A Kingdom Of Priests

Laurie Buffo, Volunteer Writer, South Barrington | June 21, 2024

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.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
Exodus 19:4-6

When the people saw that Moses was so long in coming down from the mountain, they gathered around Aaron and said, “Come, make us gods who will go before us. As for this fellow Moses who brought us up out of Egypt, we don’t know what has happened to him.”
Exodus 32:1

Early in my faith journey, I wondered how the Israelites could experience the extraordinary parting of the Red Sea and then so quickly slip into disobedience. I assumed it would stick with me if I witnessed God’s jaw-dropping power. Experience has humbled me. Forgetting the beautiful things God has done for me, I sometimes break the first commandment, to love God with all my heart and soul. I commit idolatry by elevating other people or things instead of depending on God.

Today, we explore The Mosaic (Old) Covenant. The Mosaic Covenant emphasizes the importance of obedience in becoming God’s people. The central terms of the Mosaic Covenant are: If Israel fully obeys His commands, God will bless them more than any other nation. If not, they will be punished and exiled. Obedience does not save us, but it indicates whether our hearts are aligned with God and whether we love Him above all else. It helps measure our faith.

Three months after God miraculously rescued the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, He presented the covenant terms. Following God’s ways will make them a holy nation, a shining example of His wisdom and goodness. Israel’s blessings and uniqueness would capture the attention of the other nations, drawing them to God. In this way, Israel would become a kingdom of priests revealing God to those who do not know Him.

Three days after introducing the covenant, God spoke directly to the Israelites. He gave them the law: ten essential commandments plus guidelines for a justice system. After the people agreed to the covenant, Moses went up on the mountain for forty days for further instruction. That short absence was enough time for Israel to forget what God had done for them and forge a golden calf to worship in His place. As a nation, Israel repeatedly broke the covenant. God exercised extreme patience, but they were eventually conquered and carried off to Babylon according to the covenant terms.

The underlying problem for the Israelites and the church today is that simply knowing the rules does not produce obedience. A change of heart is required. The good news is that what the law was powerless to do is now accomplished through Jesus. He brought the New Covenant by which the Holy Spirit writes the commandments on our hearts. When we cooperate, the Holy Spirit empowers us to resist sinning. I am grateful that the Holy Spirit moves my heart, helping me agree with God’s will. I appreciate how the covenants reveal God’s faithful, patient love in action. 

Next Steps

1 Peter 2:9-10 shows that through Jesus, Jews and Gentiles become one people. The church shares Israel’s identity as God’s treasured, chosen people. We are a kingdom of holy priests reflecting God’s goodness to a broken world. What idols cause you to wander from this identity and mission?