Day 21--Privilege and Responsibility--"Approaching a Holy God"--Ex 19:-21:36
January 21, 2021, 9:52 AM

Day 21 – Exodus 19-21

Fr. Alistair Morrison, guest blogger

“Privilege and Responsibility”

The Israelites had just been delivered on ‘eagle’s wings’ from the House of Bondage (Egypt) and now they were free of oppression and slavery.  However, their freedom was not a gift to do what they wanted, rather they were to be a ‘priestly kingdom and holy nation’ to the Lord.  Being a chosen people brought them privileges, security, favor and blessing from God on High, but with that honor came great responsibility.

As a priestly nation, Israel would be God’s ambassador to the nations.  Israel’s life and conduct would reflect the holiness or ‘otherness’ of its God.  The God of Israel was different from the gods of the nations that surrounded it.  These gods were unpredictable, demanding sacrifice (at times human) in return for favors: fertility, productivity, and rain.  The God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was also demanding but in a different way.  Animal sacrifice was involved, not for favors but for the forgiveness of sin and the restoration of relationship.  God’s demands were that his people love him, love their neighbors and take care of the least the lost and the left out.  This Holy God sets out its demands at Mt. Sinai in the giving of the 10 Commandments or Decalogue.

The first four commandments deal with the vertical relationship between God and Israel:  worship only God, make no idols, honor God’s name, and keep God’s Sabbath to stop work from becoming an idol.  The remaining six deal with horizontal relationships with others:  honoring parents, life, marriage, property and possessions.  God’s intention seems to have been to tell his people “Get the first four right then the rest will follow”, but there is something else about the ‘rest’, the final six commandments, that reveals God’s desire to protect the weakest in society.  The strong and powerful shall not take what they want or desire at the expense of the weakest.  Later in Israel’s history its kings would become the oppressors of the people, coveting land and murdering to possess it (see 1 Kings 21 and the story of King Ahab and Naboth’s Vineyard).

The privilege of being chosen brought Israel from slavery to freedom.  The responsibility of that freedom was to keep God’s commandments.  In keeping them Israel would walk humbly before God and act justly towards the least, the lost and the left out.

 In following Christ, we have also been set free from bondage, the bondage of sin, and like Israel, we have the privilege of being called ‘children of God’ (John 1:12).  Our responsibility as Christians is to ‘love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, strength and mind and to love our neighbors as ourselves’.  In keeping these two Commandments we, like the Israelites, are to walk humbly before God and act justly towards the least, the lost and the left out.



Comments

01-22-2021 at 9:04 AM
Marilyn Samperi
Thank you for your explanation. It is very helpful
01-22-2021 at 8:24 AM
Sandy mee
By reading these blogs,I understand so much more,about the Bible.Thank You
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