16 Douglas K. Stuart Quotes on The New American Commentary - Volume 2 - Exodus - Quotes.pub

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(3) Theology of Exodus: A Covenant People “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God” (Exod 6:7). When God first demanded that the Egyptian Pharaoh let Israel leave Egypt, he referred to Israel as “my … people.” Again and again he said those famous words to Pharaoh, Let my people go.56 Pharaoh may not have known who Yahweh was,57 but Yahweh certainly knew Israel. He knew them not just as a nation needing rescue but as his own people needing to be closely bound to him by the beneficent covenant he had in store for them once they reached the place he was taking them to himself, out of harm's way, and into his sacred space.58 To be in the image of God is to have a job assignment. God's “image”59 is supposed to represent him on earth and accomplish his purposes here. Reasoning from a degenerate form of this truth, pagan religions thought that an image (idol) in the form of something they fashioned would convey to its worshipers the presence of a god or goddess. But the real purpose of the heavenly decision described in 1:26 was not to have a humanlike statue as a representative of God on earth but to have humans do his work here, as the Lord's Prayer asks (“your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” Matt 6:10). Although the fall of humanity as described in Genesis 3 corrupted the ability of humans to function properly in the image of God, the divine plan of redemption was hardly thwarted. It took the form of the calling of Abraham and the promises to him of a special people. In both Exod 6:6–8 and 19:4–6 God reiterates his plan to develop a people that will be his very own, a special people that, in distinction from all other peoples of the earth, will belong to him and accomplish his purposes, being as Exod 19:6 says “a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Since the essence of holiness is belonging to God, by belonging to God this people became holy, reflecting the character of their Lord as well as being obedient to his purposes. No other nation in the ancient world ever claimed Yahweh as its God, and Yahweh never claimed any other nation as his people. This is not to say that he did not love and care for other nations60 but only to say that he chose Israel as the focus of his plan of redemption for the world. In the New Testament, Israel becomes all who will place faith in Jesus Christ—not an ethnic or political entity at all but now a spiritual entity, a family of God. Thus the New Testament speaks of the true Israel as defined by conversion to Christ in rebirth and not by physical birth at all. But in the Old Covenant, the true Israel was the people group that, from the various ethnic groups that gathered at Sinai, agreed to accept God's covenant and therefore to benefit from this abiding presence among them (see comments on Exod 33:12–24:28). Exodus is the place in the Bible where God's full covenant with a nation—as opposed to a person or small group—emerges, and the language of Exod 6:7, “I will take you as my own people, and I will be your God,” is language predicting that covenant establishment.61