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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