Exodus 19:1–6; 20:1–7
This past summer, North Korea tested an intercontinental ballistic missile that traveled nearly 600 miles. The launch demonstrated Kim Jong-un’s growing military power and deepened global anxiety over North Korea’s intentions about using their weaponry.
In today’s reading, God’s display of power and might reinforces His good intentions for Israel. Having rescued Israel from Egypt, God declared, “You will be my treasured possession” (19:5). God’s intention was to be in relationship with His people. He cherished them as His own. And there was more! God said, “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (19:5–6). Out of all the nations of the earth, God had specifically chosen the Israelites. As a “kingdom of priests” they were to represent God to the rest of the world. As a “holy nation” they were to be set apart from the nations around them.
In particular, the Ten Commandments were the means by which the Israelites were to live as a priestly, holy nation. The first four commandments delineated their relationship with God. They were to worship God alone, not carved images; they were to use the Lord’s name with respect; and they were to observe the Sabbath day as holy (20:3–11). The remaining six commandments prescribed their relationship with others: to honor parents and to refrain from murder, adultery, theft, lying, and coveting (20:12–17). Obedience to these commands was essential to their flourishing as God’s people.
Notice the underlying principle of grace. God did not command obedience as the means of earning relationship with God. God had already declared His love for them first. Obedience to His commandments was intended as the response to the love already shown.
APPLY THE WORD
Examine your own attitude about obedience in the Christian life. Has obedience become a means of avoiding punishment? Or perhaps you obey as a way of earning God’s favor and love? If so, ask the Holy Spirit to correct this attitude and to change your heart to see obedience as a response of love for a God who already loves you.