After they made the journey from Rephidim and entered the wilderness of Sinai, they then pitched camp in the wilderness. While Israel was encamped there in front of the mountain, Moses went up to the mountain of God. Then the Lord called to him from the mountain, saying: “This is what you will say to the house of Jacob; tell the Israelites: You have seen how I treated the Egyptians and how I bore you up on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. Now, if you obey me completely and keep my covenant, you will be my treasured possession among all peoples, though all the earth is mine. You will be to me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.”Exodus 19:2-6a
A Holy Nation
After four centuries of slavery in Egypt, the Lord swooped down like an eagle and lifted his nestlings to freedom. An image of power and providence, the king of birds symbolizes the God of “all the earth.” Israel’s God had decisively proven his authority over the Egyptian pantheon through the ten plagues.
Released from the bondage of earthly rulers, Israel now entered into a covenant with God, whose law sets nations free. As God’s treasured possession, a kingdom of priests, and a holy nation, Israel will be a “light for revelation to the Gentiles” (Luke 2:32).
“He found him in a desert land,Deuteronomy 32:10-12
and in the howling waste of the wilderness;
he encircled him, he cared for him,
he kept him as the apple of his eye.
Like an eagle that stirs up its nest,
that flutters over its young,
spreading out its wings, catching them,
bearing them on its pinions,
the Lord alone guided him,
no foreign god was with him.”
On eagles’ wings, I bore you here
To be my own, a people dear.