Names of God – part 24

YHWH El-Kanna

Names of God – part 24

The jealous LORD God

220px-Damian._The_Ancient_of_Days

YHWH is the actual name of God, revealed to Moses. In English, it is usually spelt Yahweh or Jehovah, in many Bible translations it is written as LORD (in all capitals or small capitals).

El is a Hebrew word meaning God.

The third part of the name is how people relate to God, either as individuals or as a nation, or other groupings.

Kanna means jealous. God is a jealous God. The name comes, amongst other places, in the ten commandments given by God to Moses:

You shall not make for yourself a carved image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. You shall not bow down to them or serve them, for I the LORD your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Exodus 20:4-6 ESVUK

God is a jealous God. If this conjures up an image of a God who is egotistical and will punish in a petulant way anyone who will not do exactly what he says, then you would be wrong. God is no autocrat.

I was wrong too because I could only see jealousy in a negative way, but God’s jealousy is not against us, it is for us. God only wants the best for us and does not want us to worship anything inferior, even if the image we use is used to represent God, as in the example above.

Imagine a woman whose husband is having an affair with another woman.

  1. She could be jealous in two different ways, She could be angry at being deserted and want to punish her unfaithful husband and his new lover.
  2. Because she is in love with him, she could want him back, not wanting to punish either him or his lover but wishing to offer both full forgiveness. She knows what he is like, that he is likely to sneak off back to his previous lover on the quiet or to have other lovers, but her love is strong and she wishes for the former relationship to be restored even though she will be hurt again and again.

On a purely human level, the wife in example two is stupid. She would be justified in divorcing the bastard and starting anew. But God’s love for us is so strong, his desire for us so great that he keeps on offering to restore the relationship with us even though he knows that people would desert him over and over again. God will never, never stop loving humankind.

The Old Testament histories are stories of God’s people constantly rejecting him and God trying to persuade them back. The NewTestament story is of God becoming fully human and being rejected and executed. But even that brutal execution could not stop God’s plan, for it was in dying that he took all the sin, sorrow, guilt and pain of the world and offered humankind a new start.

The passage in the ten commandments above shows that there are consequences in rejecting God and not returning, but the commandment is really about the depth of the love of a God that will not ever give up on us.

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