God’s Word for You
Zechariah 1:14-15 God’s holy jealousy
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Wednesday, June 15, 2022
14 Then the angel who was speaking to me said to me, “Proclaim: This is what the LORD of hosts says: ‘I am very jealous for Jerusalem and Zion, 15 but I am very angry with the nations that are at ease. I was only a little angry, but they helped with the calamity.’
“God reproves and rebukes those who do more than he has commanded” (LW 29:140). So God was only a little angry with Babylon, but Babylon went too far; far too far: they “helped (’azar, aided) the calamity.” They oppressed the Jews brutally and ruthlessly. God condemned Babylon for this more than once:
- “I was angry with my people. I defiled my heritage. I gave them into your hand, but you showed them no mercy. Even on the aged you made your yoke very heavy.” (Isaiah 47:6)
- “You will be filled with shame instead of honor. The cup in the Lord’s right hand is coming around to you, and complete disgrace will cover your glory. You will be overwhelmed by the violence you have committed. Your devastation of the animals will terrify you…” (Habakkuk 2:16).
Verse 14 presents the main theme for this first vision: Jealousy. The Lord is jealous for Jerusalem and Zion. When the Bible describes the Lord’s jealousy it is never the negative, self-destructive jealousy, “the green-eyed monster which doth mock the meat it feeds on” (Othello III:3), but his passion and zeal for his people. God is never hesitant to proclaim his jealousy on behalf of his people; he does so in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 5:9). But God is especially vocal about his strong protective jealousy in the prophets (Ezekiel 36:6; Joel 2:18; Nahum 1:2). He will say this again in Zechariah chapter 8[:2].
He wants us to remain pure to his word, to study and to remain steadfast in the doctrines of the Holy Scriptures. Now, this also involves holy living as well as right belief, but the devil knows that practically anyone can be shoe-horned into living a life that seems moral and good without having any faith at all in Christ. And while the whole book of Proverbs focuses our attention on righteous living, putting the wisdom of faith into everyday practice, Solomon does not exclude faith from his definition of “wise.” Not at all. He begins the book by saying: “Let the wise add to their learning, and let the discerning get guidance—for understanding proverbs and parables, the sayings and riddles of the wise. The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge” (Proverbs 1:5-7). And when we come together to worship, it is not the way we will conduct our lives that we confess together, but rather the foundation of our faith using one of the creeds:
- “I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth” (Apostles’ Creed, article 1).
- “For our sake, he (Jesus Christ) was crucified under Pontius Pilate. He suffered death and was buried” (Nicene Creed, article 2).
- “Though he is both God and man, Christ is not two persons but one, one, not by changing the deity into flesh, but by taking the humanity into God” (Athanasian Creed).
And all of our Lutheran Confessions do the same thing, uniting our churches into one church, through a unified confession of faith, which speak to the entire body of chief doctrines. This is true for all doctrines, the teachings of all of the Scriptures. For example, how we are saved:
- “Our churches also teach that men cannot be justified before God by their own strength, merits, or works but are freely justified for Christ’s sake through faith” (Augsburg Confession, 1530, Article IV).
- “Faith alone justifies because we receive the forgiveness of sins and the Holy Spirit by faith alone” (Apology of the Augsburg Confession, 1531, Article IV).
Also, how we believe and show our faith:
- “Invocation of the saints is also one of the abuses of the Antichrist. It is in conflict with the first, chief article [justification by faith alone] and undermines knowledge of Christ. It is neither commanded nor recommended, nor does it have any precedent in the Scriptures. Even if the invocation of the saints were a precious practice (which it is not), we have everything a thousandfold better in Christ” (Smalcald Articles, 1537, Article II).
- “Learn from these words, then, how angry God is with those who rely on anything but [God] himself, and again, how kind and gracious he is to those who trust and believe him alone with their whole heart.” (Large Catechism, 1529, First Commandment, par. 32).
And of course, the role of the sacraments:
- “Without God’s word the water [of baptism] is just plain water and not baptism. But with this word it is baptism, that is, a gracious water of life and a washing of rebirth by the Holy Spirit.” (Small Catechism, 1529, Baptism, Thirdly)
- “Our conclusion is that even though a rascal receives or gives the sacrament, it is the true sacrament (that is, Christ’s body and blood) just as much as when one does so in the most worthy manner, for the sacrament is not based on the holiness of men but on the word of God” (Formula of Concord, 1577, SD VII,24).
The Lord’s jealous protection of his people comes through his holy word. We pray with David: “I will not neglect your word. I will obey your word. Preserve my life according to your word. Strengthen me according to your word.” And Jesus gave us the ultimate encouragement and promise: “Whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24). This is the goal of God’s jealous protection, to gather his people and bring them home to live with him forever in heaven.
Pastor Timothy Smith