Loved by a jealous God

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The most important thing about you is how you view God. What is God like? What kind of a God is our God?

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Bible passage Exodus 34:1-14

Exodus 34

The New Stone Tablets
 1 The LORD said to Moses, "Chisel out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I will write on them the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke. 2 Be ready in the morning, and then come up on Mount Sinai. Present yourself to me there on top of the mountain. 3 No one is to come with you or be seen anywhere on the mountain; not even the flocks and herds may graze in front of the mountain."

 4 So Moses chiseled out two stone tablets like the first ones and went up Mount Sinai early in the morning, as the LORD had commanded him; and he carried the two stone tablets in his hands. 5 Then the LORD came down in the cloud and stood there with him and proclaimed his name, the LORD. 6 And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, "The LORD, the LORD, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, 7 maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children and their children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation."

 8 Moses bowed to the ground at once and worshiped. 9 "O Lord, if I have found favor in your eyes," he said, "then let the Lord go with us. Although this is a stiff-necked people, forgive our wickedness and our sin, and take us as your inheritance."

 10 Then the LORD said: "I am making a covenant with you. Before all your people I will do wonders never before done in any nation in all the world. The people you live among will see how awesome is the work that I, the LORD, will do for you. 11 Obey what I command you today. I will drive out before you the Amorites, Canaanites, Hittites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. 12 Be careful not to make a treaty with those who live in the land where you are going, or they will be a snare among you. 13 Break down their altars, smash their sacred stones and cut down their Asherah poles. 14 Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God.

New International Version (NIV) Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society

Audio Bible passage

The audio version of the passage is taken from the Contemporary English Version (CEV).

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God's glory
Moses was ready the next morning to see the glory of God (see Exodus 33:18–23). God passed in front of Moses and declared his name, the Lord, as well as all the richness conveyed by that name. The Lord is compassionate and gracious. He is slow to anger. He is abounding in both love and faithfulness (which in the New Testament would be described as ‘full of grace and truth’ – John 1:14). He is faithfully loving to thousands, a God who forgives sin. But not a God to be taken lightly, for he takes sin most seriously.

Moses had encountered the glory of God – a glory resplendent in selfless affection. Moses responded in the only way appropriate to an encounter with the glorious grace of God – he worshipped (v 8).

Devotion needed
God then gave Moses instructions regarding the purging of the land that lay before them (vs 10–14). While the instruction might seem harsh towards those living there, God’s motives are clear. God wants his people to be faithfully his. They have just committed spiritual adultery with the golden calf, and now God wants their hearts undistracted from him.

God desires that their hearts be fully devoted to him. This jealousy is the entirely appropriate jealousy of a husband who desires that his love for his wife be reciprocated without distraction.


How is your heart prone to wander? How would a greater glimpse of God’s goodness draw your affections more fully toward him?

Peter Mead

Deeper Bible study

‘Drink from it, all of you. This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.’ (Matthew 26:27,28)

What an amazing passage! Or rather, an amazing God! After human sin corrupted the earth, although still ‘every inclination of the human heart is evil’, God made a covenant with Noah and the whole earth (Genesis 6:5; 8:21; 9:9). He then called into being a people to be a blessing to all the earth, but they proved to be ‘stiff-necked’ (32:9). They are still stiff–necked (v 9), but God makes a covenant with them (v 10). ‘Humanity’s sin severely endangered the existence of the creation; Israel’s endangered God’s covenant with Israel. But … humanity’s or Israel’s sin no longer can endanger the very existence of the creation or the covenant because God himself guarantees its continuation, despite sin, because of his grace’1. Our hope for the future of the world or the church is based not on humans getting better but on the covenant-making God.

The New Testament phrase ‘God is love’ is commonly used to describe God’s character. The extent of ‘love’ is expanded in this culmination of the previous two chapters, as God reveals his ‘name’ (vs 5–7) in terms the Old Testament often recalls (Numbers 14:18; Nehemiah 9:17; Psalm 86:15). Does it surprise you that first is tenderness? ‘Compassionate’ (‘merciful’ in some translations) describes a mother’s tenderness (a related word is ‘womb’). Along with ‘gracious’, it is generally associated with forgiveness. God’s unstinting ‘love’ (also ‘mercy’, ‘kindness’) and ‘faithfulness’ are expressed in the contrast between ‘thousands’ (or ‘a thousand generations’, as in 20:6) and ‘third and fourth generations’. The juxtaposition of forgiveness and punishment has been evident in these chapters (as later with the exile). Forgiveness can be instant and restore a relationship, but it does not remove all the consequences of sin. Sin is not a light matter and a wound takes time to heal, but the promise is that the consequences are short compared to the ‘everlasting kindness’ and ‘compassion’ (Isaiah 54:7,8).

John Olley


1 R Rendtorff, in J Biblical Literature, 108 (1989), p390

Background: Covenant

Covenant made
Covenant is an important theme which appears throughout the Bible. Some scholars see it as the unifying theme of the Bible. In the Old Testament God made covenants with:

Noah (Genesis 6:18; 9:8–17), promising never to destroy the earth again

Abraham (Genesis 15,17), promising to bless all nations through Abraham’s descendants

Israel (Exodus 24:1–18; 34:1–14), defining them as his special people (Exodus 19:3–6) and calling them to live in obedience

David (2 Samuel 23:5), building on and reaffirming the covenant with Abraham and the Sinai covenant

Covenant broken
At the heart of the covenant is the declaration of God’s promise to love, care for and protect his people and his call for them to respect him in the way that they live. Covenant binds the two parties together. It is sealed by a solemn agreement involving sacrifice (Genesis 15:9,10; Exodus 24:1–7).

Because people are weak and fallible they broke the covenant requirements and from time to time the covenant was renewed. The prophets called people back to their covenant requirements until finally Jeremiah saw the covenant as so hopelessly broken that God‘s plan was to make a new covenant (Jeremiah 31:31–34).

New covenant
This sets the scene for the New Testament. Jesus saw his death as the sacrifice which instituted the new covenant (Luke 22:20). Paul picked up the idea (1 Corinthians 11:25) but it is most clearly expressed by the writer of Hebrews (eg Hebrews 12:24, although the idea is everywhere).

Covenant is about commitment; God’s unswerving commitment to his people, and his people’s weak and faltering obedience to him. But under the new covenant God not only makes requirements, he gives the strength, through the Spirit, to obey.

John Grayston

Bible in a year

Read the Bible in a year.

Daniel 10–12

Psalms 135,136


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To be in your presence (This is my desire)
Noel Richards.
Copyright © 1991 Thankyou Music

  • Song: There's a sound (Restoration Song)
  • Composer: Lou Fellingham, Nathan Fellingham and busbee
  • Artist: Lou Fellingham
  • Album: Promised Land
  • Publisher: Kingsway Music
  • Copyright: Copyright © 2008 Thankyou Music & The Livingstone Collective/
  • Buy this album here

  • Rachael Hampton | Tuesday, 28 November 2017

    How can anyone not live and worship such a God as this?! If only people could see that His ways, His rules for remaining in the covenant with Him, are not to spoil life's 'fun', but to keep us out of the snares.v12. God's passionate hatred of sin is because He knows it destroys us, and deprives us of the abundant life those in fellowship with Him enjoy. (John 10:10) Perhaps the generational 'punishment' is not that God will blame me for my parents' sin, but that we are all affected (damaged in soul and personality) by the teachings and lifestyles of our forebears. Praise God that He can break even these generational patterns, though often it takes much work and prayer. Continuing prayers for Jan, and you David, for Carol, Enyobi and for your mum Ankhe.

  • David Forbes | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    God here in exodus requires an obedient creation. he choses a people out of his creation and he choses a man to convey His heart and mind.Jealous is one of His characteristics in that He knows what's best for his people then and us today.Jealousy today can be viewed as a negative trait but if someone truly loves us I guess they are jealous that their relationship with us is exclusive between us.The commentator uses the word adultery to describe not remaining faithful. Today God's people are not confined to one group confined to one geographical area. He doesn't speak to one representative such as Moses.But I take it God's jealousy hasnt changed towards us the people of the new covenant. We now have Jesus as the focus for our thinking of God's mind and will.Theres still the idea of desiring loyalty and jealous for our love in John 3:16. God so loved us that he sent Jesus to come among us and reveal God's glory. Now if we as individuals believe in Jesus we are promised everlasting life.This supersedes what God said to his people through Moses. Not believing carries the severe warning of perishing. Both this covenant with Moses and this new one in Christ start with God's love for a relationship with us as He knows whats best for us and he wants our unswerving allegiance. Deviating from that we inevitably chose to think we know what's best and the consequences are inevitable.

  • Angela Munday | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    We are God's children and He knows we will make mistakes as we learn and grow; we are able to build our lives daily as He guides and directs us. It is a wonderful gift to enjoy God's commitment to us; to have His spirit deep inside us and can live naturally as He designed us to. God watches over us as we do our own children; we see them blossom and develop their 'fruit' and God 'jealously' protects His chosen ones and may we never break His heart......"Each day the LORD pours his unfailing love upon me." (Psalm 42:8)

  • Roger Hall | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    Don't you love the Proclamation of Himself by God? Don't we see the seeds of St Paul's description of Love? Of course, God Is Love!

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    Agreed DAVID. Jesus has not only been exalted above every "being" that has a name, but He is also highly exalted above anything else that can be named. If you can put a name on it, Jesus is above it. Sickness, poverty, depression, anger - everything has to bow its knee to the Lordship of Jesus. Every knee of men, angels, and demons will bow and confess that Jesus is Lord. Those who have denied His existence will bow in worship. Those who have spent their lives rebelling His authority will finally bow in submission. Every being from all ages will ultimately bow and worship Jesus. If we bow our knee to His Lordship now, we will enjoy a wonderful life here on earth, and an eternity in His blessings hereafter. Those who deny His rightful claim to the Lordship of their lives will suffer for it in this life as well as in the next. They still will have to bow their knee to His authority, so there is nothing to gain and everything to lose if they refuse to make Jesus Lord of their life.

  • Barbara Sabin | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    I was moved to tears when I came across this it says all I want to say about my great God. .

  • David Chipchase | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    Yes, Barbara, it was great. I went on and watched some other carols. One was a Flash mob. It would be great if local churches did a Flash mob at, say, a shopping mall during advent. I don't have the talent or contacts. Any WLers up to the challenge?

  • David Chipchase | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    Thinking about "up to the third and fourth generation". It could be the on-going consequences of the sin. Think Nazi Germany and WW2 Japan and the repugnance felt towards these nations by other nations because of the atrocities committed by them.

  • Fiona Battrum | Wednesday, 29 November 2017


  • Fiona Battrum | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    After reading this and reflecting, my view of a jealous God is that I feel God is zealous about me. He is dedicated to me and wants to protect my best interests. He is red hot emotionally in his passion for me. I don’t think he is a cold blood killer who kills other tribes and inflicts suffering on Three generations of children. I do think that, children inevitably pay the price of their parents mistakes. That’s obvious in a way. It’s why I guess being separated from god brings further suffering opon ourselves. I’m still ruminating on these passages though.

  • Eileen Smith | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    DAVID , the churches in my area did this in the main shopping area just before I moved here but not since

  • Ankhe Badam | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    Thank you David for remembering my daughter. May you all be blessed, and thank you for your prayers. Please continue to pray for both and their health issues. What leapt out at me was that this passage said ''the Lord whose name is jealous'- I never remember reading that before. The Lord to me is tremendously loving, but painful-he sharpened my conscience so that sin cuts like a knife. Painful.

  • Roger Hall | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    Barbara and David, thank you, the flash mob in the Mall was hilarious, specially the men slowly carried aloft on the escalator singing away. I laughed to tears. I did something I've never done before, sent it by email. We have the most enormous church, it might be fun to send a rumour that something was going to happen in the church, and the quire would appear in tourist clothes until the moment! Our supermarkets are too small!

  • Rebecca Huie | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    The season of Advent and the music it inspires is spectacular! We all love it. DAVID, my husband and I are musicians, by avocation and vocation. He is currently singing in a regional chorus, and I’ve asked him to appeal to their conductor to do a flash mob of one of the movements of Messiah, or a selection of Christmas carols. I think this would bring great joy to any community. Easier said than done, but if they agree, we’ll try to get it on YouTube. Wonderful suggestion.

  • Roger Hall | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    Ankha, I agree, painful, cutting. Is one sin perhaps one more nail in Jesus hands ?

  • Barbara Sabin | Wednesday, 29 November 2017

    It would be interesting to know where we all live. I am 10 minutes away from the Meadowhall Shopping Mall Sheffield I agree a Flash mob would be brilliant there. What a way to witness. I have studied this verse all day 'The sins of the Father's are visited upon the children to the third and fourth generation, My grandfather who I never knew caused my Grandma and my Dad and his sisters to be homeless because he committed adultery and brought his lover home. My Dad was brought up by his Father's brother they were devout Methodists so he had much love I wondered how any man could choose to lose his family. My parents were devoted to each other, my husband and I have been married 57 years but two of our children have been divorced, one of them divorced her husband for adultery.this is the 3rd generation. Is my thinking wrong?

  • Rebecca Huie | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    Barbara, I don’t know whether this will reach you, since the next day’s study has already been posted, but I wanted to respond to your comment about punishments to the third and fourth generations. You are a real Bible scholar and I am a perpetual student, so not to instruct you, but to encourage you- although your grandfather committed adultery, your grandmother, your father & his Methodist uncle, both of you parents and you and your husband have lived godly lives and are a godly example to your children. I personally think this cancels grandfather’s sin (is more immediate than the past generation) and is an avenue of God’s grace. I see God as merciful and loving toward His children (which you & husband are) and forgiving of sins. I’m sure your children have received Christ as their Saviour and have a relationship with Him. The recent divorce could be the result of living in a fallen world. A few scriptures about God’s unfailing love extending to a thousand generations: Ex. 34:7; Deut. 5:10 and 7:9; Ex. 20:6; Ps. 105:8; I Chron. 16:15. Be encouraged and thank you for being a bright light on WL!

  • Roger Hall | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    To Barbara and Rebecca, a thought which came to is that the proclamation of God's love and justice may well mean that the sin is not handed down through generations, but that the effects of the sin results in disruption heartache and distrust to the family. A cousin of mine was frightened of the concept of God the Father, as, at the age of seven, she was raped. Most of her life, she was always looking over her shoulder, until, almost inevitably, pancreatic cancer took her to an early grave. Peaceful at the end. That family really suffered from the sin of the father. I've not recorded the full story!

  • Gilvin Crisifeca | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    BARBARA your question re sins of the father brings to mind Jeremiah 31`:29-34 and I believe this assures His people that under the New Covenant the sins of the fathers will no longer be visited upon their children Praise God!

  • Rebecca Huie | Thursday, 30 November 2017

    Roger, I fully understand what you mean and sympathize with you and your family. Every family has something to deal with. I’ve prayed for the cleansing/healing of generational problems in my family line, more than once. And still there are difficulties, but let’s keep praying. God is loving, good and merciful. I’ll never know why (in this life), but try to trust Him. One of the most profound sermons I’ve ever heard was entitled, “He is God, and I am not.” True!

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