Troublesome Topic: God Made Them a Generous Offer

Lesson 3 of 7

The children of Israel did nothing to deserve being chosen by God. There was nothing special about them, God’s choice was solely an act of His grace, and a fulfillment of His words to Abram. His choosing this most insignificant group of people (in human measurements) was one of the greatest demonstrations of grace described in the Bible. If someone thinks that the grace of God is shown only in the New Testament, and sees the Old Testament only as Law, this person has not begun to understand God’s redemptive acts as retold in the Bible. Actually all of God’s dealings with mankind down through history have been demonstrations of His grace.

In chapter 19 of Exodus God gave the children of Israel an announcement of His intentions to establish a covenant with them.

Exodus 19:5


“Now therefore, if in listening you listen

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to my voice,

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and if you will keep my covenant, then you will be my valued possession which I carefully protect

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above all the nations,

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for all the earth is mine,


Now therefore, if you will carefully listen to, and obey my will, and if you will keep the conditions of my covenant, then I will consider you a valuable property worth protecting, more useful to me than all the other nations, (and remember, the whole earth is mine,)

Exodus 19:6


And you will be to me

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a kingdom

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of priests

and a holy

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These are the words you shall speak to the sons of ISRAEL.”

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And then, in my eyes and in your own eyes, you will be a nation ruled by a king (me); a nation made up entirely of priests, and you will be a nation set aside to do my will only. These are the words you shall speak to the sons of THE ONE WHO REFUSES TO LET GO OF GOD.

Exodus 19:7



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came and called for the elders of the people and set before their faces all these words YHVH (read Adonai) had commanded.


Then THE RESCUED ONE came back to the people and called for the elders of the people to come to him, and he laid out in front of them all these words THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD had charged him with.

Exodus 19:8


Then all the people responded united and said, “All that YHVH (read Adonai) has spoken, we will do.” So MOSES returned

the words of the people to YHVH (read Adonai).


Then all the people responded in unison saying, “We accept and will obey everything that THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD has said.” Then RESCUED brought back the words of the people to THE ETERNAL AND PERSONAL GOD.

This covenant was a little different than most suzerain-vassal covenants. Usually the vassal state agreed to the conditions of the covenant because they had to, and they were simply glad to be alive. They could expect nothing more because mercy did not extend any further than, “You’re alive while everyone else we conquered is dead. Consider yourselves lucky.” In contrast, God’s mercy and grace extended far beyond “You’re alive.” Before he inaugurated His covenant with them, He gave them a choice; this was unheard of! He did this because He wanted to make something special out of this group of former slaves. He wanted to partner with them. He wanted to elevate them to an honored position. Yes, they had to obey; they had to be different from those around them. But the offer was extraordinary in its generosity and potential. The creator of the universe was offering to care for them, protect them and call them His own special people.

The next lesson in the Full Series on Covenants is God Changed Their Calendar


1: "in listening you listen"

Here we see one form of the verb “to listen” followed by another form of the same verb, “to listen.” It is a way to create emphasis that is somewhat common in Hebrew. The first verb serves to intensify the second one. The most literal rendering is “if in listening you listen,” or “if in obeying you obey,” but for the sake of English readers it is better to translate it, “if your listen carefully,” or “if you truly obey.” Because of its awkwardness in English it has been translated in various ways, such as, “listen indeed , diligently listen, and fully listen,” etc.

The verb “to hear or to listen” implies doing what one has been told; it implies obedience. That is especially true in a construction that is strengthened by the double use of “listen” meaning “fully listen and truly obey.”


The voice was an audible expression of what was inside someone, in this case it was an expression of His will.

3: "my valued possession which I carefully protect"

The root word meaning “wealth that is shut up so as to protect it because it is of special value.” It came to mean anything of special value, with the protecting of it being assumed rather than stated.


Does God play favorites? Did God not care about the other nations? That is not the intent of the statement. God chose them instead of any other group of people because they fit the characteristics He was looking for, and He had promised their forefathers that He would work through them to bring about His will. All humans start out equally lost. All nations (simply groups of people) are equally far from God. God’s love for everyone is equally strong and was universally expressed through what Jesus did for everyone. Yet His relationship with each person and each group of people is unique, just like a father’s relationships with his children are unique to each one and a mother’s relationship with her children are not all the same.


“to me” can mean “my” or “to me.” It seems like a small distinction, but I see more power in the words “to me” because “to me” implies something has been dedicated to a specific purpose, whereas “my” simply implies possession. “To me” seems to imply a two-way street, while “my” implies a one-way street. In this context the choice of this little word communicates two things: 1) God has chosen them as His special instrument to accomplish His will among the nations, 2) they needed to be committed to following Him and only Him. It would do little good for God to see them as His special instrument, if they didn’t see themselves that way. The perception needed to be held equally by both parties, hence the wording of the paraphrase. The same is true of us today.


What I have rendered as “kingdom,” is a word describing the people who make up the kingdom of a king. The emphasis is on the people, but also on the king’s authority at the same time. The word “kingdom” is fine here, but the original is far removed from the way Americans think and speak because we have no king. In that time the authority of a king was unquestioned and always shown utmost respect.


The word “holy” means “set apart for a special purpose.”


The name Israel means “one who struggles” but the story behind the name is just as important as the meaning of the name itself. Jacob struggled or wrestled with God (or God’s messenger) because he was desperate to get something from God. He refused to let go of God until he received the blessing he desired with its accompanying assurance. Therefore I have chosen to portray it as THE ONE WHO REFUSES TO LET GO OF GOD.


The name Moses means “drawn out” and is a reference to him being pulled out of the Nile river by Pharaoh’s daughter. “Rescued” is one step further toward the intent of the action, not just the meaning of the word. He was drawn out in order to save his life.