Show me Your glory, I pray.
At the third new moon after the Israelites had gone out of the land of Egypt, on that very day, they came into the wilderness of Sinai. They had journeyed from Rephidim, entered the wilderness of Sinai, and camped in the wilderness; Israel camped there in front of the mountain. Then Moses went up to God; the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob, and tell the Israelites: You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine, but you shall be for me a priestly kingdom and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the Israelites.”
“He’s trying to find himself.” I’ve heard people say that of someone struggling for identity I’ve had my own identity issues, once saying to a psychologist, “I don’t know who I am.” Our identities are usually concocted from stuff like family background, abilities, education, job, money, and labels foisted onto us by others.
Remarkably, the Israelites do not learn their true identity in Egypt or the Promised Land, but right in the middle of the Wilderness. They had been slaves in Egypt and it will take time to get a slave’s mentality out of them. They will need time for walking with God and learning what it means to be His people.
We arrive at Mount Sinai in today’s scripture with its special effects of the glory cloud, fire, smoke, trumpet blasts, and the earthquakes (See Exodus 19:16-23). It is spine-tingling and knee-knocking, amplifying God’s message to His people: “You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself.”
With the memory of the Israelites quarreling with God at Massah and Meribah fresh in their mind, God wants them to know He prizes them above all the peoples of the earth. God pronounces them His “treasured possession out of all the peoples”, a “holy nation” set apart for the mission of world redemption!
Importantly for you and me, in the New Testament the apostle Peter takes these very words and applies them to followers of Jesus:
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. (1 Peter 2:9)
For most of us it takes the Wilderness, with all of our stumbles and falls – our Massah and Meribah – to finally begin to shed our false selves and discover our true identity as people of God. I am still learning what it means to be the unique person God made me to be. It takes a long time, but to be in the midst of it is a good thing!
Now, in all the ups and down of life when I wonder, “Who am I?” I like to remember today’s scripture, and the words of George MacDonald:
“I would rather be what God chose to make me than the most glorious creature that I could think of; for to have been thought about, born in God’s thought, and then made by God, is the dearest, grandest and most precious thing in all thinking.”
You and I are God’s treasured possessions, holy and set apart for God’s big mission, and bound for the Promised Land. Big things are up ahead!
- What is your God-given identity? That is, who are you to God?
- Take a few moments to meditate on God’s eternal idea of you.