Exodus 19:3-6. 3 while Moses went up to God. The Lord called to him out of the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
They made it!
God has brought the Hebrews out of Egypt, through the Sea, across the wilderness and settled them at the base of Mount Sinai. The same mountain where God appeared to Moses in a burning bush. The mountain that God told Moses that the people had to go to to worship him. It is here that God will describe his relationship to the nation. It is here that he will speak their identity over them.
You will be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine – this is a deeply personal relationship. God not only possesses the nation, they are his treasure. His heart would break without them.
you shall be to me a kingdom of priests – from the garden, humanity was meant to be priests before the Lord. That purpose is being re-established.
a holy nation – As God’s representatives they will be set apart to display the very nature of God.
This is truly a jaw-dropping beginning to this covenant relationship. These statements from God to the people are powerful. They are life-giving. They renew the purpose of humanity. And they reveal the heartfelt desire of God to live in relationship to us.
But there’s a catch. This beautiful new identity is rooted in a really big ultimatum.
Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant…
Obviously we know that this isn’t going to work. The rest of the Old Testament recalls failure after failure of this people to live as God’s possession, his priests, and his holy nation. They simply won’t keep this covenant. That is, until Christ keeps it for them.
Jesus will come to earth as the new Israel. He will substitute for them. He will keep the covenant. Perfectly. Every law obeyed. He will be God’s perfect possession. He will be God’s perfect priest. He will be holiness incarnate.
Romans 8:3-4. 3 For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, 4 in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.
Jesus has turned the IF into a SINCE. God now says to Jesus, “SINCE you have indeed obeyed my voice and kept my covenant now I can reclaim my possession. My priests. My holy nation.”
And Christian that’s us! We are in Christ. Christ is in us. We the church are now the prized possession of God. His royal priesthood. His holy ones. Not by earning, but by receiving.
1 Peter 2:9-10. 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.
“To live is Christ” is to have everything God offered his people through the law, but to have it through Christ. Now we are God’s treasured possession. We are owned by God. We are empowered by God as his priests. And we are transformed by God as his holy ones. May we now proclaim the excellencies of him who called out of darkness and into his marvelous light.
Where have you failed to keep God’s covenant?
You in Christ
Praise Jesus for keeping God’s covenant in your place and for placing you into a unconditional covenant.
Christ in you
How can you live as a holy priest before God today, pointing to our great High Priest?