Chosen To Excel In Proclaiming His Excellencies (Pt 2)
“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” 1 Peter 2:9 (NAS)
Last week we began our inquiry into our chosen text (no pun intended!) from the pen of Peter looking specifically into the inspired citations of Old Testament passages that are packed into this one verse. As we mentioned last week, these attributes are designed to equip and motivate us to excel in proclaiming His excellencies to a world lost in darkness. This purpose, the Lord determined, is done best by communicating who He has made us, the church, to be in Christ.
Our first look at this verse focused upon the Biblical concept of the church being the “chosen race”. We didn’t go into the depth we could have, but did offer some quick Old Testament passages, then the corresponding New Testament verses that clarified and defined the Old Testament types.
Peter, as he’s moved by the Holy Spirit, cites the second attribute declared concerning the Lord’s chosen people-a royal priesthood. There are numerous passages referencing the priesthood in the Old Testament. Most are in reference to the Levitical priesthood. But God had first chosen all the men among the nation of Israel to be His priests upon the Exodus from Egypt, with Aaron and his descendants serving as the high priest. “Now then, if you will indeed obey My voice and keep My covenant, then you shall be My own possession among all the peoples, for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. These are the words that you shall speak to the sons of Israel.” (Ex. 19:5-6) The Levites were later singled out from among the tribes to serve God, because of their allegiance to Him concerning the “Golden Calf Caper” (C.f. Ex. 32:26-29 & Deut. 10:1-8).
The Patriarchal Priesthood
In the Patriarchal age, the beginning stage of God’s predetermined plan, the fathers of the various faithful households served as priests to God. We see this pattern developed and passed on from Adam to his sons, Cain and Able (although not clearly stated as such, the inference is clear). And so it continued concerning the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob until the giving of the Law and the priesthood during the Exodus. As an aside, the conflict that led to Abel’s demise at the hands of his brother was rooted in the priestly service of their respective offerings to the LORD.
The Foreshadowed Royal Priesthood
Even in the Patriarchal age before the giving of the Law, the LORD foreshadowed the royal priesthood of His divine intentions through the episode of Abraham and Melchizedek, the king of Salem and “priest of God Most High.” (Gen. 14:18) It’s likely not a coincidence either, brethren, that this is the first time the term “priest” is actually used in the Scripture, even though it’s apparent Cain and Able performed the service of offering associated with a priest prior to this recorded occurrence. With the help of the inspired writer of the letter to the Hebrews, we can ascertain with some certainty that this was a pre-incarnate appearance of the Lord Jesus Christ. “Without father, without mother, without genealogy, having neither beginning of days nor end of life, but made like the Son of God, he abides a priest perpetually” (Heb 7:3) This is clearly speaking of an eternal being. No beginning, no end of days, right? Now consider: “But as for you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you One will go forth for Me to be ruler in Israel. His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.” (Micah 5:2) No one argues this prophecy is about the Christ. Take note, that with this ruler His goings forth are “from the days of eternity.” Sounds like He’s an eternal being. And last, “The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind, ‘Thou art a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.’ ” (Ps. 110:4) Again, “priest forever”, indicating eternal. Sounds like one and the same person, amen? These two separate offices were to be joined into one according to the prophecy of Zechariah 6:13 concerning the man known as the Branch. “Thus, He will be a priest on His throne, and the counsel of peace will be between the two offices.” This prophecy was fulfilled in Jesus’ ascension to the throne in heaven made possible by the power of an indestructible life. (Heb. 7:16)
God’s Purpose-The Christian Priesthood
This priesthood of Melchizedek, if one wants to be honest, was the true foreshadow and type of the Christian priesthood. The Levitical priesthood was just a stop gap until the Christian priesthood could be inaugurated with better blood than that of the Old Covenant, unblemished and spotless of the Lamb known before the foundation of the world, in the true Tabernacle in heaven. We are joint heirs with Christ, His spiritual descendants, which he purchased for God with His blood, “And Thou hast made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God; and they will reign upon the earth.” (Rev. 5:10) You must have a part in the “first resurrection”, your immersion into Christ to rise as a new creation and be seated with Him in heaven, since this is where the spiritual service of this priesthood is performed. John through the Spirit also says of these, the second death has no power and “they will be priests of God and of Christ and will reign with Him for a thousand years” (the church age). You are royal priests who reign on earth and in heaven to excel at proclaiming His excellencies, and the power of the gospel of the glory of Christ, “His marvelous light.” God says so! Amen.