|Brothers and Sisters, (Exodus 20:3-6) Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments. “Why is God a jealous God?” It is important to understand how God is using the word “jealous” in our text. In Exodus 20:5, it is used differently from how it is used to describe the sin of jealousy. When we use the word “jealous,” we use it in the sense of being envious of someone who has something we do not have. A person might be jealous or envious of another person because he or she has a nice car or a nice home. Or a person might be jealous or envious of another person because of some ability or skill that other person has such as their athletic ability or their musical talent. Another example would be that one person might be jealous or envious of another person because of his or her good looks.
In Exodus 20:5, it is not that God is jealous or envious because someone has something He wants or desires. Notice that God is jealous when someone gives to another something that rightly belongs to Him. As God begins to give Moses the 10 Commandments, the first four commandments deal with man’s relationship to God. Since God is the creator of man, it is only fitting that man should have no other Gods before the one who created him. In these verses, God is speaking of people making idols and bowing down and worshiping those idols instead of giving God the worship that belongs to Him and Him alone. God refuses to share his worship with anyone or anything else. It is a sin (as God points out in this commandment) to worship or serve anything other than God. It is a sin when we desire, or we are envious, or we become jealous of someone because he or she has something that we do not have. But it is a different use of the word “jealous” when God says He is jealous. What He is jealous of already belongs to Him. He alone and none other is to be worshipped.
If a husband sees another man flirting with his wife, he has a right to be jealous. This type of jealousy is not sinful. Rather, it is entirely appropriate. Being jealous for something that God declares to belong to you is good and appropriate. I’m not suggesting that husbands own their wives in the same sense as owning a piece of property, but our wives are a precious possession given to us by God and as such the husband is to love, protect and cherish his wife. The same is true if a woman sees another woman flirting with her husband. She has every right to be jealous because He belongs to her and her alone. We make a vow to each other when we enter into holy matrimony when we promise to keep ourselves only unto our spouse for as long as we both shall live. Jealousy becomes a sin when it is a desire for something that does not belong to you. Worship, praise, honor, and adoration belong to God alone, for only He is truly worthy of it. Therefore, God is right to be jealous when our worship, praise, honor, or adoration is given to idols. So, let’s tear down the idols of worldliness, materialism, sports, hobbies, pleasure seeking, etc. that have taken so much of our attention and give our worship only unto God for He is the only one who deserves our worship, praise, honor and adoration.