Deuteronomy 5:1-6; 22-27. 1 Peter 2:9-12.
The children of Abraham were enslaved in Egypt for 400 years. God redeemed them out of that slavery, and here at Mt. Horeb, he makes a covenant with them based on his redemption of them. This covenant, like the redemption, is initiated by God. He called them out, he rescued them, and he brings them to the mountain. When they are gathered at the mountain, God speaks to them from the cloud. He speaks not only to Moses, but to the whole gathering of people. He tells them what the covenant will look like. He tells them their responsibilities to God and to each other. Before this time, they were not in relationship with God. They were not strongly related to each other, either. As slaves, their responsibility was to their master and their primary concern was survival. At Mt. Horeb they became a covenant community. Now they are now the people of God. Now they have a purpose, to show forth the power and glory of God as a nation to the world around them. As the prophets said, they were to be a light to the gentiles (nations).
The same holds true for us. 1 Peter 2:10 tells us that once we were not a people. When we were on our own before we were in relationship with Christ, we were living for ourselves. We were not in covenant with God or others. We also were rescued out of our bondage to sin and self at the initiative of God. He rescued us. He brought us out. He has spoken his truth into our lives. He wants to make us a covenant community as well. Because of his redemption of us, we find that now we have responsibilities to God and to others. We were not a people, now we are a royal priesthood and a people belonging to God. Now we are his representatives to the earth. As his royal priesthood, we are the bearers of the gospel of Jesus Christ to the nations. Because of the mercy that he has shown us, we are to show mercy to others. Because of the grace shown us, we are to show grace to others. Because of the love shown us, we are to love others with the very love of Christ.
**Some thoughts in this sermon were influenced by Jesus Wants to Save Christians, by Rob Bell.