Once a week we look together at Peter’s first letter to people in various places. We see how he was encouraging them, preparing them. A most important, earth-shattering event was to take place. Terrible judgment was about to come on many back there in Jerusalem and Judea. The fabulous temple there and the Jewish religion as known for centuries, would be destroyed and replaced by a new creation (Mat 21:43-46). This would impact them and many Jews where they lived. Here we look at the first half of chapter 2.
In this part of his letter, Peter calls on his readers to thirst for the “pure milk of the word like newborn babies, if they have tasted the kindness of the Lord” and put aside all malice, envy, slander, hypocrisy etc.
Think how much the Lord has blessed us all abundantly! There’s much more. So let’s keep thirsting after the pure milk of God’s word to grow our salvation! So important to long for the word of God. Look, it doesn’t matter how mature we think we are. The Lord’s blessing is inexhaustible. He wants us!
Yes, grow up in your salvation. Salvation is not merely getting newborn, started. There’s a big future idea, a whole of life growth of our salvation, as Peter reminded them several times in his letter.
So where to go? Peter says go to Jesus. Where else? Jesus is the One to come to—his open arms. He is the “chosen and precious.” Quoting from Isaiah 28, Peter identifies Jesus as like the most important stone in a building. That’s the cornerstone. It has to be laid exactly, in line, dead level, plumb. Then the building will follow the right design.
“Look, I lay in Zion a choice stone, a precious cornerstone and who believes in him shall not be disappointed”.
Jesus said if you don’t gather with him, you are scattering (Luke 11:23). Do you want to be building for God? Well, you have to strictly follow the playbook! Jesus is “the living stone that was rejected by men but chosen by God”. You have to build on the true rock, His words. Anything else is on sand. Anything else is useless. What God has not planted will be pulled up by the roots (Mat 15:13). This is serious.
This building design called for these newborns to be stones too—living stones! Each was being built up into a spiritual house for a special role of offering up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus.
And so are we today—part of the house that He is building, against which the gates of hell will not stand.
Peter wrote (v7) this precious situation belongs to the followers of Jesus. Quoting Ps 118:22, he showed that the stone which rejected, actually became the very head of the corner! Then he added that others stumble because they are disobedient to the word not following the designer. For these, Jesus the precious stone was “a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence” (Isa 8:14) and doom awaits them.
These “builders”—the disobedient, were the Jews of that generation and their system, those who rejected their messiah, that wicked generation.
He goes on to tell his readers (v9) “you are a chosen race, you are a royal priesthood, you are a holy nation, you are the people of God’s own possession! Peter used those very same terms from Moses (Deut 7:6) applying them to these newborn Gentiles and Jews. There’s a whole new creation being formed here, a whole new nation. with the bad tenants, Jewish elites and their fleshly system will be destroyed as Jesus had foretold in Mat 21:43 and a new spiritual one will be formed.
Why are his readers new-born? That they “may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.” That is our role, our privilege today. We are the Israel of God (Gal 6:16).
He recalls what the prophet Hosea wrote “once you were not a people but now you are the people of God. You once had not received mercy but now you have received mercy (Hosea 1:10). This points to a mostly Gentile readership. These newbies are the true people of God! And so are we who believe today.
All this came from the pen of a Jewish born fisherman, but now since born from above through the resurrection of Jesus with whom he had walked for 3 years, a mere 30 years had past. Amazing.
Only 30 years previously! He could never forget when they nailed Jesus to the cross and then God raised Him up as He had foretold.
We struggle to grasp the reality, to feel, to enter in to those historic scenes—it all happened so long ago.
Peter’s readers are the forerunners of a totally new society and they have great responsibility, never seen before. So Peter urges them, aliens and strangers, to keep their behavior excellent among the outsiders. They may be slandered as evil by others but will see their good deeds and glorify God in the day of visitation.
This phrase ‘day of visitation’ is fascinating. It seems Peter had in mind an ‘end-times’ event (see 1 Pet 4:7).
The glorious light of God’s people show that God’s judgments are righteous and this will be acknowledged in the coming judgment.
So their behaviour would be very important. Let’s talk more about that next time.