The Lord Whose Name Is Jealous


The Lord Whose Name Is Jealous

March 15th, 1959 @ 8:15 AM

Exodus 20:1-6

And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me. Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth: 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; And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Exodus 20:1-6

3-15-59    8:15 a.m.


You are listening to the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor leading the early morning worship and preaching hour.  May I pause for just a moment to speak of the pivotal burden of prayer and intercession of these present days?  Our church for, I suppose, two our more generations has held an annual revival meeting in the springtime.  For the last forty consecutive years, we have conducted services in a downtown theater the week before Easter.  This will be the fortieth consecutive year that our church has conducted these services.  Dr. Truett conducted them for twenty-five years, and this spring is the fifteenth year that I have conducted them.

Ever since the Palace Theater has been built, the services have been held in the Palace Theater.  Last year the pastor spoke on the five great questions of the Bible, and this year the pastor’s messages will be entitled The Five Great Affirmations of the Bible.  That is the week before Easter; they begin Monday week and go through the five days, the noonday services of the pre-Easter week.

Then every night of these two weeks, beginning today, there will be services here at the First Baptist Church.  The leader of our evangelistic department in the South is Dr. Leonard Sanderson.  He is leading the simultaneous evangelistic campaign in all the churches, in all the Baptist churches of the city of Dallas, and he is leading our revival appeal here.  Every evening at 7:30 o’clock, we shall be in this great auditorium with the choirs, with Dr. Sanderson, all of us present making an appeal for souls.  At 7:00 o’clock each evening in the chapel, Dr. Fowler will be conducting a prayer meeting.  Come a little early, pause for a word with the Lord, then by 7:30 come into the auditorium.  Dr. Sanderson will be bringing the first message of the revival at the 11:00 o’clock hour this morning, then again at the 7:30 hour tonight, then for each evening during the week.

On Saturday we have an all day prayer meeting, as always, in the chapel.  We have prepared for these days of outpouring.  We know many, many people for whom we have prayed, who are ready to respond to that invitation to come to the Lord and to come to join their life with us in the fellowship and communion of this wonderful First Baptist Church.  God bless us now as we begin the protracted series of revival services.  At each of these morning services, at the 8:15 hour, this pastor will be bringing a message.  And we’re following through the Book of Exodus in the life of Moses.  And this morning we come to the most important chapter in the Old Testament, the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus, which is the giving of the ten words, the Ten Commandments.  And the title of the sermon is The Lord Whose Name is Jealous.

In the nineteenth chapter of the Book of Exodus and the sixth verse, the Lord had said to His people, “Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation” [Exodus 19:6].  And what God meant by that was this: that He was giving to Israel the revelation of His law, His Ten Commandments, all the words of this holy and consecrated law of life, God was giving it to Israel.  And God said to Israel in the nineteenth chapter—before He came to the twentieth chapter—God said, “Ye are to take My words, My commandments, My laws, the revelation of My moral and spiritual character, and ye are to be the teachers of this law of the Lord to all the nations of the world.  Ye shall be unto Me a kingdom of priests, representing God to the people and representing the people to God” [Exodus 19:6].

Israel was called to be the world’s great teachers and missionaries and mediators of the true revelation of God.  “Ye are to be unto Me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation”—that is consecrated and set apart for this task: to win the whole world to the knowledge of God” [Exodus 19:6].

 Now you know how they developed in that?  Instead of being true to God’s commandments and God’s commission and instead of being the mediators of the true God to all the nations of the world, the nation of Israel wrapped their righteous skirts around them and looked upon everybody else as a Gentile dog.  And instead of being the great teachers of all the nations of the world, a kingdom of priests, and a holy, consecrated, set-apart nation; why, they devolved into a little group of warring sects, some of them for this, some of them for that, some of them for the other, very divisive, very, very exclusive [Acts 23:6-7].  And finally the Lord said, “I will remove you, set you aside and give My kingdom to a people who will do My bidding and carry out My commission” [Matthew 21:43].

Now that principle, that work there in the life of Israel, will work in our life and does work in our life.  God hath given to us the Word of life.  And that Word of life is to be mediated through us to all other peoples.  And if we do not do it, God will come and take away our lampstand out of its place, and we will be as dead and as forlorn and as forgot as those churches in Asia to whom God sent His message [Revelation 2:1-3:22].  “Except thou be zealous, and repent, and do the first works; I will come unto thee quickly, and remove thy lampstand out of its place” [Revelation 2:5].

We live only insofar as we are obedient to this great commission and revelation of God.  When we forget, when we are snobs, when we are indifferent, when we are complacent, when we are superior, when we isolate ourselves, we are unusable in the hands of God and are soon to be rejected.

A great church is always a missionary church.  A great church is always a soul-winning church.  A great church is always a visiting church.  A great church is always an appealing church, a revival church, an invitation church, an evangelistic church.  It is a church with the message and ministry of the loving Lord on its heart and seeks to mediate that message to the people of the world.

That’s why God chose Israel, and the Lord gave to them these precious commandments [Exodus 20:1-17].

Now, the most important words in the Old Testament are found in the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus.  God gave to Israel the oracles, the revelation of Himself.  These words were not spoken in the stillness of the soul of a prophet; they were spoken audibly by the Lord God.  Yea, they were written by the finger of the Lord [Exodus 31:18; Deuteronomy 9:10].

And God spake all these words, saying,

I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.

Thou shalt have no other gods before Me—

the first commandment—

Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:

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;

And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me, and keep My commandments—

the second commandment—

[Exodus 20:1-6]

And in most of the groupings of those old rabbinical teachings, these two commandments are kept together, they kind of merge into one another.  “Thou shalt have no other gods before Me, and thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, neither shall thou bow down thyself to them, nor serve them” [Exodus 20:3-5], the two first commandments of the Decalogue.  Now in speaking of those two commandments, the Lord, as He elaborated upon the second one, gave a reason why:

For, says the Lord God, I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations . . .  and showing mercy unto them that love Me.  I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God.

[Exodus 20:5-6]

Now that word jealous, qana’in the Hebrew, zēlos, zēlos, long ‘e,’ zēlos in the Greek; those words in Hebrew and in Greek mean the same thing, and they refer to the same thing.  The root idea in both of the words is the same; it is one of warmth, one of heat, “For our God is a consuming fire” [Hebrews 12:29].  Now that word jealous, “for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God” [Exodus 20:5], sometimes it is translated jealous—qana in Hebrew, zēlos in Greek—sometimes it is translated zealous, jealous, zealous.  They are translations of those two words, the same words; the same word in Hebrew; the same word in Greek.  Now sometimes that word “jealous” is used in a good sense, sometimes it is used in a bad sense.  Now we are going to see some illustrations in the Bible where that word is used in a good sense, because we are trying to find out what kind of a God this is who visits on our children what He finds in us [Exodus 20:5].  It is very important that we know what kind of a God He is when He says, “I am a jealous God” [Exodus 20:5].

Now in the nineteenth chapter of the first Kings—you may just listen to me as I talk about these passages or you can turn to them if you wish—in the nineteenth chapter of 1 Kings, you have an instance of the use of that word qana in a good sense.  The nineteenth chapter of the Book of Kings is a story of Elijah as he runs for his life from Jezebel [1 Kings 19:3].  And when Jezebel heard all these things that Elijah had done up there on Mount Carmel, and how he had slain all the prophets of Baal [1 Kings 18:20-40], why, Jezebel sent word to Elijah and said:

God do so to me, and more also, if by this time tomorrow your life is not like one of those headless, beheaded slain prophets of Baal that lie down there on the banks of the river.

[1 Kings 19:2]

And when Elijah heard that, he ran for his life [1 Kings 19:2], scared the living daylights out of him!  Wasn’t afraid of Ahab [1 Kings 18:17-19], wasn’t afraid of all Ahab’s army, but he was afraid of that woman Jezebel, she scared him to death.  And the prophet was a-running for his life.  And he ran and ran and ran and ran until finally he just—down there around Beersheba, down in that southern part of that country—he sat down under a juniper tree and asked to die, asked to die [1 Kings 19:4].  And so the angel of the Lord came to him and touched him and laid before him a meal [1 Kings 19:5-7].  And he went forty days further and came unto Horeb, Sinai, where we’re talking about right now [1 Kings 19:8].  In the exact place where Moses stands on the top of the Mount and receives the Decalogue from the hands of God [Exodus 31:18], Elijah comes to that same identical place.  And he came to a cave up there in that mountain [1 Kings 19:9], on top of which Moses is now standing in our text to receive the Decalogue from the Lord [Exodus 31:18]: And he comes to a cave, and he lodges there, and God comes to him and says, “Elijah, what doest thou here?” [1 Kings 19:9].  And Elijah said, “I have been very jealous,” there’s that word qana:


I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts: for the children of Israel have forsaken Thy covenant, and have broken down Thy altars, and slain Thy prophets; and I, I only am left: and they seek my life, to take it away.

[1 Kings 19:10]

“I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts” [1 Kings 19:10], well, you know what he means there?  Of course he was mistaken—there were 6,999 others beside him that hadn’t bowed the knee to Baal—but he thought he was the only one [1 Kings 19:18].  And don’t you ever feel that way sometimes?  It just looks like the whole thing is just going to pot, and you’re the only one that’s really walking in the fear of the Lord.  We all feel that way sometimes.

“Lord, Lord, I have been very jealous for the Lord God of hosts”; not anything but God for Elijah and the cause of the Lord for Elijah.  He put God first, and he was very jealous, or very zealous, for the Lord God of hosts.  All right, we’re taking too much time with these uses; I just have to mention them.

In the Second Kings in the tenth chapter, there is another instance of that.  When Jehu was commissioned to destroy the house of Ahab—Jezebel and Ahab, her husband, and all of their progeny, why,when Jehu came across to execute that judgment, he met Jehonadab the prophet of the Lord.  And he lighted on Jehonadab, and Jehu saluted him and said, “Jehonadab, is thy heart one with mine?”  And Jehonadab said, “It is.”  And Jehu said, “If it be so, give me thine hand.”  And Jehonadab gave him his hand, and Jehu pulled him up into his chariot [2 Kings 10:15]. And he said, “Jehonadab, come with me and see my qana,” there it is again, “for the Lord.”  So Jehonadab rode with Jehu in his chariot, the prophet of God and the anointed new king of Israel [2 Kings 9:12-13].  “Come with me and see my jealousy.  See my zeal for the Lord” [2 Kings 10:16].

Now we’re going to turn to the New Testament and pick out two words of emphasis there.  In the tenth chapter of Romans and the second verse, “For I bear them record,” says Paul, concerning these Jewish people, “For I bear them record that they have a zēlos, a jealousy for God, a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge” [Romans 10:2].  Now in the second Corinthian letter, the eleventh chapter and the second verse, Paul says 2 Corinthians 11:2, “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present you as a virgin to Christ, chaste.”  “For I am jealous over you with godly jealousy.”  Now there are four instances of the good use of that word.

Now I point out two instances of the bad use of the word: in the seventh chapter of the Book of Acts and the ninth verse, the sermon of Stephen says, “And the patriarchs, moved with,” and there’s that word again, “and the patriarchs, moved with envy,” you have it translated here, “sold Joseph into Egypt” [Acts 7:9].  The brothers of Joseph were jealous of Joseph, and there is a bad instance of it.

Now here is another bad instance of it.  In the thirteenth chapter of the Book of Acts and the forty-fifth verse, “But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealous,” you have it translated envy here, “filled with jealousy, with envy, and spake against those things which were spoken by Paul, contradicting and blaspheming” [Acts 13:45].

So when I come back now to the twentieth chapter of the Book of Exodus and look at that word, “For I the Lord thy God am a qana God, a zēlos God, a jealous God” [Exodus 20:5], it is very apparent what the Lord God means: God will be One, and alone, and above, or He will be a consuming fire [Hebrews 12:29].  There is a zealousness, there is an activity, there is a drive in God that is terrible!  It is consuming, it is frightful, it is awesome!  God does not suffer any other deity, so-called; any other passion, so-called; any other affection, any other devotion above Himself.  God is to be alone and above all.  And when He is not, there is a fearful and a frightful and a terrible drive in the consuming fire that is the Lord [Hebrews 12:29].

Oh!  No wonder “Wisdom begins with the fear of the Lord” [Proverbs 9:10].  What God can do with a nation—ah, what God has done with nations!  What God can do with our nation!  What God can do with families, what God can do with people; that was the thing Jesus said when He said, “Do not fear him that can destroy the body,” and that is all, “Fear Him who can destroy the body and cast the soul in hell.  Fear Him” [Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:4-5].  For our God is a jealous God [Exodus 20:5], He is a consuming fire!  [Hebrews 12:29].

And when we put things before Him and above Him, there is always a drive that lies somewhere, a judgment, a wrath, a fire that burns in it.  No nation can forget God and live.  What is that great verse?  “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God” [Psalm 9:17].  We’re all like that, all of us.  When we play with God, we play with fire, “Our God is a jealous God” [Luke 20:5].

I think of the people that Jesus met.  The rich young ruler with the world in his heart and his arms full of it and his heart full of it, had his life full of it.  And when he wanted to enter into eternal life, Jesus said to him, “The door is too narrow for you to go in with your arms and your heart and your soul full of the world.  Get rid of it,” said Jesus.  Give it away.  Anything, get rid of it!  “And come, walk through that narrow door, and you will have everlasting life!”  And he looked at the world in his arms, and he looked at the world in his soul, and he looked at the world in his heart, and he loved the world and his possessions more than he loved God.  And he went away sorrowful [Matthew 19:16-22; Mark 1-0:17-23].  Ah, what a tragedy, what a pity!

And Jesus before Pontius Pilate; and Pilate’s heart told him what was true and what was right.  “This Man hath done no evil” [John 19:6], and when he sought to loose Him, the people pointed into the face of Pilate and said, “If you loose this Man, you are not Caesar’s friend” [John 19:12].  And Pilate considered, and he loved his place and his position, and his job [John 19:16], like some of you tell me, “I’ve got to share the liquor bottle or I can’t get along in my job.”  And when I say to you that’s not right, you say to me, “But I’d rather have my job than to serve God.”  Same thing!  Same thing!

And there’s a consuming fire in a decision like that [Hebrews 12:29].  There is no escape from it; there’s a consuming fire that destroyed the soul of that rich young ruler.  He could have been what he could have been, but he was not.  Why, I do not know what would have happened to Pontius Pilate had he stood that day with Christ and with God and with what he knew to be right.  But he chose rather some kind of an affection, some kind of a devotion, some kind of a love, an image, some other god than the true Lord God.  And the name of Pontius Pilate to this day is a byword, a representation of a weak and vacillating monarch who loved the world and his place more than he loved God.

“For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God” [Exodus 20:5].  No thing is to be placed first.  If you love your children more than you love God, you are going to find trouble.  If you love your job more than you love God, there is trouble.  If you love wealth, ease, pleasure, fame, anything more than you love God, there is trouble.

“For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God.”  Now let’s carry this thing through, and I need another thirty minutes just to speak of this, much less to expatiate on it.  “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting those affections, those devotions, visiting those choices of the fathers upon the children and their children’s children and their children’s children’s, children” [Exodus 20:5].

One of the things that you will find in human nature in this physical life is this: that children will catch the diseases of their parents.  One of the most striking, one of the most poignant, pathetic sights that I ever saw in my life was visiting with Dr. Goldie those great clan settlements in Nigeria, West Africa.  And he had gathered together lepers in a great arc.  And here would be a clan of them, a settlement of them—he didn’t like to call them leper colonies, he called them clan settlements, just to get away from the word leper colony.  He’d gather them together here, and then about twenty or forty miles there would be another one, then about twenty or forty miles another one, and a great arc through Nigeria.  And as I visited with him, those clan settlements, those leper colonies, the most pathetic thing I saw was the little children in there, the little children in there.  They got the disease from their parents, from their fathers and mothers.  The little children had leprosy.  They were so sweet looking and nothing cuter than a little colored girl, a colored boy.  They have the leprosy.  They got it from their parents.

And I’ve seen it many times in our country when children had consumption.  Nowadays we have kind of helped pull away from that.  But when I was a boy and when I first began my ministry, often I’d see children that had tuberculosis that they got from their parents; consumption from their parents, all of these things.  Now it is thus with the soul of a child, the iniquities of the fathers and mothers visited on the children.

Oh, oh, oh!  I have in my mind now a picture: the sweetest little boy you ever saw.  Pretty boy, sweet boy, bright lad, and somebody took him to Sunday school and to church, and the Lord touched the child, and the little fellow wanted to give his heart to Jesus, and he wanted to join the church, and he wanted to be baptized.  But an indifferent father didn’t care and a mother who was blasphemous and addicted, “I don’t want my boy going to church, and I don’t want him being a Christian, and I don’t want him being baptized, and I don’t want anybody talking to him, therefore, I take my child out” and he can never go back to Sunday school, never go back to church anymore.  And he never came back to Sunday school, and he never came back to church anymore.  Now the young fellow is about seventeen or eighteen years old.  I’d like to see you try to reach him now.  He is as indifferent as his dad and as adamant as his mother!  The affections of the parents are reverberating in his heart.

Ooh, Lord, O God; and Nathan came and said to David:

David, there was a rich man that had great flocks and a poor man had one little ewe lamb that he nursed in his own bosom.  Man came by as a guest and the rich man spared his own flock and took the ewe lamb from the poor.  And David’s wrath was kindled.  And he said, That man shall die!  And Nathan, O Lord!  Nathan reached forth his finger and pointed at the king and said, Thou art the man.  The sword shall never leave thy house, never!

[2 Samuel 12:1-10]

“I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the generations and the generations and the generations” [Exodus 20:5].  David lived to see his son Amnon violate his sister Tamar [2 Samuel 13:11-14], then to see his son Absalom slay Amnon [2 Samuel 13:24-29]; and then to see Joab slay Absalom [2 Samuel 19:14-15], “Thou art the man, and the sword shall never leave thy house” [2 Samuel 12:7, 10].  And the whole house of Israel is written in blood, blood, blood.  God gave them blood to drink.  These are terrible things, “The beginning of wisdom is the fear of the Lord” [Proverbs 9:10].  O God, O God.

But there’s another side to it, thank the Lord.  If the affections that are blasphemous and evil and worldly of the parents are found in the children; thank the Lord, the devotion and love of the parents is also found in the children, “in showing mercy unto them that love Me, unto their children and children’s children” [Exodus 20:6].  Now, I haven’t time to speak of it.  I just point it out to you because I’ve said it here ever since I’ve been preaching.  When you have a godly father and a godly mother, I’m not saying that the child won’t fall in maybe prodigality.  I’m not saying that the child may not go away.  I’m not saying the child may not do many foolish things.  I’m not saying that the child may not fall into actual sin, and indifference, and blasphemy.  I’m not saying that there may not come heartache and disappointment and tears and cares.  I’m not saying that, I am just saying this: that when a child is reared by a godly father and a godly mother, however in youth they might turn away or go away, or break your heart, or bow you with tears and cares; I am saying by the Word of God that they’ll come back to mother’s God and to father’s God someday, someday.  The Lord hath spoken it, “You train up the child in the way he should go: when he is old, when he is down the way, he will come back” [Proverbs 22:6].  Don’t you worry, you just wait and look and pray you’ll see him down that road.  He’ll be praying like his dad.  He’ll be loving God like his mother.  He’ll be remembering those things; they come back.  How they come back, why, you never forget them!  The example of a godly man and the prayers of a godly mother, they are interwoven into the very convolutions of the soul and life of a child.  God put us together like that.  And if for no other reason, it would be worth it for a man and a woman to follow the Lord, if for no other reason than that the example of their devotion and affection in life might someday be reaped in the lives of their children.  God bless us and help us as humbly we walk in the fear of the Lord, which is, the Bible says, the beginning of wisdom [Proverbs 9:10].

Now while we sing our song, somebody you this morning to give your heart to the Lord, to put your life in the church, to follow in the way of Jesus, would you come and stand by me, somebody you?  Is there a family to come this morning or one somebody to come this morning? In the balcony round, on this lower floor, on the first note of the first stanza, while we sing this song, would you come into the aisle and down here to the front, “Pastor, this morning I give my heart to God,” or “This morning we’re coming into the church,” while we stand and while we sing.


Exodus 20:1-6


The Lord is sensitive to our worship of Him

1.    First and second

2.    Jealous –
nothing before Him


1.    Disease common
to man

2.    Influences the
lives of children

God’s good jealousy

1.    Of His gift of
salvation through Jesus Christ

2.    Of His Church

3.    Of each
believer, bought with a price