The Bible is the Word of God. It is God speaking to us, revealing Himself to us so that we can know Him, know how much He loves us and so that we can learn how to love Him in return.
This Bible of ours is a beautiful book of love. And there are parts of the Bible that are downright disturbing, parts that don’t adhere to our black and white notions of God. We like to gloss over these, to skim over them so that we don’t have to think about them, but they just won’t go away. There are parts of God’s Word that don’t fit the image we have of God. They don’t fit the sort of God we want God to be. Even God the Son does and says some absurd and strange things. Like the cursing of the fig tree. Who, for the love of God, would curse a tree because it is not bearing fruit in the winter? How could that action possibly have been done for the love of God?
Another of these disturbing pieces is God as a jealous God. We tend to think of jealousy as weak, as petty, as fear. We think of it as wishing that we were and had what we are not and do not. But God is in everything and by Him everything lives and moves and has its being. How can both of these be true?
We don’t always get a resolution of the images of God that don’t fit, these pieces of God we can’t make sense of. This one, though, has become clearer lately through reading Amazing Grace by Kathleen Norris. She speaks of the jealousy of God as mother love, as a lion or tiger protecting her young with passion and fierceness. This jealousy of God is the kind of jealousy that protects her vulnerable children from all that would hurt them, from all that would steal their joy.
It makes sense, then, that one of the times this image of God is given to us is in the first of the Ten Commandments. These commandments were meant to show us how much we need God, to teach us how life works and the way we will be most happy. So if God is jealous to keep false gods away from us, it is the jealousy that wants to protect us from all that would harm our souls.
God’s jealousy allows us to trust Him.
Who, after all, would trust a God, a parent, spouse, or lover, who said to us, “I really love you, but I don’t care at all what you do or who you become.”? ~ Kathleen Norris
It is resolutions like this, resolutions that show that what seems disturbing is all somehow out of love and holiness, resolutions that help us trust for the unknown, disquieting pieces. They help us trust that God is holy and is love and is working to make all of us and all of this world into what it was created to be.
Resolutions like this help us trust that God is a jealous God, “who loves us enough to care when we stray. And who has given us commandments to help us find the way home.” ~ Kathleen Norris
Art Credit: Moses Smashing the Tablet of the Law by Rembrandt