God’s Jealousy & Wrath: Two Sides of the Same Coin

To begin today let’s ask one question: what is the relationship between the jealousy of God and the wrath of God?

The relationship between the two is one of cause and effect, or we could say the relationship between the two is one of the root and it’s fruit. What I mean by saying this is that we often find the jealousy of God in Scripture prompting, provoking, or motive the wrath of God. So let’s define our terms shall we? God’s jealousy is defined as God’s zeal to uphold His glory. God’s wrath is the outpouring of His hatred/anger/fury on all sin. God’s jealousy and wrath are the two sides to the same coin.

Many passages prove this, I’ll point to 4:

i) Genesis 6 when God said He regretted / was sorry for making man on the earth, Gen. 6:6 even says God was grieved by the sin of man. We have to ask, why did God grieve? The answer is because He was disobeyed, He wasn’t glorified but defamed by man’s actions. So the result of this deep grieving in God was the flood, where in wrath God brought death to all mankind except Noah and his family.

ii) Numbers 25 when God gets jealous for His honor among His people when His people dishonor His name, the result of God’s jealousy for His honor is God’s wrath brought onto the people: the two instigators were killed and a plague came onto the whole people. It is here in Numbers 25:11 where we see this displayed for us in our various translations of the Bible. The ESV says Phinehas was ‘jealous with My jealousy’ while the NIV says Phinehas was ‘zealous for My honor among them.’ Clearly here we have a link and a unity between the two words jealousy and zealous or zeal, such that to be jealous for something is to have great zeal for it.

iii) Joshua 7-8 when Achan disobeyed God, and once it was found out God had his entire family brought before the people to be stoned.

We could add many more examples to this couldn’t we? Anytime in Scripture where we see sin occurring in God’s people, we often see God’s jealousy being stirred up and the result is God’s wrath being poured out.

iv) The definitive example of such reality is the cross. Man had sinned, and sinned greatly for years and years and years, God’s jealousy was stirred up because His honor and glory was being slandered, smeared, and scorned. God was so jealous from the sin of mankind He says in Ezekiel 36:22-23, ‘Therefore say to the house of Israel, Thus says the Lord God: It is not for your sake, O house of Israel, that I am about to act, but for the sake of my holy name, which you have profaned among the nations to which you came. And I will vindicate the holiness of my great name, which has been profaned among the nations, and which you have profaned among them. And the nations will know that I am the Lord, declares the Lord God, when through you I vindicate my holiness before their eyes.’

So man sinned, God is jealous to regain the honor of His name, it’s clear in this passage that He promises to one day act (not for the sake of Israel) for the vindication of His holy name, and He’ll do this so clearly that when He acts all the nations will know God is the Lord when. So the question for us is: when throughout history did God act for the sake of His holy name? Right, on the cross. Romans 3:23-26, ‘…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.  It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.’

So see that the reason God wrought redemption through sending His Son to be the propitiation, or the atoning sacrifice for His people, was the vindication of His own holiness. Or to put it another way, God was jealous for His glory, and vindicated His glory and honor by pouring out His wrath onto His Son. This is why the cross is such a stunning event, because in it we see the intermingling of God’s love and justice, God’s wrath and grace, and God’s jealousy and mercy.

Many hymns speak of this. In ‘Here is Love’ one stanza says ‘On the mount of crucifixion, fountains opened deep and wide, through the floodgates of God’s mercy, flowed a vast and gracious tide, grace and love like mighty rivers, poured incessant from above, heaven’s peace and perfect justice, kissed a guilty world in love.’ In ‘Before the Throne of God Above’ there’ a line that says ‘Because the sinless Savior died, my sinful soul is counted free, for God the Just is satisfied, to look on Him and pardon me.’ One more, in ‘Man of Sorrows, What a Name’ it says ‘Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place condemned He stood, sealed my pardon with His blood, Hallelujah, what a Savior!’

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