18 June 2017

We are God’s treasured possession

Scripture reading:

###**Exodus 19:3-6 (NIV) “3 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 descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4 ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 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, 6 you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”**


God told Moses to go up to the Mountain so that he could give the Israelites a covenant, or an agreement between two parties to commit themselves to each other.

God communicated to Moses that after the bondage of Egypt, the Israelites would be His people, and would receive favour and blessing, if they submitted all their ways to God. He would be their God, they His people. God promised to look after them, and to make them a kingdom of priests and a holy nation separate from all the kingdoms of this world.

Moses received these words, descended the mountain, and told the people. They were excited, they declared their allegiance to God’s Word. They accepted the covenant and consecrated themselves to God. Moses also told them that the mountain was holy, and that sinful humans should stay away from it. There was thunder and lightening, a thick cloud engulfed the mountain. As a symbol of God’s presence it must have been awesome.

There was even a loud trumpet blast, that everybody heard, and then the Lord descended from the mountain in fire, and as the fire got closer the trumpet grew louder and louder. Everyone was pretty much scared witless, but they knew this powerful God was on their side now. Moses went up again to the mountain as he prepares himself to receive the Ten Commandments.

The Ten Commandments was the symbol of the new covenant between God and man.

As long as the people of God obeyed the Ten Commandments, they would be blessed. He called them as His “treasured possession”. If they obey fully and keep the covenant — even though the universe is owned by God —these people will remain special to Him and they will become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.

This is pretty much the same thing Peter told the Christians that had been scattered in the various regions of the Roman Empire in AD 67 during a time of intense persecution of Christians that was happening at that time, and they had been rejected and despised by society and considered as strangers and exiles of this world.

Peter told them that they are special people before God.

###**1 Peter 1:9-11 (NIV) “9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. 11 Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.”**

What do we see here: that regardless of how this world looks at those who profess Jesus Christ, what matters is we are God’s chosen people, a royal priesthood and a holy nation.We belong to God and they have a purpose on this earth. We are God’s treasured possession.

So let’s consider what “treasured possession” means. Do you have something that you consider as your treasure?

A man once owned a thirty four year old Mustang, which he pampered! He washes, waxes, repairs and tells stories about it. Each morning he gently uses a feather duster to sweep of the four or five leaves that have fallen in it overnight. Whenever he parks it in town, he looks back at it as he walks away, his old faithful friend, that makes him smile. It is his treasured possession.

What is your treasured possession?

Perhaps, a piece of jewellery or furniture you inherited from your mother. An old photograph or book — perhaps that very expensive phone that never seems to be out of your hand? Perhaps it is your house, or your investments, or the balance of your bank account?

What we possess we own and control, and when we treasure it, it is more precious than most other things. I’d suggest though that
our most treasured possessions in this world are people we love and care about.

Our text tells us that God has a treasured possession — more special than all the rest of his creation. We are God’s treasured possessions by virtue of our relationship with Him.

###**Zechariah 2:8 (NIV) “8 For this is what the Lord Almighty says: “After the Glorious One has sent me against the nations that have plundered you—for whoever touches you touches the apple of his eye—**

The Bible says you are the “apple of His eyes”, the centre of His attention, that He is always thinking about you, and that He loves you, and always wants the best for you.

We are special to Him. He showers us with His blessings all the time. We know this because Matthew 10:30 says **”And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.”**

How awesome. What confidence, courage and determination this gives us. Our doubts, fears and apprehensions shrivel because of this single truth.

We must remember we have responsibilities with this position of significance before God. His covenant requires our actions. Three things … obedience, reverence, and consecration.


###**Exodus 19:5 (NIV) “Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations, you will be my treasured possession.”**

Obedience is the key to become God’s treasured possession for he told us: “if you obey me fully…”

Quick question: what does FULLY mean? Obedience is important for our Christian identity, in fact it is central to growing as a Christian. Obedience means being surrendered before God, agreeing and submitted to God’s will. Follow God’s ways and life just works better.

During the Civil War, Abraham Lincoln met with a group of ministers when one minister said, “Mr. president, let us pray that God is on our side.” Lincoln responded by saying “No, gentlemen, let us pray that we are on God’s side.”

Let us spend more time discovering what God really wants rather than telling Him what we want. Let’s seek to be on His side, rather than asking Him to come in and bat for my team, because there is a big difference! Our plans must always defer to His plans. Only those who are obedient to His Words are His special treasured possessions. Obedience always brings good results, and obedience will make us prosper in our relationship with God.

###**Deut. 6:24 (NIV) “24 The Lord commanded us to obey all these decrees and to fear the Lord our God, so that we might always prosper and be kept alive, as is the case today.”**

With obedience we will prosper, and be kept alive! The opposite is not that nice. Disobedience always has bad consequences – because we are left on our own, God’s hand of protection is lifted. We become our own defenders, not having God’s help.

It is as if His hand of protection has been lifted from us when we disobey Him. God becomes angry with us when we disobey Him, but we have high value to the Lord when we do things His way. Lot’s of people question the fairness of that — but never forget we are talking about God here!

When we obey, we learn to give up our will, we abandon our plans, our agendas and our desire for control. Then, we allow Christ to take control of our lives. We let go of our self-centered life in order to be Christ-centered. But we must do this daily if we want to learn obedience.



###**Exodus 19:10 (NIV) “And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes.”**

As God’s treasured possession, we must be consecrated to His purpose. God told Moses to consecrate the people by taking a bath and washing their clothes — in other words, separate yourself from what is unclean. Imagine that, in the desert, when water was scarce, and much more about survival than personal hygiene. This was a symbol of a new beginning with the Lord: your sin has defiled you, but come now and consecrate yourself to me, and receive all I promise you.

The Bible tells every Christian believer to be a holy people, separate from the world.

###**2 Cor. 6:17 (NIV) “17 Therefore, “Come out from them and be separate, says the Lord. Touch no unclean thing, and I will receive you.**

Do not touch what is unclean, because it contaminates and affects our relationship with God. The more fully we are consecrated, the more fully God receives and blesses us.

(Only if time) Napoleon’s army of more than half a million soldiers, invaded Russia in June, 1812. They came to a small village deserted but for one man, a peasant woodsman. A French officer ordered him to be shot immediately. Soldiers fell in and levelled their guns, but the man did not seem afraid, looking fearlessly down the gun barrels. The French officer ordered them to lower their guns said the peasant’s life should be spared.

“But” said he, “we will put a mark on him – we will brand him.” So the branding iron was brought out, heated in a fire, and used to mark the Russian’s hand. The man saw his own flesh burn and quiver, but he did not flinch or cry out. After the iron was removed, the peasant saw the letter “N” branded on his palm.

“What is that?” he asked.

“This is the letter “N” and its stands for Napoleon, you belong to Napoleon now.” replied the captain.

For a moment, the poor man did not know what to do or say. His pain was intense. He had always been a loyal and patriotic Russian. Now was the time to show it, even in the presence of his enemies. He placed his burned hand on something solid, took his axe, and swinging it high, brought it down with such might that he severed his own hand.

“There,” he said to the soldiers, “the hand may belong to Napoleon, but I am a Russian. If I must die, I will die a Russian.”

Talk about complete consecration! We must be totally dedicated to Christ, paying the price of sacrifice and self-denial. God will value such kind of commitment and dedication. As it always is, the choice is always ours.


###**Exodus 19:11-12 (NIV) “And be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, “Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death.”**

God tells Moses to put limits for the people — a physical boundary set among the people so that they will be confined to one place. They could not enter the holy mountain because of the holy presence of God in that place.

The word “limit” means a restriction, or restrain into the very presence of God even if they have already been consecrated. This is what reverence is all about — it means we do not show contempt to God’s presence. We do not condescend and disregard His majestic closeness or appearance. We stand in His holy presence with awe and adoration.

When we do that, we become God’s treasured possession.


###**Hebrews 12:28 (NIV) “Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful, and so worship God acceptably with reverence and awe,”**

Let me close with this thought, that God-honouring spiritual sacrifice begins when believers offer God all their human faculties, including their minds and every part of their bodies.

When we were not consecrated to God, when we did not believe in Christ for salvation, we lived lives that yielded our bodies to sin — but now that we have believed in Christ for our salvation, we surrender our lives to become instruments of righteousness.

Let us pray.

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