About Jesus - Steve Sweetman
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
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
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'
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.
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.