On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.

Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: ‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”

So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” Exodus 19.1-8 (NIV)

COVENANT IS ABOUT RELATIONSHIP

A covenant is like a modern day contract agreement. There are at least two parties making an agreement. There is a contract to be signed or a vow/oath to be proclaimed. Also, there are stipulations about each side’s responsibilities to honor the agreement and also about what would happen should one side failed to live up to their end of the agreement. Finally, there are witnesses to prove that both sides entered this agreement in good faith and not under duress.

But there is one major difference between a biblical covenant and a modern day contract. Contract is about things while covenant is about relationship.

COVENANT RELATIONSHIP REQUIRES EXCLUSIVITY

Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. vv. 5-6

There are many nations in the world. And these nations often fight for territories and resources. God says that out of those bickering nations, God will only choose one: the people of Israel. God will protect Israelites from all the other nations and he will provide for them so that they will be more prosperous than the kingdoms around them.

But the exclusivity goes both ways. God also wants Israelites to be faithful to him and only him. At that time, there are different gods and goddesses, a pantheon of them, for every nation. God says there is only one for Israel and that is him and they cannot worship other gods.

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20.2-3

If the key of relationship is exclusivity, then we need to learn how to maintain exclusivity in our relationships – especially our relationship with God. Thankfully God gave us some practical ways to maintain an exclusive relationship with him in Chapter 20 – the section we often call the “Ten Commandments”.

DO NOT ACCEPT SUBSTITUTE

You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments. vv. 4-6

It’s not about making art in churches. It’s about substituting an artwork or anything else for God. There is no image, statue, building, that can substitute for God’s presence in this world. There is only one ultimate representation of the God in this world and his name is Jesus.

So don’t put your trust on something else. Don’t put anyone else above Jesus in your priority list – not even your own family. Seek God first and he will take care of your needs.

DO NOT EMBARRASS YOURSELF

“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.” v. 7

The high priest wears a chest plate that bears the name Yahweh. The prophets speak of a city of God with his name upon it. Just like a slave would have the name of his master written on his/her forehead, we carry the name of our God with us always and we cannot afford to put that name to shame.

That means we have to watch our behaviors, speech, and actions. It also means that we shall not speak ill of our Awesome God.

MAKE TIME TO ENJOY EACH OTHER’S PRESENCE

“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.” vv. 8-11

Rest is a big theme in the Bible. Not just random rest but to enter God’s rest where we can enjoy his presence.

Setting aside a time to rest and to focus on God is a sign to everyone what matters most to you. It shows them that we can be successful without having to overwork and overstudy. Most importantly, it shows God that he is the number one priority in your life.

I AM YOURS AND YOU ARE MINE

If you work hard on maintaining this exclusive relationship with God, he will bless you. The God of Heaven and Earth wants to have a relationship with you, all you have to do is to make sure that you are faithful to him.