God Jealous? Really? (Part 2)

If you haven’t read part one, don’t worry. Here’s a quick recap to save you some time:

The Bible says the reason we should follow the 2nd commandment is because God is a jealous God. This didn’t jive with me. I kind of tossed it aside and moved on. Thus, part two.

Over the past week, I kept thinking about the following passage (shortened slightly to help with clarity):

“Thou shalt not bow down…or serve them…for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of [those who] hated me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandment.” ~Ex. 20:5,6

I went back to these verses several times this week, and now, I’d like to share what I discovered. This passage shows that bowing down to other things is abandoning a true love of God. Love is what impels obedience, and a lack of love leads to disobedience and even worse perfunctory obedience.

The notion of a “jealous” God is fueled by a belief that God is an amped up super-human kind of being. One Bible commentary pointed out that God doesn’t tolerate something else getting the devotion and honor that belongs to God. Doesn’t this sound exactly like a jealous boyfriend when his girlfriend is socializing with another guy?

This explanation of God in the Old Testament is not correct when you look at the whole Bible. Only the Old Testament describes God as a jealous God. This concept of God isn’t mentioned or implied in the New Testament at all. The New Testament illumines the importance of this commandment, but with a pure emphasis on love: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength” Mark 12:30 thou (to 🙂.

Thinking of God as being jealous associates God with a human personality that swings between joy to anger depending on what people do. This is not a helpful way to view God. It robs prayer of its effectiveness, which is wholly based on God as a the unchangeable, supreme, infinite, good, and only creator. This is the foundation of Christian Science healing.

The consequences for not being obedient to the second commandment explained in Exodus isn’t so much God’s jealousy and wrath, but rather what we do to ourselves. It’s not dissimilar to shooting ourselves in the foot, or forgetting all about the light switch while confined in a dark room. The text around the second commandment in the Old Testament is about why we sometimes slide, what happens when we do, and how to get back on track. When we look at the text in this way, it is indeed helpful in demonstrating a consistent and effective practice of Christianity.

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Honest Faithfulness

“Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain.” ~Ex 20:7

This one is particularly close to my heart because I recently realized how this particular Commandment should be tightly intertwined with everything I do.

Using the word “God” with proper respect, reverence, and honor is important. However, as they say, actions always speak louder than words. Okay then, what is taking the name of God in vain all about when we are talking about behavior?

The original Hebrew word translated as “take” has many other interesting meanings. Here are a few that caught my eye: “bear, bring forth, fetch, hold up, wear, yield.” And the original word translated as “name” also has these meanings “nature, character, or authority of”

So this Commandment could be written like this: We must hold up the character and authority of God with integrity. There is nothing worse than a car without an engine, a flower without any buds, a sunrise without the sun, prayer without an effect, and men and women of Faith without true faithfulness.

This commandment is all about honest faithfulness, and I hope you will join me in pausing to contemplate how to raise this standard in our lives. Thank you so much for taking the time to read.

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Heart of Divinity

Some people think that one of the books that I love, Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, by Mary Baker Eddy, is outdated and useless because it was written by a New England woman who lived in the late 19th Century.

When I read Science and Health with an open heart today, I became so grateful. The words she wrote showed me how to lead more of a God-centered life in genuine and practical ways.

I read and reread this paragraph:

Through spiritual sense you can discern the heart of divinity, and thus begin to comprehend in Science the generic term man. Man is not absorbed in Deity, and man cannot lose his individuality, for he reflects eternal Life; nor is he an isolated, solitary idea, for he represents infinite Mind, the sum of all substance.
(Science and Health, 258:31)

I’m not sure I completely understand this whole paragraph yet, but the phrase that caught my eye was, “Through spiritual sense you can discern the heart of divinity.”

You see, I was focusing on trying to make myself understand God and His creation by studying excessively. And when I say excessively, I really mean EXCESSIVELY. However, this phrase did two things for me. 1. It told me that it was spiritual sense, not material sense or material learning, which helps us discern the heart of divinity. And 2. it reassured me that God is a loving supportive God — you know one that has a heart. God did not make me to suffer through life trying to figure things out. He didn’t make me isolated or solitary. In other words, I’m not working alone or on my own.

This was encouraging and put my human yearning and striving to rest, and gave me a quiet humble prayerful attitude that brought the peace I was seeking. If a book can help like this, even though it was written over 100 years ago, it’s worth my attention.

Breaking up with fear

When we talk about bad relationships, probably the worst one is the one we have with various forms of fear. I was on a long drive alone wresting with intense anxiety about the future. Worrying that I made the wrong decision. Worrying about all the consequences and all the possible negative outcomes. I seemed to be mesmerized by this intense negativity. While scanning radio stations for some comforting music, I landed on a station where Francesca Battistelli was being interviewed.

She explained the backstory of her new album and in particular her new song, “The break up song.” It was exactly what I needed. It affirmed our God-given ability to stop dating fear in every form, and I had a right to break it off with all this anxiety. The rest of the trip I found myself affirming God’s infinite control and putting fear and worry under my feet. It changed from a depressing trip to an empowering one. Below I hope you enjoy listening to Francesca Battistelli’s powerful song.