Thoughts for Friday 19th June 2020

Psalm 86:1-10; Genesis 35:1-4; Acts 5:17-26


Friday 19 June - Rev. Jerry Eve


Jealousy, that green-eyed monster, is one of the themes that lies at the heart of our readings for today. In our psalm, for example, David sings, ‘There is no god like you, O Lord, not one,’ and by this he is implying that he wasn’t quite as monotheistic as we sometimes like to think. ‘I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God,’ God says in the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20), and for David even to imply that there are other gods here at verse 8 is, it seems to me, to risk God’s wrath.


In our New Testament reading, it’s jealousy that motivates the High Priest and the Sadducees to arrest the apostles and put them in jail. They too wish that they too could perform the sorts of miracles and wonders being performed by Peter (Acts 5:15) and the other believers.


I want, however, to major on the passage from Genesis. Bethel, which means ‘House of God’, was a special place for Jacob. It was where, having fallen out with his brother Esau and run away, God had appeared to him in a dream (Genesis 28:13). It had all been Jacob’s fault, and this was an opportunity he took to put himself right with God. It’s the origin of the tithe (i.e. ‘a tenth of everything’, Genesis 28:22) which he then promises to God.


And now a similar thing has happened, and he has to run away again, and this time he runs away to Bethel – once again to make his peace with God. This time, though, it’s not his brother he’s estranged from, but all his neighbours. And this time, it’s not actually his fault at all but that of his sons. If you’d like to read chapter 34 of Genesis then you’ll discover that a crime has been committed. The Chief of the region where Jacob and his family is living has a son who has raped Jacob’s daughter, Dinah. This is certainly something that needed to be addressed, but the way it is (chiefly by Simeon and Levi) is disproportionate. And that’s the reason Jacob and his family have to leave: 1) because they can’t be sure that their neighbours will not now gang up against them, and 2) I don’t think Jacob felt he was then able to trust his sons not to do something similar again.


They go first of all to Bethel, but in order to aid their journey the whole family realign their spirituality as totally monotheistic by getting rid of all the foreign gods they’ve got. Let us pray:


O God of Bethel! by whose hand
thy people still are fed,
who through this earthly pilgrimage
hast all our fathers led:

Our vows, our prayers, we now present
before thy throne of grace:

God of our fathers! Be the God
of their succeeding race.

Through each perplexing path of life
our wandering footsteps guide;
give us each day our daily bread,
and raiment fit provide.

O spread thy covering wings around,
till all our wanderings cease,
and at our Father’s loved abode
our souls arrive in peace.

Such blessings from thy gracious hand
our humble prayers implore;
and thou shalt be our chosen God
and portion evermore,


Amen. (Scottish Paraphrases, 1781)


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