After the children of Israel were rescued out of Egypt, they were eventually lead to the base of Mount Sinai where God, through Moses, gave a message to the Israelites recorded in Exodus 19:5-6: “Now therefore, if you will in fact obey My voice and keep My covenant (agreement), then you shall be My own special possession and treasure from among all peoples [of the world], for all the earth is Mine; and you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation [set apart for My purpose].’ These are the worlds that you shall speak to the Israelites.”
We know that things did not go so well for Israel throughout the Old Testament. They did not bear the fruit that God had desired because they were hardly obedient to Him in many ways. They tried to fulfill the law and stumbled over the Cornerstone.
I Peter 2:4-5 tells more of the story with an invitation: “Come to Him [the risen Lord] as to a living Stone which men rejected and threw away, but which is choice and precious in the sight of God. You [believers], like living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house for a holy and dedicated priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices [that are] acceptable and pleasing to God through Jesus Christ.” Peter continues in the first part of verse 7 with “This precious value, then, is for you who believe [in Him as God’s only son – the Source of salvation].” In I Peter 2:9 we come upon a passage similar to that which was given to Israel, but now it is applied to believers in Jesus: “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a [special] people for God’s own possession so that you may proclaim the excellencies [the wonderful deeds and virtues and perfections] of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” In verse 10 is another verse from Hosea: “Once you were not a people [at all], but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.“
Peter leads into a long admonition beginning in verses 11-12: “Beloved, I urge you as aliens and strangers [in this world] to abstain from the sensual urges [those dishonorable desires] that wage war against the soul. Keep your behavior excellent among the [unsaved] Gentiles [conduct yourselves honorably, with graciousness and integrity], so that for whatever reason they may slander you as evildoers, yet by observing your good deeds they may [instead come to] glorify God in the day of visitation [when He looks upon them with mercy].”
I’d like to point out several things for us from this series of passages:
- When we have believed in Jesus, we are being built into a spiritual house. That spiritual house is the universal church, Christ’s bride, and is to be a holy and dedicated priesthood.
- We still have sensual urges in this world that wage war against our soul, and we are to abstain from them.
- We are to keep our behavior excellent among the unsaved so that they may glorify God by observing our good deeds.
As we remember from John 14 and John 17, Jesus did not go away to leave us alone to accomplish our assigned tasks in our own strength. He said that it was necessary for Him to go away so that the Holy Spirit could come alongside to strengthen, convict, comfort, counsel us as we are the Church, Christ’s body in this world. If we are to be successful in accomplishing God’s purposes for us, we must rely on the One that Jesus sent to help us until He returns.