Summary: The Lord chooses Israel to be a Holy Nation. This is not a position of privilege, but one of responsibility.
They were an unremarkable people descended from a man and wife who have no other distinction than we know their names. The people had no notable culture and no great art work. They were broken and poor. Yet, they were chosen and they had a destiny.
Their lives were hard and they had little to no hope. They could only cry out to God and complain about their plight.
(Play “It’s a Hard Knock Life” from the musical, “Annie.”)
GOD MOVES AND ANSWERS
Two hundred years before we begin to read about a people called the Israelites God had appeared to their ancestor Abraham and made a covenant with him. God promised to bless Abraham and his wife Sarah and make them a blessing to others. God had blessed Abraham and Sarah, Isaac their son, and Jacob, their grandson. God was with Joseph as he was sold into slavery, and rose to greatness. Though quiet, during their slavery, God still continued to be with God’s people.
Though slaves in the land of Egypt, God heard the prayers of the Israelites. God moved mightily; as God tells Moses, God defeated the Egyptians and bore the Israelites on eagle’s wings. God sent plagues to soften Pharaoh’s heart, even though Pharaoh’s hardened his heart. God split the Red Sea for the Israelites to cross and they escaped their slavery. God provided manna, meat and water as the people wandered in the wilderness.
It doesn’t take much of a stretch of our imaginations to see ourselves in the lives of the Israelites. We come to God empty handed. When we are brought to the baptismal font as an infant we have not claim to fame, except that our parents and grandparents think we are the absolute greatest. Still, God makes us God’s own and moves in our lives. As we walk through the wilderness of life, God goes with us, providing and protecting us. God bears us up on eagle’s wings.
A PRIESTLY KINGDOM AND HOLY NATION
God moves in the lives of the Israelites and claims them as his own. In similar fashion God moves in our lives and claims us as his own.
God’s activity is so that we might be a priestly kingdom. Until the Reformation, all clergy were identified as priests. Priests were chosen and called people who interceded for the rest of God’s people. They prayed for the people, stood between God and the people offering God’s grace to the people. The Israelites and the Church is called by God a kingdom of priests. We stand between God and the masses. God moves through us as we share God’s love and grace with others.
The Israelites and the Church are also a holy nation. Holy doesn’t mean something that is self-righteous, judgmental or condescending. Holy literally means to be set apart for a special person. God moves mightily in our lives and bears us up on eagle’s wings in order to set us apart for a specific purpose. What is that purpose? God moves so that we can be God’s presence on earth by loving God and serving others. We are set apart to be a people who are blessed so that we can share our blessings. God’s people are walking Bibles and conduits of God’s love and grace.