Daily Lectionary: Joshua 8:1-28; Acts 11:1-18

“I, the Lord, your God, am a jealous God.” (Small Catechism: Close of the Commandments)

In the Name + of Jesus. Amen. Jealousy doesn’t seem to be an appropriate adjective or attribute of God. Loving, merciful, gracious, and forgiving—yes. But jealous? We associate “jealous” with the stalker boyfriend or girlfriend, the one who is always suspicious and doesn’t trust anyone, who wants to know where you’ve been and who you’ve been with and always assumes the worst.

Our jealousy is not the same as God’s. Our jealousy comes out of a sinful, self-centered heart. It seeks to control others and take them captive to our will, whims and wishes. Jealousy turns our loves into hostages.

God’s jealousy is different, though it may at times look the same as ours. His jealousy is the flip side of His love. He loves us so much that He wants us all to Himself and will share us with no other gods. That’s why He gave Israel the commandments. Israel was uniquely His holy people, and He was jealous of the Baals, the Asherahs, the Marduks, and the other “gods,” not because they were competition but because they threatened to get between Him and His people.

The commandments were given to guard the Israelites against the seductions of other “gods,” to ensure right worship, to protect the gifts of authority, life, sex, property, reputation, and contentment. But the Israelites, like each of us, were sin-enslaved and death-driven, and wanted to keep a few “gods” on the side along with the Lord.

The Lord is a zealous God. And in His zealous love, He sent His Son to bring us back to Him. Jesus is the love of God in action. He seeks the wayward and lost. He goes to the depths of death to bring us back to God. He does the commandment and lets the commandment kill Him, and He won’t stop loving until you belong to Him completely. In the Name + of Jesus. Amen.

Gracious Father in heaven, your zeal for my salvation leads You to be jealous of anything that gets between us. Your Son Jesus, my Savior, has brought me to you by His Spirit. Grant me the same zeal for you that you have for me. Amen.

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