Just Jealous?



SCRIPTURE READING                 Genesis 3:1-19            The First Sin and Its Punishment

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other wild animal that the Lord God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God say, ‘You shall not eat from any tree in the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden; but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the middle of the garden, nor shall you touch it, or you shall die.’” But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not die; for God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, who was with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made loincloths for themselves.

They heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?” He said, “I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.” He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.” Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this that you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent tricked me, and I ate.”

The Lord God said to the serpent,

“Because you have done this, cursed are you among all animals   and among all wild creatures; upon your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike your head, and you will strike his heel.”

To the woman he said,

“I will greatly increase your pangs in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children, yet your desire shall be for your husband, and he shall rule over you.”

And to the man he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

SCRIPTURE READING     Romans 11:11-15                                The Salvation of the Gentiles

So I ask, have they stumbled so as to fall? By no means! But through their stumbling salvation has come to the Gentiles, so as to make Israel jealous. Now if their stumbling means riches for the world, and if their defeat means riches for Gentiles, how much more will their full inclusion mean!

Now I am speaking to you Gentiles. Inasmuch then as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I glorify my ministry in order to make my own people jealous, and thus save some of them. For if their rejection is the reconciliation of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead!

THE MESSAGE                                “Just Jealous?”

When we think of jealousy, we get drawn to the negative, over reaching even controlling emotion. Yet, Scripture identifies God as a jealous God in Exodus and in Romans, the Apostle describes the engrafting of Gentiles will result in Israel being jealous. In both cases the jealous response brings people into a saving relationship with the Lord, our God.

In an article from Psychology Today on line entitled, “Understanding Jealousy” helps us to realize the two sides of jealousy:

“Jealousy is a complex emotion that encompasses many different kinds of feelings ranging from fear of abandonment to rage and humiliation. Jealousy can strike both men and women when a third-party threat to a valued relationship is perceived, it can be a problem among siblings competing for parental attention, or envy after a more successful friend. Conventional wisdom holds that jealousy is a necessary emotion because it preserves social bonds, but jealously usually does more harm than good, creating relationship conflict and strife.”                  https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/jealousy

Let’s explore the complexity of our relationship with a jealous God. The Lord desires to be in a relationship with us and wants to protect us from any threat from a third-party, mainly Satan who wants to destroy our valued relationships. God does not want our eyes drawn to things that entice us away from our worship. The Lord wants to be the main focus of our affections that compete for our attentions. Our Creator wants our undivided devotion. Almighty God does not want to share us with any outside force or false deity.

The Lord established this special relationship from the beginning of time. In the Garden, God asked Adam and Eve to trust a few simple instructions. God expected obedience and promised eternal life. Satan came in the form of the serpent to challenge God’s position. The serpent tempted Eve who tempted Adam to disobey God. A simple lie to bring a wedge in this loving relationship. The serpent became a third party threat separating people from God’s love. Satan divided and conquered humanity by twisting God’s Word and short circuiting our obedience. The serpent planted seeds of distrust and discord.

In the cycle of faith, God’s love remained constant. The Lord did not force Adam and Eve to be obedient. Even a Jealous God allows us to make mistakes through disobedient choices. We possess free will. We must learn to trust the Lord, our God for ourselves. No one can force us to be obedient and faithful. We must experience God’s grace and forgiveness for ourselves and learn to walk with the Lord.

Later the story of Israel, God choose a special people for this special relationship. The Lord tried again to form a special valued relationship with a distinct group of people. These Chosen People lived into this relationship. They were guided on a wilderness journey and formed into a worshipping community through the Ten Commandments. God explained the guidelines for this promise of favor. The Lord delineated the expectation to have no other (g) gods before this Jealous God. God was not going to share his affection with those who did not love Him.

For a time, this worked. Well, a short time God’s people lived by faith. But the lure of many distractions made its way into the community. God raised up leaders, like King David to unify this Chosen People and nurture their unique relationship. This internal and external plan worked again for a time, until Satan distracted God’s people from their primary focus. Their relationship with their Creator.

Into this mess, prophets came to call God’s people back into a faithful relationship trusting in God’s guidance and love. Eventually, God came to earth in the person of Jesus to again restore this relationship between God and humanity. Some heard the call and followed a new course of walking with Jesus and nurturing their faith in God’s eternal promises. The left behind their nets and wayward actions to love the Lord with their whole being.

The Apostle Paul explains to the Christians in Rome that the failure of many Israelites to recapture their distinct relationship with God created the opportunity for Gentiles, like us, to be engrafted into the Kingdom of God. This disciplinary action, like caring correction, was intended to bring God’s people to become jealous of this relationship and return to the fold. The Lord wants to include all who willingly trust the eternal promises of God.

Jesus came to seek and save the lost. Jesus expresses righteous jealous anger at those who should talk about faith, yet fail to walk the faith. God is not jealous for no reason. When we allow anything to distract our life from Christ, we move away from our most valued relationship with our Savior. When we accept Jesus as Lord and learn to live in obedience and trust, God will bless us with an extraordinary gift. Our life on earth will know peace and we live with a promise of eternal peace. We may not be perfect in our obedience, but we can grow more like Christ each day.

Let us not give the Lord any reason to be jealous. I pray that in all things and at all times, we will trust the Lord and offer our best attempts at faithful obedience. TGBTG. Amen.

  January 2018  
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