Scripture: Exodus 19:1-8a
Key Verse(s): Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. (v. 5-6a)
Observation: God has already delivered the people who will become the nation of Israel from slavery in Egypt. They have only been out of Egypt for three months, as a result the memory of what God has done for them is still fresh. They arrive at Mount Sinai, the place where Moses encountered God in the burning bush that was not consumed, and are challenged to accept the relationship that God offers. The fact that they have come to this location is the fulfillment of God’s words to Moses in Exodus 3:12, “I will be with you; and this shall be the sign for you that it is I who sent you: when you have brought the people out of Egypt, you shall worship God on this mountain.” God is a God that keeps God’s word. One promise has been fulfilled but this is only the beginning. If the people are willing, God has plans to bless the entire world through Israel. God has already begun the relationship and has already proven God’s faithfulness. Now the people are called on to accept their part of the covenant. Now the people will learn what it means to be chosen or as the scripture writer puts it, God’s “treasured possession.”
Analysis: This passage points to the doctrine of election, a doctrine which has created centuries of religious debate. People who oppose the validity of this doctrine point to the God’s loving nature and insist that God cannot be exclusive. Election for people who feel this way is used to keep certain people out; creating division contrary to God’s call for unity and oneness that is found throughout the Bible. Yet, the message is clear in this passage and others like it that God has chosen the Biblical Israelites as the elect. The question is elected for what? The nation of Israel has been chosen to be in covenant with God; a covenant that goes back to Abraham and will continue through David and culminate with Jesus Christ. This election is the opportunity to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. In other words, the nation of Israel is not set apart so that the other nations will serve them, instead Israel is to serve them as a priest serves leading others by example. Israel is to be a holy nation, a model for all other nations. Israel is to lead them to join in this covenant with the true and living God. Through Jesus Christ we have been grafted into the family of Biblical Israelites so that we who believe in Jesus Christ now enjoy the election and the responsibility given to Israel. It is an election to join in the ministry of spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is a priesthood of all believers united in obedience and holiness to God.
Prayer: God grant that we may put aside any notions of entitlement or feelings of superiority toward others based on our relationship with God. God the Holy Spirit empower us to become the kingdom of priests and the holy nation that will lead others to the only true and living God. Amen.