It’s an emotion not typically seen in a positive light in our culture and most often elicits a picture in one’s mind of a “green eyed monster” from our not-so-favorite cartoon character or the perpetrator from a murder mystery. Some even mistake jealousy and envy as one and the same thing; however, they are not identical.
So when God started sharing that He wanted me to paint His Name, El Kanna, meaning jealous God, I knew I needed His perspective on this misunderstood aspect of His nature.
It all started during a time of worship one Sunday a few months ago. When I closed my eyes, I suddenly saw a stag staring intensely into my eyes. His gaze was un-breaking and the intensity un-wavering.
In an instant, the vision was gone, but the image of this stag was burned into my mind. I couldn’t help feeling like I was supposed to paint what I saw, so I sketched it in my journal and waited until God’s timing to begin.
It wasn’t until right before I left for my annual women’s retreat that I was able to finally sketch it on a canvas and take it with me to paint during our time together. Little did I know, that as soon I arrived at the home where we would be staying, this exact vision would be played out in real life!
It was a confirmation the Lord didn’t need to provide, but did anyway. Immediately upon stepping into the door to the retreat location, I saw through the glass back door, the very same male deer, staring at me from the backyard. I was awestruck.
Now instead of those negative images of jealousy, I was able to see a jealousy that strives to watch over one’s beloved, to protect them from unfaithfulness with passionate zeal. It is this definition that is behind the name El Kanna in the Old Testament. God’s jealousy, in contrast to envy, is rooted in justice, holiness and love.
If you are a believer, the Lord is jealous of your love. He cannot abide that something else would take the first place in your life. He bought you with His own blood and He cannot stand that you think you belong to this world. He cannot tolerate anything that stands between Him and our love.
As the English poet Joseph Addison wrote, “Jealousy is that pain which a man feels from the apprehension that he is not equally beloved by the person whom he entirely loves.”
Just as the stag with unrelenting and fierce devotion will protect the does under his watch, so our El Kanna, is not willing that any should steal the love of His beloved, tarnish the holiness of His bride or commit injustice against her. With this in mind, is it any wonder that now is the time He has chosen to emphasize His protective heart for us?
Now, perhaps more than ever, I have felt the Lord’s pain, longing and urging for us to return to our first love and no longer hesitate to separate from the world in complete devotion to our King.
As Elijah proclaimed to God’s people, "How long will you waver between two opinions? If the LORD is God, follow him; but if baal is God, follow him." (1 Kings 18:21) Literally, Elijah was saying "How long will you hop about upon two boughs?" This is a metaphor taken from birds hopping about from bough to bough, not knowing on which to settle.
The people dreaded the Lord, and could not totally abandon him; they feared king Ahab and queen Jezebel, and thought they must worship baal. Their conscience forbade them to do the former; their fear of man persuaded them to do the latter, but to neither had they given their whole heart; and now they were waiting for an opportunity to make their decision. Such an opportunity came, through the mercy of God, as Elijah confronted the prophets of baal on Mount Carmel.
I feel we are in that Mount Carmel moment once again. Our El Kanna, in His mercy, is giving us another chance as a people and a nation, to answer the same question. The Hebrew word baal simply means “lord” or “master.” Will we continue to serve the idol of our own selfish desires? Will we persist in support of the principles and ideals which have permeated every institution in America – principles that war against Christianity, the unborn and His people, Israel?
Or will we make Yahweh alone our Master, returning to Him with all our heart and soul, fighting for His will to be done in the earth? Will we love Him with wholehearted devotion as He, our Jealous God, loves us?
Let us, His beloved bride, return His un-wavering and un-breaking gaze in these days, and in love for our King, become jealous for His Name to be known throughout the earth! It may cost us everything, but as Jim Elliot so wisely said, "He is no fool who gives up what we cannot keep to gain what we cannot lose."