The small print on giant speakers

Is it easy to agree upon societal policies? Just consider our nation’s tensions on a number of hot button issues.

What if a nation were to attempt to conform to an even higher standard then human notions of justice and compassion? What if it sought to function as God’s holy nation, a kingdom of priests? How should such a country handle accidents, crime, property issues, worship and immorality?

Welcome to the book of the covenant (Exodus 20-23) where God provided Israel with his small print. At Mt. Sinai, God had invited Israel into a relationship with himself. Israel’s leaders having just experienced God’s liberating power through the ten plagues and the dividing of the Red Sea enthusiastically agreed. Who would not want such a powerful God on your side?

Then God essentially said, slow down. Prepare yourselves over a two day period to receive the small print of what it will mean for you to live as my holy nation (Exodus 19:10,11,14,15).

Three days later God’s presence descended upon Mt. Sinai as its mountain peak erupted in fire and thick billows of smoke rose. The ground quaked in the presence of the holy God. Then God’s voice as if on giant speakers began booming his small print. Israel trembled. Can you blame them?

If people are going to be in fellowship with this holy God, they must conform to his holy ways. The first part of God’s small print constitutes what we call the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). After giving the Ten Commandments God outlined some general societal principles for how a holy nation should behave (Exodus 21-23).

Upon hearing all of God’s directions and agreeing to live according to these covenantal policies (Exodus 24:7), everyone signed on the dotted line. This relationship agreement was ratified by the sacrificial blood of the covenant being sprinkled upon the altar and the people (Exodus 24:6,8; Hebrews 9:17-21).

While we do not live in a political theocracy, we are called to align our lives with God’s holy ways (1 Peter 1:14-16). God has not changed. In order for us to be in fellowship with God, God must make us holy through Christ’s covenantal blood. Furthermore, we are called to live in agreement with God’s ways by avoiding sinful and rebellious attitudes and behaviors.

Understanding what God has done should cause us to break out in praise! Not only has God made us holy, something we could never achieve, God also promises to continue to forgive us as we seek to walk in the light! (Hebrews 10:14-17; 1 Peter 2:9-10). Praise be to God for his grace and mercy.

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Barry Newton

Married to his wonderful wife Sofia and a former missionary in Brazil, Barry enjoys trying to express old truths in fresh ways. They are the parents of two young men.

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