November 9 - Chosen People

Saturday, November 8, 2008

November 9 - Chosen People - 1 Peter 2:9-12

Every time I begin to study another passage in this letter, I realize why I love it so much. Peter uses a lifetime of knowledge of the scriptures to emphasize the lessons that he teaches. But, I barely know how to begin today's lesson, there is so much information that I am taking in! I'll do my best to limit myself.

1 Peter 2:9 is the fulfillment of Matthew 21:43. We are the people that will produce the fruit of the kingdom of God! Do you see why holiness is so important? Do you understand why we are being built into the spiritual house - the tabernacle (1 Peter 2:5)?

This verse is a combination of 3 passages in the Old Testament: Deut. 10:15; Exod. 19:6; Isa. 61:6. Israel was chosen ... in their rejection of the Messiah ... we, as Gentiles, are invited to be this royal priesthood (priests of the King!), a holy nation (we are in this together) and a people belonging to God (no longer are the Israelites the only people that God has chosen as his children).

And the purpose? That we may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. As priests, we are called to sacrifice. Hebrews 13:15 says, "Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that confess his name."

1 Peter 2:10 comes from Hosea 1:9, 10, 2:23. Peter is stating that the Gentiles are becoming spiritually what the Israelites were literally ... God's people.

I find this passage to be compelling and exciting, yet terrifying. We have such a responsibility and we squander it. Just as the Israelites spent thousands of years walking away from their inheritance, each of us in our short lives, walk away from this inheritance over and over. Only through God's intervention are we drawn back to Him.

I sometimes wonder if it was easier for God to deal with an entire nation as a corporate entity than it is for Him to have to deal with each of us as individuals. It's a good thing that He never sleeps!

1 Peter 2:11-12 are an introduction to Peter's 'rules' for living in the world. He reminds us who we are. If you are told, when traveling in Mexico, to avoid drinking the water, you know that makes sense. Our bodies do not hold the immunities to the many bacteria that live in that water. These bacteria 'war' against our immune system. We are aliens in that world, our bodies make it very clear that we can't drink the water and we choose to drink bottled water that is clean.

Due to the length of time that we have lived on this earth, we find that we have been here long enough to become accustomed to the bacteria - the sinful desires that 'war' against our souls. We forget what our purpose is, the reason for our existence. We forget that we have been chosen as a royal priesthood - sent by the King of Kings, a holy nation - ruled by that same King and a people belonging to God - the Creator of all things!

And just as the locals might offer you a glass of water and laugh when you refuse to take it, Peter tells us that when living among the inhabitants of this earth, we should live lives that teach them about God and when the day comes that He returns, they will glorify Him on that day.

It's still about holiness. Living lives free from sinful desires is the message for today.