Sometimes I listen as others talk about their salvation and their faith in God, and everything seems to be in past tense. It is as though they have placed a period at the end of their walk with Christ and look at it only as a one-time event, rather than an ongoing relationship.
God had physically redeemed his people out of Egypt – the Exodus, the Passover, the crossing of the Red Sea – these were one-time events, stories told in the past-tense. But their journey did not end there.
Then Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the house of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
They were not just saved from Egypt. They were saved to something- chosen as God’s treasured possession. They were set apart as a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
As a “kingdom of priests,” they were to represent God’s name in the earth – to spread His glory among the nations. As this treasured possession and holy nation, God gives them a precious gift – one we often misunderstand as New Testament believers: the Mosaic law.
Moses himself summed up the purpose of obeying the law this way:
See, I have taught you decrees and laws as the LORD my God commanded me, so that you may follow them in the land you are entering to take possession of it. Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations, who will hear about all these decrees and say, “Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.” What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them the way the LORD our God is near us whenever we pray to him? And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws as this body of laws I am setting before you today?
The nation of Israel was utterly unique. A people miraculously redeemed out of slavery and marched into the wilderness with God’s presence guiding their way in a pillar of fire and cloud. God then chose to enter with them into a covenant relationship, often described by the Old Testament prophets in terms of a marriage. The redemption and relationship came first – and then God outlines the requirements and expectations of the law. They didn’t follow the law in order to have a relationship with God – they followed the law to give evidence of their unique relationship with the Lord, the one who had brought them out of Egypt.
Remember that Old Testament saints were saved in the same way we are today – by placing faith in Christ alone for salvation. Following the law did not put them in right relationship with God any more than trying to be “good people” saves us today. But if we know Him – we want to obey.
If we have been redeemed through Christ, we look back at our salvation as a past-tense event. But if we know Him – we have been chosen, treasured, set apart for a purpose. We are called to obey Him out of love, to display His glory in the earth, to show His greatness in our lives. There is no period on the end of our testimony of walking with Jesus Christ.