"Do not worship any other god, for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God." Exodus 34.14
According to one of my prayer diaries, today is International Dawn Chorus Day and it features a picture of two adorable creatures perched on a twig, singing their hearts out in celebration. Yet only yesterday, and no doubt in anticipation of the auspicious occasion ahead, I was listening to a radio programme which revealed a more sinister side to the mellifluous sound of birdsong. It is also a territorial warning to potential competitors: keep out, this is my patch!
Most of behave similarly, erecting fences around our property, patenting our inventions, securing our rights in law. Even the Lord himself is at it, with the Bible hailing God as "jealous".
The difference is that jealous behaviour among creatures is generally for selfish reasons, while God's jealousy arouses out of love and concern for others. As Creator, God is keenly aware of his love for creation and that only he has the wisdom, power and commitment to care for it adequately. Not only so but he proved his claim through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.
Where it occurs among other creatures, jealousy is nature's way of maintaining and controlling population density. Among humans it is normally to be resisted because too often our jealousy is an expression of our greed, which knows no bounds. In contrast, God's jealousy is to be welcomed and embraced, in humility and gratitude - that he cares enough to be protective and for his willingness to lay down his own life in that endeavour; a gesture that, in Strath & Sleat, we celebrate twice today: in our English Communion at Elgol and our Gaelic Communion at Broadford. Latha math dhuibh!