A Kingdom of Priests
The Book of Exodus is just full of momentous occasions. Here we have another one, and again there are New Testament implications.
The children of Israel journeyed to the southern part of the Sinai Peninsula, and arrived at Mount Sinai, known ever after as “the mountain of God.” It was upon this mountain that God summoned Moses and delivered unto him His Law. It is summarized most memorably in the Ten Commandments, which we will talk about tomorrow. It was here that God made a covenant with the nation of Israel: “If you indeed will obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (emphasis added).
A kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This was Israel’s calling. This was their purpose. God made a covenant with this people; first, by bringing them into existence through the loins of Abraham; second, by liberating them from the slavery of Egypt; and, third, by giving them His Law. God had done everything for them and would do even more, piling blessing upon blessing, if the children of Israel would do only one thing in return: Obey. That was Israel’s part of the covenant: Obedience to the commands of this wonderful, liberating God. And so that they would know His commands and not have to guess, He gave them to His servant Moses on the mountain. The reward of such obedience was that they would become a kingdom of priests unto God, a holy nation, a light unto the gentiles.
But they would not. They failed to live according to God’s holy Law; they could not keep His commandments, and so were carried off into captivity several centuries later. But this sets the stage for the coming of Christ – the One who would keep the Law, the One in whom the covenant would be fulfilled. So a new covenant was made, not written in stone, but upon our hearts by the working of the Holy Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ. So now the Church is called: “A chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for His own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9). So we are now the children of the covenant, the children of promise, the heirs of God. What the children of Israel could not do through the Law, Christ did for his Church through his life, death and resurrection. Let us hold fast to him, our Savior and our Life.