Oh, the questions God asks. Proverbs 27:4 says, “Wrath is cruel and anger a torrent, But who is able to stand before jealousy?” (NKJV) The verse describes two different individuals. Neither is right. Each is guilty of wrong attitudes and almost certainly guilty of wrong actions. By the way, each one of us could be an example of either of them at any given time. The person who is full of wrath will be intense, fierce, and cruel. That is bad for everyone around. The angry person presents a very real danger to the object(s) of his anger and anyone else unlucky enough to be in the vicinity. The person described in this verse, full of wrath, with anger flooding out in an overwhelming torrent, is likely to make his intentions known. Thus, the object of his anger will see him coming, which gives the victim a chance to make himself scarce or protect himself. It also gives others a chance to talk some sense into the angry person. Often, this cruel, intense, fierce, torrential anger will play itself out relatively quickly. This type of emotion simply cannot be maintained for an extended period of time.
The angry person is dangerous but not nearly as dangerous as the jealous person. The jealous person allows the hurt to fester and simmer but he will not allow it to boil over. He must not. Be sure; jealousy rages, but it also reckons calmly. The jealous person keeps his intentions hidden. He plots and he plans to get back at the one he thinks caused his hurt. He does not intend to get even. He intends to get ahead in this game of revenge. The object of his anger often does not see the strike coming. The attack comes when he least expects it. Simple anger is like a dog that announces its bite with a bark. Jealous anger is like the silent copperhead snake that lies in wait hidden among the leaves. The rage of the jealous person does not flame out quickly. Time does nothing to put out the fires of jealousy. Only a complete change of heart will do that. (Did I hear someone say, “Help me, Jesus”?)
The One who created us asked, “Who can stand before jealousy?” The obvious answer is no one. The hunted has no chance if he does not know he is being hunted. The jealous person bent on vengeance has time on his side. He can simply wait for an unguarded moment. No one can stand up to the need for round the clock vigilance. Maybe not as obvious but just as accurate is the idea that the jealous person cannot stand before jealousy either. The jealous person will not be destroyed unawares by a quick blow from a hidden adversary. Rather, he will be slowly eaten alive from the inside out. Jealousy is its own punishment. No one can devise a greater torment for a jealous person than that which he inflicts on himself. The jealous person imprisons himself within walls of bitterness and inconsolable grief. No one can stand before jealousy.
In at least six places in the Bible, God declares Himself to be a jealous God. In fact in Exodus 34, God says His name is “Jealous.” Numerous times in the Bible, God describes His wrath as a jealous wrath. He considers Himself married to His people. He has every right to be jealous over us. He created us. He bought us back after we ran away. When we strayed, He took us back again and again and again. Who can stand before that kind of jealousy? No one. Bow before that jealousy and give yourself to Him. He loves you with an everlasting love.
STEVE ELLISON is director of Ouachita Baptist Camp in Arkansas. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.