GOD’S CHOSEN PEOPLE
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His wonderful light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy (1 Peter 2: 9-10).
Is Peter giving us a clue to the identity of the people to whom he was writing? In his greeting he did not specify that they were Jewish believers, but he did scatter clues along the way – like a parent setting up a treasure hunt for his child’s birthday party.
They were God’s elect according to His foreknowledge but exiles just like the Israelites of the northern kingdom who were scattered throughout the nations when their land was conquered by the Assyrians and the people sent into exile. Perhaps some of these early believers were descendants of those exiles and they themselves were exiles in their hometowns because of their faith in the Messiah.
They were God’s elect, chosen by God and set apart for Himself.
For you are a holy people to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be His people, His treasured possession (Deut. 7: 6).
They were to be a royal priesthood. What does that mean?
God chose the nation of Israel to minister to the surrounding nations by ministering to the Lord. It was His intention that they be God’s representative to the nations, bringing the truth about God to them by carrying out His requirements for true worship. Through their praise, their worship and their holy lives, they were to show the ungodly people around them what their God was like.
‘Now if you will obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all the nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation’ (Ex. 19: 5-6).
A kingdom of priests? It was God’s intention that the entire nation, under His authority and rule, was to minister to the Lord. When they chose to worship a golden calf instead of obeying God’s commands, they forfeited that right. Instead, God chose the Levites, the only tribe that remained loyal to Him, to have the privilege of ministering to Him.
The Levitical priests shall step forward, for the Lord your God has chosen them to minister and to pronounce blessings in the name of the Lord and to decide all cases of dispute and assault (Deut. 21: 5).
A holy nation? God chose Abraham and the nation that would come through him to be a blessing to the whole world. They were to be set apart from all other gods to be His special people, to live according to His standards and in obedience to His covenant. Through them G,d would bring the Messiah to bless all the nations of the world. They were privileged above all the people of the world to know God and to make Him known.
For what purpose did God call Israel to be a royal priesthood and a holy nation?
. . . My people, my chosen, and the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise (Isa. 43:20b- 21).
Those to whom Peter addressed his letter would have understood what he was writing. They were part of those who were not God’s people and they had not received mercy but now, because of their faith in God’s Messiah they were restored and had received mercy to become God’s people again.
Although there may have been Gentiles among Peter’s readers, the implications of what he wrote must have hit home to his Jewish readers. Just like God’s intention for His ancient people, they (and we) were also included in His purpose to be a royal priesthood, a holy nation. God’s special possession so that they too might also declare God’s praise to the nations who did not know Him.
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.