Jealousy has the ability to stir our emotions. It only needs a persuasive leader with a quick mind to stir others into the frenzy of a destructive force that affects many. Webster’s 1828 Dictionary casts jealousy as a “peculiar uneasiness … rivalship … awakened by whatever may exalt others, or give them pleasures and advantages which we desire for ourselves. Jealousy is the apprehension of superiority, allied to envy in that, before a good is lost by ourselves, (jealousy) is converted into envy after it is obtained by others.”

This spirit of competitiveness lurks in the shallow waters of our human nature, and it launches easily into speech and conduct. It holds closely to the suspicions we have about others and lives in the neighborhood of our hearts not far away from greed and hate.

We are uneasy about the “other team,” thinking they will intend to take something from us. How often we condemn “them” for evils which had never once even entered their minds. Our suspicious actually condemn ourselves when others do not enact the evils we were so sure they would carry through.

Jealousy is not always as “lousy” as its last two syllables may suggest. It is a good term to apply when one is alert to safeguard that which belongs to them. A man should exercise the right kind of jealousy for his wife. We ought to take care in conserving and preserving what should be cherished. Being jealous for that which is ours must not be transformed into envy for that which is not our own.

The clamor and contentions we are hearing in the hourly media offerings are not the good type of jealousies. The supposed indignations of the “rights” protesters are well advertised. Those with money and power are familiar with the fact that even an untruth can be accepted if it is told loudly enough and often. Human jealousies are recorded frequently in the Bible. They may present themselves at first as righteous causes but soon show themselves to be outright wrongdoings.

As the Israelites were making nearly a 40-year journey from Egypt to the land God had promised, they had plenty of time for problems to develop. Moses was the leader of this expedition, and his brother Aaron was his priestly assistant. In the midst of a series of absolute miracles came a litany of murmurings and dissatisfactions. By the time we arrive at the Bible’s fourth book, there is real trouble in the camp. Numbers, chapter 16, brings us to the bold confrontations of Korah, Dathan and Abiram against Moses and Aaron (but in reality, against God).

Out of the approximately two million Israelites on the slow and difficult move, there arose a mob of 250 influential and well-funded princes. They “gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron” (Numbers 16:3). They rose up in jealous anger against what God was doing by asking Moses and Aaron: “wherefore then lift ye up yourselves above the
congregation of the Lord?” (16:3 also). The mob of protesters described their dismal slavery back in Egypt as “a land that floweth with milk and honey” (16:13) and accused Moses of now trying “to kill us in the wilderness” march to the land of God’s promise. They complained that their leaders would not do their job “except thou make thyself altogether a prince over us” (also 16:13). The real concern was in the last two words of the verse – they wanted to be the leaders and were jealous of those in that position.

The Lord told the congregation to “get you up from about” the protesters (Numbers 16:24). He was going to show them “that these men have provoked the Lord” (16:30), and verses 32 through 35 describe how the earth “opened her mouth and swallowed them up.”

Unbelievably, the congregation of Israelites “murmured against Moses and against Aaron” the next day, saying, “Ye have killed the people of the Lord” (Numbers 16:41). How the facts became so quickly distorted without the assistance of the news media, we are not sure. Regardless, “there is wrath gone out from the Lord; the plague is begun” (16:46). Moses and Aaron hastily make “an atonement for the people” (verse 47) by standing “between the dead and the living; and the plague was stayed” (verse 48), after 14,700
lives were consumed.

In chapter 17 of Numbers, the Lord confirms the leadership of the Israelites with the budding and fruit-bearing of Aaron’s rod. The “children of Israel spake unto Moses, saying, ‘Behold, we die, we perish, we all perish’” (17:12) as they become aware again of the gravity of rebelling against God’s Word.

Protests against authority are recorded often in the book of Acts. In chapter six, the religious leaders recruit men who are willing to lie, stir up the people and set up false witnesses to convict and sentence godly Stephen to death (verses 11-14).

In Acts 14, the mob is stirred up against the Apostle Paul and Barnabas to stone them. At Lystra and Derbe, the people called these two men “Mercurius” and “Jupiter,” as they believed them to be gods. Shortly after that, however, the fickle multitude is persuaded to stone Paul and drag him out of the city “supposing he had been dead” (14:19).

Because illicit profits were taken from slave masters, the magistrates had Paul and Silas beaten and imprisoned for preaching the truth (Acts 16). In the next chapter, those “moved with envy” find “certain lewd fellows of the baser sort” to gather a company and “set all the city on an uproar” against men speaking about the atoning death, burial and resurrection of Christ.

Protests against Bible truth are recorded again in Acts 19 and 21. They can be traced to Isaiah 14, where the originator of jealousy and the father of lies makes his five “I wills” (verses 13 and 14). It seems that the attempted rulership of the misled mob follows closely on the coattails of truth and lawfulness, even in our “civilized” day.

A vast distinction is shown between folks who seek the leadership of God in a quiet, peaceable life and the barbaric mobs led by wealthy tyrants. It has gone that way time and again throughout history.

America’s window of opportunity to display unity and dependability will only be abbreviated by ongoing mob unrest.

God-fearing folks must not cease to pray for the leadership of America. Now is the time for wise decisions and right directions to be made. This may be the last time that Godly resolve and circumstance of the day will coincide. Notwithstanding the clamor of the mob, we must do right – even if it must be done at significant personal expense.

The alternative is stated by Asaph in Psalm 80:6: “Thou makest us a strife unto our neighbors: and our enemies laugh among themselves.”

R.D. “Bob” Hottle is a retired schoolteacher, farmer and pastor of the Anchor Baptist Church.