Participate in His Priesthood as Agent of the Blessing – Exodus 19,4-6

In Moses’ famous “Eagle’s wings Speech”[1] (Ex 19,4ff), God reviews with Israel how He bore them along from Egypt like an eagle would transport her young learning how to fly. Since they were the recipients of this gift of deliverance, the text pointedly says, “Now therefore…” (Ex 19,5). It implies a natural consequence ought to be forthcoming from God’s miraculous aid in their escape from Egypt.

Exodus 19,5 goes on to say, “…if you will obey my voice and keep my covenant,[2] you shall be my own possession among all peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, and you shall be to me a kingdom of priest and a holy nation.” Three ministries God specifies for Abraham’s descendants.[3]

In the first place, they were God’s treasured possession. The fact was that Israel was to be God’s son, His people, His first born (Ex 4,22), and His treasured possession. The emphasis here is on the portability of that message and the fact that God was placed such high value in people (Cf. Mal 3,17).

Another role of Israel was to perform was that of being a priestly kingdom. It is here that Israel’s missionary role became explicit.[4] The whole nation was to function on behalf of the kingdom of God in a mediatorial role[5] in relation to the nations. In fact, it was this passage that became the basis for our famous New Testament doctrine of the priesthood of believers (Cf. 1Pet 2,9; Rev 1,6; 5,10). It remained God’s plan for believers that they were to have a mediatorial role.

Israel was to have a third function: a “holy nation.”[6] Israel was to be set apart not only of their lives, but also in their service. Their calling and election of God was for service and that service had been defined as early as the days of their ancestor Abraham. As priests were to represent God and mediate His word to the nations, so Israel as a holy nation was to assume two relations: one side towards God their King and the other side towards the nations. They were to be a nation for all the times and for all the people – set apart. None of these gifts were meant to be consumed on oneself.[7] They were for the purpose of declaring Yahweh’s wonderful deeds and calling people to His marvellous light.


[1] W. C. Kaiser, “Israel’s Missionary Call,” in R. D. Winter and S. C. Hawthrone (eds.), Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, William Carvey Library, California, (1983), 25-34, 29.

[2] Cf. J. J. Collins, “The Exodus and Biblical Theology,” Biblical Theology Bulletin: A Journal of Bible and Theology, Vol. 25, no. 4, Biblical Theology Bulletin Inc., New York, (1995), 152-160, 154.

[3] W. C. Kaiser, “Israel’s Missionary Call,” in R. D. Winter and S. C. Hawthrone (eds.), Perspectives on the World Christian Movement: A Reader, William Carvey Library, California, (1983), 25-34, 29.

[4] Cf. H. B. Huffmon, “The Exodus, Sinai and the Credo,” CBQ, Vol. XXVII, no. 2, The Heffernan Press Inc., Massachusetts, (1965), 101-113, 110.

[5] Cf. O. Vazhuthanapally, “Exodus and Faith Formation,” BB, Vol. XVI, no. 3, Bible Bhashyam Trust, Kottayam, (1990), 141-155, 143-145.

[6] Cf. D. Timmer, “Sinai ‘Revisited’ Again: Further Reflections on the Appropriation of Exodus 19 – Numbers 10 in 1QS,” RB, Vol. 32, no. 4, Pende-Librairie Lecoffre, Jerusalem, (2008), 481-498, 485-486.

[7] Cf. L. Legrand, Unity and Plurality: Mission in the Bible, (E. Tr. R. R. Barr), Ishvani Publication, Pune, (1992), 28.

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