Jealousy can be a good thing, if you’re God. The Israelites cowered and covered their ears at the bottom of Mt. Sinai. That’s because God was thundering from above. “Thou shalt have no other gods. Honor you father and mother. Thou shalt not bear false testimony against thy neighbor.”
And as he decreed the Ten Commandments, he announced, “I the Lord your God, am a jealous God.” (Exodus 20:5)
That doesn’t sound right. God being jealous? But, of course, it’s not envy. God’s jealous “for” us. He’s not like the overprotective spouse or parent, who unfairly imposes restrictions on our life. He’s jealous for us in the sense that he does things so that he’ll never lose us. He commands time in church, and in his Word, and in prayer, because if he doesn’t get it, something else will become our god. He expects respect and obedience for our parents and government leaders, because if we don’t respect them, we won’t respect him.
As much as the Israelites wanted to respect God and his Commandments, they couldn’t keep them. They failed miserably. And so do we. Maybe not as miserably as the Israelites, but enough to be lost to God in the way we make our ways more important than his “Ten Words (Commandments).” But God’s jealousy didn’t fail. He was so passionate and compassionate for not losing us, that he got strict with his Son. The Father had him leave heaven and keep the 10 Commandments perfectly, for 30 years. In the end, he commanded that Jesus die. And because Jesus’ death was a holy obedient death, God decreed that it would pardon our disrespectful and disobedient ways. God’s jealousy saved us from our disobedience with Jesus’ perfect obedience.
So when you come to one of God’s “tough” Commandments this week: not to let a “O my God” slip out and misuse his name. Or to keep his Sabbath holy by making time for church. Or to still speak respectfully of the President or that Congress-person when they’re so disgraceful. Or to not bear false testimony against the family member or peer by venting how frustrating they are. At those times, think of how jealous God is for you. He doesn’t want to lose you to those sins. In jealousy, he sent his Son so that you aren’t lost. Show your “jealousy” for God by obeying that tough Commandment, for him.