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January 12, 2021 – Exodus 19-23

The covenant with the nation of Israel. Our God is a covenanting God, which simply means that he makes promises to us and faithfully does what he says he will do. He covenanted with Adam. With Noah, the covenant was sealed with the rainbow. He made wonderful covenant promises to Abraham, promises that have ultimately brought us great blessing. The covenant promises were handed down to Isaac and to Jacob and, now, God speaks to Moses and, through him, to the entire nation: “Israel encamped before the mountain, 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 . . .’” (19:2,3).

And what did Moses tell the people? He reminded them of God’s great acts on their behalf and his ownership of all the earth, and he explained that the people would be a kingdom of priests (serving him and mediating the good news of redemption to the nations). And, of course, they will be God’s “treasured possession” (19:5). Oh my, to be God’s treasured possession! And, you know what? So are we: “See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are” (1 John 3:1).

Of course, as God’s people, Israel must live in a certain way and, so, in the following chapters God tells them how they are to live. He gives them the Ten Commandments and other instructions. I once had a man tell me that the Bible and the Christian religion are only concerned about Sunday mornings, that as long as Christians went to church on Sunday, it didn’t really matter how they lived the rest of the week. What a misunderstanding of the Bible! And though we regularly fail (consider Paul’s testimony in Romans 7), we know we must live as children of God.

Time and time again, Israel failed to live up to God’s expectations. And time and time again, God forgave them. With Israel, we must not presume upon God’s grace (Romans 6:1,2), but what joy to know that, when we do fail to live as God would have us do, our God is a forgiving God: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). Israel (and we) must live as God has commanded and rely upon his amazing grace when they (we) fail. Israel’s hope and ours is the same.

This is all my hope and peace—

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

This is all my righteousness—

Nothing but the blood of Jesus!

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