The name of God El Kanna—Jealous—might seem negative, since usually we think of jealousy as bad. Jealousy can also mean green with envy or lust: when we don’t have something someone else has so we covet it. Ever had a jealous boyfriend or jealous mother? Sometimes possessive jealousy can bring on fierce damage, especially in relationships gone bad. But that is not God’s kind of jealousy. God rescued His chosen people from bondage and slavery.
The first commandment, found in Exodus 5:6–7, reads: “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” The commandment was given to the children of Israel for their good to give them guidelines for living. God understood their desire for worship; held in captivity in Egypt, they’d become familiar and even intrigued with other gods. Some Israelites worshipped foreign man-made pagan gods, providing opportunity for the Living God to give instructions for right living via The Ten Commandments in Exodus 5:6–21.
At first, the Israelites followed the Ten Commandments and obediently worshipped God whole-heartedly. With enthusiasm, they built the tabernacle, ordained priests, offered sacrifices, and burned incense, yet their love for God drained and their focus waned. Moses was summoned to Mt. Sinai, to meet with God, to receive the Ten Commandments written by God on stone tablets. Now the people impatiently waited for Moses to come down the mountain, complained and groaned about their lot, and took matters into their own hands. Exodus 32:1 says, “Come, make us gods who will go before us.” Aaron gave orders to begin making a golden calf for the people to worship.
The Lord warned Moses what he was going to find when he returned from Mt. Sinai. Yet in Exodus 34:11, Moses sought God’s favor and pleaded with Him to have mercy, “O Lord, why should your anger burn against your people, whom you brought out of Egypt with great power and a mighty hand?” God heard Moses’ pleas and sent his mercy. God didn’t change his mind, but God changed his behavior in a way that was consistent with his nature. Because of His love, God’s mercy was unleashed.
Because of mercy, God’s anger was withheld, yet Moses’ wrath was released as he smashed the tablets. Then he burned the golden calf, ground it into powder, scattered it onto water, and made the Israelites drink it. A second time, the Lord asked Moses to join him at Mt. Sinai to receive two new stone tablets. It was there Moses petitioned the Lord, in Exodus 34:8, which says, “O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes, then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin and take us as your inheritance.”
The Lord knew then, as He knows today, that other gods will compete for our hearts. He is fully aware of the wiles of the enemy who wants to exploit that unquenchable longing for more. “Then the Lord said, I am making a covenant with you. Before all you people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. ‘ Ex. 34:10, 14 “Do not worship any other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.”
The word jealous makes us think of words like envy, resentment, or rivalry. But it also means vigilantly guarding something, intolerant of unfaithfulness, or righteous zeal. The name El-Kanna expresses God’s desire to be first in our hearts and lives. He desires for us to vigilantly guard our relationship with Him and to remain faithful to Him as He zealously pursues us. El-Kanna alone is worthy of all our devotion and praise. He wants to be number one. He is jealous for us because He made us, loves us, and wants us for His own.
I had the privilege to attend Beth Moore’s world-wide “Audacious” simulcast along with 150,000 other women! Beth taught about “Six Mighty Makers” to help us grow closer to God. Mighty Maker number one is, “The audacity to make an unseen Savior the supreme romance of your life.” That’s what loving a jealous God is all about because God’s jealousy is more about us than about Him. You and I are on His mind all the time. He made you for the express purpose of sweet fellowship with Him. God doesn’t want to share you with any other god. He is not willing to make a threesome of it. Do you know any wife willing to share her husband with another woman? Are you aware of a husband who would be OK with his wife running off on a Hawaiian vacation with another guy? Yep, that’s our God. He is jealous for us. He wants us all to Himself. And I like it that way.
“Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm; for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.” —Song of Songs 8:6
Heavenly Father, thank you for your grace, mercy, and compassion for us. We love you, El Kanna, our Jealous God. Thank you for being mindful of us. Help us keep you on our minds all the time. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength,” says Deuteronomy 6:5. Thank you for drawing us to you, even when we become distracted by other things or people and we give them more of our attention than we give you. Thank you for your love and strength. In Jesus’ name, amen.