About Jesus  -  Steve Sweetman

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A Jealous God In A Tolerant World   


I recently pointed out that there are two Hebrew words that are translated as "jealous" in the Old Testament.  The first of these words suggests a protection of one's person and possessions motivated by an unhealthy possessiveness.  The second suggests a protection of one's person and possessions motivated by the worth and value we all inherently possess as individuals.     


It's this second Hebrew word that is associated with God as seen in Exodus 20:5 where we learn that God is a jealous God.  If anyone has value and worth, it's God.  He, therefore, has all the right in heaven and on earth to protect His person and His possessions apart from unhealthy possessiveness. 


The jealous protection of one's person and possessions is important when thinking of the Great Commission found in Matthew 28:18 to 20.  There, we learn that God the Father gave Jesus ultimate authority which Jesus passed on to His disciples.  Having been so authorized, the disciples were to go into every nation, baptizing and teaching everyone to obey everything Jesus had taught.  They'd do so in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; otherwise understood in New Testament terms to be in the name of Jesus.  This means that the disciples were given authority to go forth and act on the behalf of the Lord Jesus since He would no longer be present on earth in human form to act on His own behalf.  Inherent in the process of acting on the behalf of another is the responsibility to protect both that person and his possessions.  You might say a disciple is a trustee.  This is where our second Hebrew word translated as jealous finds its importance for the disciples of Jesus.  They were, and we are, authorized and mandated to jealously protect the person and possessions of Jesus. 


In 2 Corinthians 11:2 we learn that the Apostle Paul possessed what he called a "godly jealousy" as he fulfilled the Great Commission.  With great vigor and confidence, he jealously protected the person and possessions of the Lord Jesus everywhere he went.    


Throughout history we as Christians have struggled to act on the behalf of Jesus by jealously protecting Him and His possessions.  Right from the beginning Paul had to confront factions within the first generation church as seen in 1 Corinthians 1:12.  Such factions were a blatant failure to jealously protect Jesus' church.             


Many second century Christians felt pressured to confess that Caesar was Lord even though they secretly denied it.  Their rationale was simple and thought out.  Dead Christians can't live for Jesus.  Others refused to make this confession, not just because it was a lie, but because it failed to jealously protect the person of Jesus by denying His true identity as being Lord. 


In the fourth century the church attempted to appease pagans by adopting pagan practices.  This idolatry failed to jealously protect Jesus' prize possession, that being the church.   


One of many unbiblical practices within Catholicism during the Middle Ages was the worship of Mary that led to her being viewed as the mother of God.  This heresy failed to jealously protect God's person as being eternal, without mother or father.     


Most Protestant denominations that emerged from the Reformation of the 1500's became state run national churches.  Replacing Jesus with the state was a failure to jealously protect what rightfully belongs to Jesus.


Theologians in the 18th century looked to science and philosophy to guide their interpretation of Scripture.  This resulted in the liberalization of the Bible in the 19th century.  This doctrinal disaster failed to jealously protect the true identity of Jesus' divinity by removing all supernatural aspects from both Him and Scripture.          


Things haven't changed in our times.  Evangelicals who worship alongside Muslims fail to jealously protect the true identity of God by claiming He is also the god of Islam.  Christian ministers who perform same sex weddings fail to jealously protect God's original intention for men and women.  Churches that give into the state's unbiblical demands in order to keep their tax exempt status fail to jealously protect Jesus' church.  Christian ministries who promote themselves above Jesus fail to jealously protect the Lordship of Jesus.  On and on it goes.  


Fulfilling the Great Commission is more than telling people how to be saved.  It's teaching everyone, in all nations, to obey every last thing Jesus taught.  This includes the fact that the Lord Jesus is the final authority over all things, and, He shares His eternal stage with absolutely no one.  He is the only exclusive Lord to whom all will give account.  It's our authorized duty to courageously affirm this truth.  That's not an easy task in our western world with its doctrine of tolerance, which isn't really tolerance.  It's "selective tolerance", as in, "I'll tolerate you only when you tolerate me."


Although it goes against the present cultural consensus, we will proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord over all.  We will affirm that His Father is not the all purpose, one god fits all, generic god, our culture wants us to believe He is.  We will vigorously, confidently, and lovingly, perform our God given responsibility to jealously protect the person and possessions of Him whom we serve.  When all attempts to protect our present legal rights in this matter fail, we will gracefully accept and endure the consequences imposed on us by our cultural community of tolerance.    


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