In the ancient world, all cultures outside of Israel had many gods. The Greeks had many gods in their belief system. As they conquered different nations, the Romans would invite the religions and gods of these nations into their pantheon. In other words, the gods worshiped by these nations weren’t jealous of each other. They coexisted with the other gods. Our God is a jealous God, and that means He will not coexist with these other gods.
“Take heed to yourselves, lest you forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which He made with you, and make a graven image, or the likeness of anything, which the Lord your God has forbidden you. For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.” (Deuteronomy 4:23-24)
We should also acknowledge that He doesn’t tolerate being boxed in by our preferences, meaning that He won’t tolerate being represented by some form or image. If He isn’t willing to tolerate or coexist with certain things, then perhaps we shouldn’t either. Frankly, God’s people shouldn’t buy into the idea of tolerance and coexistence, as it’s defined by our culture presently. Refusing to coexist with the ways of the world is something the Creator requires of us because He expects us to be a set apart people. Obedience to that calling is rewarded with a blessed and abundant life but there is more to it than that. In other words, walking in obedience to God is not just for our benefit. Actually, it has a lot to do with this: “For God so loved the world.”
He loved the world’s people so much that He gave His only Son in the hope that those who dwell in darkness would see Light. For the world to appreciate the Light, it must be distinguishable from the darkness; it can’t be mixed and mingled with it lest it lose its effectiveness. And so, He’s a jealous God and will not coexist with these other philosophies and ideologies. If He did, there would be nothing that was truly holy and trustworthy, suggesting that He won’t tolerate these other philosophies because He can’t tolerate these other philosophies. By that I mean to say that He must be a jealous God and a Holy God for our sake. Likewise, as His people, we must be a holy people for the sake of those who dwell in darkness. We cannot coexist with these ideologies because, if we did, how would those in darkness be able to recognize the Light?
It’s our duty and responsibility, as partakers of the covenant, to faithfully represent Him to the world. If He doesn’t coexist with the gods of our culture, then we shouldn’t either. We can’t allow the Light to be polluted by the darkness for the sake of those living in darkness. So, taking this stance shouldn’t be viewed as merely our path to a reward. We must do this because we love our Father and because we love our fellowman. Our obedience is as much for the benefit of those who are lost as it is for us. We must be set apart from the world if those who are inclined to tolerate other gods are to see the Light. If we are faithful to this call, the greatest reward will be knowing that we helped someone to walk in the Light so that they could hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”