[The following are excerpts from a Spiritual Life paper.]
Jealousy is a direct manifestation of holiness in that it is a protection and preservation of holiness, as opposed to love for example which is more of an indirect result or part of holiness.
This understanding of jealousy is likened to how a husband’s jealousy for his wife drives him to protect her from anyone who might steal her away. In fact, God gave Ezekiel the allegory of a husband king married to a rescued young bride to explain His jealousy for those whom He had set aside as His representatives on the earth. The act of setting them aside, by definition, was making them a holy group among the rest of the human race, albeit the object of holiness was not in themselves or in the human race, but in God Himself. It is important to note that jealousy is not continuously activated as one might think of faith, peace or joy; rather, it is aroused when holiness is threatened. In the story, the king’s jealousy is aroused when his wife was living an adulterous life (Eze. 16:38), but made a promise that his jealousy would subside once he put an end to her prostitution (16:42).
It is important to note that jealousy is not continuously activated as one might think of faith, peace or joy; rather, it is aroused when holiness is threatened.
It may be a bit more difficult to understand jealousy as it pertains to mankind, due to the prevalence of sin, which tarnishes any effort to be holy. Numbers 20:1-13 tells of when Moses attempted but failed to uphold God’s holiness to the grumbling, thirsty Israelites because he attributed himself in part to the source of miraculous power to give water out of the rock. God’s jealousy was aroused even against Moses to whom He spoke “face-to-face”. It is paramount to understand that even though humans are made in the very image of God and have dominion over the earth, it is a much less distinction than between God and man simply because God is the creator of everything (refer to Acts 17:22-31). Thankfully, only five chapters away in Numbers 25 is recorded an instance when the priest Phinehas zealously exercised God’s prescribed judgement perfectly and immediately, and was rewarded and commended by God for it. Indeed, the story parallels Jesus’ clearing of the temple in many awesome ways (John 2:12-22)!
It follows, then, that if God’s jealousy were to be lived out in the Christian’s life to hypothetical perfection, it would always be to protect all representations of God’s holiness, such as a believer’s life, or the church body.
It follows, then, that if God’s jealousy were to be lived out in the Christian’s life to hypothetical perfection, it would always be to protect all representations of God’s holiness, such as a believer’s life, or the church body. One particular example that is extremely difficult for most Christians, and sadly, too easy for others, is to exercise the freedom and directive given in the Bible for Christians to call each other out with sin, especially within the church (I Cor. 5:12-13). How does one go about displaying God’s jealousy perfectly within the church in such a way? On the one hand, having such jealousy will ensure a right standing with God on both a personal and corporate basis, and will also allow those who are not yet believers the continuous opportunity to realize that God must be alive and active in their midst. On the flip side, however, there must be room for God’s forgiveness as well. The story of Jesus being presented with the woman caught in adultery comes to mind (John 8:1-11). Jesus claimed that He was the fulfillment of the Law (Matt. 5:17), and according to the Law, she must die. Instead, He was able to extend mercy (albeit with the command to “go and sin no more”) and pardon her. The apparent contradiction is of course wrapped up in the fact that Jesus had the authority to forgive sins (Mark 2:10) based on the fact that He was on earth to save sinners and not to condemn them (John 3:17) by heading to the cross.
Thus, as God’s One and Only and present with God in the very beginning of time, no other human could ever have the ability to forgive with such authority as Jesus did, even under the hypothetical state of perfectionism. It rather is quite an impossibility to even hypothesize such a state in light of God’s eternal plan.