Exodus 19:16-25 — Treasure God’s covenant with you!
God had a message for Moses to deliver to Israel. “You saw what I did to the Egyptians and what I did for you. Obey me and keep my covenant. If you do so, you will be a special treasure to me, more so than anyone else. I can claim you that way because I own the whole earth. You will be my kingdom of priests and my holy nation.” His message is really no different to His people today: Treasure God’s covenant with you!
That was the first time holy is applied to God’s chosen people, or to any human, for that matter. God’s people set themselves aside for obedience and faithfulness. That’s what holiness is about. That’s the essence of being people of God. To this day, God has not lowered the standards for being His own people. His own unchanging holiness can make no room for that.
The promise and the identity the LORD offered Israel foreshadow the identity of God’s NT people. Those who believe in Jesus also are “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” (1 Peter 2:7-9). The promised One makes us “kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Revelation 1:5, 6). The promised Seed has redeemed us by His blood “out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation” and has “made us unto our God kings and priests” (Revelation 5:9, 10). That happens when people meet God and respond according to His expectations.
God’s Covenant People
God’s people, treasures of God’s heart — the fact God has chosen and redeemed His people puts a distinct value on each individual. Those who recognize and accept that they are precious to God develop into choice people of honor and holiness. When we accept that place in God’s heart, we find ourselves restored to fellowship with the Creator who made us for fellowship with Him. No matter our outward appearance or physical attributes, the Unerring One does all things well, making each of us according to His plan for good for His children.
The Israelites received God’s message, embraced it, and declared simply, “All that the LORD hath spoken we will do.” All. A blank check like that, given in heart-felt submission, proclaims faith and trust in God. That’s the kind of trust, love, and obedience God’s wants from His children. That too is the consecration He wants from us — totally set aside for Him.
Meet the Holy One!
The morning of the third day, the people came out to the foot of the mount “to meet with God.” As promised, God arrived on the mount. What an event to the senses that was! Moses spoke with God and God answered him audibly. The mountain trembled. So did the people.
Of course, God’s New Testament people do not meet Him at a restricted, spectacular, frightening, deadly mountain. But that doesn’t mean we should be any less attentive and responsive to Him. Hebrews 12:25 warns, “See that ye refuse not him that speaketh.” In other words, see that you do not beg off having to listen to Him. Do not make excuses in order to do something else. Do not avoid Him or reject Him. Do not refuse to obey Him.
This ever present Holy One calls His people to acknowledge Him and His presence wherever they find themselves. Whether doing dishes in the kitchen or playing in the park, God’s holy people live in holiness before Him. When they live holy lives that way, their formal worship in a church setting will naturally be holy as well. Holiness of life is imperative to approaching God and living in His presence. Our reverence before God should have nothing to do with where we are and everything to do with where He is.
(Excerpted from what I wrote for CLE’s new Sunrise Bible 903 Lesson 6)
God’s Covenant Expectations
God’s covenant with Israel required cleanness, holiness, sanctity (Exodus 19:6,10,14,22,23). Nothing unusual there, given God’s holiness and Israel’s calling to be His people.
God may have commanded them to wash their clothes before meeting with Him so they would have an external reminder of the necessity of being wholly clean and presentable before God.
God has not lowered the standards for being His own people. His unchanging holiness still requires His people to be holy.
Why should we be holy and reverent wherever we are? That’s how we should be wherever He is and He is everywhere.