Of Gods and Kings
King Manasseh did what was evil in the sight of Yahweh. He built altars for all the host of heaven and served them. He made his son pass through fire. He practiced soothsaying and dealt with wizards. He set a carved image of Asherah in the house of Yahweh, provoking God to anger. – 2 Kings 21:1-8 (adapted, condensed)
God is a jealous god.
When Manasseh held a rite of passage for his son that was not Yahweh’s rite of passage, Yahweh fumed. When Manasseh consulted prophets who were not Yahweh’s prophets, Yahweh seethed. And when Manasseh put a statue of Asherah, the reigning goddess, in the temple of Yahweh the god of Israel, Yahweh blew a gasket.
I’ve seen kings and queens and sovereigns of self-righteousness do the same. When a plan is chosen that is not their plan, these sovereigns cry foul. When wisdom is sought from consultants not on the royal pre-approved list, these queens rage. When success is achieved without shining a spotlight on them, these kings bluster.
Jealousy is a powerful god.
Caught up in divine jealousy, Yahweh complained to the prophets: “King Manasseh has done wicked things! I’m going to rain evil on Jerusalem; I’m going to give Judah to its enemies!” Yahweh’s message was clear: Pay attention to other gods at your own risk.
Sovereigns and queens and kings go to great lengths in their covetous pursuit of attention. And perhaps that pursuit is well-founded. After all, we can only adore and serve one god at a time, so competition is fierce. Jealousy is (arguably) inevitable.
I’m not fond of jealous gods.
To the extent that any of us—gods or mortals—worship being worshipped, we cannot also worship compassion. To the extent we worship obedience, we cannot also worship forgiveness. When we worship power, we cannot worship justice. And when we worship our own names, we cannot worship love.
What good is jealousy to the name of God?
Make me a servant, not a king. Make me a neighbor, not a sovereign. Make me a partner, not a queen. Make me a disciple, not a god.