God’s Treasured Possession
Lord, take me into Your presence today. Speak to me, teach me and guide me to do Your will.
Read Exodus 19:1–25
On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. 2 After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 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, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
7 So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8 The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.
9 The Lord said to Moses, “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.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.
10 And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11 and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12 Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13 They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”
14 After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15 Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”
16 On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17 Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountain trembled violently. 19 As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
20 The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21 and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22 Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.”
23 Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’”
24 The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.”
25 So Moses went down to the people and told them.
New International Version (NIV)
Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV® Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
ReflectWe are invited to enter God’s presence with confidence. Reflect on the majesty of the God who invites you in today.
So the long trek out of Egypt brings us to the mountain of God: Sinai (sometimes called Horeb), a literal and metaphorical high point of the book of Exodus. Israel is to meet God, and God is to give Israel a special gift. It is perhaps like a wedding: Israel becomes God’s bride (his “treasured possession,” 5) and gives them a wedding gift like no other: the “law.”
Notice the spectacular sound-and- light show that surrounds this encounter. No one would have missed how important this meeting is. Notice the careful preparations required of Moses, the priests and all of the people (21,22).
Notice, most of all, how God is calling out a “kingdom of priests” (6)—words that may be so familiar in Christian talk that we miss the point. The people of God as a whole are to be priestly.
To clarify, the next phrase adds: “a holy nation.” The idea is not that every individual is a priest, which was clearly not true in Israel, but that taken together, God’s people as a whole have a priestly function. In the New Testament this is revealed to be the one priesthood of Christ, in which all Christians share—again not as individuals, but together.
“…you will be my own special treasure from among all the peoples on earth…” (5). Meditate on this phrase throughout your day.
Take this opportunity as part of God’s priesthood to take someone else’s name into the throne room before God in prayer.
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