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The Gospel Call

The Gospel Call

Exodus 19:3b, 5b-6a

The LORD called to him out of the mountain, saying, … “’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; and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’”

Theologians have often debated whether this Exodus 19 covenant here is a conditional covenant, predicated on the obedience of the people, or an unconditional covenant, predicated on God’s faithfulness in spite of Israel’s disobedience, but the condition itself strikes me in a new way as I read it. Notice that this invitation isn’t just given to Moses and the other priests, but to all the people. We could read it like this: “If all of you obey my voice and keep my covenant, then you’ll be my treasured possession among all peoples.” But one false prophet will sully the holiness for everyone. One wicked king will spoil the kingdom blessing. One unjust judge will forfeit peace for all. A little leaven in the bread will spoil the whole feast. And that’s the troubling part, right? Because there’s never been a single chapter in Israel’s storied history where every man followed God. Not even when David beat Goliath or Josiah tore down the high places or Gideon made peace with surrounding nations. Because David still had his adulteries and Josiah still had enemies within the gates and Gideon still kept a golden ephod.

Whatever eschatological conclusions one may draw from Exodus 19, I see the light of Christ radiating between these shadowy lines. The question resounds: what if one priest could live purely and righteously in every thought, word, and deed? What if one king could obey the Father’s will perfectly without adulteries and greed and golden ephods blemishing the record? What if one prophet could faithfully preach the truth in love and justice and embody it? What if one Son of Adam could give Himself as an atoning sacrifice for the sins of His brothers and sisters? Could it ever be?!

Yes and amen! In Christ, we are a holy priesthood today, friend! In Christ, we are a sanctified nation and a treasured possession! Not because we all lived up to the call, but because Jesus did—and He paid it all!