“I will provoke them to jealousy …” – God
Jealousy is something you feel about someone or something that is rightfully yours but is desired by another or already in their possession:
For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.
Envy is something you feel towards someone who has something you desire:
[Pilot] knew it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him.
Covetousness is what you feel about something you desire that someone else has:
You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his manservant or maidservant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.
How does this subtlety of difference between these three words relate to the passage of scripture that is a central theme of this web site:
They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God;
I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people.
First of all, it means that God has a right to be jealous of His people. He created them, miraculously called them out of an enslaving nation, sustained them for forty years in the wilderness, and trained them with His Law in the way they should go.
Secondly, whatever God is going to give to the “no people” is something that He first gave and/or first intended to give to His people Israel but was willfully rejected (at least initially). Whatever it is, it rightfully belongs to Israel, but God Himself will be responsible for someone else having it, enjoying it, and displaying it for all the world to see. At some point Israel will legitimately feel a desire for that which the “no people” have.
If you have made it this far into the site you have probably already inferred that I am talking about Jesus here. Rejected two thousand years ago by the Jewish nation, as a whole, God used that failure to bless the whole world with salvation from sin. That is not ignoring the fact that it was at first a small remnant of Jews that did recognize Him, did follow Him, and did demonstrate His willingness to lay down His life by risking their own lives. Through the fervant testimony and ministry of Paul, who was a Jew, the “no people” began to be reached and the age of the Gentiles began.
Over the last two thousand years, the Gentile church has failed, as a whole to fulfill it’s obligation to bring the gospel of Jesus the Messiah (which is the power of salvation to all those who believe) to the Jew first. This is not ignoring the fact that there has always been a small remnant of the Gentile Church that has delivered the word of God and demonstrated the love of God to the point of laying down their own lives.
In Romans 11, Paul wrote: “I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved.”
What is this fullness that God is waiting for? Paul spoke of it in his letter to the Ephesians:
“I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power… to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of the Messiah, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:17-19
“It was [the Messiah] who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of the Messiah may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of the Messiah.” Ephesians 4:11-13
Perhaps the reason you have visited this site is because you have seen or heard someone present the love of God in Christ with a divine quality that you have never witnessed before. I believe that God is currently enabling His Church (as small and outwardly unimpressive as it may be by worldly standards) to be that kind of people for His Name’s sake and for the purpose of provoking you to jealousy of the Godlike character and courage that He desires you to have.