Exodus 19:1-6

Exodus 19:1-6

[1] In the third  month,  when the children  of Israel  were gone forth  out of the land  of Egypt,  the same day  came  they into the wilderness  of Sinai.  [2] For they were departed  from Rephidim,  and were come  to the desert  of Sinai,  and had pitched  in the wilderness;  and there Israel  camped  before the mount.  [3] And Moses  went up  unto God,  and the LORD  called  unto him out of the mountain,  saying,  to the house  of Jacob,  and tell  the children  of Israel;  [4] Ye have seen  what I did  and how I bare  you on eagles'  wings,  and brought  [5] Now therefore, if ye will obey  my voice  indeed,  and keep  my covenant,  then ye shall be a peculiar treasure  unto me above all people:  for all the earth  is mine: [6] And ye shall be unto me a kingdom  of priests,  and an holy  nation.  These are the words  which thou shalt speak  unto the children  of Israel. 

What does Exodus 19:1-6 Mean?

Contextual Meaning

The Israelites arrived at the base of the mountain where God gave them the law about three months after they had left Egypt, in May-June ( Exodus 19:1). The mountain in the Sinai range that most scholars have regarded as the mountain peak referred to in this chapter stands in the southeastern part of the Sinai Peninsula. Its name in Arabic is Jebel Musa, mountain of Moses. [1] There is a natural slope to the land to the southeast of this peak, and another plain to the north, which would have afforded Israel a good view of the mountain if the people camped there. However the location of biblical Mt. Sinai continues to be uncertain. The nation stayed at Mt. Sinai11months ( Numbers 10:11). The record of their experiences here continues through Numbers 10:10.
Many reliable scholars have considered Exodus 19:3-6 the very heart of the Pentateuch because they contain the classic expression of the nature and purpose of the theocratic covenant that God made with Israel, the Mosaic Covenant.
God gave the Mosaic Law specifically "to the house of Jacob ... the sons of Israel" ( Exodus 19:3). [2]
"The image of the eagle [3] is based on the fact that the eagle, when its offspring learns [4] to fly, will catch them on its wings when they fall." [5]
"Without doubt Exodus 19:4-6 is the most theologically significant text in the book of Exodus , for it is the linchpin between the patriarchal promises of the sonship of Israel and the Sinaitic Covenant whereby Israel became the servant nation of Yahweh." [6]
God"s promise to Israel here ( Exodus 19:5-6) went beyond what He had promised Abraham. If Israel would be obedient to God, He would do three things for the nation (cf. Joshua 24:15).
1. Israel would become God"s special treasure ( Exodus 19:5). This means that Israel would enjoy a unique relationship with God compared with all other nations. This was not due to any special goodness in Israel but strictly to the sovereign choice of God.
2. Israel would become a kingdom of priests ( Exodus 19:6). This is the first occurrence in Scripture of the word "kingdom" as referring to God"s rule through men on earth. A priest stands between God and people. Israel could become a nation of mediators standing between God and the other nations, responsible for bringing them to God and God to them. Israel would not be a kingdom run by politicians depending on strength and wit but by priests depending on faith in Yahweh: a servant nation rather than a ruling nation. [7]
3. Israel would become a holy nation ( Exodus 19:6). "Holy" means set apart and therefore different. The Israelites would become different from other peoples because they would devote themselves to God and separate from sin and defilement as they obeyed the law of God. In these notes I have capitalized "Law" when referring to the Pentateuch, the Law of Moses, or the Ten Commandments and have used the lowercase "law" for all other references to law.
In short, Israel could have become a testimony to the whole world of how glorious it can be to live under the government of God. The people experienced these blessings only partially because their obedience was partial. Israel"s disobedience to the Mosaic Covenant did not invalidate any of God"s promises to Abraham, however. Those promises did not rest on Israel"s obedience, as these did (cf. Genesis 15:17-21 and Exodus 19:5-6). [8]