New European Commentary

 

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Deeper Commentary

19:4 Israel's passing through the Red Sea was an undoubted type of baptism and the new creation  (1 Cor. 10:1). God brought them out of Egypt, through the Red Sea baptism, "and brought you unto myself" (Ex. 19:4). It was as if God was waiting for them there, in the wilderness; as He waits to receive every man or woman who passes through the waters of baptism. Time and again they were bidden look back to their exodus/ Red Sea experience. In times of dire spiritual failure or sluggish indifference to their God, as well as at their pinnacles of faith, the Spirit in the prophets directed their minds back to these things- either by explicit statement, or by indirect allusion. We too, as the baptized new Israel, ought to likewise look back to our baptism with an ever-increasing appreciation. 

19:5 We are to live out in practice what we have been made in status by our gracious Father. The very fact He counts us as in Christ, as the spotless bride of His Son, must be both felt and lived up to by us. The way He counts us like this is a wonderful motivation to rise up to it all. Consider how God told Israel that if they kept His commandments, then they would be His “peculiar treasure” (Ex. 19:5). This conditional promise is then referred to by Moses as having been fulfilled- Israel became His “peculiar treasure” by status even though they did not keep His commandments (Dt. 7:6; 14:2 s.w.; Ps. 135:4). Moses concludes by saying that “the Lord hath avouched thee this day to be his peculiar people [s.w.]… that thou shouldest keep all his commandments” (Dt. 26:18). See what’s happening here. God said that if they were obedient, then they would be His special people. Yet He counted them as His special people even though they were not obedient. And He did this so that they would be so touched by this grace that they would be obedient.

19:6 As it was God’s intention that Israel were to be a nation of priests to the rest of the world, so the new Israel likewise are to all discharge the priestly functions of teaching their brethren (Ex. 19:6 cp. 1 Pet. 2:5; Rev. 1:6; 5:9,10). Under the new covenant, we should all teach and admonish one another (Col. 3:16). Indeed, God told Israel [unrecorded in the historical records]: “Ye are gods [elohim] and all of you are sons of the Most High” (Ps. 82:6 RV). Further, Ps. 96:9 makes the paradigm breaking statement that even the Gentiles could come before Yahweh of Israel in holy, priestly array- they too could aspire to the spirit of priesthood (Ps. 96:9 RVmg.). Moses spoke of how all Israel should pray that God would establish the work of their hands (Ps. 90:17)- but this was in fact his special request for the blessing of Levi, the priestly tribe (Dt. 33:11). Ps. 135:19,20 parallels all Israel with the priestly family: “Bless the Lord, O house of Israel: bless the Lord, O house of Aaron: bless the Lord, O house of Levi: ye that fear the Lord, bless the Lord...praise ye the Lord”. All Israel were to aspire to the spirit of priesthood. Indeed, the Psalms often parallel the house of Aaron (i.e. the priesthood) with the whole nation (Ps. 115:9,10,12; 118:2,3).

19:20- see on Ex. 20:23.


19:21-24- see on Dt. 5:5. The Angel told Moses that the people would probably want to come up the mountain, closer to God, when in fact in reality they ran away when they saw the holiness of God; almost suggesting that the Angel over-estimated their spiritual enthusiasm (Ex. 19:21-24 cp. 20:18). Likewise the Angel told Moses that the people would hear him, "and believe thee for ever" (Ex. 19:9). Things turned out the opposite. At this time, God saw no iniquity in Israel (Num. 23:21).


19:23 Moses assumed that Israel would not possibly try to break through the barriers around Sinai to “gaze”- “for thou chargedst us, saying, Set bounds about the mount and sanctify it” (Ex. 19:23). He over-estimated their obedience, so much did he love them.