Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you; do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. Deuteronomy 4: 23 – 24
Qanna – God is a jealous God. Jealousy is often perceived as a negative, even sinful, trait. However, in a context of a marriage covenant where a husband and wife have pledged themselves to each other and to no other, their desire is only for each other. They desire no other and want their partner to desire no other. The word qanna also means zeal and gives the connotation that the husband is zealous to keep his wife and will not lose her to another man. He will protect her and protect their covenant of marriage at all costs.
The Old Testament describes God as the husband of Israel:
For your Maker is your husband — the Lord Almighty is his name—the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; he is called the God of all the earth. Isaiah 54: 5
The New Testament refers to the church as the bride of Christ:
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish…This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. Ephesians 5: 25 – 27, 32
Listen to Paul’s godly jealousy of the church at Corinth when they were led astray from Christ:
I hope you will put up with me in a little foolishness. Yes, please put up with me! I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him. But I am afraid that just as Eve was deceived by the serpent’s cunning, your minds may somehow be led astray from your sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Corinthians 11: 1 – 3
This sincere and pure devotion to him is what God is jealous for. He woos us, he calls us, he disciplines us, he comes down and dies for us, that we might be solely his.
He loves and cares for his people enough to be jealous of them when they run after anything that would lead them away from himself, whether it be other gods, materialism, sinful passions, or good activities that take up all our time leaving no time for him. He wants us, our time and our attention. He’s jealous to have it all, and he has every right to have it all. We belong to him, but not merely as an object, rather as his betrothed waiting for the marriage to be consummated.
He is not only jealous for his people, but ultimately for his glory. If his people dishonour him by not living according to his ways and character, then his glory is dishonoured, his name is dragged through the dirt.
Do you have that sincere and pure devotion to him that brings glory to his wonderful name? El Qanna – the jealous God whose name is Jealous – would have it no other way!