I suspect that those of us who lived our youth decades ago, have retained in our memory the rigid instructions drummed into us by our teachers and parents concerning the 10 words, or 10 commandments. What we learnt by rote from the Catechism of Christian Doctrine [the penny Catechism] was definitive; there were no … ifs, buts or maybes! … and to contravene any of these commandments given to Moses meant that one had taken the first steps on the road to Hell!
Although what we had drummed into our fractious brains was true, we were never introduced to the full unexpurgated content as written in the Book of Exodus. For example, one section of the full text from Exodus reads: ‘You are not to make an idol for yourself …… You are not to worship them, nor to adore them. For I am the Lord your God, a jealous God.’
Why should God be jealous of his people whom he created? As one might expect, I have tried to understand God’s jealousy by relating this most consuming emotion to the times in my life which have caused me to be jealous, and the most strikingly obvious is in male/female relationships. Putting unrequited love to one side, the spectre, the threat of jealousy lurks in the background where affairs of the heart are foremost in one’s thoughts. A simple example may be in the early stages of a developing relationship. Without any formal declaration of intent, a growing awareness of mutual trust and understanding becomes obvious, and the friendship begins to blossom, develop stronger roots, a semi-permanence is on the cards, and friends come to recognise that the relationship being shared by the couple is more than friendship.
That situation is the breeding ground for jealousy, as if either party has assumed that the relationship has taken on a more serious character than is mutually accepted, the danger of possession is ever present. …. ‘You are mine’. …. The warning signs of jealousy start flashing, and it doesn’t take very long for the desire to possess someone to morph into control; ‘Who were you talking with?’ …. Why are you late? … Where have you been? …. Jealousy, …. Anger, …. Inner torment, …. dangerous passions are stirred, and the relationship is heading for the rocks.
The unsuspecting innocent party is accused of being disloyal, unfaithful and possibly other things, and any other friendship is seen as a rival. Is that the sort of jealousy God is talking about in the commandments?
God created man out of love so that man could share divinity with God for ever. Eternal glory. If man chooses to follow another god, and that god can be anything, any desire, any action which diverts man from the loving true God, then the true God is jealous for the soul who is rejecting Eternal Life and divine glory which the true God created man for. In following a false god – as God is the only true God - Man is jilting and being disloyal to God and forfeiting the glory God created him for.
‘Where a man’s heart is, there will be his treasure also’. (Mt 6:21). God wants man’s heart to be with Him, and God is jealous for anyone who gives up the eternal glory God intended for all souls.