So the angel that communed with me said unto me, Cry thou, saying, Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I am jealous for
with a great jealousy. (Zech. 1:14)
Thus saith the LORD of hosts; I was jealous for
with great jealousy, and I was jealous for her with great fury. (Zech. 8:2)
The idea that God has the emotion we know as 'jealousy' could be a challenge to us. Of course when the Bible attributes human emotions to God, it can only show us a glimpse of the reality. God's thoughts and His ways are higher than ours. (Isa 55:9) Nevertheless, there is no doubt that the Bible says God is jealous. In those two words from Zechariah, the last-but-one book of the Old Testament, God expresses jealousy - the Hebrew word qana really does mean jealous - for
AS AN ERRANT WIFE
A familial relationship between God and
is expressed in various ways in scripture, sometimes with God as Father and
as His eldest son (Exod 4:22, Hos 11:1), at other times as if God is a husband, and
His wife. With the expression of jealousy in Zechariah, God clearly sees Himself as a cuckolded husband, and
as an errant wife. Indeed, this is exactly how the prophets, Ezekiel in particular, describe the relationship between God and Israel, in the light of the latter's departure into idolatrous worship of false demonic deities, the so-called 'gods of the nations' (Deut 29:18, Psalm 96:5).
Since the idolatry always involved sexual rituals, the equation of adultery with idolatry was chillingly accurate. Even then, the concept of God's jealousy is hard for the world to understand in a nation constantly swapping partners. These days, a man with an adulterous wife would be advised to be, well, 'adult' and reasonable about it all. He would be accused of being 'possessive' and 'controlling'. And in our adulterous and sinful generation, the world would rush to put God in the wrong, and to see
merely as making choices and expressing herself.
That shows the danger of seeing God through human eyes, for the expression of freedom of choice is not quite how God saw
's departure from His covenant. Nor does it end there. Through Ezekiel we learn that our holy God is also jealous for His name. The return of
in Ezekiel 39 is seen as an expression of God's grace and mercy poured out precisely because He is concerned about how His name is viewed:
Therefore thus saith the Lord GOD; Now will I bring again the captivity of Jacob, and have mercy upon the whole house of
, and will be jealous for my holy name; (Eze. 39:25)
A CONSUMING FIRE
It is not just
and His holy name for which God is said to be jealous. The most famous passages about God's jealousy are in the law, in Exodus and Deuteronomy. Here God is not jealous 'for' anything or anyone, He is just jealous. At least we cannot say
was not warned about the consequences of the worship of pagan entities:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me; (Ex. 20:5)
For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: (Ex. 34:14)
The worship of pagan gods was not a private matter. Then, as now, public observance in worship became reflected in morality, which was expressed in a system of law. The people went 'a whoring after other gods' (1 Chr 5:25) and injustice followed, not least, the injustice of human sacrifice. Centuries before the Epistle to the Hebrews was written, the people of God had been left in no doubt that they were to obey Him:
For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. (Deut. 4:24 cf Heb 12:29)
When we focus on God simply as 'a jealous God' we begin to see that within that expression it is obedience which God demands. It is simply not possible to 'half-do' following God - and we should add 'and (or 'in') the Lord Jesus Christ.' To the one who wanted to go back and bury his father, the Lord Jesus said, 'Let the dead bury their dead.'
So God demands obedience, and He demands to recognised fully and uniquely as God:
I am the LORD: that is my name: and my glory will I not give to another, neither my praise to graven images. (Isa 42:8)
SECULAR HUMANISM JUST AS JEALOUS
But before we join the world and condemn God for His jealousy, let us take a sideways look at what is going on in the spiritual realm. Is this quality of jealousy unique to the Lord Almighty? I don't think it is. I think all gods are naturally jealous. Pagan, demonic, deities are just as jealous as our consuming fire of a God, they are simply less open about it.
Make no mistake, the god of secular humanism is a jealous god. Now increasingly revealed in all his implacability, the demonic entity behind mankind's desire to regard himself and his reason as his own god, is a jealous god. In a sense, a return to our pre-Christian paganism is not much of a surprise in these islands. We used to worship the sun and the moon, rivers, mountains and fertility, and now we worship that crowning glory of God's creation, mankind himself. There is nothing new under the sun.
As secular humanism has developed, it has come with the idea of multi-culturalism in which all is supposed to be diversity and equality. Any view is supposed to be as valid as any other. But it has turned out that such a world-view may itself not be challenged. 'Multi-culturalism' was just an excuse to attack Christianity all along. That is why Christian symbols and festivals must be removed. It is why those who say there is only one way, that of the Lord Jesus Christ, become guilty of a modern form of heresy. Even in the early days of secular humanism, the fifties and sixties, those who said that mankind could not safely be left to make his own laws in opposition to those of Almighty God were scorned and side-lined.
SECULAR HUMANISM WILL NOT SHARE ITS GLORY
It is now plain that secular humanism will not share its 'glory' with the Lord Jesus. It demands obedience. Those who oppose it can expect to be excluded from its priesthood of senior civil servants and journalists and certainly from its prophet-class of diversity officers and equality czars. More than that, those who will not bow down and worship this pagan god - almost uniquely Christians - are beginning to be persecuted by the criminal law for expressing their loyalty to secular humanism's chief rival, the Lord Jesus Christ.
There is nothing new. Last month, I put the case that the Christians in
were not persecuted for holding church services, but for proclaiming 'Jesus Christ is Lord'. If Jesus Christ is Lord, Caesar wasn't, and that put them at odds with the
, in which Caesar was seen as divine. The fact that it is now mankind who is seen as divine has made difference to the underlying principle. A police officer threatened a Christian grandfather named John Banda with arrest at
earlier this year for 'threatening, abusive or insulting behaviour.' That of course is our old friend Section 5 of the Public Order Act 1986. What was the reason? The elderly evangelist was displaying two placards. One of them urged sinners to repent. Crucially, the other said simply: 'Jesus Christ is Lord'. Secular humanism is indeed a jealous god.
ALLAH IS JEALOUS TOO
At least the god of Islam, Allah ('the god' in Arabic), is not coy about how jealous he is. 'There is no god but Allah and Mohammed is his prophet' is the defining statement of Islam. Islam makes no bones about its goal, which is the establishment of a world-wide Islamic state under the dominion of Allah.
Allah demands not just obedience, but complete submission. Islam means 'submission', not 'peace' as Muslims often claim. There is no peace to those who will not submit. They are part of Dar al Harb, the 'House of War'. By proselitsation, or by the sword, Allah will be submitted to. Allah too refuses to share his 'glory' with any other.
Allah will share his 'glory' neither with the Lord Jesus Christ nor with the god of secular humanism. The former proposition is easy to demonstrate. Just look at Tower Hamlets, where the names of wards with Christian associations have been changed by the majority Islamic Council. However, in
a struggle is underway between Islam and the 'westernism', for which read secular humanism, of General Musharraf. At this time of writing, the law on rape had just been changed to remove the necessity under Sharia law for a woman to produce four witnesses to substantiate her accusation of rape. Islamic parties have condemned the move as 'anti-Islamic' and the change could lead to unrest.
A HOUSE DIVIDED?
In case it is confusing that while both Allah and secular humanism are from the demonic realm, both oppose the Lordship of Jesus Christ but each opposes the other, I believe that Satan only appears to be 'a house divided' for convenience. The overwhelming objective for Satan is to defeat any attempt to build the
on earth. If western godless secular humanism is running out of steam, and it never had much moral energy to begin with, Islam and Sharia will do just fine to replace Christianity and righteousness.
It should be obvious that law springs from morality, and morality from some sort of world-view, with or without a 'religious' base - although we should argue that secular humanism is a 'religion' in the widest sense. It is no coincidence that the statement that God is a 'jealous God' is in the second of the Ten Commandments, and the first is just as uncompromising: 'Thou shalt have no other gods before me.' (Exod 20:3).
All of the Ten Commandments set out the framework for a legal system which is amplified further through the Pentateuch. In that legal system, the righteousness and justice of God are revealed, as is a shadow of His redemptive work on the cross. It was possible to set up the nation to whom God's law was given as a model to every other:
For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD (YHWH) our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgements as righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? (Deut 4:7-8)
TWO OTHER LEGAL SYSTEMS
Secular humanism has its own legal system, which, as much as it can, does little more than turn God's commandments on their head. Perhaps the core is the removal of the death penalty from the State, upon the guilty, where it belongs, and its imposition on the innocent within the family, where it does not. The destruction of the family by a virtual commandment of 'thou shalt commit adultery and any kind of perversion without any legal penalty if thou feel like it' was another piece of satanic spite from one who hates humankind and wants to sow as much injustice, misery, alienation, crime and self-destruction as possible. I could go on, and did, in
In its religious expression, secular humanism is syncretistic, borrowing from Christianity, while making sure that Christian worship happens in identifiable places and at certain times, so as to prevent it intruding into law-making. The denial of any hope of or even desire for an after-life relegated all of life to the material and robbed mankind of any divine purpose. Indeed, if religion is the outward expression of man's desire to be on good terms with whatever he sees as divine, then by setting man to be his own god, we could express that religion by self-worship, which is the defining characteristic of the western world.
Islam too has a legal system, doing injustice in the opposite direction, and not so much ignoring the saving work of Jesus Christ as denying it even took place - 'of a surety they crucified him not'. Now, to western eyes Islam is as obviously a religion as secular humanism is not. I have argued that secular humanism is in fact a religion, and it is also possible to argue that Islam is a violent political force masquerading as a religion. But it is still a religion, for all that.
So, going back to God as a jealous God, we now see Him in competition with two other jealous gods in
. Joshua challenged
in similar circumstances. If they were going to reject the Lord, which gods would they choose? The ones they served before God's righteousness in all its wonder and glory was revealed to them? Or the ones of the land they were coming to? The fact that others are bringing that second god into our own land does not change the principle. If we reject the Lord, do we prefer the old gods, or some new ones?
Thou hast avouched the LORD this day to be thy God, and to walk in his ways, and to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments, and to hearken unto his voice: (Deut. 26:17)
Josh. 24:15 And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.
16 And the people answered and said, God forbid that we should forsake the LORD, to serve other gods;
17 For the LORD our God, he it is that brought us up and our fathers out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and which did those great signs in our sight, and preserved us in all the way wherein we went, and among all the people through whom we passed:
18 And the LORD drave out from before us all the people, even the Amorites which dwelt in the land: therefore will we also serve the LORD; for he is our God.
19 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.
20 If ye forsake the LORD, and serve strange gods, then he will turn and do you hurt, and consume you, after that he hath done you good.
21 And the people said unto Joshua, Nay; but we will serve the LORD.
22 And Joshua said unto the people, Ye are witnesses against yourselves that ye have chosen you the LORD, to serve him. And they said, We are witnesses.
23 Now therefore put away, said he, the strange gods which are among you, and incline your heart unto the LORD God of
24 And the people said unto Joshua, The LORD our God will we serve, and his voice will we obey.
All pagan deities are under the dominion of Satan,
And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins. (Josh. 24:19)
God is jealous, and the LORD revengeth; the LORD revengeth, and is furious; the LORD will take vengeance on his adversaries, and he reserveth wrath for his enemies. (Nah. 1:2)