There is a mountain that I’ve often hunted on near my home. There is a beautiful trail near its peak. As you walk, if you are able to keep your chin up along the way, you can peer out over the horizon and see for miles on end. A year or so ago, my son and I were walking that very trail with my father-in-law. My son’s joy at being included on such an adventure was unparalleled. He couldn’t wait to hike with us. However, he became tired along the way. It’s not every day that he gets to hike around the mountain. As any good grandfather should, my father-in-law scooped up my son onto his shoulders and carried him the rest of the way. He chose to carry the young lad when he was too tired to carry himself.
In many ways, this is a special memory that I hope is oft repeated. However, the act is in many ways an echo of what God did for Israel those many, many years ago and does for every Christian who calls on him. God said in Exodus 19:4, “Ye have seen what I did unto the Egyptians, and how I bare you on eagles’ wings, and brought you unto myself.” (AV) God carried Israel when she did not have the strength to carry herself. As we look throughout the Bible, God never once calls upon Israel to summon their natural strength to accomplish any act. Instead, God alone does what God alone can do. In other words, the salvation of the nation of Israel was a wholly gracious act of God.
Why is this important? Israel in Exodus 19 is preparing to meet with God. From the beginning God planned the destiny of His people. From the very start, God knew every difficulty Israel would face. Israel had to endure suffering, attacks, and horrifying situation after situation. Every single one of these painful moments were tools in God’s hands forming His people to prepare them for this moment of meeting with Him.
We find great comfort as we consider the patterns and plans of God in Israel’s history. In our own painful moments, we too ought to shift our focus from the difficulties which encapsulate us, towards the God who walks with us. Israel’s pain was transformed into a sanctifying power to show Israel the sufficiency of God. It broadcasted unto them God’s power, presence, and especially His unceasing love for them. God was doing more than simply favoring them. He was making a covenant with them.
Remember Israel was a free people now. They had witnessed their greatest enemy drowned under the waters of God’s sanctifying judgment. They stood at the base of Mount Sinai gazing at Moses as he ascended the Mount of God. There the Lord said again, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.’” (ESV)
Before God ever presented a command towards His people, He reminded His people of His gracious acts towards them. God always begins with what He has accomplished on His people’s behalf. Israel did not earn this. Israel was not mighty, wealthy, or sophisticated by ancient standards at that point. But that which separated them from every other nation was that blessed promise, that covenant which God had entered into with Abraham their ancestor. His promise was simple. God was going to bless Abraham with a mighty family, whom would be blessed in abundance, but would also be a means of blessing the entire world. God was going to use this family to transform the world forever. He of course did this, by sending His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, to hail from this family.
Exodus, rather than being simple a list of moral duties, is chiefly a testimony of God’s plan of salvation. God does not demand that you become save-able in order that He might save you; which we do well to remember, because every one of us need to be saved. God saves His people when they are least desirable, least lovely, and least holy. Paul said, “…God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Rom. 5:8 ESV) Indeed, it was only by the blood of Christ that the ancient Israelites were saved, and nothing other than Christ’s shed blood for us will do. We must believe on Him today as Abraham’s great Son, and as True Israel, for our entire right standing with God. For God is not looking for perfect people, only honest sinners willing to admit their need for a Savior.
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