“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/KJV).
There has been a special relationship between God and the people of Israel. God covenanted with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God also covenanted with the Israelites at Mount Sinai when they were given the law.
A covenant is a mutual relationship by which both partners agree to fulfil certain requirements and of which both parties have some benefit. In the bible the relationship between God and his people is described as such a kind of relationship. A marriage relationship also is a type of covenant.
Now here God is concerned about the fact that the Israelites had betrayed him with other gods. Rather than trusting their God they had gone so far to worship other deities. Had God done any wrong to them? Would God not bless them if they faithfully trusted him?
Here God says that the Israelites had provoked him to jealousy. Therefore God also would make his people jealous by Blessing “those which are not a people”.
In Romans 10:19 Paul quotes this verse of scripture. He takes it to refer to God’s calling of Gentiles to believe him through Christ. God had blessed Christian believers from heathen nations to show the Israelites how good he is. He wanted to make it clear to the people of Israel that he had good intentions also for them if only they would return to him and trust him.
God is trying to evoke feelings of envy and jealousy from his people of Israel. He wanted them to sense that these blessings really were what God had promised to them.
Now of course the Israelites would not need to get bitter about God blessing Gentile Christian believers. God is rich enough and can abundantly bless both Christians and Israelites. Only God is trying to incite his people to go for the riches of his grace.
I am writing this in a series of posts on jealousy and envy. We may get such feelings at times.
Yet the question is: What are we going to make of these emotions? Are they guiding us to good or evil?
If we should envy others for their success, maybe this could move us to give our best. If we should see others blessed by God, God may be trying to tell us that he richly loves us. He would bestow us with many gifts if we would only diligently seek him.
We don’t need to give ourselves to bitter envy, because God has good intentions for all of us. We all are different and God has individual and loving purposes for each of us.
Jesus has come to give us life abundantly (cf. John 10:10b). – “But it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9/KJV).
Christians don’t need to bitterly run after earthly gain. God has riches for those who believe, that cannot be robbed from them (cf. Matthew 6:20).