November 8 - The Living Stone

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November 8 - The Living Stone - 1 Peter 2:4-8

This passage may seem very familiar to you ... and there are several reasons why!

The original passage comes from Isaiah 28:16, but a similar scripture is Psalm 118:22. Jesus quoted that one in Matthew 21:42 and Peter himself used the verse when speaking to the Sanhedrin in Acts 4:11. He uses it again here to describe our relationship to Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 1:4. "As you come to him ..." These words mean much more than simply walking up to Jesus. Peter is describing the act of believing in Jesus, this is the conversion experience, the chance to be born again.

Let's go on with the description of us - we'll come back to the description of the living stone. ", also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood ..."

Now, while we are like living stones, we are not THE living stone. We recognize immediately that is a description of Jesus Christ. But, because we have come to Him (been born again), we are like Him ... we are connected to Him.

Peter is describing in these verses, the process of building a temple. Stones are needed and the most precious will be used as a cornerstone. The temple was the most important building to the Jews. Many gentile Christians would have recognized the importance of that as well. But, the temple was made out of stone - stone that could be destroyed. The temple was always susceptible to destruction.

With the death of Christ, God no longer communicated with his people from within the Temple, but took up residence in the hearts of men ... temples that were made of 'living' stone. We are that temple. We are a spiritual house. The sacrifices of the Old Testament were no longer needed, priests were no longer needed ... we are the holy priesthood, we offer sacrifices through Jesus Christ.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus tells Peter that he is the rock upon which His church will be built. Peter, however, deflects this image back on to Jesus. He is the foundation of the church. Paul, in Ephesians 2:19-22, describes this same structure. The holy temple is all of us, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus as the cornerstone. And in this temple, God will dwell.

Since Peter has identified us with the Living Stone, this becomes an assurance for the readers of his day that were facing persecution and for us as we face rejection for any number of reasons. Christ may have been rejected by mankind, but was chosen by God and precious to him. We are chosen by God and we are precious to him.

The first chapter of this letter described a process that would draw us toward holiness. At this point, we begin to see our responsibility - not from a worldly perspective, but from God's perspective. He wants to dwell within us as He did among the Israelites in their Tabernacle and later, in their Temple.

We are God's dwelling place. Now, as you consider the reason to be holy (Be holy, for I am holy), does this begin to make more sense?

The Tabernacle had to be made to very specific requirements. Each part of that structure was designed by God. From the outer courts to the holy place, God set out His plan for the creation of the Tabernacle. Once the priest made his way from the hustle and bustle of the outer courst, through the place of sacrifice, cleansed himself in the laver and approached the holy of holies, he had made himself as pure and holy as possible so that he could come before ... God.

A call to holiness. A call to be in the presence of the Most High God.