A Jealous God

William C. Brownson

READ : Hosea 2:16-20

You shall have no other gods before me. (Ex. 20:3)

The One who commands reveals himself as “a jealous God” (Exodus 20:5). Does that jar you? It should, if we understand by “jealousy” the unlovely trait that combines self-doubt with suspicion. But God’s jealousy is anything but that. It’s the anger and anguish of wounded and insulted love. It’s the pain of a deeply devoted spouse who has been cruelly betrayed. It is heartbreak over love now trampled and despised. Think of it this way: the energy of God’s love for us makes him yearn passionately for the small treasure of our hearts. Amazing!

When you hear the Lord say “no other gods,” it’s love calling. God knew how vulnerable his people would be to the Baals who promised increase in crops, fruits and cattle, or to the Astartes whose lascivious rites offered sexual fertility. His heart broke over the Molechs who demanded small children as burnt-offerings. He couldn’t bear it that his people should turn from him to such wretched substitutes.

And doesn’t he know now how the craving for wealth, the pursuit of pleasure and power, and the cult of self-worship beckon to us, ready to steal our hearts and ruin us?

God alone is the fountain of living waters. All other so-called gods are pretenders, cracked cisterns that leak. It’s his mighty love for us—never forget that—that keeps insisting “no other gods.”


Let us worship you alone, Lord!