Tuesday, July 3, 2012

God's Most Unusual Name

No matter how many times you read it, the Bible always has something that you haven’t seen before. Sometimes it is some deeper meaning that you haven’t seen. Sometimes it is something simple that you just hadn’t noticed before. This was the case for me last Wednesday night.

We all know that God has many names. Perhaps you’ve participated in a worship service in which banners showing the names of God are carried in. You probably saw names like Wonderful, Counselor, the Mighty God, the Prince of Peace, Jehovah, Emmanuel, Jesus, the Everlasting Father. There are so many beautiful names of God. Each one tells us something about the nature of God. It is an act of worship just to see those names before us and to read them off. But there’s one name for God that you aren’t likely to see on one of those banners. I believe it is God’s most unusual name.

I don’t know why I hadn’t noticed it before. We were studying a passage that I’d read multiple times before. We were looking at the passage in which God gives Moses the Law for the second time. You recall that the people danced around a golden calf the first time God gave Moses the Law, so Moses broke the tablets and forced the people to drink it. But Moses went up to the Lord a second time and the Lord again wrote the Law on two tablets of stone. And God promised to drive out the people in the land he had promised Israel and he commanded them to tear down the altars, and images, and Asherah poles. And here is the reason, “For thou shalt worship no other god; for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God….” (Exodus 34:14)

“Whose name is Jealous.” I don’t know how many times I’ve read that passage, realizing that God is saying that he is jealous (not envious, mind you, but jealous) and I didn’t catch that God said that his name is Jealous. If a man tells me that he is jealous of his wife’s affection, I would say that is a good thing, but that is not the same thing as a man saying, “My name is Jealous.” Why then, does God say that his name is Jealous?

I believe this is God making a point. He wants Israel to understand that his jealousy is so strong that he will not separate it from his name. This isn’t some minor thing. This isn’t something God is one day, but not the next. It isn’t like when he blesses a person one day but not the next. God is always Jealous. Jealous is his name. God wants our worship and he will not stand for someone or something else to get it. If we give it to someone else, then we will suffer the consequences.