Exodus 19:5, If…then. (See also Exod 23:22.) This verse shows the conditional nature of the Mosaic Covenant. The blessings of YHVH upon the people are conditional upon their obedience to his commandments.
Peculiar treasure. This term or treasured people (Heb. am segulah) is used several times in the Torah. Here (Exod 19:4–6) YHVH betrothed himself to and married the people of Israel and they became his am segulah or treasured possession among all the peoples of the nation, a kingdom of priests and a kadosh or set-apart nation. Later Moses restates this same idea to the younger generation Israelites about to enter the Promised Land (Deut 14:2); and finally in Deuteronomy 26:18 (see also 7:6) he again calls Israel his “treasured people” and admonishes them to keep his Torah-commands that he might “make you high above all the nations which he has made, in praise, and in name, and in honor, and that you may be a set-apart people unto YHVH your Elohim.” In the Testimony of Yeshua, this theme is again picked up by Peter in his first epistle (1 Pet 2:9) when he refers to the saints as “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a set-apart nation, a peculiar people.”
Am segulah means “possession, treasure, valued property, peculiar treasure.” The basic meaning of the word is “personal property.” Well attested in Hebrew, Ugaritic, and Aramaic, the Akkadian sakalu, ‘to acquire property’ and sikiltum ‘personal property’ are also doubtless related. While the word occurs only eight times, it is filled with theological and spiritual treasures. The preacher in Ecclesiastes reports that the accumulation of the finest of personal possessions is sheer vanity. Those who fear the Lord become his peculiar possessions whom he will never forget, even in that time of great judgment (Mal 3:16–18, see TWOT).
“Israel was God’s personal possession (Ps 135:4). Moses reminded Israel that God chose her and redeemed her from bondage not because of her goodness, but solely because he loved her and was faithful to the promises given to the patriarchs. Israel should reflect God’s holiness and live out his commandments (Deut. 12:2ff), reflecting his standards in a life of wholehearted compliance with the terms of the covenant made at Sinai (Ex. 19:5-6) and renewed at their entrance into Canaan. Then would they have good success (Deut. 26:16-19). So it should be with all believers. These verses are doubtless alluded to in Titus 2:14 and 1 Peter 2:9” (Ibid.).
How do you view yourself spiritually? How does Elohim view you? How are these two views different from each other? How you view yourself should be determined by what the Scriptures say about you. What does Elohim’s Word say, and do you believe it?
- I am complete in Yehshua who is the head of all principality and power. (Col 2:10)
- I am free from the law of sin and death. (Rom 8:2)
- I am alive with Yeshua. (Eph 2:5)
- I am far from oppression, and fear does not come near me. (Isa 54:14 )
- I am born of Elohim, and the evil one does not touch me. (1 John 5:18)
- I am holy and without blame before him in love. (1 Peter 1:16; Eph 1:4; Col 2:10)
- I have the mind of Yeshua the Messiah/the Anointed One. (Phil 2:5; 1 Cor 2:16)
- I have the peace of Elohim that passes understanding. (Phil 4:7)
- I have the Greater One living in me, greater is he who is in me than he who is in the world. (1 John 4:4)
- I have received the gift of righteousness and reign as a king in life by Yeshua Mashiach. (1 John 4:4 Rom 5:17)
- I have received the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Yeshua, the eyes of my understanding being enlightened. (Eph 1:17–18)
(For a complete list of what the Scriptures say about you, please see http://www.hoshanarabbah.org/pdfs/who_i_am.pdf.)
Exodus 19:10, Consecrate them today.How did Israel, as a bride-to-be, prepare herself to meet with YHVH? How are YHVH’s people now to be preparing themselves for their spiritual marriage with Yeshua? (Compare Exodus 19:10 with Revelation 19:7–9.) What is the righteousness of the saints (mentioned in Rev 19:8)? Righteousness is defined in Psalms 119:172 as, “…all thy [Torah] commandments are righteousness.” If what the Scriptures define as righteousness (i.e. the Torah) was “nailed to the cross,” as is popularly taught, then who is in error? The Scriptures or those who teach against YHVH’s Torah laws?
Discussion A. Why is it essential to study the example of the children of Israel preparing themselves to come into the presence of YHVH in Exodus 19? After all, if Yeshua did it all for us, we can just come boldly before the Father’s throne anytime, anyway we want, right (Heb 4:16)?
Let’s explore this concept a little to see what the Bible has to say about it.
Paul says in I Corinthians 10:11,
Now all these things happened to them [i.e. the children of Israel] as examples, and they were written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the ages have come. (See also Rom 15:4.)
The writer of Hebrews has something similar to say in his prefatory remarks to his statement in Hebrews 4:16 about coming boldly before the throne of YHVH through the merits of the sinless righteousness of Yeshua our High Priest. In the preceding several verses, the author draws upon the example of the children of Israel (Heb 4:1–10) as an example for us not to follow. They were a faithless and disobedient lot in that they rebelled against the Torah-word of Elohim.
Then in Hebrew 4:11, the author starts with the connecting word “therefore,” indicating that what follows is related to that which preceded it. He goes on to admonish us not to follow the Israelites’ example of disobedience (i.e. Torahlessness or lack of faith in and obedience to the word of Elohim).
Next, the author likens the word of Elohim to a sharp two-edged sword that has the ability to separate between those who come to YHVH with wrong (carnal) heart motives versus those who have right ones, for nothing is hidden from the Almighty, so religious pretense and sham need not apply (Heb 4:12–13).
This reminds me of Yeshua’s harsh rebuke against the religious hypocrites of his day who thought that just because they were the sons of Abraham, they had a special “in” with Elohim. Quoting Isaiah, Yeshua criticized their sham religious expressions accusing them of drawing near with their mouths, but having hearts that were far from him (Matt 15:8–9 cp. Isa 29:13). In fact, Isaiah goes on in the same verse to deal with the issue of the improper fear of Elohim (Isa 29:13b). Yes, the fear of Elohim—a subject that is not taught much in the user-friendly, seeker-sensitive modern church! Perhaps we need to have a little fear even when coming boldly before the throne of Elohim—after all, he is a consuming fire (Deut 4:24; Heb 12:29), and he has the power to destroy both the body and the soul of man in the eternal judgment of Gehenna or the lake of fire (Matt 10:28 cp. Rev 20:15).
Now back to the Epistle to the Hebrews. In Hebrews 4:14, we see that redeemed believers are privileged with being able to come before the presence of the Creator of the Universe on the merits of the sinless righteousness of Yeshua. Halleluyah! But is that all there is to it?
Can we come before the throne of our Father in heaven through Yeshua as an impudent brat demanding this and that because “Yeshua did it all for me?” Hardly!
Those readers who are parents, ask yourself this: What will move your heart more, your child who comes to you respectfully honoring you, or an arrogant, self-willed brat that demands his way, and who views you simply as the fulfiller of all of his wants and desires—as his personal sugar daddy? Yet, this, sadly, is how some believers, in effect, view their Father in heaven.
Yes, a redeemed believer has full access to the throne of heaven through Yeshua, but think of it this way. If the Queen of England or the President of the U.S. were to give you access to a personal audience in their residence anytime, what would be your demeanor and approach? Recognizing their great power and authority, would you not at least prepare yourself ahead of time by washing yourself, putting on nice clothes and learning about proper protocols to be able to enter their presence with respect? How much more so the Creator of the universe?
Remember the believers in Laodicea (Rev 3:14–22)? They felt quite self-sufficient, even self-righteous, because they had been granted the righteousness of Yeshua resulting in the gift of unlimited access to the holy of holies throne room of Elohim through the rent veil of Yeshua’s flesh (Heb 10:20). Yet their heart attitude of pride stank in the nostrils of the Almighty, and unless they repented of their sin, Yeshua threatened to vomit them out of his mouth!
I’m reminded of the words of Solomon in Ecclesiastes 5:1–2,
Walk prudently when you go to the house of Elohim; and draw near to hear rather than to give the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they do evil. Do not be rash with your mouth, and let not your heart utter anything hastily before Elohim. For Elohim is in heaven, and you on earth; therefore, let your words be few.
Now back to Hebrew 4. What does verse 16 say?
Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.
This little verse is packed full of truth. Yes we can come boldly before YHVH’s throne through Yeshua, but what should be our demeanor? Let’s answer this question with a question. Why does this verse say that we’re coming to YHVH’s throne? First, to obtain mercy. Why do we need mercy? Because we’re sinners deserving his judgment! Even though we have Yeshua, or Great High Priest, advocating for us, we must maintain a humble demeanor never forgetting what we’ve done against him and the punishing judgment we deserve because of it.
Second, why are we supposed to be coming to the throne of Elohim? Hebrews 4:16 says that we need YHVH’s grace in time of need. Why? We need his grace, so that he will not only cover over our sins with the blood of Yeshua, and we also need his empowering grace to divinely enable us to forsake our sins and to go forward following Yeshua’s example of walking in sinless righteousness. What is sin? It’s the violation of YHVH’s Torah-word (1 John 3:4).
Yes, there are preparations that must be made and protocols to follow when coming into the presence of YHVH Elohim, even though we have an open invitation to do so at any time through the rent veil of Yeshua’s flesh.
It is against the larger backdrop of these biblical truths that we can learn much from the children of Israel as they prepared to come face to face with the Creator of the universe at the foot of Mount Sinai in Exodus 19. For two days prior to their meeting with the Almighty, Moses required the Israelites to prepare themselves. This involved consecrating themselves by washing their clothes and abstaining from carnal relations with their spouses (Exod 19:10, 14). This teaches us that when approaching the Presence of YHVH, we need to set ourselves apart from the customary pollution or defilement of the world and of the flesh. YHVH wanted Israel to be a kingdom of priests (Exod 19:6), and as such, they needed to act in a holy or set-apart manner when coming into his presence. Let us take an example from YHVH’s instructions to the Israelites as we endeavor to both YHVH’s royal priesthood (1 Pet 2:9; Rev 20:6) and the bride of Yeshua the Messiah (Rev 19:7–9).
Discussion B. What are the terms and conditions to coming into the presence of Elohim? Even though redeemed believers now have access to the Father by the blood of Yeshua the Lamb of Elohim, and even though the veil between the Holy of Place and the Holy of Holies (representing the divine presence or throne room of Elohim) has been opened for all to come in), what can we learn from this passage about preparing ourselves to come into YHVH’s presence? Let’s read and find out.
In this chapter, YHVH invites his people to come near to him, to receive his Torah, and to enter into a spiritual relationship with him. He had just delivered them from their sins, suffering and bondage when he led them out of Egypt (v. 4). He now offered them enticing blessings and status among the nations of the world (v. 6) if, and only if, his people would agree to his terms and conditions (v. 5).
But YHVH would not allow his people to accept his benefits on their own terms, but only on his terms. This is where men and religious systems have missed it: they want to accept YHVH on their own terms, not YHVH’s terms. Such is the religion of secular humanism. Humanism is the idea that man knows better than YHVH what is good for him. This, in reality, is the religion the serpent pawned off on the first man and woman at the tree of knowledge in the Garden of Eden. The problem is that accepting YHVH on our terms is called sin, and this leads man down the path of misery eventually resulting in eternal death!
There are preconditions to meeting with YHVH and coming into relationship with him—coming to his high and holy mountain, his place of abiding, and his set-apart of kadosh Presence. Coming to this place is not without cost. In Psalms 15 and 24, David asks who can come to the mountain of YHVH? The answer is only those who have clean hands and pure heart and who abstain from sin.
YHVH told the children of Israel that they could approach him and become his special people if they would meet certain conditions, and only then would he bless them (Exod 19:5–6).
Even after the people had agreed to his terms (v. 8), after they had accepted him as their Savior when they put the blood of the lamb on the door posts of their homes resulting in the judgments of YHVH passing over them (Exod 12), YHVH’s blessings could come only after they had met certain requirements. Salvation is based on faith and grace alone, but rewards and blessings come based on obedience to the commandments of Elohim (Matt 5:19). To receive YHVH’s blessing, the Israelites had to consecrate themselves to him (Exod 19:10, 14). This involved putting away the filth of the world (symbolized by washing their clothes) including with men’s carnal passions (symbolized by abstaining from sexual relations with their wives, vv. 10, 14–15). Graciously, YHVH gave them two days to accomplish this (v. 10). They had to get ready to meet YHVH (v. 11). One can’t expect simply to “waltz” into the Presence of the Mighty King of the Universe in a casual and haphazardly manner!
YHVH had additional protocols that the people had to follow to come into his Presence. Boundary stones were set up at the base of the mountain (Exod 19:12). A death penalty came upon any who crossed those boundaries and came presumptuously into the Presence of the Creator of the Universe (vv. 13, 22, 24). Moreover, before they could come into the Presence of the Almighty, the fear of YHVH had to be established in the hearts of the people—something that is entirely lacking among most people in our generation including those in the church!
YHVH permitted only the priests who had previously consecrated themselves “to come near YHVH…lest YHVH break out against them” (v. 22). Later, when the Tabernacle of Moses was set up, YHVH surrounded the tabernacle with the priests and Levites who acted as a buffer between YHVH and the people. Though chosen of YHVH to serve him in his tabernacle, each time the priests would come into the tabernacle to serve him, they had to prepare themselves through the consecration process of washing and putting on the appropriate attire.
It was then and only then after the Israelites had agreed to meet YHVH’s terms and conditions, after having consecrated themselves for two days prior, and then set up boundary stones at the base of the mountain that the fire and glory YHVH fell upon the mountain for all the people to see. It was then that YHVH’s hand delivered to his chosen and consecrated people his precious instructions in righteousness—the Torah.