What do you think of when you think of God being “jealous”? What motivates the heart of God to be jealous? 

When I think of God’s jealousy, I sometimes think of Him being angry, like a husband being angry about his wife’s infidelity. And I think God’s righteous anger does come into play. But is His jealous anger because He’s having a temper tantrum because someone did Him wrong and “no one is gonna treat me like that!”?

I found out it’s not like that. 

I’m studying Zechariah and I found a wonderful reference to God’s jealousy in chapter 1, verse 14: “So the angel who was speaking with me said to me, ‘Proclaim, saying, “Thus says the Lord of hosts, ‘I am exceedingly jealous for Jerusalem and Zion.'”‘” (NASB).

The context is that Zechariah is experiencing God’s vision of a man riding on a red horse among myrtle trees (1:8-17). In verse 12, an angel of the Lord who most commentators believe is Jesus, asks God the Father, “O Lord of hosts, how long will You have no compassion for Jerusalem and the cities of Judah, with which You have been indignant these seventy years?”

First of all, we see here Jesus’s intercession before God the Father. And we know that the Holy Spirit intercedes for you and me (Romans 8:26); now we know Jesus does too. (I think there’s a verse saying Jesus intercedes for us, but I can’t find it right now. Help me out if you know it.) It’s exciting and encouraging to know Jesus and the Spirit are before the throne of God thinking and praying for you and me. 

And what does the Heavenly Father answer His Son? Verse 13 tells us His words are gracious and comforting words. And then in verse 14, the Father goes on to say “I’m jealous for them” (as we already read).

First of all: see the connection between God’s words of jealousy being gracious and comforting. So we know God’s jealousy is good news! That knowledge is intended to communicate His grace and to comfort us. But why?

In Barnes’ Notes on the Bible, that commentator writes, “Literally, ‘I have been,’ not now only but in time past even when I did not show it, ‘and am jealous,’ with the tender love which allows not what it loves to be injured.”

Why is God jealous? Because He doesn’t want what He loves to be injured. And when we’re disobedient, we are being injured because we are out of God’s will and blessing. We weren’t “made” for disobedience. There are consequences to disobedience which grieve God’s heart because of His love for us. He wants only what’s best for us. Obedience is where that happens.

Yes, God is a jealous God like a jealous husband who knows that his wife’s infidelity is not good for her. A human husband may take his wife’s adultery “personally.” It’s an affront to him as if she were communicating he is not worthy to deserve faithfulness. 

But God’s jealousy doesn’t take it “personally.” He is saddened to see His people reject or rebel against His good plans. Therefore He gives consequences with the goal of bringing them back to fellowship.

Commentator Gill expresses it this way: God’s declaration of jealousy is “expressive of his conjugal affection for his church and people, his zeal for their good, and his indignation at their enemies, and of the vengeance he would execute on them [the enemies].”

These should be “gracious and comforting words” for us also, and encourage us to know God’s good heart for us. Yes, indeed, He is jealous about us but He is motivated for our good. 

Does this change your view of God when He is jealous? I hope your view was already one of seeing God’s love, grace and comfort shine through His jealousy.