Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. — Deuteronomy 4:23-24
Have you ever thought the word jealous could have a positive connotation? Consider one of its meanings: “very watchful in guarding.” I used to think that being jealous was always a bad thing — until after I was engaged to my husband. Earlier in our relationship, he had studied in Paraguay, South America. While there, he did not hesitate to tell everyone he met about me, so his acquaintances in that country knew about me although we had never met. Since we were not engaged at that time, he could not tell them for sure that he was going to marry me.
We became engaged following his return. Not long afterward, he received a letter from a woman he had met in Paraguay, telling him not to marry me because she wanted him to come back there single. When my fiancé showed me the letter, I firmly told him not to correspond with her anymore. My fiancé jokingly said, “You’re jealous, aren’t you?” Without mincing words, I said, “Yes, I am.” He was shocked at my response because he assumed I would try to explain my reaction without openly admitting to jealousy. He said, “Wow! You are not even ashamed of it!” I responded, “Of course, I am not ashamed of it. Do you want to marry a woman who does not care about you?”
The jealousy that is defined as being watchful in guarding is actually a good thing. I reacted jealously towards a situation that I knew could entrap my fiancé. I loved him enough to guard against anything hurting our relationship, which he knew God had led him into.
Because God loves and cares for us, He is jealous when we engage in or even seem to be “flirting” with sin and the devil. He knows the consequences of our damaging our relationship with Him, so He warns us continually, as He did the Children of Israel. He is jealous precisely because of His love and compassion for us. He does not want us to be destroyed by the enemy of our souls who is constantly trying to lure us away from Him.
Does God seem to be jealously guarding His relationship with you by admonishing you through His Word, His people, and His Holy Spirit? Pay attention to these warnings. They will do your soul a lot of good.
In the previous chapters of Deuteronomy, Moses rehearsed the many victories that God had accomplished for Israel in its brief history. In chapter 4, he began a long review of the Commandments of God, for without obedience to God, continued victory is impossible.
Moses introduced this review of God’s Law by reminding Israel of the urgent necessity of keeping God’s Commandments after his passing. All that Moses said can be summarized in these points:
Israel’s need to obey God was made especially poignant by Moses’ account of his own experience. He reminded them of the time that their murmuring pushed him to strike the rock of Marah and thus disobey the Lord’s instruction. As a result, Moses was judged by God for disobedience and not allowed to enter the Promised Land, while the people of Israel would themselves be allowed to enter. How much they would lose if they disobeyed God’s Commandments! It was deeply important to Moses that his people not squander the privilege that he himself would never enjoy.
In the midst of all these dire warnings, there was also a wonderful message of mercy. Moses told the people that even if the Israelites were to betray God and be scattered abroad over the earth, God would have mercy upon them and return them to the Promised Land if they would turn back to God.
In closing, the chapter lists all the victories God had won for Israel, thus reminding the people of the greatness of God and the unique privileges accorded to a nation that was close to Him.
(Hannah’s Bible Outlines - Used by permission per WORDsearch)
I. The first discourse: Historical review
C. An exhortation to obedience (4:1-40)
1. The intent and purpose of the Law (4:1-8)
2. A review of the giving of the Law (4:9-14)
3. An exhortation to proper conduct (4:15-24)
4. The prediction of dispersion (4:25-31)
5. The privilege of the chosen people (4:32-40)
D. The selection of the cities of refuge (4:41-43)
1. Their purpose (4:41-42)
2. Their location (4:43)
II. The second discourse: exposition of the Law
A. Introduction (4:44-49)
God demands our total allegiance to Him. He is a jealous God, but we should always remember that His jealousy is a reflection of His love for us.