H – Highlight
Exodus 19:5-6 – 5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine; 6 and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.”
E – Explain
As god prepares to meet with the people at Mount Sinai and to give the Ten Commandments, making his covenant with Israel, he makes a promise. If the nation will obey him, they will be his treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. There is a very clear promise of ongoing blessing if Israel will obey God’s law.
A – Apply
The promise of god here reminds me of god’s relationship with Adam in the garden. Many who write about the garden suggest that Adam was part of a covenant of works with God. These suggest that, if Adam had obeyed God, he would have, at some point, been granted eternal life in paradise with no longer an opportunity to fail. In a similar way, it looks as though God is telling this nation that, if they will obey him as a nation, they will grow into the very kingdom that some Jews in the first century were expecting Jesus to bring.
I am not sure about the if side of the equation. I cannot say how long Adam would have had to obey in order to be granted eternal life. I cannot say what would have happened had Jesus rode into Jerusalem on Palm Sunday and found a repentant nation and a proper temple. Instead, I know that neither Adam nor Israel obeyed.
What gets my attention here is not the speculative question. Instead, what gets my attention is the failure. Adam failed. Israel failed. And, if we were required to obey in order to have the favor of God, we would be fully incapable of success. This in capacity would be our own fault, not the fault of the Lord and his commands. We fail in small and we fail in large. Our sin would wreck our souls beyond repair.
This is a reason we praise Jesus with such gratitude. Jesus fulfilled perfect righteousness where we would fail. Jesus fully pleased his Father and, through his righteousness, earned eternal life for all who are his. The perfect life of Jesus is vital to our salvation as well as his sacrificial death and resurrection.
R – Respond
Lord, I understand that, were my eternal life based on my obedience, I would lose it. I am a sinner. I fail to obey. No obedience in part can ever make up for my disobedience. I thank you for your glorious plan of salvation by grace alone through faith alone. I thank you for Jesus and his perfection. I thank you for the imputation of righteousness. Please help me live in celebration of and gratitude for this salvation.