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Day 28: I Carried You on Eagles Wings—The Way Through the Wilderness

A 31-day Lenten Devotional Series by Rev. Dave Brown

 

Have you ever had a mountain top experience? I have.  It was in the mountains of Colorado, though it wasn’t at the top.  As for the experience, it was the time when I came to know God personally. By following the instructions from an Inter-Varsity booklet, How to Have a Quiet Time, I started with a prayer in which I presented myself to God and asked God to show himself to me. I then opened the New Testament and “read until I heard God speaking to me.”  Then I wrote a journal entry pertaining to that message. I concluded my time on the mountain by pledging to apply God’s word during that day.

Moses had a mountain top experience at Mt Horeb. There he met God at the burning bush. After hearing God speak, Moses reluctantly took on the huge challenge of delivering God’s people out of slavery in Egypt.  Among the incentives that moved him forward, Moses was promised that he would meet God again on this mountain.

The second mountaintop experience at Mt. Horeb took place three months after the exodus began.  The text tells us that “Israel encamped before the mountain, while Moses went up to God.” On this second occasion, the LORD called to Moses out of the mountain with a message for Israel.

The message has been called “The Eagles’ Wings Speech” (Kaiser). The words God spoke to Moses were formal. Their substance is “cast in the familiar Near Eastern suzerainty form.” It was a covenant renewal speech. Kaiser identifies the pattern consisting of five parts. (Kaiser:415)  

Preamble: v 3b. A summons by God. “Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the people of Israel.”  Jacob had humble beginnings. He could only count 70 people in his entire clan. But now his offspring, the people of Israel, had become a nation of a million lives.  How did this happen given the circumstances of slavery that lasted for 430 years?

Historical Prologue: v. 4. Israel survived the Egyptian oppression by the gracious intervention of the LORD. To the Egyptians he was like a bird of prey who destroyed them in their evil ways. To the Israelites, he was like the protective mother eagle who “carried you on (her) wings and brought you to myself.”

Stipulations: v. 5a. Such a gracious salvation demanded a response. The expectations were clear, “Obey me fully and keep my covenant.” Philip Ryken explains these stipulations as follows: “Anyone who wants to enjoy fellowship with God must make a basic commitment to do everything God says.” (495)

Blessings: vv. 5b-6a. On the condition of such obedience, three blessings were extended to the Israelites.

Out of all the nations, you will be my treasured possession… and you shall be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” This blessing is an immense favor from God. It is not to be taken for granted.

Acceptance in a solemn assembly: vv. 7-8. When Moses spoke these words to the Israelites, they all responded together: “We will do everything the LORD has said.” Amen, we might say, sounds great!   

Reflections: What happened once this covenant renewal speech was ratified?  First of all, the LORD articulated his specific demands in the form of the 10 commandments and the content of the Book of the Covenant. Then the LORD called Israel to make a sanctuary (Tabernacle) with its richly ornamented Ark, tables, basins, lampstands, and altars that he might dwell in their midst and they might worship him in holiness. How the Israelites failed to keep the stipulations and what God did in response to that failure awaits the introduction of a new covenant mediated by Christ who kept the conditions on our behalf.   

  • 30 March 2024
  • Author: Guest Blogger
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