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The Lord's Holy People, Part 2

The Lord's Holy People, Part 2

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By: R. W. Glenn
August 14, 2005
Exodus 19:5-6
By: R. W. Glenn
August 14, 2005
Exodus 19:5-6

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Published by: Redeemer Bible Church/Solid Food Media on May 25, 2010
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Exod 19:1-25: The Lord’s Holy People, Part 2 © 2005 by R W Glenn1
Redeemer Bible Church
Unreserved Accountability to Christ.
Undeserved Acceptance from Christ 
.
The Lord’s Holy People, Part Two
Exodus 19:1-25
Introduction
To be a people for God’s own possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation isthe property of the church. In his first epistle, the Apostle Peter applies the language ofExod 19:5-6 directly to us; he says, “Youare a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holynation, a people for God'sown possession” (1 Pet 2:9).What a privilege! What an honor! To be considered God’s own possession, hisspecial treasure, his royal priesthood, and his holy nation are too wonderful for us.Knowing ourselves as we do, we are well aware that we do not deserve it…because wedon’t live up to it.Yet
in spite of 
and
in defiance of 
your repeated failures to act your age, to live out whoyou are in Christ, this privilege belongs to you. It is who you are: You
are 
a chosen race.You
are 
a royal priesthood. You
are 
a holy nation. You
are 
a people for God’s ownpossession. You are the Lord’s holy people.We are the Lord’s holy people in spite of and in defiance of our thoughts, beliefs, andbehaviors to the contrary. Our status is all of grace.Yet in applying this text from Exodus to the church, Peter is doing more thanmaking this point. He is clueing us in on how it is that this description can be applied to usin the first place. And to see this we need to understand the text hes citing in its originalcontext. Turn with me to
Exod19:5-6
: Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice andkeep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all theearth is Mine;
6
and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.' These are thewords that you shall speak to the sons of Israel."
From Conditional to Unconditional
As you know, this word from God to the people of Israel comes on the heels of theirmiraculous deliverance from Egypt and from the difficulties of the beginning stages of theirwilderness wanderings. In fact, v 4 is a kind of summary that depicts the Lord as a mothereagle carrying her fledglings to safety:
You yourselves have seen what I did to theEgyptians, and how I bore you on eagleswings, and brought you to Myself
.Now that Israel has arrived safely at Sinai, he calls them to a deeper relationshipwith himself. If Israel will obey the Lord’s voice and keep his covenant, then they will behis
own possession and a kingdom of priests and a holy nation
.
 
Exod 19:1-25: The Lord’s Holy People, Part 2 © 2005 by R W Glenn2
Taken together, these three designations
my own possession, a kingdom ofpriests, and a holy nation
 —should be understood as the bestowment of a great honor.Deuteronomy 26:18-19 says:
The LORD has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession,as He promised you, and that you should keep all His commandments; and that Hewill set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor;and that you shall be a consecrated people to the LORD your God, as He hasspoken.
Now part of what makes Israels position as the Lord’s holy people such anhonorable one is that it is totally undeserved. After all, it is in the face of Israel’s repeateddisobedience, their grumbling and complaining in the wilderness that the Lord is willing tocontinue with them.Now then, although it makes sense that being the Lord’s
own possession, akingdom of priests and a holy nation
would be undeserved in light of Israel’s persistentwaywardness, there is something very important about this honor that must not be missed;namely, that it is a promise contingent upon obeying the Lord and keeping his covenant.In other words, Israel’s reception of the titles is
conditional 
upon their obedience.Look again at vv 5-6:
Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant,then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine;and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation
.If
and only i
Israel will make good on the condition (obeying the Lord’s voice andkeeping his covenant), then
and only then 
will they be his
own possession, a kingdom ofpriests and a holy nation
.Now if Israel’s elevation to the position of the Lord’s holy people is conditional upontheir obedience, how is it that I can say that their position is undeserved even for them?Let me put it this way. If I were to say to you, “If you win the race, then you will behonored” and then you go out and win, would you see the honor as undeserved? I thinknot. Well then, how is it that I can say that Israels position as the Lord’s holy people isundeserved if it is conditional upon their keeping the terms of the Mosaic covenant?Well, here’s the answer. Even to be given the
opportunity 
to enter into a conditionalcovenant with Yahweh is
itself 
a privilege, an undeserved one. Notice that vv 5-6 followdirectly on v 4. Now what I want you to see are the words that connect and thereby relatevv 5-6 to v 4. Let me read vv 4-6, emphasizing them:
You yourselves have seen what I didto the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagleswings, and brought you to Myself. Nowthen, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My ownpossession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me akingdom of priests and a holy nation
.
 
Exod 19:1-25: The Lord’s Holy People, Part 2 © 2005 by R W Glenn3
These two words,
now then
, represent a single word in Hebrew that is used to drawa practical conclusion from what has just been stated.
1
What this means is that vv 5-6should be understood as the practical conclusion that follows from the Lord’s deliverance ofhis people from the Egyptians.Now then, let me ask you this: why did the Lord deliver Israel from the Egyptians?Did they earn it? Was it the fulfillment of God’s end of a bargain with them, that if theyobeyed him, he would bless them with deliverance? Absolutely not! On the contrary, Deut7:7-8 makes it absolutely clear:
The LORD did not set His love on you nor choose you because you weremore in number than any of the peoples, for you were the fewest of all peoples,
8
butbecause the LORD loved you and kept the oath which He swore to your forefathers,the LORD brought you out by a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house ofslavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
The only reason the Lord delivered Israel from slavery was that he made anunconditional promise to Abraham to do so. In fact, Ezekiel 20 reminds us that while inEgyptian captivity, Israel played the harlot with Egypt’s gods—while in captivity! So whenthe Lord reminds the Israelites of their deliverance in v 4, he is reminding them of an actionhe performed on their behalf in defiance of their wicked and foolish behavior. It was an actof sheer grace and unconditional (Abrahamic) covenant faithfulness.Now since vv 5-6 represent the practical conclusion that follows from the teaching ofv 4, what is being said about the conditions and promises of the Mosaic covenant? Well,what it says is that the very fact that the Lord would even
offer 
to enter into a covenantalbond with this people is itself gracious, undeserved, unwarranted—a privilege.Think of it in terms of the race illustration I mentioned a few moments ago. I askedyou that if I were to say to you, “If you win the race, then you will be honored” and thenyou go out and win, would you see the honor as undeserved? As we said earlier, the answeris obvious.But if I were to say, “In spite of your deplorable behavior and vile treatment of me, Ihave saved your life and given you the ability to run. Now then, if you win the race, thenyou will be honored”—if I were to say
that 
, you would see that your opportunity to be in therace at all, that there would even be the
potential 
of being honored by me—you would seethat as a privilege in itself, an honor that you even get to compete, knowing that you didn’tdeserve to be there in the first place.Therefore we say that it is only by God’s sovereign grace that Israel has been put inthe way of receiving the honor of keeping covenant and thereby becoming the Lord’s owntreasure.
1
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