The bible teaches that God is a “Jealous God”. For what is God Jealous? In several passages; cited below we see just a few of the passages where God declares his jealousy.
“Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a JEALOUS God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;” Exodus 20:5
“For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is JEALOUS, is a JEALOUS God:” Exodus 34:14
The Lord God is jealous when the people that he has chosen out of the earth bow down, serve and worship other God’s. This is a serious problem and one which has consequences. God says that he will “Visit the iniquity of the fathers upon the children on the third and fourth generation to those that hate me.” His jealousy over worship from His people that is reserved for Him will entail judgment.
“Then will the LORD be JEALOUS for his land, and pity his people.” Joel 2:18
“For I am JEALOUS over you with godly JEALOUSY: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to Christ.” 2 Corinthians 11:2
There is another kind of jealousy that God has involving His people. That is a jealousy that results in His guarding and purifying His people. In the Joel passage above, God is speaking of a day when his people will be restored to Himself and He is jealous for that day. In the following verse Joel 2:19 God says that He is sending them (His people) grain, wine and oil so that they will be satisfied, and that they will no more be a reproach among the nations. This is a jealousy that results in protection and provision for God’s people.
“For they provoked him to ANGER with their high places, and moved him to JEALOUSY with their graven images.” Psalm 78:58
But, most incidents of God’s jealousy is over the false worship of the Old Covenant nation of Israel. This jealousy angers God and brings destruction and judgment to His people. In the book of Deuteronomy, many covenantal principles are laid out for Israel in their relationship with God, and they are told time and again to not turn to other gods.
“For I know that after my death ye will UTTERLY CORRUPT YOURSELVES, and TURN ASIDE from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you IN THE LATTER DAYS; because YE WILL DO EVIL in the sight of the LORD, to PROVOKE HIM TO ANGER through the work of your hands. And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.” Deuteronomy 31:29-30
This passage in Deuteronomy 31 introduces us to the Song of Moses. This is a prophetic song of judgment that would befall the Old Covenant people of God in a time when they would “Utterly Corrupt Themselves”, “Turn Aside from God’s Commands”. They will “Do evil”, and they will “Provoke the Lord to Anger”. All this, according to Moses through the inspiration of the Spirit of God would take place, “In the Latter Days”. These are a reference to the latter days or last day of God’s covenant relationship with the nation of Israel.
“They provoked him to JEALOUSY with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to ANGER.” Deuteronomy 32:16
In this verse of the song of Moses, we have a reference to God’s covenant nation provoking Him to jealousy with their strange gods, and provoking Him to anger. This is laid out as an indictment against the nation for their false worship which God had earlier warned them against in Exodus. But remember, this is prophetic language. Moses is saying that “After his death” (see Deut 31:29 – above) these things would happen. There is no speculation that they might happen, Moses is prophesying what WILL occur in the covenantal history of Israel as a nation.
“They have moved me to JEALOUSY with that which is not God; they have provoked me to ANGER with their vanities: and I WILL MOVE THEM TO JEALOUSY with those which are not a people; I WILL PROVOKE THEM TO ANGER with a foolish nation.” Deuteronomy 32:21
As Moses progresses through the prophetic song he arrives at verse 21 where he declares what God is going to do about this provocation of the one Holy God to jealousy. He declares that God will in return “Move THEM (Israel) to Jealousy.” And he will “Provoke THEM (Israel) to Anger.” So we see that God will return jealousy for jealousy, anger for anger. But just how is it that God will make His people Israel jealous and angry? In verse 31 Moses tells them that the nation will be moved to jealousy by the means of “Those which are not a people”. Throughout Israel’s history they had always seen themselves as God’s special people. The word “gentile” means “those not of the tribe”, or those who are not of the people. The term has come to be understood as any who are not Jewish, any that are outside of the boundaries of “The People”. These are the nations. Then again it is in this same modus operandi that God will “Provoke them to Anger”, “With a foolish nation. So God’s plan to repay Israel for making Him jealous was to use the gentile nations to make His own people jealous.
“For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them. O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!” Deuteronomy 32:28-29
Verses 28 and 29 are a reference to Israel lack of counsel and understanding. Moses laments their lack of foresight and wisdom by crying out; “O That They Were Wise”. But the implication is that they are not. “O that they understood this”. Moses spoke plainly about these events that were in the future for Israel, but they did not understand. “O that they would consider their Latter End.” Here again, Moses tells us that the time in which these things will occur will be when Israel as a nation is at their end.
“To me belongeth vengeance, and recompense; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” Deuteronomy 32:35
Here Moses declares that for all their failures and their worshipping of false deities, God has reserved the vengeance that they deserve, to Himself. Vengeance and recompense belongs to God and not man. Only God can determine the time, level and mode of judgment. But just as sure as Israel will depart from God and worship falsely, so too is the surety of the calamity, vengeance and recompense promised by God, upon His people…”For the LORD SHALL Judge His People.” There is no maybe, or statement of possibility here. This is a sure thing.
“For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.” Deuteronomy 32:36
“If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.” Deuteronomy 32:41
“Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.” Deuteronomy 32:43
These last few verses are indeed dark. They are full of doom and despair. In verse 41 God says that he will render vengeance to His enemies, in this he is speaking of Israel. When they get to this point, Israel, by violating their covenant, will have made themselves the enemies of God. And He WILL render vengeance. But note there is a promise of mercy in the midst of judgment. This mercy is reserved for His people. Yes Virginia, there is a remnant. National Israel in covenant relationship with God would go astray to the point of judgment. But God has reserved a remnant that have not bowed the knee to the false gods. To these he promises Mercy. What a great God we have. In the darkest time of the history of the nation of Israel, God calls out to those who are truly the elect of Jehovah and He offers Mercy.
This old covenant prophecy given by Moses in the form of a song, (more like a dirge) has its fulfillment, you may recall in the “Latter Days”. The “Latter Days” or “Last Days” came upon the nation of Israel in the first century. The writer of Hebrews did not just pull a phrase out of a hat by random when he stated:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;” Hebrews 1:1-2
It is interesting that the words used by Moses in Deuteronomy 31:29 “In The Latter Days” in the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament are the identical Greek words used by the author if Hebrews when he wrote the phrase “In These Last Days”
LAST OF THE DAYS
The only difference between the two Greek texts is that in the Hebrews text the author adds to the end of the phrase “Last of the Days. He adds the word (touta) the Greek word which means “THESE”. The writer of Hebrews speaking as an observer of “These” events says that the “Last Days” are “THESE Last Days” indicating that he (the author) was living right smack dab in the middle of “Those” “Last Days”.
So the “Days” that Moses prophesied would see the fulfillment of this Jealousy were the “Last Days” of the old covenant during the first century.
The great Apostle to the gentiles, Paul, wrote in the book of Romans about Israel being made to be jealous.
Hypothetical question #1: If God said that in Israel’s last days he would make them jealous by way of the gentiles, and Paul who knew the old covenant scripture inside and out declares that the old covenant people were in their last days and that God was in the process of making them jealous by means of the gentile nations, and then he quotes directly from the prophet Moses who originally spoke the words of the “jealousy” promise…would that be a fulfillment of that prophecy??? Or should we look for another fulfillment?
Hypothetical Question # 2: If Paul’s direct use of that old covenant scripture is not a fulfillment of the prophecy of Moses from Deuteronomy, then what should we look for in such a fulfillment?
Can it get any clearer? Paul, in Romans 10:19, quotes directly from Moses in Deuteronomy 32:21. How could Paul have said it any plainer if he actually wanted to insist that what he was actively involved in was the fulfillment of Moses prophecy? If the words that Paul used do not indicate fulfillment, where and when can we ever find stronger words that do?
“But I say, did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.” Romans 10:19
What is the context of Paul’s use of Moses from Deuteronomy? He first asks the question; “Did Israel NOT understand?” The answer is Of course they understood, Moses told them plainly. This comes after he quotes psalm 19:4
“Their voice has gone out to all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”
God had made every effort to warn and inform Israel of their covenantal responsibility and the covenantal price to be paid for rebellion. After Paul quotes Moses he quotes Isaiah 65:1, so that in the mouth of two or three witnesses this thing will be established.
“I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.”
Isaiah is saying that God would go to a people (not Israel) with his message and with his kingdom. But yet God was ever patient. In Romans 10:21 God reminds us:
“But of Israel He says, All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.”
God’s patience was coming to an end. The end of God’s patience would be the judgment, the “Stumbling” of Israel.
“I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy.” Romans 11:11
Again Paul tells us by inspiration of the Spirit of God that this provoking to jealousy was happening in His day. In fact in Romans 11:13-14 Paul declares that bringing his countrymen to a place of jealousy is exactly what his ministry to the Gentiles is all about.
“For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: If by any means I may provoke to emulation (Jealousy) them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” Romans 11:13-14
In verse 15 Paul goes as far as to say that the rejection of Israel and the accompanying jealousy would mean the reconciliation of the World (gentiles), but if Israel would accept, it would mean their “Life from the Dead” -Resurrection. This acceptance would not be nation-wide but it was reserved for the remnant as God had promised through Moses. (See again Deuteronomy 32:43)
To see Paul’s explanation of this remnant that would experience God’s mercy while the rest were judged, take some time and read through the rest of Romans Chapter 11. In verse 21
“For if God spared not the natural branches, neither will he spare you.” Verse 31, “So they too have now been disobedient in order that by the mercy shown to you they also may now receive mercy.”
You see cutting off of natural branches, grafting in of wild branches and natural branches, and we see those who were disobedient receiving mercy and others not. This fits perfectly with the promise made by Moses in his Prophetic song.
Paul then goes on to declare that for the rest, there is judgment
“Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: FOR IT IS WRITTEN, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” Romans 12:19
In the same breath with which Paul declares Moses prophecy to be in the process of being fulfilled in HIS day (not ours), he goes on in Romans 12:19 to remind us of something that “WAS WRITTEN”. Paul, where was this written? The words are a direct quote from Moses in Deuteronomy 32:35. The same passage that promised that God would carry out his vengeance upon his people, Paul is saying that is what you are witnessing. This vengeance is from God’s hand to His own rebellious people Israel. And Paul is saying, this is about to happen here and now (in the first century).
If that is not enough, Paul summarizes in Romans 15 by declaring that all this is being accomplished’ “to confirm the promises made unto the Fathers”. And part of those promises made to the fathers was that the Gentiles would be brought in. And in the middle of this summary he quotes Deuteronomy 32:43 …“Rejoice, O Gentiles with His People.” In the saving and preserving of the remnant and the inclusion of the gentiles, there is reason to rejoice. Read for yourself.
“Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers: And that the Gentiles might glorify God FOR HIS MERCY; AS IT IS WRITTEN (he quotes2 Samuel 22:50), For this cause I will confess to thee among the Gentiles, and sing unto thy name. AND AGAIN HE SAITH (he quotes Deuteronomy 32:43), Rejoice, ye Gentiles, with his people. AND AGAIN (he quotes David from Psalm 117:1), Praise the Lord, all ye Gentiles; and laud him, all ye people. AND AGAIN (he quotes Isaiah 11:10), Esaias saith, There shall be a root of Jesse, and he that shall rise to reign over the Gentiles; in him shall the Gentiles trust.” Romans 15:8-12
Paul again, leaving nothing to chance but he quotes Moses, David and Isaiah. Truly we are encompassed with a great cloud of witnesses.
This is a great thing that the gentiles are now a part of the kingdom. Indeed the wall of separation has been forever abolished and the two, -Jew and Gentile- have been made into “One New Man”.
So we have the testimony of Paul in Romans which is powerful and very convincing. But is there any other evidence that in the first century God was at work making his people, the Jews, jealous? In the narrative account by Luke in the book of Acts we have ample evidence of the Jewish reaction to both the gospel of Jesus Christ and to the inclusion of the gentiles in that blessing. I cite several verses for your consideration without comment; however the highlights are mine.
“And as they spake unto THE PEOPLE, THE PRIESTS, and THE CAPTAIN OF THE TEMPLE, and THE SADUCEES, came upon them, Being GRIEVED that they taught THE PEOPLE, and preached through Jesus the resurrection from the dead. And THEY LAID HANDS ON THEM, and put them in hold (prison) unto the next day: for it was now eventide.” Acts 4:1-3
“Then the HIGH PRIEST rose up, and all they that were with him, (which is the sect of THE SADUCEES,) and were FILLED WITH INDIGNATION, And LAID THEIR HANDS ON THE APOSTLES, and PUT THEM IN PRISON.” Acts 5:17-18
“And when the JEWS were gone out of the synagogue, the Gentiles besought that these words might be preached to them the next Sabbath. Now when the congregation was broken up, many of THE JEWS and religious proselytes followed Paul and Barnabas: who, speaking to them, persuaded them to continue in the grace of God. And the next Sabbath day came almost the whole city together to hear the word of God. But when THE JEWS saw the multitudes, they were FILLED WITH ENVY, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming.” Acts 13:42-45
“But the JEWS STIRRED UP THE DEVOUT AND HONORABLE WOMEN, and THE CHIEF MEN of the city, and RAISED PERSECUTION against Paul and Barnabas, and expelled them out of their coasts.” Acts 13:50
“And it came to pass in Iconium, that they went both together into the synagogue of the JEWS, and so spake, that a great multitude both of the JEWS and also of the Greeks believed. But THE UNBELIEVING JEWS STIRRED UP THE GENTILES, and MADE THEIR MINDS EVIL AFFECTED AGAINST THE BRETHREN.” Acts 14:1-2
“Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a SYNAGOGUE OF THE JEWS: And Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three Sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, Opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But THE JEWS WHICH BELIEVED NOT, MOVED WITH ENVY, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people.” Acts 17:1-5
“But when the JEWS of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and STIRRED UP THE PEOPLE.” Acts 17:13
Throughout the period of the first century growth of the church and the bringing in of the nations, time and time again, the Jews were moved with envy, and sought to put a stop to the spread of the gospel especially to the gentiles. Paul spoke of this persecution at the hands of the Jews in letter after letter. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul reminds them that they (gentiles) had suffered in the same way that their Jewish brethren had, at the hands of the Jews.
“For you, brethren, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea, for YOU ALSO ENDURED THE SAME SUFFERINGS at the hands of your own countrymen, EVEN AS THEY DID FROM THE JEWS, who both killed the Lord Jesus and the prophets, and drove us out. They are not pleasing to God, but hostile to all men,”
Paul says that these persecuting Jews are not “pleasing to God,but hostile to all men”. All the while they were trying to prevent Paul and his missionary team from speaking to the Gentiles.
“…hindering us from speaking to the Gentiles so that they may be saved; with the result that they always fill up the measure of their sins. But wrath has come upon them to the utmost.” 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16
Paul even knew of people who were preaching the gospel from a motive of strife and envy.
“Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife; and some also of good will: What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretense, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Philippians 1:15 & 18
But in the end, it was in fact “The End”. Just a s Moses said; these things would all come to pass in the “Last Days” of the covenantal relationship of God with His covenant people Israel. To this Paul gave ample witness. All these things came to pass in that first century generation. Those days were indeed “the days of vengeance when all things written would be fulfilled”. Luke 21:22.
It was envy and jealousy that was even at the root of the motive of the Jews in crucifying the Lord of mercy, Jesus Christ.
“For he knew that for envy they had delivered him.” Matthew 27:18
“For he knew that the chief priests had delivered him for envy.” Mark 15:10
But amazingly it was through that very crucifixion that mercy was poured out.