When God redeemed Israel He brought them to Sinai to formally enter into covenant with them. Israel would be God’s “own possession among all the peoples.” Thus they would also be a “holy nation” set apart from all other peoples in the world (Exodus 19:5 and 6). When God announced His covenant, He reminded the people of their redemption and that He was their Redeemer. “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the Land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery” (Exodus 20:1).
Then, in signifying they would live before God as His people, Israel vowed, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do” (Exodus 19:8, 24:7). Moses ratified the covenant with the sprinkling of blood symbolically connecting God’s altar and the people. “Behold the blood of the covenant, which the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words” (Exodus 24:8).
God took a third step with the people. God redeemed Israel. God entered into covenant with them and formed them into a covenant community. Not only so, God instructed Israelin their worship. He fashioned them into a worshipping community. “Let them construct a sanctuary for Me, that I may dwell among them” (Exodus 25:8). God directed the people to build a sanctuary. Using the sanctuary, God promised to dwell, tabernacle, among them.
The Book of Exodus outlines these three things: God’s redemption (Exodus 1-18), God’s covenant (Exodus 19-24), and God’s worship (Exodus 25-40). Leviticus continues the twin themes of holiness and worship. Leviticus 26:11-12 makes this classic statement, “Moreover, I will make My dwelling among you, and My soul will not reject you. I will also walk among you and be your God, and you shall be My people.” I will be your God relates primarily to redemption. You shall be My people points principally to the covenant. I will dwell among you has mainly to do with worship. God links together these three elements. They characterize God’s relationship with His people. They form the basic covenant promise of God. We find pieces of this basic promise, representing the whole, in many places. Exodus 6:7; Jeremiah 7:23, 11:4, 30:22; and Ezekiel 36:28 are examples.
The apostle Paul applies God’s promise from Leviticus 26:11-12 to the church. He does so in 2 Corinthians 6:16. He declares to the church, “For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, ‘I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God and they shall be my people.'” Here we have the three elements of Israel’s relationship with God plainly applied to us as Christians united together in the church.
We should think in terms of these three elements of our relationship with the Lord. God saves us from bondage. He forms us into covenant communities. He also guides us in our worship. Jesus Christ is the Lord who saves us (Romans 10:9). The blood of Christ is the blood of the covenant into which we enter as a community (1 Corinthians 11:25). The church gathered for worship is God’s special dwelling place (2 Corinthians 6:16).
Three key points immerge in connection with the three elements God links together. First, God sovereignly redeems us. He alone stipulates the way. Second, God sovereignly specifies how we must live before Him. He alone sets forth the terms of the covenant. Third, God sovereignly outlines how we approach Him in worship. We rejoice in God’s redemption of us. We also gladly live in covenant with Him. We should therefore never chafe under God’s directions for us in worship.