God’s Word for You
1 Peter 2:9-10 Mercy on us
by Pastor Timothy Smith on Monday, March 14, 2022
9 But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 10 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. (NIV)
Peter is essentially saying two things here: First, you have been chosen to declare God’s praises. This is a return to Peter’s point about the doctrine of election (1 Peter 1:1). Second, you have received God’s mercy. This is the doctrine of salvation; the doctrine of justification through faith in Christ Jesus. Along the way, the Apostle touches on various Old Testament Scriptures to help make these wonderful reminders for his readers. Let’s take them up one by one.
You are a chosen people. This reflects Moses: “The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the people on the face of the earth to be his people” (Deuteronomy 7:6). Also, there is Isaiah 43:10, “You are my witnesses, and my servant whom I have chosen,” and “My people, my chosen” (Isaiah 43:20, Isaiah 44:1-2). God wanted you, O Christian, and chose you in eternity to be his own dear child.
A royal priesthood. The true priesthood of God is no longer contained within a single tribe of Israel, but is present in all believers, as it was before the Flood, when men brought offerings because they wanted to worship (Genesis 4:3-5), they preached because people needed to hear the message (Genesis 4:25), and they sacrificed to God to say thank you to him (Genesis 8:20) regardless of their family or age. During the days of the exodus, the Lord said: “Although the whole earth is mine, you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation” (Exodus 19:5-6). The status of the Levites being God’s special priests ended when Christ served as the great High Priest, simultaneously offering the perfect sacrifice for the sins of mankind and laying down his own life as that sacrifice personally.
A holy nation. The same Exodus passage (19:5-6) calls the people “a holy nation.” Peter was writing to people from many different nations (1 Peter 1:1), some from Asia Minor and some from perhaps other places, but all sharing in one common faith in Christ. This common faith unites all of God’s people.
A people belonging to God. While this idea is also to be found in Exodus 19:6 and Deuteronomy 7:6, we turn to Malachi: “‘They will be mine,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘in the day when I make up my treasured possession’” (Malachi 3:17). God has his eye set on us for the Last Day, when he will bring us home to our eternal place of true citizenship (Philippians 3:20). Just as the Roman officer told Paul, “I had to pay a big price for my (Roman) citizenship” (Acts 22:28), so also we were bought with a dear price (1 Corinthians 6:20, 7:23) and therefore we are God’s special possession.
That you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Declaring God’s praise is the act of a Christian’s worship. Whether we pray to him, hear his word, meditate on his wonders, or preach his name, or even as we attempt to understand and obey his will, we declare his praises. God will not give away his praise to another (Isaiah 42:8), but calls on his people to proclaim his praise all over the world (Isaiah 42:12). Peter may especially have in mind these words: “The people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise” (Isaiah 43:21).
God has called us out of darkness. The very first words spoken by God in Genesis are: “Let there be light” (Genesis 1:3). Paul also recalls this as foreshadowing (or fore-illuminating) the giving of God’s holy light and faith to his people by quoting the creation account this way: “For God, who said, ‘Let light shine out of the darkness,’ made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6). By God’s grace, we have been called from the darkness of unbelief and certain damnation in hell to the light of faith, forgiveness, and life everlasting.
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.
Here Peter is touching on Hosea 2:23. The prophet was commanded by God to go and marry “an adulterous wife with children of (her) unfaithfulness” (Hosea 1:2). The Lord was going to use the prophet’s marriage to illustrate Israel’s unfaithfulness and God’s offer of forgiveness.
Hosea’s new bride, a prostitute named Gomer, conceived at least three children by other men. God commanded Hosea to name the first one Jezreel because that was the place where God would destroy the military power of Israel (“I will break Israel’s bow in Jezreel,” Hosea 1:5). The second child (a girl) was to be named Lo-Ruhamah, or “Not Loved,” because God was withdrawing his forgiveness from Israel because of their stubborn refusal to repent of their sins (Hosea 1:6). Finally, a third child was to be named Lo-Ammi or “Not My People” (Hosea 1:9) to show that the Lord was disowning the northern kingdom of Israel.
Later, the Lord told Hosea to proclaim that when the people repented of their sins, he would come running to allure them back to him with the gospel. And as part of that message, he said: “I will show love to the one I called ‘Not Loved,’ and I will say to those called, ‘Not my people,’ ‘You are my people,’ and they will say, ‘You are my God’” (Hosea 2:23).
This is the point: You have been chosen, and you have been shown mercy. We weren’t chosen because we were special, or delightful, or beautiful, or even useful to God, but he chose us because he is God, he loves us, and he is merciful. With his mercy comes the gospel and all of its blessings. The law reveals God’s will and accuses all of us of sinning against it (Romans 3:20; Hosea 14:9). But the gospel gives us shelter from God’s anger (Zephaniah 2:3) by forgiving us, covering us with the righteousness of Jesus, and putting the Lamb of God on display so that we know our Savior, put our trust in him, pray to him, and have confidence and faith in his great accomplishment on our behalf. Through Jesus we have been shown everlasting and eternal mercy.
Pastor Timothy Smith