Chosen To Excel In Proclaiming His Excellencies (Pt 4)
“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)
Today we will close out our series of studies on the Old Testament allusions and quotes cited by the apostle Peter related to our chosen text of 1 Peter 2:9.
So far we’ve looked at the church being the intended chosen race of God, the true royal priesthood as heirs of Christ, foreshadowed in the Old Testament through Christ’s pre-incarnate appearance as Melchizedek, the king of Salem and priest of God, and last week, as the realized holy nation according to prophetic utterances found in Old Testament passages.
This week we will build on what we presented last week as God’s holy nation, focusing on the church as “a people for God’s own possession.” We turn one last time to Exodus 19:5-6, “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.
God’s Own Possession- “My People”
The LORD is and has always been concerned about His People, His most valued possession. In the Old Testament, the phrase “My people”, in reference to God’s people, appears approximately 170 times in the NASB translation. In these 170 passages are diverse promises, warnings, exhortations, and chastisements of the physical nation of Israel. Also included are several prophetic statements pointing to the future people that were to be God’s own possession, the church.
John the Revelator recorded for us a critical statement given him by a fellow servant (angel) of God. “For the testimony of Jesus is the Spirit of prophecy.” (Rev. 19:10b) Understanding that, you will properly begin to appraise who you are as His people, humbled by the thought that He specifically left heaven to redeem and purchase you as His “treasured possession” (C. f. Deut. 26:18 with Eph. 1:17-18). It is worth every saints time to study those prophetic passages containing “My people” so you can see how many were really pointing to you, God’s ultimate destination in prophesy in bringing forth His people. As it has been said, where you see Christ in prophesy, the church in prophesy is close by.
God’s People Possess the Land
From early on in the Scripture, the LORD established the principle and talked about a land to be possessed by the people of His possession. Consider: “And I will make you exceedingly fruitful, and I will make nations of you, and kings shall come forth from you. And I will establish My covenant between Me and you and your descendants after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your descendants after you. And I will give to you and to your descendants after you, the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession; and I will be their God.” (Gen. 17:6-8) God’s people in prophesy and their land are irretrievably joined.
There are seven other times in the Old Testament where the people of God are called His own possession (Deut. 4:20, 7;6, 14:2; Ps. 135:4), Thy possession (Ps. 2:8; Mic. 7:14) or Mine own possession (Mal. 3:17). From these passages we learn that to remain a part of God’s own possession and to continue to dwell in the land will require obedience to the LORD and the rejection of the influences of the nations that surround His people.
There is a lesson for us, as the church, in the example of the type of the church, the physical nation of Israel, in not taking the land when they were sent out and told to “go up there…” (Num 13:7) and spy out the land. Only two, Joshua and Caleb, believed they could possess this “exceedingly good land”, focused on the incredible fruit and the power of God to help them in taking the land. The rest, having an evil, unbelieving, hardened heart (C. f. Psa. 95:9-11; Heb. 3:9-11) rebelled and wimped out, having no faith in God. The result? Forty years of wandering in the desert for the purpose of weeding out the unbelieving generation while preparing the second generation to take the land.
Now we know that the book of Hebrews teaches that the land promised to Abraham (back in Gen. 17:8) and the land physical Israel eventually settled in was a foreshadow of the land that was to contain “the city… whose architect and builder is God” (Heb. 11:10) That means not made with human hands, brethren! What city is that? Heavenly Jerusalem (Heb. 12:22) according to Scripture.
The Father sent Jesus, so we could follow Him, having been raised with Him by faith, into this exceedingly good spiritual land, where the Scripture says, “you have come”. The true land where the Father, having enlightened our eyes, has lavished on us every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places. Learn the lesson! As Moses told the second generation, “See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deut. 1:21) Those who fear Him and esteem His name He says, “And they will be Mine,” says the LORD of Hosts, “on the day that I prepare My own possession, and I will spare them as a father spares his own son who serves him.” (Mal. 3:17) These are those whose names are written in the book of remembrance!