The Jealousy of God – Gospel in Life

The Jealousy of God

Tim Keller |  March 27, 2011

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  • Idolatry
Exodus 20:1-6
RS 329-03


We’re looking at the characteristics—also known as the “attributes”—of God according to the Bible. This sermon explores the jealousy of God, perhaps the most offensive of all the things the Bible says about God. The text will show us: 1) What the jealousy of God is; 2) What it calls for from us; and 3) How we can answer the call.

Exodus 20:1–6

Talking about God’s jealousy can be a bit tricky, especially since many people see God as a distant figure who’s just there to provide for our needs. But looking at God’s jealousy helps us see that God wants more than that – He wants all our love and worship. This is clearly stated in Exodus when God commands us not to have any other gods before Him and to stay away from idol worship. It’s God’s way of saying He wants us to love and obey Him completely.

1. What it is

God’s jealousy isn’t like the jealousy we humans experience, which is often about envy and selfishness. Instead, God’s jealousy is more like a passionate love that gets upset when the relationship is under threat. It’s like the love in a marriage, where both parties are committed to each other fully. This kind of jealousy shows us that God wants a deep, exclusive relationship with us, where He’s not just there to meet our needs, but is the most important part of our lives.

2. What it calls for from us

God’s jealousy tells us that we need to make our relationship with Him our top priority, just like in a marriage. This requires faithfulness, closeness, and obedience to His commands. Worshipping idols is a breach of this special relationship. There are only a few choices in the universe: to be God, to follow God, or to live in misery. This shows us how important it is to live a moral life out of love for God, not out of fear or pursuit of personal freedom. The best response is to love God and prioritize His desires over our own.

3. How we answer that call

God’s jealousy is a mix of His anger and holiness, along with His love and mercy. When we sin, it’s like we’re betraying God, almost like cheating in a marriage. The Old Testament points out how we continuously fail to keep our relationship with God. However, the New Testament gives us hope through the self-sacrificing love of Jesus Christ. Jesus’ death shows us that God can still remain with us even after we’ve gone astray, because Jesus has paid for our sins. It’s something we need to truly understand in order to love God fully.



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