The next three paragraphs constitute a quote of an entire section, entitled “Sovereign Initiative and Redemptive Grace Ground the Covenant” (135).
“God’s words to Moses here, ‘the words you are to say to Israel,’ constitute Israel’s calling as a nation into the covenant and lay the charge of that nation’s divine calling upon it. But before laying the charge, God reminds Israel of his action on its behalf. He has rescued it out of Egypt (‘you have seen what I did to Egypt’). He has protected it through hardships of the wildnerness (‘I carried you on eagles’ wings’). And he has chosen it to be his people (I ‘brought you to myself’). Indeed, before we come to God’s giving the law, half of the Book of Exodus has recorded God’s blessing and protecting Israel and his fulfillment of the promise that he would rescue it out of Egypt. ‘It is the story, in other words, of God’s grace in action.’
“Sovereign grace always goes before human response in the covenant. Indeed, in order to understand the contours of the Mosaic covenant, we must grasp and fully appreciate the historical and canonical context of Exodus 19-20: The calling of Israel depends upon the grace already given.
“Thus, in light of God’s gracious action already undertaken on Israel’s behalf (Ex. 19:3-4), God lays out Israel’s threefold vocation, its calling as a nation before the Lord (Ex. 19:5-6). Exodus 19:5 begins with ‘now,’ in the sense of ‘therefore.’ Yahweh calls Israel to be a treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation. The ‘if’ clause signals that the vocation and obedience to which God calls his people are always responses to his gracious, elective action. Sinai can be appreciated only in that light.”
“As a kingdom of priests, Israel is called to represent the nations before God, to mediate God’s redemptive purpose in the world” (138).
“God means Israel to be distinct, distinguishable, different – but distinct in the midst of the nations, distinct even for the sake of the nations” (139).
“God is not only the suzerain, the great King; he is also Father to his people” (145).
“Familial relationships include legal requirements but are always more than those requirements” (146).