“Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the 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.”
1.) It is interesting here that 19:5 with its reference to “keeping my covenant” we find a reference not to the Mosaic covenant, which has not yet been cut, but rather it is a reference to the Abrahamic covenant. The Abrahamic covenant, as we know, was a royal covenant (treaty), which means that it was established unilaterally and monopleurically by God. The Abrahamic covenant was established at God’s own sovereign initiative as a covenant with an unconditional promise and yet this unconditional promise covenant is spoken of in Exodus 19:5 as requiring God’s people to “Keep His covenant.” This inclines one to believe that that this monopleurically established Abrahamic covenant was dipleurically administered. This is to say that while God sovereignly and graciously did initiate the Abrhamic covenant, He did so in such a way that there was an expectation of a proper human response to this gracious covenant promise. This is seen in Genesis 17 where God calls Abraham to “walk before Him and be blameless.” God’s graciously built upon the Abrahamic covenant by introducing the sacrificial system in the Mosaic covenant. This sacrificial system continued to remind God’s people that the covenant was completely gracious as sins committed within the context of and against the covenant were forgiven and covered upon God’s own provision of sacrifice, propitiation, and expiation. However, no faithful Hebrew would have ever argued that the grace of God’s royal grant covenant, where God does all the saving, was a license to sin against God’s gracious covenantal requirements to “keep the covenant.” Neither would have any faithful Hebrew argued that His desire to “keep the covenant” triggered the faithfulness of God to Him. Rather, he understood that it was God’s faithfulness to Him that triggered his desire to keep covenant.
All of this is to say that the salvation that is graciously and unilaterally given by God in the context of the covenant of grace is a salvation that still has the expectation of a “proper human response.” God does all the saving in Christ. There is no improving God’s gracious salvation. Yet, the effect of grace is always to prompt in God’s people a desire and a beginning to “keep covenant and obey God fully. (cmp. Heidelberg Catechism Q. 114)
2.) Note how God reminds Israel that He owns all the earth and then goes on to specify that covenant keeping Israel will be unto Him a treasured possession — a Kingdom of Priests and a Holy nation.
I wonder if there is a principle we can extrapolate here? Clearly God insists that the whole earth is His. There was not place that a Hebrew could go to escape God’s ownership and presence and yet despite this ownership of God over everything, so that everything is separate unto God, covenant keeping Israel would be the apple of God’s eye. Similarly today the earth is Gods but the Church is a royal Priesthood and a Holy nation (I Peter. 2:9-10) However, all because the Church is a royal Priesthood and a Holy nation that does not mean the rest of the earth should not be decorated with that Holiness. The whole earth is still Gods and since the whole earth remains Gods shouldn’t it be the responsibility of those who are part of God’s royal Priesthood and Holy nation to bring the authority and glory of God to bear upon the whole earth that remains His?
I ask this in particular to those who seem to fear that if everything is Holy then nothing will be holy. I ask this in particular to those who seem to think that if Holiness gets beyond the boundaries of the Church, reaching into what they call the “common sphere” then there is a real danger that Holiness will be reduced since it will have been made to define everything.
What if, instead of dividing things up into a Holy and common nomenclature we divided it up into a Holy and Holy of Holies language? What if we understood that all the earth should reveal God’s holiness but understood that could only happen as long as the fount out of which holiness gushes (the church) is understood as the life source of Holiness? If the earth remains the Lord’s and the Lord remains Holy, shouldn’t the earth reflect some of that shekinah glory? Why should the earth, owned by God, remain common if it were to be occupied by a Holy people serving a Holy God?