Exodus 19: Implications for Biblical Theology

Exodus 19 has been an enigma for those who attempt to understand what is described in the Exodus 19 account. Both chronology and apparent redundancies have resulted in myriads of explanations, including proposals of emendations or sloppy compilation of sources. However, a close reading through discourse analysis of the Hebrew text provides clarity resulting from a proper understanding of the collocation of verbs in God’s introductory speech. That speech not only sheds light on the chronology of the following events but reveals that the giving of the law was not God’s original intention. His original intention was that his people would be in an intimate relationship with him, which relationship would then result in their keeping his covenant.

This understanding of Exodus 19 has profound effects on biblical theology. First, the New Testament teaching that God intends for people to be in an intimate relationship with him is not something new with the church but has always been God’s intention for his people. Second, the understanding of the law as an accommodation sheds light on Paul’s teaching regarding the law as a schoolmaster to bring us to Christ.

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