Studies from 1 st Peter – 9
IX. Our spiritual privileges and duties 1 Peter 2:9, 10
“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.”
Study of our privileges is very encouraging. It shows our spiritual wealth, our blessedness. It should strengthen us and challenge us to continue to love the Lord Jesus Christ and stay close to Him.
Apostle Peter continues with his presentation of a believer’s spiritual advantages that he started in chapter 2:4. In chapter 2:9 & 10 we have four more things mentioned:-
i. Chosen generation
ii. Royal priesthood
iii. Holy Nation
iv. His own special people.
All these blessings were promised to Israel. Cf. Isa. 43:10, 20c; Exo. 19:5, 6; Dut. 7:6 etc. Israel failed. As Peter wrote at the end of v. 8 they stumbled at the ‘living stone’, and found Christ as a ‘rock of offense’. Their judgment has been appointed by God. But any one who goes to Christ and chose to trust Him will be given these fourfold privileges today.
Does it mean that God has forsaken Israel? No. That is the issue Paul deals with in Romans chapters 9—11. God has temporarily suspended His dealings with Israel but after the age of grace / Church will be over, He will restore His programs with Israel as a nation, return these blessing as well. Romans 11:25, 26.
It is our privilege today to enjoy these benefits through the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us consider them briefly.
1. Chosen Generation. V. 9
Peter has already touched upon divine election. 1:2. Though we came to Christ in a particular time (2:4) now we come to understand that even before the foundation of the world, God has already chosen us in His Son. Eph. 1:4. What a humbling truth it is! We have nothing to boast. It’s not that we chose Him, In His sovereign grace chosen us for His own purposes. John. 15:16.
Notice that added idea here. ‘Chosen generation’ (‘race’ JND). God has chosen us to be a new race, a distinct group of people – a unique community.
In Romans chapter 5 Paul refers to two races: one under the headship of Adam and the other under the headship of Christ. Rom. 5:12, 17, 18 etc. In Adam all become sinners, sin spreads, and death as a result, but in Christ obedience - righteous act - results in justification of life. Christ died as the ‘last Adam’ taking all the curses of the race of Adam and raised from the dead, He became the ‘second Man’ to head a new race. Cf. 1Cori. 15:45—49.
Thus we are a new, different race in the Lord Jesus Christ. In this present dispensation, God is calling out a new race from every tribe, tongue and nation. Revelation 5:9, 10.
Remember, every privilege has an equal responsibility. Every doctrine has a practical application. In these spiritual advantages that we experience today, there are certain practical lessons that we should not forget, rather put in practice.
Our position as a unique race suggests two things:-
a. Maintain distinctiveness: - Be happy to be different!
Referring to Israel Balaam said, “How shall I curse whom god has not cursed? .... A people dwelling alone, not reckoning itself among the nations.” Numbers 23:8, 9. Enemy will try his best to take away our distinctive features. Israel failed in the course of time to continue as Balaam commented upon and we know the consequences. God will honour us and be with us in our commitment to preserve our status a chosen, distinctive race.
b. Make no discrimination: - Church of Christ constitutes only one race.
True, as seen above we come from different background, but now one in Christ. What ever may be our background, color, language, in the Church there is no discrimination, for we are of one race.
2. Royal priesthood. 1Peter 2:9
According to Exodus 19:6, God’s intention for Israel was to make them a kingdom of priests. In other words, every one in Israel may have free access to God as priests. But due to their disobedience God gave this privilege to the tribe of Levi only. Whenever somebody else tried to grab this position they were punished severely. Num.16:1—40-(Korah & company); 1Sam. 13:8—14- (Saul); 2Chro.26:16—21-(Uzziah).
Now Peter says that whatever Israel lost is given to the Church today. All of us have free access to God. Cf. Rev. 1:6; 5:10. Not just one or a small group of people, every one together are priest. As Levites were under Aaron the High priest all of us under our Great High Priest the Lord Jesus Christ, are privileged to serve as priests.
It is a sad thing to notice that with out any scriptural warrant many Christians still continue with the old system in which they divide Christians as ‘clergy’ and ‘laity’. Some of them do not call themselves as ‘priests’ but practically they have taken over the ministries of the Church and the common believers are considered as only spectators. As ‘The priest’ or ‘The pastor’, taking over the service of the house of God completely by one individual is totally against the Bible. The Lord Jesus hates it. Rev. 2:6.
Two aspects of priesthood:
a. Holy Priesthood. V. 5.
Priest’s primary responsibility is to minister to God-offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. Exo. 28:1, 2, 4. (‘Minister to Me’) They must be separated from all that He hates to please His heart. So, holy priesthood speaks of our ministry to God in the spiritual house.
We don’t need to offer an animal sacrifice today. New Testament speaks about following spiritual sacrifices that we need to offer to God in which He will be pleased.
i. Consecration of our body as a living sacrifice. Rom. 12:2
ii. Sacrificial love for one another. Eph. 5:2
iii. Praise – fruit of our lips. Heb. 13:15
iv. Good works – doing a right thing. Heb. 13:16
v. Sharing our resources. Heb. 13:16; Phil 4:18
vi. Converts Rom. 15:16
vii. Prayers Rev. 8:3, 4.
All these are sacrifices that God will receive as a sweet smelling savor. But I think among all these the most important area is praising, glorifying God and exalting Christ. Remember, our primary duty as priests is to minister to God, and the most significant of that part is to exalt the His Son through our words and deeds.
b. Royal Priesthood. V.9
Peter may be thinking about the term ‘kingdom of priests’ found in Exo. 19:6. ‘Royal’ refers to ‘palace’, ‘king’ etc. Two ideas emerge:-
• Priests serving in the palace.
• Priests who are also ruling.
In the Old Testament, priests were not part of the government. King and priest were different people. In the New Testament, the Lord Jesus Christ is both the King and the High Priest in the order of Melchizedek. Heb. 7:14; Psa. 110:4; In future He will establish His kingdom and will sit as a Priest and as well as the King. Zech. 6:13. Bible says, we shall also reign with Christ. Cf. Rev. 1:6; 5:10. “Made us kings and priests”
So, royal priesthood speaks of our duty to man- serving-on behalf of the King. What is our duty to man as royal priests? ‘Proclaim His praises’. ‘Proclaim’- ‘publish’, ‘advertise’, ‘telling something otherwise unknown’. –Witness. (More later)
What a blessed privilege we have. We have a ministry to God and ministry to man. We are holy priesthood as well as royal priesthood. Ministering and ruling – to realize soon!
A study of various references in connection with priesthood in the Bible such as Exo 28, 29; Lev. 8, 9; Malachi 2 etc give us lot of lessons on priesthood. We will see just three important points.
i. Demands absolute obedience.
What made God to choose Levi as the priestly tribe? We are not sure! Their father had no good word about them. Gen. 49:5—7. It was an expression of God’s grace. But we see one quality in Levi in connection with the idol worship of Israelites. When Moses declared “Whoever is on the Lord’s side-come to me!”; Sons of Levi gathered themselves together to him and executed the punishment as Moses commanded. Exo. 32: 25—29. It seems in Malachi the Lord refers to the same incident. Mala. 2:4—7.
One thing is significant; they stood for the Lord and obeyed the word of God. Such obedience is required from a priest.
ii. Any self-glory prohibited. Exo. 30:37.
It is a privilege indeed to have access to God to offer a sacrifice. While doing that, a priest should not have any selfish motive. Ministry to the Lord should be exclusively for Him, if we try to derive any personal benefit, pleasure out of it, it is not acceptable to God as a sweet smelling savor.
iii. Work together.
Not all Levites had the same job in the house of God. But all of them had to work together under the leadership of one High Priest. Similarly, though all of us are priests, each one has different function, duty in the house of God; we should do it together under our High Priest, the Lord Jesus Christ.
3. Holy Nation. 1 Peter 2:9
The original word for ‘holy’ here is ‘hagios’ means ‘to set-apart’ or ‘to separate’. We read about the ‘holy vessels’ of the temple. That means those vessels were set apart for divine purposes. God wanted Israel to be a separated group of people who will follow His values and remain for His own purposes. Cf. Exo. 19:6; Duet 7:6; Lev. 10:10 – told them to keep a difference between Holy and unholy. Psa. 4:3 – Every Jew should know that the Lord has separated him / her for Himself.
But alas, they failed to keep that separated status but followed the practices of the nations around them. Now God separates the Church to be a holy nation. Heb. 10:14.
We should understand this in three aspects.
a. Positional – God separated us from the world, sin and Satan through the redemptive work of the Lord Jesus Christ. Heb. 10:14. Thus we are holy by virtue of our position in Christ. Christ’s holiness has been imputed to us.
b. Practical – Since our conversion the Spirit of God began to work in us to keep ourselves separated, impart the holiness of Christ in our practical life. What ever we are by position should be true in our practice as well. 1 Th.4:3; 5:23; Eph. 5:25, 26.
c. In consummation. Ephe. 5:27. One day we shall be completely separated and totally holy unto the Lord. He shall present us blameless before the Father. That will be the conclusion of this sanctification process and we shall attain perfect holiness then.
Maintain separation. Israel’s failure and consequences should be a lesson for us. Separation is our strength. Then alone God will work in and through us. Josh. 3:5; 2Timothy 2:21.
4. His own special people. V. 9 (Duet 14:2; Mal 3:17 ;)
God considered Israel as a ‘peculiar treasure’ or ‘His own inheritance’. Cf. Exo. 19:5, 6; Duet 4:20; 7:6, 7. Same status is given to the Church today. “His own special people”-Tit. 2:14; “purchased possession”-Eph 1:14.
We belonged to Satan (Eph 2:1 – 3) but the Lord Jesus Christ paid a great price (1Pet 1:18) to make us His own, because He found us as a precious treasure. Matt. 13:44, 45; Act. 20:28; 1 Corin. 6:20; 7:23. Today we belong to Christ, we are valuable to Him. What a wonderful privilege!
i. Fear not. Isa. 43:21.
Repeatedly the Lord says to Israelites, ‘do not fear, you are mine’. He will protect, provide and lead His own. So no worry or fear is needed.
ii. Live for His purposes. 1Peter 2: 9b, 10; Isa. 43:21.
He has bought us with a definite purpose. If we fail to be useful for the Lord, then His purposes in us is defeated. What is that goal? Proclaim the praise / the Excellencies of our Lord.
The word ‘proclaim’ speaks of ‘advertising’ – telling something otherwise unknown. It is to be done in words as well as deeds. Peter refers to three great virtues of God that we should make known. These are based on our own experience. V. 10
a. The light of God. V. 9c.
We were in darkness. Moral, intellectual and spiritual. Not only we lived in darkness, we loved it and with in us also there was darkness. John 3:19, 20. It was from this background the Lord Jesus Christ wonderfully delivered, translated us to the marvelous light of the Lord. Col. 1:13; Act. 26:18; Eph. 5:8.
We ought to publish this magnificent transforming power of God. The power of the marvelous light of God should be made known to this dark world. The Lord’s will for us is not just a word about the light but be a lamp itself, radiating the light of God. Matthew 5:14; Phil 2:15. (World around is in darkness, man is searching desperately for light)
b. The love of God. V. 10.
Loosely quoting from the book of Hosea, Peter refers to the great love of God by which He made the readers God’s own people. They were unlovable, unworthy to be counted as even mere ‘people’. Cf. Hosea 1:9, 10; 2:23. cf. Rom 9:25, 26 – Paul applies to gentiles. Peter quotes to apply to both. Unbelieving Jews are not God’s people now, Gentiles were never been God’s people. But both are now in Christ – God’s own. That’s God’s wonderful love.
c. The Mercy of God.
In receiving such unlovable, undeserving ones to be God’s own, it was God’s abundant mercy at work. Cf. Eph 2:4. This is very special saving mercy, other than the common mercy being exercised on God’s creation.
Such testimony of divine virtues should come from our entire life, not just words. That is the most important responsibility of a Christian in view of His high privileges.
Are we aware of these great privileges a believer has in Christ?
Are we enjoying the benefits of it?
Let us act as we are:-
• We are a Chosen race – maintain that unique features.
• We are a Royal priesthood – Serve God & man acceptably.
• We are Holy nation – Be separated to God & be holy.
• We are His own special treasure – Be confident, we are precious to Him.
Let us fulfill our responsibilities:-
Live For Him- advertise His Excellencies through words & deeds.
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