“It is zeal for your house that has consumed me;
The insults of those who insult you have fallen on me.”
~Psalm 69:9 (NRSV).
We find it irrepressibly unconscionable that the Lord would be zealous, or worse ‘jealous,’ for his creation.
But, it is a fact.
Our imaginations are stretched at this, but as J. I. Packer puts it, God’s jealousy is a biblical fact—as John Calvin put it, it’s on “public record” no less.
We invest far too much of our own hearts into the being of God, anthropomorphically, as we’re apt in doing—merely following the Bible’s lead. And, still, we forget that God’s jealously is little like ours. For starters, our jealousy is so very often fuelled in vice—such a motive is impossibly inconceivable to God’s character and nature.
God’s Burning Jealousy
Yet, we can grasp this righteous and unapologetic jealousy of God—in fact, it’s very easy.
Think for a moment about the sanctity of marriage.
Would we be so comfortable if another man or woman walked into our homes and immediately set to engage sexually with our spouses—them both approving—and that, in full view of us? Any person who would stand ‘solemnly’ by, simply accepting this, would be patently immoral, “lacking in moral perception.”
This jealousy is an indignant variety of defence over the dominions that God has placed us in charge of. He expects us to fight for them.
Lessons from Hosea
Think back to Hosea, the 8th Century B.C.E. prophet to
She, in her infidelity, was merely a defining chimera and tiny human-shaped replica for the nation, and later and more broadly, to the nature of unfaithful humanity throughout the ages; a penchant for rejecting its God.
And God is to stand by and not care, like the husband who has had his wife taken into ravenous extramarital sexual haste? Hardly! That concept is laughable. We can begin to see now the zeal that God has for each person, to the very last one.
It’s the same for us. We’re the Bride of Christ—betrothed as we are to this Saviour, the One who swooned us into his grand bosom.
We have a difficult mission to imbue grace in our endeavours whilst steadfastly mirroring the zeal for God’s house which must consume us.
It is nonetheless a necessary balance we must strike in resisting the smallest ambivalence. A leaf out of Paul’s book is appropriate at this poignant juncture:
“Paul was a zealous man, single-minded and at full stretch for his Lord.”
We must also be so single-minded, focused and at full stretch for this Jesus of God.
© 2010 S. J. Wickham.