November 6, 2023
“You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 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; 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.”
In response to this declaration from the Lord, the newly liberated children of Israel declare in unity, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:8). They do not yet know the full implications of what it means to keep the Lord’s covenant, but they say, “you can give us the details later, but whatever it is we’re all in!” What does someone have to do to be worthy of that kind of trust?
Moses returns to Mount Sinai with the people of Israel just as the Lord promised when he said, “I will be with you. And this will be the sign for you that I have sent you. When you bring the people out from Egypt, you all will worship God on this mountain” (Exodus 3:12) The sign has been fulfilled.
Then, the Lord beautifully describes his salvation. “You saw what I did to the Egyptians. You were weak, and unable to help yourselves. I swooped down and hovered over you to protect you. Then, I lifted you up and carried you out on eagles’ wings.” This is how salvation works. This is the foundation for any relationship with God. There is no saying, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do,” without first knowing the beauty of his salvation. They respond this way because at that moment they realize that the Lord has set his love on them. So it is with us when we know the beauty of our salvation in Christ. We are only able to respond with, “Yes Lord,” in response to what he has done for us in love.
The Lord’s salvation is free, but it’s not cheap. Grace transforms the way we live our lives. The Lord declares, “the whole earth belongs to me.” He demonstrated his control in saving them exactly how he wanted to do it and precisely when he wanted to do it. Now, they are to be a kingdom of priests and a holy nation as his special possession. Priests don’t live solely for their own self-interests. Israel’s life as a people was supposed to point others to the true and living God, the one who specializes in saving people.
The apostle Peter starts his first letter praising God for salvation. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” (1 Peter 1:3-4). Then he says to the people who have been born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead that Exodus 19:4-6 applies to them! And the implications are the same!
Being God’s people isn’t about amassing power for ourselves. Being God’s people isn’t about domination. Being God’s people is about intercession. It’s about dedicating ourselves to God in a way that demonstrates the goodness of God, the holiness of God, the grace of God, the truth of God, the justice of God, the mercy of God, the glory of God. Life as the Lord’s people is meant to demonstrate his excellence.
Irwyn Ince serves as Coordinator of Mission to North America. He and his wife, Kim, have four children and two beautiful granddaughters.