“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; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” 1 Peter 2:9, 10 (NAS)
This is one of many powerful present positive affirmative passages in the New Testament that communicate the Lord’s perception and intentions regarding His covenant people, the church.
In theses two verses penned by the apostle Peter through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, several Old Testament quotes are referenced. Space does not allow us to do justice to theses two verses but we’ll consider some high points. Let’s start with verse nine. The ‘chosen race’ citation could also be translated ‘chosen nation’ (Greek word genos, meaning generation, nation, race, kindred). There are several direct or inferred passages in the Old Testament that could be alluded here, such as Isaiah 43:20: “The beasts of the field will glorify Me; the jackals and the ostriches; because I have given waters in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to My chosen people (alt trans: nation, race).” The best early reference to God’s intention concerning His covenant people being a priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession is most clearly stated in Exodus 19:3-6, “And Moses went up to God, and the LORD called to him from the mountain, saying, ‘Thus you shall say to the house of Jacob and tell the sons of Israel: “You yourselves have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles’ wings, and brought you to Myself. 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. ’” Certainly if the LORD would speak this way concerning the type, the physical nation of Israel, we would expect to see the substance, the church, spoken in such manner as well. Ultimately rebellion and idolatry in the camp removed the opportunity for all the sons of Israel to serve as priests and sanctioned that privilege to the tribe of Levi alone. In the church, God’s intention that all His people be priests to serve Him is fully realized-with one critical upgrade. As fellow heirs with Christ (Rom. 8:17) who is the King of Kings, we are a royal priesthood. God’s desire, as the Psalmist indicated through the Spirit, was not to possess Israel alone as His possession, but once His king (Jesus) was installed on (heavenly) Mount Zion and declared to be His begotten Son, it was to “give the nations…and the very ends of the earth as Thy possession.” Psa 2:8 Let’s consider verse ten. These quotes originate in the book of Hosea: “And it will come about that, in the place where it is said to them, ‘You are not My people,’ It will be said to them, ‘You are the sons of the living God.’ ” (Hosea 1:10) And in chapter two, verse twenty-three: “I will also have compassion on her who had not obtained compassion, and I will say to those who were not My people, ‘You are My people!’ And they will say, ‘Thou art my God!’ ” These passages along with one from the book of Isaiah quoted by the apostle Paul (Isa. 65:1) in his letter to the Romans provide the proper interpretation of these inspired Old Covenant statements. They were prophesies of the church, that which was to include Jews and Gentiles. (Rom. 9:23-26) Brethren, the aim of the New Testament exhortations from Peter (via the Spirit) to the church is to help her understand 1) The great gift of mercy and adoption that has been extended to her through the Lord (know Jesus), 2) That she may know the great value ( “And coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected by men, but choice and precious in the sight of God,”; 1 Pet 2:4) He has placed upon the church (know who you are in Jesus) in order that 3) she would be motivated to “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light” (know your purpose). Just as the Lord delivered the nation of Israel and brought them to Himself at Mt Sinai, Jesus Christ has spoken (from heaven) reminding us His has brought His people to Him (by faith) on Mt. Zion in heavenly Jerusalem. (Heb. 12:22-24) Spiritual Israel, these are words we get to speak to one another! Amen.