What does it mean that God is a jealous god in Mosiah 11?
As used in the scriptures, the word jealous has two meanings: (1) to be fervent and to have sensitive and deep feelings about someone or something, and (2) to be envious of someone or suspicious that another will gain some advantage.
TO HAVE FERVENT FEELINGS
- I the Lord am a jealous God, Ex. 20:5 (Deut. 5:9; 6:15; Mosiah 11:22).
- I will be jealous for my holy name, Ezek. 39:25.
- I am jealous for Jerusalem and for Zion, Zech. 1:14.
TO BE ENVIOUS OR SUSPICIOUS
- Jealousy is the rage of a man, Prov. 6:32–35.
- Akish began to be jealous of his son, Ether 9:7.
- Strip yourselves from jealousies and fears, D&C 67:10.
When you covet what other people have, it’s called envy. When you covet what you have, it’s called jealousy. The “jealous spouse” is the spouse that wrongly covets his/her marital partner. God says he is a “jealous God” in the same sense that one might be a “jealous husband” or a “jealous wife”: He expects total, complete, unwavering fidelity.
This falls under the first and great commandment to love God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. The interweaves the first commandment of the ten commandments that we have no other Gods before us. There is only “one” God (as we understand it the Godhead whom are one), and there is only “one” path to salvation/exaltation. There is only “one” name under heaven whereby we can be saved.
Jealousy is the best human word to describe an endearing Father’s heart that he wants us to know him and to know him only. This “jealousy” is described best in the Pearl of Great Price where Enoch is speaking with the Lord and we are blessed with this dialogue:
“And it came to pass that the God of heaven looked upon the residue of the people, and he wept; and Enoch bore record of it, saying: How is it that the heavens weep, and shed forth their tears as the rain upon the mountains?
“And Enoch said unto the Lord: How is it that thou canst weep, seeing thou art holy, and from all eternity to all eternity?
“And were it possible that man could number the particles of the earth, yea, millions of earths like this, it would not be a beginning to the number of thy creations; and thy curtains are stretched out still; and yet thou art there, and thy bosom is there; and also thou art just; thou art merciful and kind forever;
“And thou hast taken Zion to thine own bosom, from all thy creations, from all eternity to all eternity; and naught but peace, justice, and truth is the habitation of thy throne; and mercy shall go before thy face and have no end; how is it thou canst weep?
“The Lord said unto Enoch: Behold these thy brethren; they are the workmanship of mine own hands, and I gave unto them their knowledge, in the day I created them; and in the Garden of Eden, gave I unto man his agency;
“And unto thy brethren have I said, and also given commandment, that they should love one another, and that they should choose me, their Father; but behold, they are without affection, and they hate their own blood;
“And the fire of mine indignation is kindled against them; and in my hot displeasure will I send in the floods upon them, for my fierce anger is kindled against them.”
Our Lord wept as he looked upon his sons and daughters. Enoch asks the Lord (which obviously shows how Enoch was learning line-upon-line) how can the Lord weep when he is holy? The Lord then tells Enoch to look upon his sons and daughters — the children of men — the workmanship of his own hands. The Lord blessed them with knowledge, with agency, and gave unto them commandments on how they could return to him (exaltation), and that they should use this knowledge and agency to “choose” him — “their Father” — but they use their knowledge and agency to hate their brothers and sisters and to forsake or choose a different God. The Lord then defines his “jealousy” further.
In essence God’s jealousy incorporates his grace, his bounteous mercy, his weeping, along with his righteous anger that is kindled when he has given us “everything” we need to return him. To choose to have him as our Father.