I Peter 2: The Living Stones
I like the image as we put these verses together moving from verses 2-3 to the next section where we are described as the living stones and a chosen people, a royal priesthood.
Peter says: As you come to Him to start this section with these descriptions of what we have become and are becoming. The imagery here is we are as a newborn babe beginning to grow, crawl and walk to their parents holding their arms out to encourage their child and repeat and gesture- come to me. Jesuss message throughout our life with Him is Come to me from salvation- through sanctification to glorification. He urges us to come to Him for living water, living bread, for cleansing, for justification , for sanctification for when we are weary, and heavy laden. He promises shelter, rest, peace and His strength. His promise is His grace is always sufficient.
Look who we are coming to- the Living Stone. He is the Rock of Ages. In Matthew 21, Jesus said to them( the chief priests and elders) : Have you never read in the Scriptures: The stone the builders rejected has become the capstone; the Lord has done this and it is marvelous in our eyes. ( This is a quote from Psalm 118:22,23) He who falls on this stone will be broken to pieces, but he on whom it falls will be crushed,( Jesus adds in Matthew 21:44).
The Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation stone for the church. The church is compared to a building. Paul writes in Ephesians 2- Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with Gods people and members of Gods household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets with Christ Jesus Himself the chief cornerstone. In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. And in Him you too are becoming built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit. And Paul also writes in I Cor. 3:11- For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ.
When you come to Christ and fall on Him for salvation- Jesus said in Matthew 21- we would be broken. This brokenness is how the cornerstone becomes your foundation. On the Christ the Solid Rock I stand. He is now the foundation upon which we will build our new life. Those who reject Him, the stone will fall on in judgment and crush them. He is an invincible stone- indestructible upon which the government will be on His shoulder. He is a mighty bulwark that never fails. He was rejected by men when he came, and he is rejected by men today as he will be tomorrow. He came to His own,but His own received him not. He was rejected by most men, but He was chosen by God and precious to Him for the Lord Jesus, is God the Son, the only begotten son .
Now Peter tells us we become living stones built upon this foundation into a spiritual house, a holy temple, as it were, where we serve as a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. The Tabernacle in the wilderness and later the temple in Jerusalem were to be the dwelling place of God among His people. The Christian Church, the body of Christ, the bride of Christ, the superstructure that is built upon the Cornerstone is much greater than the temple ever was. It is also intended to be the dwelling place of God. But as history revealed in the temple- there came a time when God no longer dwelt with His people in the Temple- and the Glory of God departed. I wonder if many of our churches are simply brick and mortar and no longer the dwelling place of a Holy God? Could it be because so many churches no longer have authentic believers who offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through the Lord Jesus Christ. We have come to go through the rituals of worship- just as the priests in the temple did and have substituted the rituals for the worship of God in Spirit and Truth. We are buildings of brick and mortar and not building of living stones.
So we read in Gods Word a description of our new identity so we may better understand who we are. We are living stones in this living entity God is building- a living temple in which God dwells through His Spirit. We are also described as a holy priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
We know that history repeats itself and the most accurate history we have of mankind is the Bible. Let us look back and look ahead and we will see what Gods Word has to say about mankind.
Man was created with a desire to worship. Let us look back at a story in Genesis that is eerily like what we see today in the 21st century. It takes place on the plains of Shinar as we read in Genesis 11: Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, Come lets make bricks and bake them thoroughly. They used brick instead of stone, and tar(slime KJV) for mortar. Come we will build ourselves a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the earth. But the Lord came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The Lord said if as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come let us go down and confuse the language so they will not understand each other. So the Lord scattered them from there all over the earth, and they stopped building the city. That is why it is called Babel, because there the Lord confused the language of the whole world and scattered them over the face of the earth. ( Genesis 11)
We see in this historical account the foundations of the first Babylon what will be the same foundations and godless philosophies of the last Babylon we read of in Revelation. In the last Babylon there will be one world government, one world currency, one world language and one world religion.
This society to which we are rapidly moving will be a society from which the God of the Bible, the only True and Living God is excluded. This religion is based on a man-made god( who is no god at all); who fits their philosophy and redefines sin and truth. This man-made god will call good evil and evil- good.
Notice these people in Genesis 11 built with bricks instead of stones. God uses stone doesnt He? They have rejected the Cornerstone. They built with bricks which are man-made from hardened clay. The hardened clay is a fitting picture of a godless civilization which has rejected the Word of God , thus hardening their hearts. Slime is used for mortar and this also is fitting as slime is associated with filth. And this man-made religion allows filth to flow like a sewer polluting the mind of all who have rejected the Cornerstone.
Notice their society in Genesis 11 was of one language which also means they thought alike. Their minds were conformed by the world in which they lived and worked. And after all- you had to go along to get along.
These were a self-sufficient people, a prideful people, who wanted a kingdom of their own making to which they could point to with pride and say we built this city. They believed collectively as one people they could solve any problem that came up their pride led them to believe they could do anything they set their minds to do. Yes we canwas their response to any situation.
Marriage can only be between a man and woman says Gods Word. No more- says the culture that is hardened against the Word of God, we can do what ever we want to do- yes we can!
God intervened in history and scattered the people, for His Sovereign plan was to build a city- a city we are told Abraham looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God. ( Hebrews 11) Gods Son would come the first time in the fullness of time and He will return again when this time of history in which live will come to an end. We are living now in the end times awaiting the Lord Jesuss second return when He will be the Stone which will in righteous judgment crush those who reject Him.
In between this event in Genesis 11 and the 2nd coming we see the following events and we can see on the line of Gods History what era we are currently living in today. We can also, I believe observe the birth pains and the signs of the end of the age.
In Exodus, we learned how God freed His people from the slavery of Egypt. In the wilderness God set up the tabernacle- which was to be a place where He could dwell among His people. The Levites were selected as those who would serve as priests. So they were born into this role. When we as Christians are born again we are born into a holy, royal priesthood. So from the Tabernacle and later the temple, God showed by example what He was doing and going to do. He would send the Messiah in the fullness of time, who would be the Lamb of God whose blood would take away the sin of the world. In type and symbol, the priests were teaching the people there is one coming sent from God who will take away the sins of the world. The sacrifices were a picture of this and God would show His pleasure as He would fill the Tabernacle and later the Temple with His Shekinah Glory. The Lord Jesus would be the final and perfect sacrifice. When Jesus came and revealed Himself through this teaching, miracles, signs and wonders, to be the One who was the Lamb of God, Gods Own Son. Many of the Jews rejected Him. And Paul tells us in Romans there is a remnant being saved from each generation, but now since the death, burial, resurrection, ascension and the Day of Pentecost, God has been building His Church. The building of which Christ is the cornerstone.
Whatever you believe about the timing of the Rapture and the second coming of the Lord Jesus, we are now living in the era where the church is continuing to be built. We are eagerly awaiting His return to establish His earthly kingdom.
Now we are at this present time- a holy priesthood carrying on the duties of the priesthood offering spiritual sacrifices which are acceptable to God through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Next Peter describes and defines even further who we are as born again believers: But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that you should show forth the praises of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light. I Peter 2: 9, KJV. The NIV defines- peculiar people as people belonging to God. Lets look at each of the defining descriptions:
- Chosen generation- . In the OT. God chose Israel as His People for a select purpose. They were to serve a purpose as God told Abraham- to be the father of the nation of Israel through whom all the peoples of the earth were to be blessed. This is the purpose for which they were chosen. God has set aside the nation of Israel because of their unbelief and their pursuit of righteousness not by faith but by works.(Romans 9 :30-32) Now the Church, the building of Christ, the body and bride of Christ is the chosen generation. Chosen to be given the keys of the kingdom and today we are to give out the gospel to all the world because we are the chosen instrument of God. What an honor it is to be involved in this kingdom work.
- We are a royal priesthood. Back in the O.T., God chose the whole nation of Israel to be a priesthood. However because they sinned, God chose one tribe to be the priests, the Levites. Today every believer in the Lord Jesus Christ is a priest. We are called royal because we are the children of the King. We are to be about the duties of the priest- serving, teaching, praying, and offering sacrifices. We are to keep the fires burning.
- A holy nation. This is not a reference to the United States as a holy nation, but to the true church as a holy nation. We are holy, only because of our standing in Christ Jesus. The True church of living stones, not buildings of brick and mortar are holy in position, although our actions and behavior at times in the present are appalling to God.
- A peculiar people or as the NIV states a people belonging to God. Before I belonged to Jesus, I belonged to the devil. I was a slave to sin. I was redeemed by the Lord Jesus. I have been bought with a price. I am now His possession and He is responsible for me. That, my brothers and sisters in the Lord is a comforting truth. I belong to Jesus and He belongs to menot for just an hour or a day but for all eternity.
Then Peter reminds us: Which in time past 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.
What was the most memorable Christmas gift you ever received? I am sure there is one or more that stand out in your memory.
But you know what is the most precious gift we ever received that you have received if you are a believer? The gift of mercy. God is rich in mercy.
Mercy is compassion or forgiveness shown toward someone whom it is within that persons power to punish that offender. God forgave me all my sins- He did not punish me as my sins deserved. He will continue to show mercy when I sin in the present and future when I deserve punishment. Do not take this to believe there will be no consequences for your sin. Not only does our sin grieve God, it breaks our fellowship with Him and we will reap what we sow.
There are a lot of Christmas gifts I received that did not last the day or were cast aside within days as I grew tired of them. The gift of mercy is a gift that keeps on giving.
In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of Gods grace that He lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding. ( Ephesians 1:7-8)
And Jesus reminded us- if you fathers who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give you.
As Peter instructs believers for all ages what we must do and take responsibility for under the general command to be holy because I am holy. Then under this general command, Peter lists some specifics that further identify us as the following:
Living Stones joined together in a building, a temple, of which the Lord Jesus is the foundation and cornerstone. All things are held together by Him and are built on Him.
We discover we are royal priesthood, citizens of a holy nation, a chosen generation belonging to God to declare the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into light and lifted us up out of the miry pit and set us on the Solid Rock.
We must accept responsibility for our actions and endeavor to live out our new identity.