About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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The word "jealous" can easily conjure up thoughts of envy and rage that are motivated by an unhealthy possessiveness.  Jealousy is an issue the Bible addresses, but maybe not in the sense you might think.  The Hebrew Old Testament has two words with two somewhat distinctive meanings that are translated as "jealous" in our English Bible.  So, when we read the word "jealous" in the Old Testament, we can't be certain to its exact meaning without further study of the Hebrew language.


The Hebrew word "ginah" denotes an envious protection of  one's possessions that's motivated by an unhealthy possessiveness.  The Hebrew word "ganna" denotes a rightful protection of  one's possessions that's motivated by who one is.  Ganna is linked to a Hebrew word that has a connotation of having no rivals.  In modern vernacular, He who has no rivals shares the stage with no one and protects what is rightfully his apart from any hint of possessiveness.  In short, ginah is jealousy based on possessiveness while ganna is jealousy based on individual rights due to whom one is.       


Ganna is associated with God in Exodus 20:5, 34:14, Deuteronomy 4:24, 5:9, 6:15, and Joshua 24:19.  The notion that God can exhibit jealousy as seen in these passages is contrary to much of our popular concept of God, but, if Scripture says that God is a jealous God, a jealous God He is.  We just need to understand what that means. 


In Exodus 20:1 through 5 we find the command not to have any god other than God Almighty, who is Elohiym, the God who spoke this command to Moses.  According to this passage, God issued this command because He is a jealous God.  Clearly, God can be jealous, but His jealousy is not motivated by envy or unhealthy possessiveness.  The Hebrew word "ganna" that is translated as "jealous" in this passage implies that God has no rivals and that He is supreme over all things.  He has the right to protect what is His and He shares the universal stage with no one.  Any attempt to share the stage with Him is an outrageous act of illogical stupidity which will result in jealous judgment as stated in Exodus 20:5.   


The Hebrew word "ganna" is seen in Exodus 34:14 where we learn that one of God's names is Jealous.  This reflects the fact that He is supreme over all things and all things belong to Him.  Therefore, He has the right to jealously protect what belongs to Him, just as you have the right to protect what belongs to you.     


Ganna is translated as jealous in the prophetic chapters of Ezekiel 38 and 39.  Ezekiel 39:25 tells us that God will have compassion on Israel and will restore its fortunes because He is jealous (KJV), zealous (NIV), and ganna (Hebrew), for His name.  In other words, God will restore Israel at some point, not for Israel's sake but for His own sake.  He has inextricably united Himself to Israel since He promised Abraham that Israel would be a great nation.  To protect His good name, He will not default on this promise by allowing any so-called rival to destroy Israel for good.  He'd lose all credibility if He allowed that to happen.   


Ganna is also translated as jealous in the prophetic passage of Joel 2:18.  Here we learn that the land promised to Israel belongs to God.  Therefore, He has the right to protect His land.  No nation, terrorist group, anti-Christ, or the devil, will rival God when it comes to His land.  In the final analysis, as an act of jealous judgment, He will remove Israel's enemies from His land for good.   


Ganna is also translated as jealous in the prophecy of Zechariah 1:14 where we learn that God has a jealousy for Jerusalem.  Despite all of the historic attempts
to take Jerusalem from Him, all attempts will eventually fail.  God alone owns Jerusalem, and, as Joel predicts, in an act of jealous judgment He will annihilate those nations who attack Jerusalem at the end of this age.   


Like God Himself, the Apostle Paul had a similar jealousy.  He called it "godly jealousy" in 2 Corinthians 11:2.  Godly jealousy isn't based on envy or possessiveness.  Godly jealousy is based on who God is and the fact that He has commissioned the followers of Jesus with the responsibility to represent Him and protect all that belongs to Him on this planet.  This responsibility is a serious matter and is too often not taken seriously.     


As those responsible for this great commission we must realize that the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ is supreme over all things spiritual and all things material.  He has no rivals.  He has no real competition.  He has the final word in all things.  If we attempt to place anyone or anything on the same universal stage with the Almighty, we have another god.  If we attempt to bring the Almighty down to our human stage as if He was one of us, we consider ourselves to be a god along with the Almighty.  If we associate the Almighty and speak of Him in the same breath with Santa Claus, the sun god, Mohamed, humanistic religions, mother nature, or any other product of our depraved imagination, we massacre the very nature of God.    


I cannot overstate the seriousness of this matter.  Our lack of understanding to whom God is can often be seen in our lackadaisical devotion to Him.  1 Corinthians 6:20 and 7:23 tells us that we have been bought at a price.  At the heart of our faith in Jesus is the fact that God now owns us and He will jealously protect what He owns.  On the other hand, we are commissioned to represent Him and jealously protect what is His.  Our challenge is to live in accordance with this commission.      


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