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Ralph's Daily Devotional - Thursday, July 5

Exodus 19:1-8

The Fourth of July has special meaning for us as we celebrate the founding principles that define this great nation.  Once liberated from England, the founding fathers began forming and forging a new constitution with laws created to ensure freedom and justice.

In this passage, Israel, now liberated and no longer enslaved, will begin its own national life as well.  The law of Moses will become for them the basis and heritage of who and what they are.  What will separate them from all other peoples will be the covenant made between themselves and God, in which Israel is to be a theocracy; that is, God Himself will be their King.

Up to this point, Israel had for the most part remained passive as God took the initiative in liberating them.  Now they will enter a new phase, requiring a reciprocal response to God.  In effect, Israel's declaration of independence is God Himself, and their constitution will be the laws as given in the following chapters.  These laws are to be civil, religious, moral and sacrificial in nature.  They are to be binding on all people.  No one is above the law.  No human being creates these laws.  They are supernatural in nature.  No one has the authority to change them or vote them in or out.

In such a theocracy, unlike our own democracy which separates church and state, blaspheming God becomes both a personal religious sin as well as a national crime. 

God as King is also a realist.  He recognizes that people will fail and sin, and offers a means to continue in fellowship with them as seen in the creation of a sacrificial system in which the priesthood mediates on behalf of God His mercy and forgiveness. 

The people are zealous to receive and affirm the laws (19:8).  However, their initial intention and resolve is at best superficial and naive, as will be soon revealed in their worshiping of the golden calf!

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