The Blessing Of Obedience

adapted from PCC Prayer Meeting Exhortation on 5 June 2009

5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation. These are the words which thou shalt speak unto the children of Israel” (Exodus 19:5-6).

We have begun a series of messages on the exceeding great and precious promises of God that Peter refers to 2 Peter 1:4. We noted that the epitome or apex of these great and precious promises is really the Holy Spirit. But God has many subsidiary and secondary promises that are equally precious to be enjoyed by those who receive the Holy Spirit.

These promises are revealed throughout God’s Word. In our previous study, we considered the first of the promises found in the Bible, which is Genesis 3:15. We saw in that promise how God has already secured victory over sin and Satan for His people through the promised Messiah.

In this second study we want to consider a promise in the second book of the Bible.

Now, like in Genesis, this book has many promises, and it is quite a tough choice on which promise we should consider. We could consider, for example, the many ‘I wills’ in this book:

“I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: 7 And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. 8 And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD” (Ex 6:6-8).

But I think it will be good for us to consider a conditional promise that is central to the book of Exodus for our purpose. I am referring to Exodus 19:5-6—

5 Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.” (Ex 19:5-6).

These words were spoken by the Lord to Moses at Mount Sinai, about three days before He spoken the Ten Commandments.

In a way, this is really the preface of the Ten Commandments. It is really a conditional promise to encourage God’s people to keep the Ten Commandments and all the other laws associated with it. It has two elements: a condition and a promise. Let’s look at the promise first.

1. The Promise

5b ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine: 6 And ye shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, and an holy nation.

This promise is made to the Israelites who came out of Egypt under the leadership of Moses. But take note that this promise is not only for those who came out of Egypt in those days. It is rather for all whom the Lord would deliver out of spiritual Egypt throughout the ages.

The apostle Peter makes this clear when he alludes to this verse in 1 Peter 2:9-10—

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light: “10 Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.”

Can you see how Peter is referring to God’s word through Moses? A ‘kingdom of priests’ is the same as a ‘royal priesthood.’

Take note that Peter is writing to Christians, most of whom could be Gentiles. The Church, which today comprises largely of Gentiles, is the royal priesthood and holy nation.

The promise which God made to the Jews in Moses’ day is being fulfilled in the church today.

The church is God’s peculiar treasure. Now, we must not misunderstand the word ‘peculiar’. It does not mean ‘strange’ in the context. It means ‘special’. Everything and everyone in this world belongs to God, but the Church belongs to God in a special way. The Church is God’s special people. She is God’s holy nation and royal priesthood.

Israel is no longer God’s special people, holy nation or royal priesthood. The privilege has been taken away from the Jews when the majority of them were cut off from the Olive Tree due to unbelief. The Lord Jesus warned them that they would lose their privilege.

He told them in Matthew 21:42-43—

42 Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected, the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes? 43 Therefore say I unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.

This has happened: we have become recipients of God’s blessings which He has promised through Moses. We are in His special care. We have been given the privilege of being His priests in this world, for through Christ we have direct access to Him. We have been given the privilege of manifesting His glory to all the world.

If God were just some great person however great he may be, this privilege would not really mean anything. But God is the sovereign creator of the heaven and earth to whom all things belong: “For all the earth is mine” He says. If it is not a blessing to serve Him and to be in His special care, there is no blessing in this life or the life to come. This is why this promise is so important.

But now, let us take note that this promise is not for everyone. In fact, it is given to us as a conditional promise. And the fact that it was taken from Israel and given to the Gentiles suggests that it is truly a conditional promise in a sense.

Let me put it in this way: God’s promise to His elect is unconditional, in that He would save them in Christ, and He would be their God and they would be His people. It is entirely by His grace, for no man can merit God’s favour.  However, when this promise is given to a nation or to a body of people which comprise of wheat and tare, then the promise must be given and received conditionally.

In this context, it has to be conditional for the individual because not everyone will be a recipient of the promise.  The condition will therefore distinguish between the elect and the reprobate.

At the same time, it has to be conditional for the whole body hearing the promise because it is possible that as the body develops with time, it may happen that the body as whole ceases to be a body of the elect. It is like a vineyard can become an untamed jungle if it is left to grow without intervention. This was what happened to Israel. The sheep fold becomes an enclave for goats. The wheat field became a wild meadow of tare. The vineyard became a jungle of thorns and thistles.

So it is essential for us to know the condition if we and our children are to enjoy God’s promises.

2. The Condition

What is the condition of this promise?

5a Now therefore, if ye will obey my voice indeed, and keep my covenant,…

It is simply obedience to the voice of the Lord, and keeping of his covenant.

I believe the LORD speaks of obedience to His voice because He would speak the Ten Commandments audibly in the hearing of His people. He would give many other commandments, but all the rest of the commandment are really summarised in the Ten Commandments. In other words, all the other commandments are really applications and explications of the Ten Commandments.

So to obey his voice would be to do all that is required by the Lord through His revealed will.

But what does the Lord mean by keeping His covenant? Well, I believe it is essentially the same as obeying the voice of the Lord. We must realise that this is really one condition rather than 2 conditions! Keeping the covenant is essentially synonymous to obedience to the voice of the Lord. I say this because the Ten Commandments is really the word of the covenant, for we read in Exodus 34:28—“And he [God] wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.”

Here then is the condition of God’s promise to His people which He revealed through Moses.


Well, brethren and children, what is this to you? Do you see what a great privilege it is to belong to God, to enjoy His love and His special care and providence? What a great privilege it is to be His child! What a great privilege it is to be His Church!

Man is created to glorify and to enjoy God forever. The key to lasting happiness in our heart therefore must be that we can enjoy God’s love and to glorify him by our lives.

There is a void in our heart that cannot be filled until we know that our Creator is pleased with us and we are enjoying His love. The church likewise cannot find meaning and blessedness in her existence until we know that our Creator and Redeemer is pleased with us and magnified by our worship, service and life.

This is the reason why we exist.

God has promised that we can indeed enjoy this blessing. All who are His elect will enjoy this blessing because only those who elected unto salvation would be given the privilege of knowing and enjoying God.

But God has also appointed that none of us should in this life be told whether we are elect or not. Instead, He would have all men seek after Him; and He would have His elect to begin to enjoy His love through obedience to His Word.

This is what the promise we are looking at this evening is all about. Beloved brethren and children, we have a good promise in our hand. We have a tremendous opportunity on hand to make our lives count for eternity both individually and corporately. But this enjoyment can only come through obedience.

Let us pray, therefore, that the Lord will give us the right knowledge and strength by His spirit to live according to His Word—that we may truly find joy and meaning in our existence as individuals, as families and as a church of Christ our Redeemer. Amen.

—JJ Lim