Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;” (Exodus 19:5, ESV)

The little word “if” here carries so much weight that we must think about it.  God is making a huge promise here; no “huge” doesn’t do it justice, gigantic, humongous, inconceivable, unbelievable all fit better.  God was promising that among all the people of the whole earth, he was choosing Israel to be “my treasured possession,” if…

This is a conditional promise that God is making with Israel.  The people would be his treasured possession, but it required two things on the part of Israel:

  1. Obey my voice. This seemed like an easy thing, right?  I mean, he had just delivered them from the hands of Pharaoh in such an incomprehensible manner that Rahab would be talking about it 40 years later when the Israelites were preparing to take Jericho.  What could be easier than obeying the voice of a God this powerful?  We will find out in short order.  The Israelites would struggle with this command almost from the very beginning.
  2. Keep my covenant. God was going to give them laws to follow which would set them apart from every other nation on earth.  These laws were put in place for this specific people for this specific time and were put in place so that the Israelites understood how they should live in light of God’s holiness.  They were good laws and would help Israel to flourish.  Unfortunately, the record of the generation of the exodus would not be stellar in this regard.

God could command all this and make this promise because “all the earth is mine,” and so it is.

Since we are not Israel, we are not required to keep the Mosaic Law, but the patterns set in place here are certainly evident in the New Testament.  We are still to obey his voice; we are required to act rightly before God and before men.

But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” (1 Peter 2:9, ESV)

Doesn’t 1 Peter 2.9 have an eerie resemblance to this verse from Exodus?  Here Peter is speaking to all believers, so it is quite obvious that they understood that God’s love for Israel as his chosen people had become God’s love for all people who follow Jesus by faith. In the same way that Israel would please God by following the Mosaic Law, we please God when we are obedient to his voice and do what he commands. Like Israel, this too is for our good and will make us flourish.