you also, as living stones, are being built up into a spiritual house as a holy priesthood to offer up spiritual sacrifices that are acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.1 Peter 2:5 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
From our previous excursion, we note some important things: What God is doing is new, and it is alive. It is not like the old covenant of bondage. Just as Jesus Christ is a living cornerstone, set firmly in place, we believers are also firmly set in place.
With Jesus as the foundation, God is building upon that idea a new temple. It isn’t like the tabernacle made of skins and cloth. It isn’t like Solomon’s temple arrayed in the finest and costliest of materials. Nor is it Herod’s temple that was never quite as splendid as Solomon’s. This new temple isn’t made with perishable things. It’s made of more precious living stones.
Why use stone as a metaphor?
At the time, building with stone made the most durable structures. The proof is the ruins we visit in modern-day. Stone, once set, is practically immovable. The metaphor may seem imperfect, but we know this world suffers corruption, and things can happen to remove set stones. The place where God works doesn’t have corruption, therefore the stones God builds with cannot be moved.
We are the living stones. We are set in place making a new spiritual house. Earlier, Peter tells his us that in this place we are strangers or pilgrims, our citizenship is elsewhere. In the previous post, this elsewhere is Zion, New Jerusalem, the City of God.
Now, therefore, you are no longer strangers and foreigners, but are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ Himself being the chief cornerstone, in whom the entire building, tightly framed together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord, in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling place of God through the Spirit.Ephesians 2:19–22 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Back to the present, God is in the middle of a building program. He is using living stones to make a living spiritual house. Any of us who fall on the Cornerstone for mercy are saved and become living stones that God builds with. He makes us part of the living temple He is building upon the foundation stone, Jesus Christ.
A Holy Priesthood
Though Peter’s audience is primarily the ten scattered ‘lost’ tribes of Israel, the message he writes can be useful for us. Not all of those lost tribes were believers. Peter is writing to the believers of those tribes. Though what Peter writes is Jewish in nature, it parallels what Paul writes. Believers are part of a royal priesthood.
Way back in 1 Peter 1:2, it is written about the sprinkling of blood. We know Moses sprinkled blood on the people to consecrate them to the old covenant (Exodus 24.) The sprinkling of that blood represented the sealing of the covenant. In Leviticus 8, Moses consecrated Aaron and his sons as priests. It was done with the sprinkling of blood.
The same is for you and I, if we believe and have been sprinkled with the blood of Christ. The significance is we’ve been consecrated (set aside, reserved) to a new covenant and a priesthood, as the types and shadows in the law teach us. When that old covenant was established with blood a new nation was born. Likewise, we are a new nation.
Think like Peter, with the sprinkling of the blood from Jesus. We are set aside for God as a nation under a covenant and set aside as priests. The job of the priest is to declare the goodness of God because we’ve been healed of our sin and rescued from darkness to light. This idea is also typified in the law, when a leper was to be cleansed from his corruption he was sprinkled with blood (Leviticus 14.)
That’s the goodness of God. We’ve been set aside, given a new promise, and cleansed. Teach the goodness of God to others.
But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may declare the goodness of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.1 Peter 2:9 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Since we’ve been called from darkness to light, let’s live like it. We have already encountered this idea when Peter tells us to put off certain things. It is important to understand our identity in Jesus and to live it out. Peter gives us practical ways to do that.
As priests, we offer up spiritual sacrifices. The most important of these comes first:
I urge you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy, and acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service of worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and acceptable and perfect will of God.Romans 12:1–2 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Did you see how this connects?
The sacrifices we offer are acceptable to God.
In a similar fashion of casting ourselves on the living set cornerstone for mercy, we present our bodies a living sacrifice to Him. It’s a reasonable service of worship.
The first spiritual sacrifice is a living one, our own body. In so doing we give wholly of ourselves, not reserving anything selfishly. We don’t seek to take from God. Such a sacrifice requires us to not be conformed to the patterns of this world, but to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. That connects back to what Peter said to desire the pure milk of the word.
Therefore let us go forth to Him outside the camp, bearing the reproach that He bore. For here we have no continuing city, but we seek one to come.Hebrews 13:13–16 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
Through Him, then, let us continually offer to God the sacrifice of praise, which is the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name. But do not forget to do good and to share. For with such sacrifices God is well pleased.
The writer of Hebrews in what leads up to this passage, speaks of Jesus who suffered on the outskirts in order to sanctify us. This leads to the next ideas of sacrifice.
The second sacrifice we offer is praise. It is easy to do that in church with brothers and sisters surrounding us. But we are called to live differently as pilgrims and foreigners. And that means we are going to suffer persecution. Even in the midst of severe persecution, we are to offer praise. In the direst of circumstances, the martyrs of old sang praises to Jesus.
It’s to go outside the camp. That is an allusion to help us remember to remove ourselves from our current circumstances. Sometimes we can do that physically by removing ourselves from challenges. Most times it is difficult to extract ourselves physically. We must remember to go outside the camp in our minds by setting them on heavenly things and not our current circumstances. And there, to continually praise God.
With such a sacrifice, God is well pleased. It is acceptable to God.
Take careful note of the admonition to do good and share. This is another spiritual sacrifice. It is one of helping others by sharing what we have.
Why do we do this?
In times past, you 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 2:10 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
We are set aside for a purpose. We are the chosen of God. Not for anything we did, but because of what Jesus did. He has set us aside by the sprinkling of His own blood because we’ve received mercy.
It is another poignant reminder of what was taught in the prophets who sought to look into these things, all the while knowing they were serving us believers.
Then the Lord said: “Call his name Lo-Ammi, for you are not My people, and I am not your God.” Yet the number of the children of Israel will be as the sand of the sea, which cannot be measured nor numbered. And in the place where it was said to them, “You are not My people,” there it will be said to them, “You are the children of the living God.”Hosea 1:9–10 — Modern English Version (Thinline Edition.; Lake Mary, FL: Passio, 2014)
We are the children of the living God. As we move on, Peter will continue to encourage us to live lives that are like it.