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. 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
Here we find God about to hand down the Ten Commandments to Moses, to give to the children of Israel. These commandments were the Law of the Covenant, and represented a special and binding contract between God and the children of Israel. But before He gave the law, God established the conditon for participating in the covenant and enjoying it's benefits. The conditon was simple: They were to obey His voice indeed, and keep His covenant.
To obey "indeed" means to be completely and totally obedient in every respect. Obedience to God must not be half-hearted; it must be sincere and thorough. We can't pick and choose what we'll obey and what we will not. To "keep" the covenant means to closely guard and preserve it, making sure everything is done in agreement with it.
This passage of scripture is one of the many "If----then" promises God made to His children. He promises many blessings, but almost all of them require an action on our part. Invariably, the requirement is simply this: obedience. God does not force us to obey Him; He gives us the choice. "If" we do the what He says, "Then" He will give the blessing. Doesn't seem like too much to ask in return for all the blessings He promises, does it?
The problem is, we always want to get the blessings without having to meet the requirements. We want to be able to do whatever we choose, and still receive all of God's blessings. It just doesn't work that way, friends. How incredibly arrogant it is to expect God to keep His part of the covenant if we don't keep our part!
God is truly good, and faithful to uphold His promises, but He still requires our obedience, just as He did in the days of Moses. God doesn't change; He is the same today as He was back then. Today, tomorrow, and forever, He still requires obedience to His Holy word.
God's laws are not given merely to restrict us so that we can't enjoy life; in fact, it is quite the opposite! By obeying His commandments, we will enjoy the kind of life God wants us to have: a right relationship with Him and with others. When we are obedient to His laws, we receive the greatest benefit and the most pleasure out of life, living a more fruitful life now, as well as receiving the blessings He promises.
All the things God tells us not to do are things that can only degrade and humiliate us, and hurt the quality of our lives. That certainly isn't what God wants for His children! And the things that He tells us to do are things that strengthen and uplift us, that our lives may be more abundant. Jesus said in John 10:10:
"I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly."
And just look at what God promises in return for our obedience. Here His promise is three-fold: you will be a peculiar treasure to Him, you will be a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. God always gives much more than we give up!
A "peculiar treasure" is something that is rare and unique, a personally gained and cherished possession belonging to only one person. God promises that His children will be above all others; they are chosen by Him, although the whole earth and all that's in it are His. This is an indication of how precious His children are to Him. That is repeated in the New Testament, in I Peter 2:9:
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 marvelous light."
The phrase "a kingdom of priests" indicates a special relationship with God. Priests were dedicated to God, and acted as an intermediary between God and the people. They represented God to the people, and the people to God. Just as these priests, by living pure and righteous lives of holy service and obedience, represented the grace of God to the people, we are also to represent the grace of God to others.
The phrase "a kingdom of priests" is also an indication that we are to praise God with lives of obedient service. The priests were the ones who made the sacrifices and offerings to atone for the sinfulness of the people, that their sins might be forgiven. Jesus Christ is the High Priest, who made the ultimate sacrifice for sin. We are to point others to Jesus, by our holy lives and service, just as the priests pointed others to God.
Last, God said that His chosen ones would be a holy nation, unlike any other nation in all the world; totally set apart and dedicated to His service. His children would be His prized possession, to accomplish His will. That is what He promises we will be to Him! He will sanctify His children as a holy nation. All he wants is our obedience. Or, as the Preacher wrote in Ecclesiastes 12;13:
Let us hear the conclusion of the whole matter: Fear God, and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
Our whole duty to God is simply to fear Him, or have a reverent awe of His majesty and omnipotence, and keep His commandments. By our obedience to His word, we praise, exalt and glorify Him. It's as simple as that. And in return, He promises to bless us much more than we can even imagine!