Worship of the true and living God while also paying homage to other "gods": is stoutly condemned in Scripture. God said, "I am the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt; you shall have no other gods before me ... . You shall not bow down to [idols] or serve them, for I the Lord your God am a jealous God" (Exodus 20:2-5).
It may seem strange that "jealousy" is ascribed to God. The word has mainly negative connotations when attributed to humans. But so does "wrath," and Scripture often attributes wrath to God as well. "The Lord is a jealous and avenging God; the Lord is avenging and wrathful; the Lord takes vengeance on his adversaries and keeps wrath for his enemies" (Nahum 1:2).
Jealousy, speaking humanly, is most frequently charged in marriage and is a negative characteristic only when it reflects unjustified suspicion. A spouse ought to be jealous of anyone or anything which tried to insinuate itself into the place only a spouse ought to have. Marriage is an exclusive relationship and every husband or wife ought to be jealous to protect that exclusivity.
In saying He is a jealous God, the Lord is demanding an exclusive place of worship and obedience. The first and greatest commandment is "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength." (Mark 12:30). That leaves no place for a rival.
In the prophets, God often calls idolatry among his people "adultery" and "whoredom." Similarly, just as man feels when his wife sleeps with another man, but to an infinitely greater degree, God feels when those he has redeemed worship other gods.
Zephaniah said God will "cut off from this place ... those who bow down and swear to the Lord and yet swear by Milcom" (1:4-5). Milcom was the "god of the Ammonites" (1 Kings 11:33). Significantly, the inspired scribe who wrote 1 Kings also calls him "the abomination of the Ammonites" (11:5). Worship of God is nullified when other gods are acknowledged and worshipped as well.
Christ and Christianity did not change that. Jesus said, "I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except by me" (John 14:6).
Back to Contents Does God Exist?, NovDec07.