“I will set you apart from everyone else.
The whole lot of you.
I will give you the ways to walk, show the roads, and teach you about myself.
All of you.
I will be good to you. I will meet your needs in ways you would never imagine.
If you will follow me, I will do these things – and people will notice.
People will see – all of them – that you live differently.
You give. You rest. You trust. You love. You serve.
You do these things because we know each other, and you know this is enough for life.
I will call you my prize possession. My treasure. My beloved.
You will be my people, and I will be your God.
The whole world will see our relationship, and they will see how I treat you – and how you live in response to me.
This blessing I give, it is to act as a charge upon you, a responsibility as you speak when others ask you as to who I am. That you mediate, explain, encourage and teach who I am. That you shout to others, “Come with me to the house of the Lord, for He alone is God.”
And that your life is lived dependently upon me. For I am strong, and I will do what I have promised.
If you will keep my covenant. This is your identity, this is who you are. You are a nation of priests. Your life is to usher others in – the generations to come – that you might teach them and show them that the Lord your God has dealt graciously with you and loved you. “
From here I understand that Israel knew themselves to be the chosen people of God. Their blessing of relationship with him, learning how to be set apart as his people – that their entire lives would be structured in such a way that it showed their dependence upon God. From the way they ate to the way they worked the ground – their relationship with God was not governed by rules to earn their salvation, it was set within careful limits that drew them to hope in God’s character at every turn, and provided life that was fruitful.
But they could not keep the covenant. Time after time the people of God have turned to lesser lovers, broken their covenant with God – and worshipped idols.
Not just creations of God, like the sun or the stars or the moon. No, we have worshipped the creature and the creation, even when we have fashioned it ourselves.
“Come, take all the gold and put it in the fire, and let us make for ourselves a God that we might hope in.”
The notion of being a nation of priests carries. The identity of Gods people being a mediating presence to the world, a witness to his goodness and glory to the nations of the earth, has not changed.
The hardest truths often for me to sit with are the ones that I have heard so many times. The ones that, because of their familiarity, have become the ones that are most easily discarded in favor of new revelation. Why will my mind not root deep among the foundational and glorious truths of God?
“You are my prized possession. I will be your God, and you will be my people. You are as a nation of priests in the world. I have called you, and I will act to do as I have promised.”
Why do I not trust and rest in His word? Why does the reality that my life is to be a priest get buried under the hope that my wife will come soon, or my career will take off, or the fears of failure in life?
Our lives, bought from sin’s mastery over us by Christ, are fueled by this promise of God – that his ways bring life and vitality, and that we are to represent him to the nations of the world as we live in dependence upon Him, looking as fools because of what we refuse to treasure and to find joy in.
Known and revealed truth of God: He loves us, has provided a way to life in Christ – and we are to be in covenant with Him.
But alas, familiarity breeds contempt in our flesh, as our sin prompts us to think that other things are more worthwhile – that the end goal is not a healthy and life giving relationship, but a finite and tangible result.
We are never more wrong.