You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 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.” -Exodus 19:4-6
Chapter 19 serves as a prelude to the commandments God gives Israel. The purpose of His commandments, along with the perspective we should have toward them, are also found in this chapter. You may read Exodus 19:1-8 here: Bible Gateway.
I wonder what went through Moses’ mind and heart as he and the Israelites finally reached Mt. Sinai. For God’s promise to bring the people out of Egypt “to serve God on this mountain” finally arrived. This was where God had previously spoken to Moses at the burning bush. And now the Israelites would camp here for the next 11 months.
God’s Purpose for the Prelude
God’s reason for redeeming Israel from slavery in Egypt rings with clarity as He speaks with Moses atop the mountain. In the Abrahamic covenant (Genesis 18:18), God promises that Israel will become a great and powerful nation. This blessing is meant to be a channel of blessing to all nations (Genesis 12:2).
Although the ultimate fulfillment of God’s blessing would come through the Messiah’s life, death and resurrection, God purposed to use Israel in the interim. God’s condition? If Israel obeys God’s covenant, as defined by His law, then He will embrace them as His people and pour out His blessing.
Israel would become His prized and chosen nation: a holy nation set apart for God—a kingdom of priests who would act as a mediatory people sharing the way of entering into fellowship with God. (In Old Testament times, people couldn’t approach God directly. A priest acted as a go-between sinful human beings and God.)
Why did God choose Israel? Although He knew that no nation on earth deserves His love and mercy, He chose Israel despite her wrong doing to be an agent of salvation to the world and represent His way of life. Isaiah 60:3 predicted that kings and Gentiles would come to the Lord through Israel. “For salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22).
A Life of Maturity
I love how God used the image of an eagle when God gave Moses His words to pass on to the people. (Moses also used this image in a song he taught Israel near the end of his life, Deuteronomy 32:10-12).
As the young eagle grows, the parent breaks up the comfortable nest, forcing the young birds to fly in order to fulfill their purpose. While Israel probably felt that God had abandoned them at times, God was simply stirring the nest so the eaglet would spread his wings and fly. If one falls, the parent catches them and carries them on strong wings.
Warren Wiersbe, (Be Delivered), writes: “The eaglets illustrate three aspects of freedom: freedom from (they are out of the nest, which to us is redemption), freedom in (they are at home in the air, which to us is maturity), and freedom to (they can fulfill their purpose in life, which to us is ministry). True freedom means that we’re delivered from doing the bad, we’re able to do the good, and we’re accomplishing God’s will on earth.”
Although this section ends with the people committing to obey God, it didn’t take long for their resolve to melt away in the desert heat. Instead of influencing the nations to worship Jehovah, the nations influenced them to worship idols.
Is there a commitment you have made to God? How is it going?
With Christ’s victory on the cross, God changed the pattern of having to go through a priest to approach God. Now we can come directly into God’s presence without fear (Heb. 4:16). When we’re united with Christ—members of His body—we also join in His priestly work of reconciling God and man (2 Cor. 5:18). Like ancient Israel, we are instructed to point others to God through our words and deeds (1 Peter 2:5, 9).
Have a great week!