The Jealousy of God

Seeking to put to rest certain heretical claims concerning the law of Moses, St. Paul draws a sharp distinction between that law and the promise of the Gospel.

The ordinances of the old covenant were given “by angels in the hand of a mediator. Now a mediator is not of one: but God is one” (Gal. 3:19-20)—and it is God who saves!

Lest he be misunderstood, the Apostle hastens to deny that the law was ever “against the promises of God.” Rather, it was sent by God as a “pedagogue in Christ”—that is, a tutor charged with preparing God’s children for the coming of their true teacher (Gal. 22, 24).

Once that teacher arrives, the law has served its purpose. Under no circumstances can the mediator be allowed to “disannul” the promise of God (Gal. 3:17). Moses himself, who gave the law when commanded to do so, pays tribute to the one who fulfills that law (Mt. 17:4).

Though our God is a “jealous God” (Ex. 34:14), the purpose of his jealousy is not to deny us a share in his glory, but rather to make that share as great as possible, by uniting us more closely to himself.

God is happy to work through intermediaries, so long as those mediators—and those who have recourse to them—recognize that the glory in which they share is his alone to give.

When Christ cures the band of lepers, he does not forbid them to do as instructed in the law of Moses, but even commands them to show themselves to the priests. In their obedience to him, they honor his mediators, and are “made clean” (Lk. 17:14).

As we know, however, only one of these men, after consulting the priests, returns to give thanks to his divine healer. To this Samaritan, Christ adds a further blessing: “thy faith has made thee whole” (Lk. 17:19).

After his Ascension, Christ continues to work through mediators. As with Moses, their mediation is a divine gift, so long as it remains directed to the glory of God.

A true mediator, like St. Paul, is jealous for his charges “with the jealousy of God.” This jealousy aims at nothing less than presenting each soul to God “as a chaste virgin to Christ” (2 Cor. 11:2).

When a mediator seeks instead his own glory, or that of his ideological faction, we know that his jealousy is not of God, and the unity he seeks is not one that unites us to God and his glory.

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