In this sermon the book of Exodus lands us at the foot of Mt. Sinai. Approximately 45 days after leaving Egypt, the former slaves now encamp at the mountain of God in fulfilment of a promise God made to Moses at the burning bush. Rewind to Exodus 3:12.
“And God said, ‘I will be with you. And this will be the sign to you that it is I who have sent you: When you have brought the people out of Egypt, you will worship God on this mountain.’”
Sinai is the sign of the trustworthiness of God’s word. What God says He does. My friends, how much evidence do we need before we start taking the Word of God seriously? Before we take His promises seriously. The chaos of the world around me does not negate the Word of God within me. You and I should be walking on water through the storm every single day.
The arrival at Sinai also represents a divine wedding between God and His people. We call this the covenant. Here we will see that the plan of redemption is not just a legal story; it is a love story. This is not religion, this is relationship. One is filled with traditions and symbols; the other is filled with substance and power. One is the form of godliness, the other is God in the flesh. His name is Jesus and our goal and aim as a church is to be like Him. And only as we are like Him can we change the world.
The covenant consists of three parts:
- What God has done (Rescue)
- Israel’s response to what God has done (Response)
- What Israel is to become (Results)
What God has done (Rescue) – “You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.” (Ex. 19:4) Rewind to Duet. 32:10-12 for a fuller picture.
With their own eyes they have seen God’s wonders on their behalf. They didn’t read it in a book, they experienced it first-hand. Have you seen God’s wonders on your behalf? Do you know for a fact that He has rescued you from hell?
Israel’s response to what God has done (Response) – “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, . . .” (19:5) In response to the rescue already executed, Israel is asked to obey God fully and Keep His covenant. In the Semitic mind, to have faith is to obey and follow. The Hebrew word literally means to “hear” or “listen.” You haven’t heard until you’ve obeyed and if you don’t obey, you haven’t heard.
Faith and obedience are not opposites but are complementary. My faith or trust in God causes me to act or follow accordingly. Obedience only becomes legalism if I trust my works more than I trust God’s works on my behalf. The failure to trust the goodness of God can turn obedience into an act of merit, trying to earn what God has already given.) Obedience is a loving response to a saving Person—a Redeemer.
And they are to obey fully. It’s an exclusive relationship—no other rivals. God gives all; we are to give all as well.
What Israel is to become (Results) – “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.” (vss. 5-6)
If Israel accepts the proposal, the results of the response is a special destiny. She will be God’s treasured possession [segula]. A people chosen. See Deut. 7:6; Eph. 1:4, 11. At Sinai God promised that part of Israel’s destiny was to mediate the power and presence of God to others. Another word for priests is “bridge”—a bridge to connect people to God, and back to God’s “shalom” (peace/wholeness).
God’s purpose in delivering Israel and giving them His covenant was to make out of them a holy nation of priests who would be a bridge to connect people to God and put Him on display. They would put God on display, not themselves. A people who would not only bring his message but be His message. A people who, to a broken world, would be the presence and picture of the God who restores Shalom. That’s to be our mission too!
Too often we think we can’t be relevant in the world unless we are saying and shouting the same things they are saying and shouting. We forget our destiny as God’s treasured possession and kingdom of priests and fail to realize that the goal is not relevance but redemption, revival, and rebirth. And that comes not by parroting the words of man but by living by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.
Lastly, she is to be a holy nation. Set apart for the purposes of God. Set apart and chosen for what? To serve. A bridge gets walked on but it serves a purpose—connection. You can’t be entitled and a bridge at the same time. Our entitlement puts us on display and robs the gospel of its power. No wonder the world is in the mess it’s in! The separation is not from the world, but a difference expressed in the world!
So this is the covenant. How does Israel respond? Moses goes back down and tells them everything God has said, Then in verse 8: “Then people all responded together, ‘We will do everything the Lord has said.’” (vs. 8)
They were saying Yes to being chosen by God; yes to being chosen for a purpose; and yes to being chosen for privilege. You are chosen for so much more than religion. You are chosen for revelation—revealing in your life the power and presence of the living God. And you do this by accepting His proposal and living by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Will you accept?
Pastor Randy Maxwell