This section of readings from Exodus is honestly one of my favorites in all of Scripture. On the surface, that might seem odd as it is a passage loaded with strange commands and seemingly outdated issues. However, it is the surrounding context for these laws that really showcases the beauty of the passage.
You see Exodus 19-24 is a wedding. Yet, not just any wedding; it is the God of this universe marrying a sinful and rebellious people. A holy groom marrying an unholy bride.
As such, the laws are actually the wedding vows for the people for God. For God’s part, He promises that Israel will be his Segullah (סְגֻלָּה), his treasured possession. Even though the whole earth is his, God’s people will be his greatest treasure (Ex 19:5-6).
The covenant is then promised on a blood oath (24:6-8). Fail, and you will face the same fate as the bulls that were sacrificed. Israel, by promising to uphold all the commands of God, has just signed their own death warrant.
To make matters even worse, the Golden Calf happens almost immediately. This is tantamount to a bride cheating with one of the groomsmen during her wedding reception.
The whole thing is one of the most beautiful messes in Scripture. A mess because this unlikely couple doesn’t even make it through the full ceremony before Israel fails. Yet beautiful because it not only comforts this sinner who seems to always fail himself, but also because it showcases the heart and plan of God.
You see, although Jesus’ name doesn’t appear in this passage, He is all over it. In fact, He is the answer to every issue in this passage:
- How can a holy God marry an unholy people? Only through Christ, whose righteousness has been given to us by his death and resurrection.
- How is this blood covenant paid after Israel cheats? Jesus stands in our place. Mark 14:24 “After breaking the bread, Jesus took the cup, declaring it to be ‘my blood of the covenant which is poured out for many”. He is quoting the Greek translation of Exodus 24:8. Jesus is saying it’s his blood that will pay the peoples’ debt.
- How can this marriage be saved after Israel cheats? In Exodus 32 we see Moses interceding to save Israel. Moses is pointing us forward to the Greater Mediator, Jesus, who is right now interceding for us at the right hand of God (Rom 8:34).
This passage highlights not only the extreme holiness of God that we have seen throughout Exodus, but also his intensely personal nature as well. Although we are the most unlikely of brides, He marries us nonetheless. Moreover, even when we fail, he willingly pays the debt for his Segullah.
I am praying that this week you will know how deep and wide the love of God is for his people. That nothing you do can separate you from that love (Rom 8) and that there is nothing He won’t do to redeem and restore his bride (Hosea).