Wednesday, 23 October 2019
…who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. 1 Peter 2:10
Peter, writing to his Jewish brothers, now uses words which Paul also used in Romans 9 to speak of the Gentiles –
“What if God, wanting to show His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction, 23 and that He might make known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy, which He had prepared beforehand for glory, 24 even us whom He called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles?
25 As He says also in Hosea:
“I will call them My people, who were not My people,
And her beloved, who was not beloved.’+
26 ‘And it shall come to pass in the place where it was said to them,
“You are not My people,”
There they shall be called sons of the living God.’” Romans 9:22-26
Paul shows that the Gentiles, who were not God’s people, had become His people. Peter, one of the people of Israel and addressing Israelite believers, says of them now, “who once were not a people.” If Israel was the people of God, but Peter says to his audience that they were not a people, then it must be that he is speaking not of merely being of the stock of Israel – meaning their common Jewish heritage – but of being believers united in a new way, regardless of their heritage.
When they were not believers in Christ, they were not God’s people. Now that they are believers in Christ, they are God’s people. That is seen in his continued words, “but are now the people of God.” Christ is the dividing line for who is and who is not considered the people of God. These addressees, despite being of Israel, were not God’s people, but they became God’s people through faith.
As Paul says the same of the Gentiles in Romans 9, it means that all believers – Jew and Gentile – are the people of God by faith in Jesus. It is one gospel for Jew and for Gentile. The thing to be considered is that, at the time of Peter writing the epistle, the nation of Israel had not received Jesus. Only a portion of the people had. At the same time, the Gentile-led church was exploding in numbers, and would continue to grow and flourish for the next two thousand years.
Peter’s epistle, coming after the Gentile-led church-age epistles, is a hint that the Jews would again, someday, gain ascendancy within the body of believers. The number of Jews who are coming to Christ is growing at an incredible rate since their reestablishment as a nation, and it will be at some point that the rapture will occur. At that time, the focus of God’s attention will be on Israel. So, Peter’s epistle prophetically looks forward to that point in time.
Understanding this, it becomes evident that this is so that someday it will be said of Israel that they are those “who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.” Again, whether Jew or Gentile, the dividing line is Christ. Those Jews at Peter’s time became a part of the people of God, as did the Gentiles. However, as a nation, Israel failed to come into the New Covenant.
The issue of Israel as a nation is separate, but it is still relevant. For Israel, there is individual salvation, and there is collective (national) salvation. Each Jew who is to be saved must come to Christ individually. However, God made promises to Israel as a nation as well. For Israel as a nation to be saved, they must call out on Christ nationally. Jesus said this to them explicitly when He addressed Jerusalem, meaning the seat of power, in Matthew 23 –
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! 38 See! Your house is left to you desolate; 39 for I say to you, you shall see Me no more till you say, ‘Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!’” Matthew 23:37-39
Until Jerusalem, signifying Israel’s leadership, calls out to Christ as Lord, there will be no national salvation. But Christ says that it will happen, and He will return to rescue them. The glory of the millennium will be preceded by a time of terrible tribulation on earth, but Israel will survive through it, and they shall – collectively and nationally – again be called by God “My people.”
Life application: The Bible does not reveal an Old Testament God who is wrathful and stern, and a New Testament God who is gentle and loving. This is the concept that many have concerning its pages, but it is important to know that God is unchanging, and the same attributes expressed in the Old Testament are also expressed in the New. We read this proclamation in Exodus 34:6, 7 –
“The Lord, the Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abounding in goodness and truth, 7 keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, by no means clearing the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children and the children’s children to the third and the fourth generation.”
God proclaimed His glory to Moses as He passed by. When He did, the first attribute He mentioned is that He is merciful. This is particularly so to the people of God, but it also applies to all humanity. When Nineveh had grown to a certain state of moral corruption, instead of destroying them God sent Jonah to call them to repentance. When they did, He withheld their destruction.
Likewise, any person who shakes his hand and says, “I don’t believe in God” is worthy of destruction, but He relents and allows them to continue. Maybe such will repent and believe. How much more then is God willing to bestow mercy on us when we do become His children! As believers in Christ, we once had not obtained mercy, but now we have. If you have called on Jesus Christ, God has demonstrated infinite mercy upon you. Unlike the non-believer who will eventually die and be cast into hell, God has promised you eternal life. What an amazing God!
Yes, Lord! You are truly amazing! That You would show mercy on us, even upon such great sinners. With grateful hearts, we sing Your praise, and we will do our best to bring glory to You all of our days. What a great and awesome God You are! Thank You for Jesus and the mercy You have shown to us through His sacrifice. Thank You, O God, thank You! Amen.