God’s history with the children of Israel is a narrative spun all throughout the books of the Bible. It’s a story of astonishing faith, but also a rather sobering example of human inconsistencies. The God of Israel says it in no uncertain terms: He hates competing with idols. We can see His response to human unfaithfulness in the book of Isaiah (Isaiah 48:10-11):
“See I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction. For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another.”
God has every intention to upgrade the covenant relationship with His children – and so He purifies the children of Israel by allowing all kinds of trouble. He is a jealous God who does not want to share His children’s affections. He won’t have it. It’s as simple as that. On that note the prophet Moses proclaimed the words of God to the people of Israel in the Sinai desert (Deuteronomy 32:21):
“They made me jealous by what is no god and angered me with their worthless idols. I will make them envious by those who are not a people; I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding.”
I believe God is referring to the “heathen nations” when He says that He is going to make the people of Israel envious by those who are not a people. It is certainly not a very flattering statement to hear that the nations outside of Israel have no understanding. But here we are centuries later and faith in the God of Israel has spread all over the globe. This is the only good form of jealousy that I know: Envious to know the Lord.
The truth is the nations of this world have run into the same relationship issues with God Almighty as the people of Israel previously have. We are all frail human beings, prone to make mistakes. As a result we all go through a furnace of trouble to learn how to fully depend on the Lord. He wants to get our attention so He can show us the way.
The Lord knows what is best for us, so we can put our trust in Him – especially in times of trouble.