Through the Old Testament in a Year

Today's Reading – Exodus 19:1-25 – Brought safely to Sinai

God saves a people for himself that through them he might bring blessing to all the peoples of the world.

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When, at the burning bush, the Lord had met with Moses to send him to rescue the Israelites from Egypt he had reassured him with this promise: "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" (Exodus 3:12). God had been with Moses and had safely brought the Israelites through sea and desert to meet with him at this mountain – Mount Sinai.

Now that they have arrived at Sinai, God tells the Israelites; "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" (19:4-6).

God's saving purpose for Israel does not involve his rejection of the rest of the world – the whole earth is his. He has saved and protected this people for the sake of his covenant, the covenant he made with Abraham through which he promised to bring blessing to all the nations of the world. The Israelites are to be a kingdom of priests; they are to act as mediators between the living God and the nations of the world, to be the means by which all nations enjoy the blessings promised by the God of Abraham. They should not think that God has chosen them and rejected the other nations; he has chosen them for the sake of the other nations – that they might be a light to the Gentiles.

The apostle Peter applies these words to predominantly Gentile churches in the first century (1 Peter 2:9). We have inherited this same promise and calling of God in the Lord Jesus Christ. We have been saved not so that God may reject the rest of the world but that God may bring his salvation and blessing to others through us. We have been made God's people in order that we might "declare the praises of him who called [us] out of darkness into his wonderful light" – that others might also be drawn out of darkness by our testimony to the light.

God had brought the Israelites to Mount Sinai to meet with him. But the people had to keep their distance. The mountain shook and trembled and was covered with thick cloud as God came down with thunder, lightning and fire. The people were warned not to go near the mountain or they will die. Only Moses and Aaron were permitted to go up the mountain to meet with God.

The Lord Jesus has provided the perfect sacrifice for sin. Through his shed blood and his risen presence at the Father's right hand he has become the mediator of the new and better covenant. He has brought us all into the very presence of God – anticipating that last day when God shall again come down in power to dwell among his people for all eternity. We are not required to stand at a distance; we have been brought near. What a tremendous privilege and blessing! What a great salvation!

Holy God, help me to understand what it means that I have been brought into your presence through the Lord Jesus Christ. You are the same holy God; you have not been tamed. You are a God of burning holiness; you are a consuming fire. And yet I can stand in your presence because Christ has died and Christ is risen. Thank you that you are with me, that I am your treasured possession and that you protect me and guide me. Help me to see that the blessings you have given me in Christ are not for me alone but are for the whole world. Use me to bring others into the light of your kingdom.

Peter Misselbrook