The other day I came across a video of Oprah talking about what she believes and doesn't believe. She spoke of how, when she was in her twenties, she heard a preacher talk about God being a jealous god. She gave this as the catalyst that brought her to the conclusion there's not just one way to God.
I thought about this for a long time-- for days. I pondered, myself, why God would refer to Himself as a jealous God: "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 nor 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 fourth generations of those who hate Me." (Exodus 20:4-5)
If God is love (1 John 4:8) and love is not jealous (1 Corinthians 13:4), how could God be jealous?
At first I thought it was a problem in the translation from the original text. But looking up the Hebrew word used in the Exodus passage, I found it was, in fact, the word jealous. Next, I consulted a commentary and gained a little more understanding:
Idolatry being spiritual adultery, as it is very often represented in scripture, the displeasure of God against it is fitly called jealousy. If God is jealous herein, we should be so afraid of offering any worship to God otherwise than as he has appointed in his word. (Matthew Henry Commentary)
Then I thought, "What exactly is the definition of jealous?" According to Webster, jealous means (1 a) intolerant of rivalry or unfaithfulness (b) disposed to suspect rivalry or unfaithfulness(2) hostile toward a rival or one believed to enjoy an advantage.
Obviously, God describes Himself as intolerant of rivalry. He is not jealous of us, but for us. He gave the command that we not worship anything else, because idolatry destroys the relationship between God and man.
It is sad to me that Oprah decided to search for answers through every wind of doctrine (and is still searching), when she could have simply looked up the word jealous in the dictionary. Then she would have been able to find that God simply loves us so much that He doesn't want anything coming between our relationship with Him.