IS JEALOUSY A VIRTUE OR A SIN?

My most recent book has disturbed some people and caused them to refuse to review it. Even a negative review would be appreciated, but few have been generated. The title of the book is: THE CROSS AND THE DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD. I stand by everything that I wrote, but I wish I could start all over and do it again. I would make the case much stronger than I currently have it. I would cite many more Scripture passages that prove that God hates sin and sinners. As my wife and I read the Bible every day, we have come across many more passages that demonstrate God’s wrath against sin. A simple search of God’s Word would reveal numerous places where “the wrath of God” is expressed. In the book of Revelation there are 13 verses. In the Psalms there are 27 verses. In the Old Testament there are 191 times when “wrath” is expressed. If we look at the New Testament, we will find some 47 citations, when using the New King James Version (NKJV).

But, you may ask, what does the “wrath of God” have to do with the subject of jealousy? Why focus on wrath when the title is about jealousy? The two concepts are inextricably linked in Scripture, that is why. We need to go back into the book of Exodus to gain proper perspective. We remember the story of the golden calf that Aaron helped to create for the Israelites. The masses became impatient at Moses’ lengthy departure and the presumed disappearance of God. Wanting something physical and tangible that they could see and touch, they donated all their gold jewelry to Aaron.He shaped a golden calf that they could worship “and built an altar for it”(Ex. 32:5). In response to that, God said to Moses, “Let me alone, that my wrath may burn hot against them and I may consume them” (Ex.32:10). A fascinating exchange occurs between God and Moses, with Moses pleading with God not to destroy all His people. In conclusion, God declares, “You shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God” (Ex. 34:14). God Himself is declaring that His name is Jealous. He had earlier used that same name when He gave His people the Ten Commandments. He had warned them not to make for themselves “a carved image,….for I the Lord your God am a jealous God”(Ex. 20:5).

But some may protest! Is not jealousy a sin? Are there not numerous passages in the New Testament which list jealousy as a in? Yes, sad to say, there are such. A quick and dirty scan of either the American Standard or the New International versions will show “jealousy” listed as a sin, along with such obvious sins as conceit, hostility, slander, gossip and quarreling (II Corinthians 12:20). That should create confusion in any logical mind. How can Jealousy be an attribute and name of God in the Old Testament but a sin in the New Testament? Do not the two Testaments agree with each other? Is jealousy a virtue for God, but a sin for humans? The answer lies in none of those speculations, but in poor translation. The persons doing the translation for these versions of the Bible did not pay close enough attention to the root word being used in both Testaments. That root word is “zealous”, which conveys intense emotion. In the book of Exodus, God is intensely angry at His people because they belong to Him! They are His people. He does not want them worshiping some thing or some false god. In the same way, a loving husband does not want his wife living with or loving some other man. Jealousy is the emotion aimed at protecting and preserving that which is rightly one’s own.

In the New Testament, that same root word is being used, but, in some versions, is being translated as “jealousy”, when it should be translated as “coveting”. To “covet”is to want something or someone who does not belong to you. If I want my neighbor’s wife, that is coveting, and that is sin. If my neighbor wants my wife, I am jealous, and righteously so. God loves His people. He has created them to worship Him. When Satan tempts them to worship something or someone else, God is Jealous! He is angry! He is full of wrath! That ought to give us tremendous comfort. We ought to rejoice then when God becomes angry at every attempt to draw us away from Him.