Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Praying to Jealous

God's name is Jealous.  There aren't many adjectives that are capitalized and made into a proper noun so that they can be made into a name for God.  But in Exodus 34:14, God declares His name to be "Jealous" -- "for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." That sounds negative to our modern ears, but it's actually a strong indication of God's love. God's jealousy is directed toward us when we're unfaithful because He loves us and longs for us to return and find our complete satisfaction in Him.

And of course, the unfaithfulness spoken of in the context of Exodus 34:14 is that of idolatry, the most frequently mentioned sin in the Bible. And so as I read that verse, I feel compelled to pause and to wonder what the idolatry is in my life. I don't even wonder if there's idolatry, but simply what it might be -- how it's manifesting in my life. I guess I take for granted that something we're so frequently warned about in the Bible must be something that's likely to show up in my life more than infrequently. And when God declares His name to be Jealous, it gets my attention, letting me know that dealing with idols ought to be a priority any time I approach Him. This is not something to deal with occasionally, but something to prayerfully consider everyday.

For example, because the God I approach in prayer is actually named Jealous, (though we're graciously invited to call Him Daddy and Father as we approach Him (Romans 8:15; Matthew 6:9)), I feel as though I ought to be serious about making sure there are no hidden idols in my heart as I pray. And as I consider that, I wonder what sort of idols may crop up in my life now and then. Perhaps ministry has been one -- or rather, success in ministry. Or perhaps affirmation from other people around me -- even on Facebook -- is another! I'm also aware that my wife Fiona's healing has even been an idol to me at times. An idol is anything that so competes with God for my affections that my mood is soured if I don't get it, and so competes with God for my attention so that I'm prepared to give up time with God to seek it.

Such a definition can illuminate a fair bit of idolatry in most people's lives, and if one of God's names really is Jealous, I'd rather not carelessly enter His presence with such everyday idols stashed away somewhere in my heart. The good news though, is that God's name is also Daddy, and He's very happy to help us topple any idols so that He can be our all-sufficient, ever-increasing joy!

© 2010 by Ken Peters


Andrew Mick said...

thanks Ken, this reminds me of when I ask my kids to do something and they take their time or ignore me or don't get that I'm wanting them to do it now. And all those feelings of frustration I have, I realize God has in holy, uncontaminated form toward me for every time I drag my heels, or play with another toy for just a few minutes more. It's not that He's "mad at me," far from it, it's that He doesn't want me to waste my time with the lesser pleasures of my own silly distractions, because He offers me the greater pleasures (greatest, actually) of Himself. It is the best jealousy ever. I suppose Jealously is Love's first name.

Ken said...

Andrew -- that last sentence you wrote is a great way to put it!
Thanks for that.