Abinadi the prophet lamented over the wickedness of King Noah and his priests. In a short chiasmus Abinadi prophesied:
And except they repent and turn to the Lord their God, behold, I will deliver them into the hands of their enemies; yea, and they shall be brought into bondage; and they shall be afflicted by the hand of their enemies. And it shall come to pass that they shall know that I am the Lord their God, and am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of my people. And it shall come to pass that except this people repent and turn unto the Lord their God, they shall be brought into bondage; and none shall deliver them, except it be the Lord the Almighty God.((Mosiah 11:21-23))
To see the chiasmus more clearly, refer to note.((A. And except they repent and turn to the Lord their God,
B. behold, I will deliver them into the hands of their enemies; yea, and they shall be brought into bondage; and they shall be afflicted by the hand of their enemies.
C. And it shall come to pass that they shall know that I am the Lord their God, and am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of my people.
B. And it shall come to pass that except this people repent and turn unto the Lord their God, they shall be brought into bondage;
A. and none shall deliver them, except it be the Lord the Almighty God.))
Abinadi also expounded on the Ten Commandments:
And now, ye remember that I said unto you: Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of things which are in heaven above, or which are in the earth beneath, or which are in the water under the earth. And again: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them; for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children, unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate me; And showing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain; for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.((Mosiah 13:12-15))
In both these quotes, Abinadi referred to the Lord as a “jealous God”. This is a concept familiar to the ancient house of Israel((see the list of Old Testament references to God as “jealous”)).
The Hebrew word translated into English as “jealous” is qinah (also of the form qanah or other derivative words). When applied to humans, jealous, as used in the Bible, typically refers to envy((e.g., Numbers 5:14)) and thus sin. It can also refer to zeal((e.g., Psalm 69:9)), which could be both positive or negative, depending on the circumstance and usage.
When referring to God as “jealous” the best interpretation is that God is fiercely protective of Truth, covenant, and His covenant people. A jealous God is a God Who defends right with zeal. A jealous God cannot look upon sin with the least degree of allowance.((Doctrine and Covenants 1:31; Alma 45:16)) A jealous God knows that wickedness never was happiness.((Alma 41:10)) As a jealous God, the Lord requires faithfulness and commands that we should have no other Gods before Him.((Exodus 34:14)) This is a harsh reality but it is a reality that provides safety and countless blessings. It is a harsh reality that leads to eternal life, an inheritance as an heir like Christ.((Romans 8:17)) God’s commands are not forced; all His children are able to express will and act independently, if they desire, from God.((There are some who are without mental/emotional capacity to understand choices or fully express moral agency. In some way or another, this is true of all of use because we do not fully understand the consequences of our actions or inactions. God, as a perfectly loving and just God, will weigh all in the balance with the intent to bless His children to the extent He is able.))
A jealous God is not filled with petty envy but rather with charity. God loves us enough to set firm boundaries. We can wander through life or we can travel the strait road of the jealous God, a road that leads to unimagined heights and countless blessings. God is jealous because He zealously protects His covenant children, particularly as they are faithful unto their covenants. This does not mean they are without suffering but their sufferings will be for their good.((Doctrine and Covenants 122:7))