You Will Be For Me a Kingdom of Priests

19: 3-9

    DIG: What does God expect from the leadership of Isra'el? What does He promise will result? What right does the LORD have to dictate the terms of this Covenant?

    REFLECT: What barriers has Jesus set aside so that we can draw near to God with confidence (see Hebrews 10:19-23)? What does Peter urge us to do to become a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, belonging to God (First Peter 2:9)?

    This territory was not new to Moses. He had lived nearby with his father-in-law for forty years and it was here that he had met ADONAI at the burning bush. Notice how Moses seemed eager to seek another interview with God on the same holy ground. He went up to the mountain, but did not yet climb it. Then Moses went up to meet with God at Mount Sinai, and ADONAI called to him from the mountain. It is interesting that the LORD instantly responded to Moses and He is also eager to respond to us. When we come near to God, He will come near to us (James 4:8).346

    God Himself was responsible for Isra'el’s redemption. And He wanted them to remember what He had done in destroying Egypt and bringing them to Himself. This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel, “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself” (19:3-4). The expression, eagles’ wings, is a Hebrew idiom that means a successful escape after being pursued. You can find it in Deuteronomy 32:11 and Revelation 12:14, with the same meaning. So on the way from Egypt to Mount Sinai, ADONAI had carried them on eagles’ wings by grace. He sweetened the bitter waters of Marah, He gave them manna and quail when they were hungry and water from the rock when they were thirsty, and He delivered them from the Amalekites.

    Not only were the Israelites to remember what the LORD had done for them, but also that memory was to motivate them to obey.347 He promised: If you obey Me fully and keep My Covenant, the out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Even though all the earth is God’s, yet Isra'el was His private cherished treasure above all other peoples if they would only obey. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation (19:5-6). The whole concept of a chosen people arises from these statements. ADONAI did not merely give the Torah to save Isra'el. He gave the Torah so that they might know how to live for Him and be His treasured possession.348

    Rather than interpreting God’s covenant with the Israelites as the institution of a completely new relationship, it is best to understand it as the logical outgrowth and expansion of His earlier covenant with Abraham and his descendents six hundred years earlier (Genesis 15:9-21 and 17:1-22).349

    So Moses descended from the mountain. He went back to the camp of Isra'el and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words ADONAI had commanded him to speak (19:7). They were free to either accept or reject God’s offer, and although the specific terms of the covenant had not yet been spelled out to them, the people at Sinai agreed to obey them. The people all responded together, saying: We will do everything ADONAI has said. So Moses brought their answer back to God (19:8). How little Isra'el understood their own frailty and proneness to sin when they so readily and almost flippantly consented to the condition of obedience. Within a few weeks they had broken every one of commandment in the Torah, proving beyond a shadow of a doubt that the heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure (Jeremiah 17:9).350

    They said, “Bring it on. We’ll keep the Torah,” even before they even knew what it was. Then they demonstrated for fifteen hundred years that they could not keep it. This is the attitude of a great many people today. They think the natural man, with his old nature can please YHVH. But the natural man cannot keep the commandments of ADONAI and he fails miserably in the attempt. You and I have that same old nature and it is at war with God. It can never be obedient to the LORD and can never please Him. Have you discovered that in your own life? Have you found that you are a failure at meeting God’s standards? Well, there is good news. Accordingly, the Torah functioned as a custodian until the Messiah came, so that we might be declared righteous on the ground of trusting and being faithful (Galatians 3:24 CJB).

    ADONAI said to Moses His prophet: I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear Me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you. The physical manifestation of God’s presence was for the benefit of the weak Israelites. The people, since leaving Egypt, had been walking by sight and not by faith. They needed physical, visual assurances. As a result, then, of the Shechinah glory, the people would believe in, trust in, and have faith in Moses. In other words, when the people heard God speaking to Moses, there would be no doubt that Moses needed to be believed when he spoke. Then Moses told God what the people had said (19:9).


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