Frankly, My Dear . . .
- Written by Jody Vickery Jody Vickery
- Published: 23 June 2017 23 June 2017
You never really know how many people you do not like or wish to forget until you try to come up with a name for a baby. Old flames are immediately eliminated even if they had really cool names like Dash or Blaire. You find a name you adore but when you run it by your spouse, he/she frowns; “Yeah, no.
That was the name of a teacher who made sixth grade a living hell for me.” Even the names of respected relatives present you with untenable choices. My maternal grandfather was named Olive. Lisa’s paternal grandfather was named Volley. Olive Volley Vickery alliterates nicely but was never a consideration when we were trying to name our boys. Neither were the names of other beloved but tragically named relatives.
What’s In A Name?
Names are kind of a big deal. You want people to remember yours, pronounce it correctly and spell it right. No one likes to be called names. And we protect our names – our reputations. Even so, for most westerners, a name is not really much more than a label. My guess is your parents did not know what your name meant when they gave it to you. But in ancient times, a name was more than just a handle; it revealed the character, personality, even the destiny of a person. And when a person’s status, character or destiny changed, so did their name. Abram became Abraham. Jacob became Israel. Simon became Peter. Saul, Paul.
The Names of God
That’s why the names of God – and there are many – are so important. They reveal something to us about his nature. Most of the names of God we find in scripture evoke warm, positive feelings.
El Roi (Gen. 16:13), for example, means the God who sees me. Who wouldn’t want a loving God watching over them night and day? By the way, that’s the only time in scripture that a human gave God a name. And it was given to him by an enslaved Egyptian surrogate-mother sister-wife who had been kicked out by her jealous rival.
In times of scarcity and want, knowing that one of God’s names is Jehovah Jireh (Gen. 22:14), the God who Provides, is a comforting thought.
With all the violence in the world, it’s good to know that Jehovah Shalom (Judges 6:24), the God of Peace, is present.
There’s Jehovah Rapha (Ex. 15:26), the Lord who Heals. Jehovah Raah (Ps. 23:1), the Lord is my Shepherd. And El Qanna (Ex. 34:14), God the Jealous.
Wait . . . what? God’s name is Jealous? But jealousy is bad, right? In Galatians 5, Paul said it was an obvious act of the sinful nature. Jealousy was the beginning of Saul’s slide into insanity. It made Cain kill Abel. David commit adultery. How can God be good and jealous?
It Helps to Know the Story
Some scene setting will help. In Exodus 34, God has to reissue the Ten Commandments. Moses broke the first set when he came down from the mountain to discover the Israelites having dinner on the grounds after attending a worship service at Our Lady of the Golden Calf Pagan Praise Cathedral (Ex. 32:1 – 6). So basically, Israel had been unfaithful to God on their wedding day. But God still wanted to enter into this covenant. You’ve heard, maybe, that the God of the Old Testament didn’t do grace? Wrong.
But before God slips the ring on Israel’s faithless finger, he declares his intentions. He’s going to be a faithful husband. In Ex. 34:6, he vows to be compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. In verses 10 & 11, he promises to do wonders, awesome works and to drive out those who occupy the Promised Land he is giving to his bride. Then, after all that, he says, “You can call me Jealous.”
In other words, “This relationship matters to me. I am going to be faithful to you. I expect you to be faithful to me.”
So what’s the takeaway? Two things.
God is a Personal God
He’s not merely an anonymous force. Deism is the belief that while there is a supreme being in the universe, it is not interested in, involved in or interacting with people and events on Earth. An impersonal force will never be jealous. It does not care what you do or, for that matter, what is done to you. That is not the God the Bible reveals. While God does not need anything from us (Psalm 50:12; Acts 17:25), he still wants to be in relationship with us.
You are Wanted
Would you mind if the social media profile page of your spouse or significant other featured picture of them wrapped up in the embrace of a previous love? If you missed two weeks of work and your boss didn’t notice, what would you conclude about your value to the company? If your parents don’t care who you are with, where you are or when you are coming home, what does that say about how they feel about you?
In each instance, you and I would feel unwanted, unloved and disrespected. So why does God’s jealousy give us heartburn? The opposite of jealousy is indifference. And indifference is what Rhett Butler communicated to Scarlet O’Hara the last time he walked out of Tara. In her own, self-centered way, she wanted to know if Rhett cared about her.
His reply? “Frankly, my dear, I don’t . . . .”
God’s jealousy offers a different answer: “Frankly, my child, I do . . . .”