When my brothers and sisters and I were young, my father used to often tell us many wise sayings, which many of them stemmed from spiritual teachings. One of them that has probably been most prominent in my life and memory goes like this “Know yourself! Because if one doesn’t know himself, anyone can name him. And if anyone can name you, you’ll respond to anything.” I believe Peter’s letter so far is encouraging just that. Peter has given few instructions up to this point, but has mainly testified of disciple’s identity to encourage them in the face of suffering. That identity is the result of GOD’s grace working through his son Jesus and the Holy Spirit in the lives of everyone who believes. We’ve been born again, given a living hope, given an inheritance, redeemed and purified. Thus we are heirs and GOD’s children. We will now learn another piece of ID is being a holy priesthood to GOD, and why that ID is important to understand in trying circumstances.
Understanding that a priest and the function of a priest isn’t commonly understood in our time and culture, for brevity and the purpose of this message, a priest is one who is selected, set apart, and dedicated to minister or serve GOD on behalf of himself and other people, as well as teach people about GOD (we’ll learn more what that means for us shortly). The priest had privileges that not even other tribes had. One significant one was only the priest could approach GOD’s presence in the tabernacle or temple to minister. But we understand from Hebrews 5-8, that the priesthood was changed through Jesus, no longer a Levitical priesthood. Peter says “coming to Him”, which demonstrates the significant privilege we have to approach the divine. Now Jesus was rejected by men, even his own nationality, but was GOD’s choice and of very high value in GOD’s sight. So because we are approaching Jesus, we are also like living stones being built up. Notice, the word “coming” in verse 4 is directly linked with “being built up” in verse 5. As we continually draw near to Jesus we are constantly being built up.
Application: If you are seeking strength and support and seems like you can’t stand, then we need to continually approach the living stone! Not all about dead stones used for physical buildings as with Jews and their Jerusalem temple. This approach can be made anywhere, anytime, and any place. How? Through faith, prayer, etc.
He affirms that this edifice is not a physical one, but it is a spiritual one. Peter uses this imagery leaning back on previous manners of worship and ministry, because the temple was the place of GOD’s presence and it was where priests functioned. Likewise, disciples of Christ are the house and the priesthood. Seems strange when we limit it to a physical perspective, but from a spiritual perspective it simply means GOD dwells in us by his Spirit and we function as priests. Well, for what purpose? Why am I being built up and strengthened, even during this persecution? The purpose is to present sacrifices which are spiritual and acceptable to GOD through that same living stone, Jesus Christ.
Application: Not only do you and I have the continual privilege of approaching Jesus day and night. As we do that, we fulfill our purpose in presenting spiritual sacrifices. Some of those sacrifices include support for the gospel, sharing what we have, singing praises, and even presenting my entire life to GOD. What that means is that even during trouble, I can be sure that my life is acceptable to GOD.
Peter then supports this by quoting Isaiah 28:16, where GOD himself says it was his plan to have Jesus enter this world and do all that he did to accomplish the father’s will. He embodied the full presence of GOD and he is the foundation for this spiritual house. And whoever puts their trust in him will never be put to shame, dishonored, or fatally disrespected. No, but the total opposite. Precious value being highly esteemed and honored.
Illustration: Consider this, the Chiefs hadn’t been to a superbowl in 50 years. All these years they had gotten closer and closer and did not reach it. Some fans had much confidence over the years, even betting on them, speaking against other fans. Only to feel embarrassed over and over again. But for those die hard fans, who never gave up, and kept watching, kept attending the game, who gained optimism year after year, then finally this year they did the remarkable!!!
Application: That’s the idea here!! No matter my circumstances, when it seems like all is going to fail, when it seems like I’m not being heard, I will continue putting all my trust in that living stone Jesus Christ!!! Because I trust what GOD promised and that is that the high honor and esteem is for us who believe in Jesus!!! Not my job, money, possessions, stocks, etc, those are faulty stones and subject to leave me embarrassed. But not by Jesus, because he’s been tried, trusted, and true!!!
Peter will give two comparative transitions to highlight the double value for believers and the doom for unbelievers. The same stone, the same Jesus, some people reject and they stumble over Jesus. The reason this is in Peter’s view is the nature of trials they’re dealing with. They were oppressed by a treacherous Roman government, and many around them completely rejected the reality of Jesus, and as a result they find Jesus offensive and they trip themselves. But they bring it on themselves because they refuse to be persuaded by what the word of GOD says. Thus if they persist in their refusal, GOD has appointed their doom.
Peter now gives his second comparative transition to conclude who we are! A chosen or selected ethnicity, which is unrelated to Jew, black, white, etc or even a descendant of Abraham by flesh, but it is a matter of GOD’s genetics! Royal priesthood which means we serve as priests to GOD who king of all kings. Holy nation which is a new nation made up of believers not of any physical nation nor the nation of Israel, it drawing a distinction with the nation of unbelievers. People for GOD’s own possession meaning GOD has acquired and owns all those who believe in his son. This is quoted from what GOD says about Israel in Exodus 19:6, meaning all the promises GOD made concerning Israel are fulfilled in Christ his Son. Why did you do this for me GOD, why did you give me this ID? GOD’s purposes is that we declare his praise and excellencies, the same one responsible for our conversion into his light!!!
Application: Peter uses the same word proclaim that’s used by David and Asaph in the Psalms, Psalm 71:15 and Psalm 73:28. Asaph says “The nearness of GOD is my good, I have made GOD my refuge, so I may tell of your works”. David says “I will proclaim your righteousness and salvation all day long, because I don’t know the sum of them”. We are a chose race, priesthood, and nation and belong to GOD. In the midst of these trying times, because of who we are, we don’t let the times govern us, but we realize our purpose is to tell someone of the excellence of our GOD!!!
Realize in these times that because of GOD’s grace sent upon us, we have the ongoing privilege of approaching Jesus to be built up as a spiritual house. We are priesthood with the purpose of presenting our lives as spiritual sacrifices acceptable to GOD. Recognizing that our trust in Jesus will never bring disappointment, no matter the circumstance. And we are GOD’s people, and GOD has purposed that we declare his praise to the world.