning, and your joy to heaviness. 4:10 Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.
Jealousy can sometimes be a type of fear for we can become overly jealous when our love for someone feels like it is being threatened and that maybe we are losing that person if he or she is paying more attention to others than he or she is giving to us. We are to overcome this type also with godly love that casts out all fear.
Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
1 John 4:18 There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.
Who is the Greatest?
The concept of being content in the role that they had been called to (that John the Baptist expressed so eloquently), had not yet been learned by the disciples at this point in time. They constantly bickered and questioned as to who was to be the greatest amongst them.
Mark 9:33 And he came to Capernaum: and being in the house he asked them, What was it that ye disputed among yourselves by the way? 9:34 But they held their peace: for by the way they had disputed among themselves, who should be the greatest. 9:35 And he sat down, and called the twelve, and saith unto them, If any man desire to be first, the same shall be last of all, and servant of all. 9:36 And he took a child, and set him in the midst of them: and when he had taken him in his arms, he said unto them, 9:37 Whosoever shall receive one of such children in my name, receiveth me: and whosoever shall receive me, receiveth not me, but him that sent me.
Jesus told them that they were to become servants to each other even to the least, as He displayed to them a little child, rather than always seeking the chief seats.
Apparently they still had not understood about envying as they brought to Jesus’ attention one that was doing the works of God but who was not a member of their own small group. Jesus is saying we are not to be envious of each other over the work or the ministry that we each are doing in His name.
Mark 9:38 And John answered him, saying, Master, we saw one casting out devils in thy name, and he followeth not us: and we forbad him, because he followeth not us. 9:39 But Jesus said, Forbid him not: for there is no man which shall do a miracle in my name, that can lightly speak evil of me. 9:40 For he that is not against us is on our part. 9:41 For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
In Matthew 18, there is another passage that illustrates the true childlike attitude we should have as Christians; and that we need to accept those who are deemed the least (such as little children).
Matthew 18:1 At the same time came the disciples unto Jesus, saying, Who is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven? 18:2 And Jesus called a little child unto him, and set him in the midst of them, 18:3 And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 18:4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 18:5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me.
James in his letter, describes to us the ways we are not to emulate, which are the opposite of what it is like to be innocent of these things like little children.
James 3:14 But if ye have bitter envying and strife in your hearts, glory not, and lie not against the truth. 3:15 This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish. 3:16 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work. 3:17 But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be intreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. 3:18 And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make peace.
Paul says that if we do express these things we are still carnal and need to repent of the works that are causing these things.
1 Corinthians 3:33 For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?
One of the most important things we must be good stewards over, is the emotions that God has provided us with. Solomon exhorts us to have rule over our emotions just as God told Cain. We are to GUARD what comes into our heart and put away anything that is not godly; including the lusts of the flesh.
Proverbs 25:28 Whoever has no rule over his own spirit is like a city broken down, without walls.
Proverbs 4:20 My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. 4:21 Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. 4:22 For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. 4:23 Keep [GUARD] thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. 4:24 Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. 4:25 Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. 4:26 Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established.4:27 Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.
Our capacity to have feelings and emotions are priceless possessions, created and given to us by our Creator that we must protect, guard and control. We must never let our carnal nature, nor someone else control how we react; or to influence us to have strong emotions that are negative and destructive.
God expects us to use our emotions to glorify Him, to love, adore, to feel joy, to feel empathy for others, to have zealousness and enthusiasm for all the things that will motivate us to live for Him and to do His will. If we let our carnal nature rule our lives or let others have rule over us; tempting us in becoming jealous of others, or as to what we should be feeling, or how we should react to any given situation; we become like a city broken down without walls. This work of the flesh, if not controlled properly (sometimes without even meaning to), can cause us to self-destruct or to ruin our precious relationships and friendships by pushing them away with our feelings of jealousy toward them.
Being a follower of Jesus means we must put aside our own expectations and desires sometimes and accept the things that are part of our lives, not striving for the things that God in His wisdom has not granted to us yet. We must take up our cross daily by shedding the works of the flesh with includes this destructive emotion God calls jealousy. We must bring every thought and emotion to the control of God, letting Him be the master of how we react or manage our emotions toward others.
John the Baptist was an excellent example of the attitude we all should have in our view of others when God is prospering and blessing them in their sacrifice and work for Him. No wonder Jesus; when speaking of John the Baptist to the multitudes and explaining to them what kind of humble prophet he was, could say with confidence:
Matthew 11:11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist…..
34:10 And he said, Behold, I make a covenant: before all thy people I will do marvels, such as have not been done in all the earth, nor in any nation: and all the people among which thou art shall see the work of the Lord: for it is a terrible thing that I will do with thee.
34:11 Observe thou that which I command thee this day: behold, I drive out before thee the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Hittite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite.
34:12 Take heed to thyself, lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land whither thou goest, lest it be for a snare in the midst of thee:
34:13 But ye shall destroy their altars, break their images, and cut down their groves:
34:14 For thou shalt worship no other god: for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God:
34:15 Lest thou make a covenant with the inhabitants of the land, and they go a whoring after their gods, and do sacrifice unto their gods, and one call thee, and thou eat of his sacrifice;
34:16 And thou take of their daughters unto thy sons, and their daughters go a whoring after their gods, and make thy sons go a whoring after their gods.
34:17 Thou shalt make thee no molten gods.
Exodus 34:10-17 Commentary
A Jealous God
What does it mean that God is a jealous God when we just studied that jealousy is a work of the flesh? When we read these other verses that tell us that God is a jealous God, it may seem very confusing. We just defined jealousy as having a resentful desire for someone else’s advantages or position in life and also to covet or envy what someone else has.
So how can this be describing God as a God of jealousy as we read in verse 14 and that even one of His names is “Jealous?” And how can God be a loving God and be jealous at the same time?
The context used in this passage shows us that the word jealous is a different kind of jealousy which describes God’s love for his [people his bride and not a work of the flesh. In Exodus 20, the second commandment also describes God as being a jealous God.
“Thou shalt not make up for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shalt not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.” (Exodus 20:4-6)
God says that He will not tolerate one of His children to worship or bow down to a god other than Himself. The Hebrew word for jealous in this verse is qinah (Strong’s #7068) and means: ardor, zeal, jealousy. God is zealous for all His people, he loves them and does not want them to go astray into ways that will bring decay and death to them.
When God gave this commandment to the children of Israel, they were at that time living in the midst of nations that worshiped many gods. These people had religions that depicted fertility gods that were many and were personified deities of nature. This was Baal worship in the Old Testament, but we too in our modern day have many gods that are worshiped other than the true God.
The Canaanites that lived in the nations that surrounded the nation of Israel would not worship just one god but would ADD a particular new god that they came to worship to their list of many nature gods. But the God of the Israelites was not just another god among many. He was and still is the only TRUE God; and only He is to be worshiped.
The Israelites were to acknowledge the LORD as the only Sovereign Creator God. The metaphor used to make this assertion was the allegory of God as a JEALOUS God who would not tolerate the love of his wife to be shared with any other [false] deities.
Since He is our Creator, Sustainer, Protector, Provider, Savior; He alone is worthy of our total worship. And since God made a covenant with the nation of Israel; it was actually a marriage covenant with her as a wife who pledged herself to be faithful to her Husband, who in turn promised to love and care for her.
Jealousy in carnal human beings is usually expressed in an evil manner, but it is not necessarily evil in every situation. Sometimes the term jealous can be used as to mean to be zealous over honorable things and can be a form of a virtuous jealousy; just as there can be righteous anger on occasions when the anger is used to drive away evil and to defend God’s name. But as with jealousy, usually anger is a very negative emotion when used to take out our frustrations on others, or when it is the motivating force that causes us to retaliate in a hurtful manner.
But there is such a thing as virtuous jealousy when it is not part of carnal human passions. We see the example of this when we read of the apostle Paul speaking to the Corinthian congregation who tells them very clearly that there is a godly jealousy when used in conjunction with keeping God’s people holy and chaste; untainted by holding to other strange gods and their false doctrines.
2 Corinthians 11:2 For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.
Paul as the overseer of their faith, had a godly concern for the believer’s holiness, and that the Father and His Son Jesus, would be the only ones to be adored and worshiped in their lives.
So like anger, jealousy is not evil in itself or it could never be imputed to God; or as an attribute that is inscribed into His name. His jealousy is a pure devotion to us, a protective passion to keep us faithful to Him alone, which is for our own well being.
We as parents can relate when we think of someone coming into our child’s life that we know would not be good for him and could even be harmful. We are jealous of any one that would attempt to become a part of our child’s life for the purpose of defiling him, or abusing him, or influencing him into becoming evil himself.
The love that God has for us is compared to a flame that cannot be quenched, therefore His jealousy is a very good character trait and we too can exemplify this kind of jealousy when it is used to guard our own love for Him in return, and to use it to help protect God’s other children; our sisters and brothers as well.
Song of Solomon 8:6 Set me as a seal upon thine heart, as a seal upon thine arm: for love is strong as death; jealousy is cruel as the grave: the coals thereof are coals of fire, which hath a most vehement flame. 8:7 Many waters cannot quench love, neither can the floods drown it: if a man would give all the substance of his house for love, it would utterly be contemned.
And because He does love us so vehemently, His jealousy provokes Him to wrath in defending His name when His people turn away from Him. He also exercises His wrath against those who would do evil against His faithful ones and says “that who ever touches them touches the apple of His eye”.
Nahum 1:2 God is jealous, and the Lord revengeth; the Lord revengeth, and is furious; the Lord will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies.
Isaiah 45:5 I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: I girded thee, though thou hast not known me:45:6 That they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me. I am the Lord, and there is none else.
Zechariah 2:8 For thus saith the Lord of hosts; After the glory hath he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: for he that toucheth you toucheth the apple of his eye.
God is a jealous God and it is because of His great love for us that He is jealous toward us. He is not willing that any should perish and He will do what it takes to make sure that as many as eventually want to be saved will be; and He will use His jealousy in the form of His wrath to bring His people to repentance. But He also says that those that do fear Him now and are serving Him with all of their hearts will be spared from His wrath.
Malachi 3:16 Then they that feared the Lord spake often one to another: and the Lord hearkened, and heard it, and a book of remembrance was written before him for them that feared the Lord, and that thought upon his name. 3:17 And they shall be mine, saith the Lord of hosts, in that day when I make up my jewels; and I will spare them, as a man spareth his own son that serveth him.
The kind of jealousy that God has is a very good kind of jealousy and it is also a comfort to us. He is our espoused husband and if He is jealous for us, then He will never let anyone do us harm. He says in:
Zechariah 1:14 So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion with a great jealousy. 1:15 And I am very sore displeased with the heathen that are at ease: for I was but a little displeased, and they helped forward the affliction. 1:16 Therefore thus saith the Lord; I am returned to Jerusalem with mercies: my house shall be built in it, saith the Lord of hosts, and a line shall be stretched forth upon Jerusalem.
We can depend on Christ as a wife depends on her husband to protect and to defend her honor, and to keep her out of the clutches of the evil one; if we are truly faithful and return the same kind of jealousy for our love and devotion for Him as well. When we know this, we will fear to go astray in any manner and will do all in our power to stay close to Him; being so very careful to follow Him withersoever He goes, and to keep ourselves free from idols of any kind. When others ask us for the reason of the hope we have and why we strive so hard to obey God in all things, we can tell them it’s because we serve a jealous God that loves us with all of His heart.
1 Peter 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:
Hebrews 12:25 See that ye refuse not him that speaketh. For if they escaped not who refused him that spake on earth, much more shall not we escape, if we turn away from him that speaketh from heaven: 12:26 Whose voice then shook the earth: but now he hath promised, saying, Yet once more I shake not the earth only, but also heaven. 12:27 And this word, Yet once more, signifieth the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that are made, that those things which cannot be shaken may remain. 12:28 Wherefore we receiving a kingdom which cannot be moved, let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear: 12:29 For our God is a consuming fire.
James Malm and Constance Belanger
Note- Constance submitted the original rough draft of this article in 2016, which I then completed for posting.
For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased;
and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.