September 16

Exodus 23:20-33 / Read

From the beginning of Exodus 20 through verse 19 of Exodus 23, we have read of the commands (the Law) God gave to his people as part of his covenant with them. Covenant is a major theme that runs throughout the Bible.

A covenant is a binding agreement between two parties that defines their relationship to one another, including the responsibilities each party has for maintaining the relationship. In simple terms, there were two types of legal treaties (covenants) in the ancient world: bilateral - those between two equal parties - and unilateral - those between a king and his subjects. Today’s reading reinforces that the covenant between God and his people has always been unilateral.

God is the one who initiates, the one who saves, the one who gives life and sustains life. He is the one who needs nothing from people, yet who desires to express his great love to and through a people of his own.

Consider today’s reading:

  • How many “I” statements does the Lord make? Reflect on each one.

  • What was he promising his people?

Then consider:

  • What was he expecting in return?

Because of his position over and above humanity, God has the authority to set the terms of his covenant relationship with us. We will always be tempted to believe that the terms are unfair. We may become put off and upset with “If you do what I say” because of the sin in us that feeds our desire to be our own masters. Instead, we must learn to see that fulfilling our commitment to him through obedience ensure that we will possess his promises: blessings of guidance (vv. 20) and protection (vv. 22), that he will fight for us (vv. 23) and make us flourish (vv. 25-26).

Take time today to reflect on your relationship with the Lord and identify what it is that he is saying to you.

  • How has God worked/been present in your life so far this year? What good things has he given you/done for you that you didn’t even ask for?

  • What is motivating your obedience (or lack of obedience) to the Lord? Do you tend to believe that obedience is more of a requirement or a response to receiving God’s love?

  • Jesus’ covenant relationship with God the Father is perfect. On the Cross, we see him living out perfect obedience motivated by deep trust that God loved him and had him no matter what. In the Spirit, followers of Jesus share his identity and have access to his power to obey. Do you believe that? If so, how will it change how you relate to God? Where do you need Christ’s strength to obey?