Behold His Jealousy - Radical

Behold His Jealousy

No one wants to be described as jealous. In fact, Scripture warns us against an ungrateful heart that longs for what God has not given us. But, according to Psalm 79, jealousy is a good thing if we’re talking about God’s jealousy. Unlike us, God is jealous for His own glory, and this is good news for His people. In this sermon, David Platt helps us see why God’s jealousy should lead the believer to greater comfort, hope, and worship.

We’re in a series in the Psalms that’s grounded in the assumption that the greatest need in our lives, families, this church and in our country is to know God. We need to have a high view of God in all His glory. Unfortunately, we are constantly tempted in our lives, families, church and certainly in our country, to have a low view of God. We minimize or even ignore characteristics of God that are not comfortable to us. Last week we talked about God’s wrath, and this week we’ll talk about His jealousy. It’s not a characteristic we often talk about—and for good reason. When most of us think of jealousy, we think of the sin of selfish envy, even anger, that breeds resentment within us and can destroy relationships around us.

Can Jealousy be Good?

Is it possible for jealousy to be good? Let me tell you a story. When I was a junior in high school, I had not yet had a date, because I was afraid to talk to girls and was socially awkward. So God in His grace provided a girl who started talking to me. Apparently she was somehow attracted to my social awkwardness. Word got around that if I were to ask her on a date, it was a sure thing. She would say yes. There would be no risk involved. So one Sunday night while we were hanging out with some friends from church, I see her walking toward a room alone and I decided this was my chance. I followed her into the room, cornered her and said, “Hey, what are you doing next Friday night?” She said, “I’m not doing anything.” I said, “Would you like to go on a date with me?” She said, “Sure.” I said, “Okay, ‘bye.” And I walked out of the room.

I had gotten what I wanted and I did not want to ruin it. I didn’t talk to her again that night. I went home and picked out the clothes I was going to wear that next Friday. Some would say I was excited; others would say I was lame. I think excited. Everything in my life changed that week. My eating patterns changed. My sleep patterns changed. I remember my dad came up to me and said, “Son, you’ve got a problem.” I replied, “No, Dad, I’ve got a date.”

After a week of anticipation, Friday arrived. I put on the clothes I had picked out, got in the car and headed to where she lived, about 20 minutes from my house. But about ten minutes into the drive, I realized I knew generally where she lived, but not exactly which neighborhood, much less which house. That is a problem when you’re going to pick up a girl for a date. I panicked. “Why didn’t I think of this? I can’t be late.”

There were no cell phones back then. So I just started praying. I’m not sure what I was expecting God to do—maybe put a big yellow arrow in the sky pointing to her house? But it didn’t happen. I was driving around in circles and the Lord didn’t answer in the way I wanted Him to answer. Finally I pulled into a gas station where there was a pay phone. I put in a quarter and called her. She said, “Where are you?” Thinking I’d blown it, I admitted, “I forgot to ask you where you live.” She gave me directions from the gas station and I picked her up late, then we went to dinner.

At the time we lived in Stone Mountain, Georgia which is a big mountain made of stone near Atlanta. In front of it there’s a large lawn where they have a laser show in the summer. You sit on blankets waiting for darkness, at which time laser pictures are shown on the side of the mountain with generally a patriotic theme, complete with Lee Greenwood singing, “I’m proud to be an American.” Then you walk away with chills down your spine. So I figured it was a perfect first date place to go.

We get to the lawn, put down our blanket and sit there. We make small talk until it gets dark enough for the show to start. But while everyone else has their eyes and minds fixed on the side of the mountain, I’m fixed on the fact that I’m sitting next to a girl on a date. I could care less about what was on the side of the mountain. I was trying to figure out what I was supposed to do. Should I just sit there? Then the thought came, maybe I should try to hold her hand. I think that’s what guys and girls do on dates. I have since told my sons, “You should not do this on your first date.” But, back then, that’s what I was thinking.

Still, it didn’t seem right to just reach out and grab her hand; that seemed kind of forward. So I came up with a plan. I decided I would let my hand gradually drop by my side. Don’t laugh at me if you’ve done this, guys. Then my plan was to slide my hand over a little bit at a time and then our hands will just happen to touch, and, well, we might as well hold hands. Ingenious plan. I started to put it in action. My hand dropped, started sliding, a little more, a little more. No lie—20 minutes later, I’m still not there. Finally, I gave it one last slide and our hands touched. Oh, wow. And we started holding hands.

Thirty seconds later, the show is over. Everyone else gets up, folds their blankets, and I’m just sitting there, staring at the blank mountain, still holding her hand. I worked hard to get over there—we’re not leaving yet. So for five minutes—it felt like an hour—she and I sat there looking at that rock. Finally I looked at her and said, “I think it’s probably time to go.” Everyone else was gone. She said, “Yeah.” So we went to the car and I dropped her off at her house. I knew how to get back to my house, but I was so excited that I went the wrong way on the interstate around Atlanta. It took me well over an hour to get home—but that hour felt like five minutes. I will never forget the first moment my relationship with this girl began. That relationship grew over the next year, then two years, then four years.  Then 18 years ago we got married.

So why do I tell you that story? Is it just to make you sick or is there some kind of spiritual purpose? The reason I tell you this story is to give you a glimpse of how much I love this woman. Heather Platt is my bride and I am jealous for her. By that I mean I am jealous for her good, to see that she is cared for well. I’m jealous to provide for her. I am jealous to protect her from anything that would harm her. I’m jealous to promote the purity of my love for her and her love for me.

Through this  picture of jealousy for my wife today, I want to invite you to see God’s jealous love for you. Over the next few minutes I want to show you how the jealousy of God is extremely good for you—right where you’re sitting. Not just the person beside you or in front of you—but you. The jealousy of God is good for you and it’s good for God. Now, don’t carry the marriage analogy too far, because as much as I love my wife, I am an imperfect husband. As a result, there are some significant differences between God’s jealousy and my jealousy, even in that picture.

So let’s read Psalm 79. This psalm was written right after the destruction of Jerusalem. Last week we read a psalm that described God’s protection of Jerusalem from the Assyrians. Then years later, because God’s people persisted in sin, the Babylonians came, attacked the city and destroyed it completely. This psalm is written from the perspective of the few people who weren’t taken into exile. They were alive, but were totally surrounded by ruins. Imagine being in a war-ravaged city, in the middle of mass destruction with bodies lying everywhere. This is a hard, emotionally raw psalm. Watch for the mention of the jealousy of God:

O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.

They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! 7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation.

Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! Why should the nations say, “Where is their God?” Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations before our eyes!

Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die! Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted you, O Lord!  But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.

Did you see all the exclamation points? This is emotionally raw. Notice verse five: “How long, O Lord? Will your jealousy burn like fire?” I want to ask two questions. One, what does it mean for God to be jealous? And two, why does that matter for our lives? I’ll try to answer these based on this psalm and all of Scripture.

 

What does it mean for God to be jealous in Psalm 79?

In this text, alongside all of Scripture, God’s jealousy means two things. First, for God to be jealous means He’s zealous for His glory. Now, I use the word ‘zealous’ here because in both the Old Testament and the New Testament, when we see the word ‘jealousy,’ it’s sometimes translated “zeal.” So jealousy is zeal for something. What is God zealous for? He is zealous for His own glory.

The psalmist knows this. Look at how he begins in verse one: “The nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem (God’s holy city) in ruins. They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.” The psalmist is not just looking at the disaster from a human perspective, but also from a divine perspective. Even as he is crying out for grace from God, he says in verse nine, “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!”

He continues in verse ten, “Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’” He’s saying, “The nations are questioning You, O God. They’re questioning Your power and presence with Your people.” He knows God is zealous for His glory. This is something we see all over Scripture when we read about the jealousy of God.

Turn back to Exodus 20, where we see the jealousy of God explicitly mentioned for the first time.

This comes right at the beginning of the Ten Commandments. God has brought His people to Mt. Sinai to enter into a covenant relationship with Him, like a marriage relationship, and this is His word to them, beginning in verse two:

I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.

 

We can see this truth from the very earliest days of the Bible, that God desires and deserves all glory. There is only one true God and because He alone is God, He is jealous to receive all worship as God. He desires His own worship. Now, I realize that many of us might recoil at that, because we inherently think it’s wrong for anyone to be jealous for their own worship. We repulsed by anyone who dares to think they deserve worship? If I walked in here today and said, “You should worship me,” you would say, “You can take a hike.” Why? Because I don’t deserve worship and I’m deceived if I think I do. But not God. God is not deceived. He knows He deserves all glory. There’s no other god, period. He’s the only God Who is worthy of all worship from all the world. So it’s not only not wrong, it’s altogether right for God to desire His own glory and worship and exaltation. If it rubs you wrong for God to desire to exalt Himself, well then, who else would you rather that He exalt? You? Someone or something else? No. If at any point God were to exalt someone else, He would no longer be the God Who is worthy of all exaltation—and He is. That’s what it means for Him to be God. He deserves all glory, and therefore He desires and is zealous for His glory.

In Psalm 79, God’s name is jealous

All the references to God’s jealousy in Scripture are grounded in His zeal for His glory. In Exodus 34 we read about God leading His people to the Promised Land. At that time, the land was filled with pagan people who worshiped all kinds of false gods. These are some of the instructions God gives His people concerning how they were to act in this new land. Beginning with verse 13, we read, “You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God).”

His name is Jealous! That makes sense, because there is no one greater than God. It’s wrong for us to want worship, because we don’t deserve it. It is right for God to want worship, because He deserves it. Realizing this is the secret to true worship.  This is where we start to see how our jealousy is very different from His. On the one hand, it’s because He is worthy of worship. But let’s think about another difference. When we are jealous, often it’s due to some insecurity or envy in us. We see something someone else has and we’re jealous because we want it. Someone has a car or a house that we wish we had. We see how they look, their skills, their lifestyle and we wish these were ours.

I remember when I was in high school. Heather was dating another guy and I was jealous of him. In fact, it was eating me alive. There was someone I wanted to be in a relationship with, but I wasn’t, and as a result, I was insecure. This plays out in so many different ways throughout our lives. Nearly all of us right now can think of something we want—even something good—that someone else has and we’re jealous of them because of it. There’s an insecurity in us.

But this is not true of God. God is completely secure. He has no insecurity or envy. Why not? Because He desires nothing bad and everything that is good already belongs to Him. He is supremely good and glorious. He’s not jealous over anything we have, because everything good we have comes from Him in the first place. God doesn’t need anything. Another way God’s jealousy is different from ours can be seen when we think about why we get jealous.

One more remembrance of my high school days: I finally started dating Heather. But while I was dating her, other guys started flirting with her. If she started talking with one of them, what would rise up in me? Jealousy. Why? Think about it. Why would I be jealous? It’s because I would think, “What if she starts to like him more than she does me? What if she finds more joy and fulfillment and satisfaction around him than around me?” If the other guy was more attractive and enjoyable to be around than I was, it was even worse. After all, if the guy was a jerk, I wouldn’t be so jealous. If the dude is a stud, that’s when jealousy goes to a higher level.

Again, this is where God is so different from us and where we have to think differently about jealousy. Not only is God completely secure, He is also supremely satisfying, which means He knows there is no one better than Himself. He’s not some insecure deity who is worried that if you worship another god, you’re going to find more joy or fulfillment there. He knows there is no one or nothing that can ever come close to comparing to the joy and satisfaction that are found in Him. Do you see it? God is zealous for His glory because God alone is glorious.

So, what does it mean for God to be jealous? It means He’s zealous for His glory. At the same time, the second thing this means is that God is zealous for the good of His people. How does God choose to glorify Himself? By showering His goodness on His people whom He loves. Think about Genesis 1-2. God creates man and woman in His image to enjoy Him and glorify Him in the life He gives them—and they do for a season. But then what happens? They turn and say, “We don’t trust our good and glorious Creator; we’re not going to worship Him. They turn aside from the security and satisfaction they have in God, worshiping another god—namely themselves—instead.

They turn aside from the God Who is zealous for their good.  At that point sin enters the world and affects every person in all of history—every person born turns aside from the one true God and follows false gods instead. This is evident in every one of our lives, as each of us has turned aside from God and worshiped ourselves instead. God had said, “If you eat of the fruit of this tree, you will surely die.” But in His mercy, He set a plan in motion to make it possible for sinners who have rejected Him to be reconciled to Him. He didn’t have to do that. But He chose to make a way for us to be restored to satisfaction in Him.

This story plays out in the Old Testament by God calling a particular people to Himself, beginning in Genesis 12. He first calls Abraham, then Isaac and Jacob. In the chapters that follow, Jacob’s descendents become known as the people of Israel. God enters into a covenant with them, like a marriage relationship. He told them, “I will pour out My love on you in a special way. I will give you My promises and My blessings, and you are going to demonstrate My love to all the peoples of the earth.” The people agreed and they entered into that covenant/marriage relationship with God, committing their lives to Him. But before the seal of that covenant even had time to dry, they were already turning aside, fashioning a golden calf and worshiping it instead.

In this way, their physical idolatry became a picture of spiritual adultery. Like a husband with a wayward wife, over and over again God would pour out His love on His people, forgiving their sins, drawing them back to Himself, only to have them turn again and again to idol after idol after idol—the hurt and horror of adultery against the Almighty.

Which is exactly what is being described in Psalm 79. The people of God in Jerusalem had all the security and satisfaction they could ever want in God, yet they turned aside and crafted idols with their own hands, then bowed down to worship them instead. As we look back across history, we see that their gods were simply crafted out of wood and had no power to provide for or protect or lead them. Rather, idolatry with these empty gods led to all sorts of gross immorality and eventually brought this great destruction upon them.

Their spiritual adultery was like an addiction. Just like an alcoholic knows that drink will lead to disaster, they knew idolatry wasn’t good for them. Still, they went back to their idols as the drunk goes back to his bottle. Spiritual adultery works like this in each of our lives. Every one of us is prone to turn away from the good and satisfying and glorious God to trust in ourselves and the things of this world, even though we know that ultimately and inevitably this will lead to our downfall. Yet, we keep drinking.

God’s Jealousy in Scripture

This picture of the jealousy of God can be found all over Scripture. Just this past week I read in Hosea the description of God as a husband who loves his wife so much and who is able to give her everything she could ever need or want, yet she turns aside from him and runs around with other men. Imagine a husband who was perfect in every way—the most faithful, good husband possible—and then picture his wife sleeping around on him with all sorts of other men.

God, in this way, is a jealous husband. Again, He’s not insecure. He’s supremely secure and supremely satisfying. There’s no one who compares with God. He loves His bride so much, He’s so jealous for her good, that He will not give up on her. Rather, He’s zealous to bring her back to Himself. And that’s what we see in Psalm 79. When the psalmist cries out in verse five, “How long, O Lord, will your jealousy burn like fire?” he knows that the people of God have experienced the consequence of idolatry—their spiritual adultery. The worship of these false gods had led to their destruction, even death.

In that sense, the psalmist knows they are experiencing what they asked for in worshiping the things of this world. So in the mire of sin, the psalmist turns to God and cries out for mercy from heaven. In this cry, he shows us that God loves His people so much and He cares for them with such compassion. So his prayer from the beginning is this: “God, see Your people slain in the streets. They can’t even be buried. We are mocked, derided and totally shamed by everyone around us. We are destroyed in every way possible—physically, socially, politically, economically and spiritually.”

This leads him to cry in verse eight, “Let your compassion come speedily to meet us.” In other words, “Hurry God!” Verse nine: “Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins.” The psalmist knows that the reason they’re in despair is because they’ve sinned against a holy God. They have turned aside to false gods. He knows the only way they can be restored is to have their sins covered over. But he also know God loves His people so much that He saves them from their sin. He’s the God of salvation. “Deliver us! Save us!”

I love that word “deliver,” which literally means to snatch the prey out of a predator’s mouth. The people of God are caught in the clutch of sin and they’re crying, “Lord, get us out! Atone for our sins.” That word “atone” means to cover over our sins, which is where this whole story goes to a higher level. In the Old Testament, there were sacrifices that were offered to atone for sins. The Day of Atonement was the day when the high priest would offer a sacrifice in the place of sinners, to show that the penalty for sin—death—had been paid by the sacrifice, covering over the sins of the people. But that was a sacrifice that had to be offered over and over again, year after year after year. Still, this Old Testament picture was only intended to set the stage for the New Testament, when Jesus came to be the sacrifice, once and for all on the cross, to make salvation possible whereby sinners could be reconciled to a holy God. This is the greatest news in all the world, to any sinner anywhere: God has made a way for all our sins to be covered over.

If you have never cried out to God to forgive your sins and to cover over them by the sacrifice of Christ on the cross in your place, I urge you to do that today. Let today be the day when you by faith in Jesus are reconciled and restored to God. Today you can be forgiven of all your sins by repenting, turning from your sin  and trusting in Him. God loves His people so much that He makes a way to save them from their sin.

Not just save them from their sin—God loves His people so much that He sustains them in their suffering. The psalmist continues in verse 11, “Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to die!” Do you see God’s jealous love here? This writer knows God loves His people so much He will not leave them alone in their suffering, but according to His great power, He will preserve them.

This promise is to every one who is walking through suffering right now. I was praying with somebody last night who just found out they have cancer. Others I know are walking through the middle of cancer with all the pain and uncertainty that brings. There are so many different circumstances represented here.

So this is God’s word for you, especially if you’re walking through challenges, trials and suffering. Know this: if you have trusted in Christ and have been reconciled to Him, God is your Husband in this imagery—and He’s a faithful Husband. He will not abandon you in your suffering. In the midst of whatever you’re walking through, according to His great power He will preserve you. He’s able to provide for you and help you and sustain you in your suffering. Ultimately God loves His people so much that He leads them to eternal life.

Look how Psalm 79 ends. After so much despair, the psalmist looks up and says, “But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation we will recount your praise.” God is a jealous God, a zealous Husband, Who loves His bride and will lead His people in such a way that they will never, for all of eternity, ever run out of reasons to give Him thanks and praise.

I think about the recent slaughter in Sutherland Springs, Texas. Where is there hope in that? I grant that that picture seems so hopeless, if this life is all there is. It’s hopeless, if a mad shooter has the last word. But no shooter will have the last word. God will have the last word and for all who have trusted in Him, He will lead them to eternal life.

Why does this matter that Psalm 79 says God is a Jealous God?

What does it mean for God to be jealous? It means that God is zealous for His glory and at the same time, God is zealous for the good of His people. Why does it matter for our lives? It changes everything about our lives. I have two exhortations that I hope are obvious, but in case they’re not, let me make them clear.

First, because God is jealous, I exhort you to live with zeal for His glory. This is the Word of God to every one of us. We must live with zeal for the glory of God. God alone deserves all glory and as such, He desires all glory. So it’s imperative that we turn aside daily from all false gods, all idols in this world—whether it’s some hand-crafted wooden figure that might be in someone’s home, or far more subtle but just as sinful gods of money, sex, success, sports, entertainment, family, health, wealth, food, position, power, pleasure, comfort, acclaim. The list could go on and on of ways we worship even good things in this world, the places where we put our trust instead of trusting in our God, avenues that steal our affections from the only God Who is worthy of supreme affection and our total adoration.

I think about Elijah in 1 Kings 19:10, where he’s described as very jealous for the Lord God of Hosts. I want that to be said about me. I think about Phinehas, the son of Eleazar, in Numbers 25. This is God’s commentary on Phinehas: “He was as jealous as I am for My honor.” Ah, may that be the mark of our lives—your life, my life, this church. May it be said that we were just as zealous for the honor of God as God is.

As we gather together, may this be what drives us. May we refuse to walk away from a worship gathering like this thinking, “How did I feel about the service today?” as if the service was ultimately about how I feel. No, what should drive us as a church when we gather together, is this question: “How did God feel about the service today?” The service is about Him and His glory and our zeal for Him. In our families—in your singleness, in your marriage, with your parenting—consider this: how can your home and your personal life be driven with zeal, not for the pursuits of this world, but for the glory of your God. That’s a very different way to live, as a single, as a married couple, as parents in this world.

In your workplace, may you say tomorrow morning, “God help me in all I do today. I’m not about climbing the ladder. I’m about exalting Your name. Everything I think or say or desire—help me do it all with zeal for Your name.” Students, may you be less gripped about what people think about you on your campus, but instead be totally gripped by what other students think about God. It will change the way we live, if we can say, “God, You alone are supremely satisfying, supremely good, so I let go of anything and everything that keeps my heart from You. I let go of possessions, pursuits, pleasures, anything that keeps my heart from You. I want to live with zeal for Your glory.”

You might say, “I don’t know if I’m ready to let go of this possession or these pleasures. I don’t know if I’m ready to let go of what I’m doing with my boyfriend or girlfriend; what I do over here when nobody else is looking. I don’t know if I’m ready to reprioritize how I spend my money. I don’t know if I’m ready to reorient everything about how I live my life.” If any of those thoughts are in your mind, hear this second exhortation. Because God is jealous, I exhort you, live with zeal for your good.

You say, “Wait a minute. My good? I thought I was supposed to live for God’s glory, not my good.” This is where we realize our greatest good is found in living for God’s greatest glory. They go together. Think about it. Do you actually think sexual immorality satisfies? You have no idea. In that moment of fading pleasure, you’re turning aside from an unfading treasure. You’re not living for your good. If you think that’s pleasure—there’s so much more pleasure in God’s design for you.

Do you think that spending your money to indulge in more and more comforts in this world is satisfying? You have no idea about the indescribable joy you’re missing out on when it comes to sacrificial giving. You’re not living with zeal for your good—you’re living with zeal for your bad.

C.S. Lewis said it best:

We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition, when infinite joy has been offered to us. Like ignorant children who go on making mud pies in the slum because we cannot imagine what is meant by an offer of a holiday at the sea,  we are far too easily pleased.

In other words, we actually convince ourselves that we give in to temptations and run after the things of this world because our desires are so strong; we want so much to have sex. No.  That’s not true. We run after the things of this world because our desires are too weak, because it takes so little to satisfy us. We’re like ignorant children making mud pies in the slum, when God has given us a holiday at the sea. He is supremely satisfying. He has more good than anything this world could ever offer us.

So let’s be smart and let’s be satisfied in Him. Let’s not buy the lies of this world that this is what satisfies. It doesn’t satisfy. It kills and destroys. That’s the whole picture in Psalm 79. He alone gives life. So let’s trust in Him. He’s supremely satisfying. Start living with zeal for your good. Where will you find good? You’ll find good in living with zeal for God. He loves you so much.

This is such good news. In His jealousy, He loves you so much. God loves you, right where you’re sitting, with a jealous love—an altogether right and holy jealous love. He’s jealous for your affections and He’s worthy of them, because He’s the only One Who can satisfy you. So I implore you to run from sin. Reorient your life, your family, your work, your priorities, you possessions—everything you do and have—around zeal for His glory. And in the process, you will begin to realize you are living with zeal for your good.

To celebrate the greatness of God’s love for us, if you’ve never trusted in Jesus to forgive you of your sins, I invite you to do that today.Simply say, “Yes, I put my faith in You. I’m ready to turn aside from my sin, myself. I want to trust in You and follow You as Lord.”

Then for all who know Jesus, who know His love, I implore you, repent of any ways you are not worshiping and honoring and glorifying God. Let go of the things of this world you are running after instead of Him. As you repent, realize that despite your sin and wandering, He loves you so much. Jesus has paid for that sin; He has made the way for you to enjoy God. So enjoy Him in worship.

Let’s pray.

O God, we confess that You are glorious above all. There is no one, there is nothing, like You. We praise You, Jesus, for making it possible for us to experience, know, walk in and enjoy relationship with God. Open our eyes that we would no longer be blinded by the lies of this world that promise joy, fulfillment and satisfaction. Help us see that only You and provide these things. Help us to seek You alone for these things. We praise You for Your jealous love that makes this kind of eternal and supremely satisfying joy possible. Let’s celebrate that love now, in Jesus’ name. Amen.

How can we apply this passage to our lives?

Question 1

What comes to mind when you hear the word jealous? Why is our jealousy such an offense against God?

Question 2

How is God’s jealousy different from ours? What is He jealous for? Why isn’t it wrong for God to be  jealous?

Question 3

How does God’s jealousy relate to His wrath? What about His grace? His faithfulness?

Question 4

How does God’s jealousy bring comfort and hope to the believer?

Question 5

Many Christians around the world are persecuted for their faith. How might Psalm 79 and the reality of  God’s jealousy strengthen them?

Behold His Jealousy 

Behold His Glory, part 6 | Psalm 79 

Psalm 79:1 – 2 

“O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid  Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh  of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem,  and there was no one to bury them. We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those  around us. How long, O Lord? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? Pour out your anger  on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! For they have  devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. Do not remember against us our former iniquities; let your  compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our salvation, for the  glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake! Why should the nations say,  ‘Where is their God?’ Let the avenging of the outpoured blood of your servants be known among the nations  before our eyes! Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve  those doomed to die! Return sevenfold into the lap of our neighbors the taunts with which they have taunted  you, O Lord! But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation  to generation we will recount your praise.” 

What does it mean for God to be jealous? 

God is zealous for his glory. 

Psalm 79:1 – 2 

“. . . the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid  Jerusalem in ruins. They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh  of your faithful to the beasts of the earth.” 

Psalm 79:9 – 10  

“Help us, O God of our salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s  sake! Why should the nations say, ‘Where is their God?’”  

Exodus 20:2 – 6 

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. You shall have  no other gods before me. You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in  heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down  to them or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the  

children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to  thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.” 

God desires and deserves all glory. 

Exodus 34:13 – 14 

“You shall tear down their altars and break their pillars and cut down their Asherim (for you shall worship no  other god, for the Lord, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God) . . .” 

God is completely secure. 

God is supremely satisfying. 

God is zealous for the good of His people.

God loves His people so much that He cares for them with compassion. 

Psalm 79:8 – 9 

“. . . let your compassion come speedily to meet us, for we are brought very low. Help us, O God of our  salvation, for the glory of your name; deliver us, and atone for our sins, for your name’s sake!” 

God love His people so much that He saves them from their sin. 

God love His people so much that He sustains them in their suffering. 

Psalm 79:11 

“Let the groans of the prisoners come before you; according to your great power, preserve those doomed to  die!” 

God loves His people so much that He leads them to eternal life. 

Psalm 79:13 

“But we your people, the sheep of your pasture, will give thanks to you forever; from generation to generation  we will recount your praise.”  

Why does this matter for our lives? 

Because God is jealous, live with zeal for His glory. 

Because God is jealous, live with zeal for your good.

David Platt serves as a pastor in metro Washington, D.C. He is the founder and chairman of Radical. He is the author of several books, including Radical, Radical Together, Follow Me, Counter Culture, and Something Needs to Change.

LESS THAN 1% OF ALL MONEY GIVEN TO MISSIONS GOES TO UNREACHED PEOPLE AND PLACES.

That means that the people with the most urgent spiritual and physical needs on the planet are receiving the least amount of support. Together we can change that!