Jealousy is an undesirable, negative emotion, which is fueled by anger or selfishness. According to James 3:16, “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing.” From today’s passage, however, we see that there is a different perspective on the word when it’s applied to God: “For I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God” (Deut. 5:9).
This seems like a contradiction, but jealousy has a second, more positive meaning, which has almost been lost in our modern culture. It describes God’s vigilance in guarding our love for Him. Since we were created to love and worship Him, anything that competes for our devotion is a just cause for His jealousy.
The most important commandment is to love God with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luke 10:27). Without this complete devotion to Him, we will pursue our own interests and neglect godly principles and goals. No idol—whether a person, dream, pursuit, or possession—is worthy of worship. But a holy and just God, whose deep love for mankind moved Him to send His Son Jesus Christ to die in our place, deserves and demands our total love and loyalty.
God hates idols of every kind because He knows anything that draws our attention away from Him is dangerous. In fact, focusing only partially on the Lord is a sure way to stumble, get wrapped up in sin, and miss His blessings. For both our protection and His glory, the heavenly Father calls us to be true to Him by living in an obedient, loving, and worshipful manner.
Bible in One Year: Numbers 17-19