Tuesday, February 14, 2017

A People of Mercy (1 Peter 2:10)

"Oops. I got things a bit out of order.)

“for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.” (1 Peter 2:10, NASB95)

There is a popular phrase used among Christians which is, “But for the grace of God go I.” In the middle of these references to the people of Israel and God’s grace extended to us, we are reminded that just as God has promised not to forget them so is He merciful to show Himself to us. Romans chapter 11 is a beautiful picture of the blending that God does as He unites both Gentiles and Jews into His forever family. At the heart of this is the illustration of both pruning and grafting and even revitalization.

Going back to the garden we see that man was created, both male and female, to have a sinless and perfect relationship with God. There was intimate communion and constant provision as they enjoyed the fruits of His creation. There was great freedom with one prohibition. “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it. The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”” (Genesis 2:15–17, NASB95) Man was given everything he could see except one, and taking from that one would come with dire consequences. And, of course we go on to read that Eve was deceived into taking the fruit and that she and Adam both ate of it. With that death and destruction came into the world as man sinned against God and was to suffered the consequences of it. From that time forward we see repeated accounts of just how depraved man became, even to the point of destroying most of mankind through a worldwide flood where God saved only Noah and his family. But even Noah and his family were not perfect and did not follow God perfectly as we would soon see, and sin continued its hold on man.

We continue to read that God then called upon a man to take himself and his family and go to a place that He would show them. God also told him that from his seed all of the nations would be blessed. Of course, we know that Abram (Abraham) went as instructed, but even he did not go perfectly and again there were consequences. God continued to keep His promise and within a few generations from the twelve sons of Jacob the nation of Israel was born. But even the nation was not without its problems as one of the twelve would be sold into slavery by the others and later be used of God to save the others as they came to a foreign ruler for help only to find Joseph as their helper. Reading on in Scripture we know that as the rulers of Egypt died and new ones came that the nation of Israel came into bondage where they remained until God sent from among their seed a deliver named Moses.

But even Moses did not deliver them perfectly. The people once again rebelled against God and were sentenced to wander in the wilderness until that entire generation passed except Joshua and Caleb. It was at the time of Moses’ death that Joshua, was given the mantle and was to lead the people back into the land given them by God. But still they did not obey fully, compromising in many ways. And despite Joshua’s death bed challenge to them, we go on to read of the time of the Judges where everyone did what was right in their own eyes as they experienced times of distress and rescue. It was after this that they cried out for a king, but even the kings given them proved largely to be failures in following God.

Man’s history is one of rebellion and an inability to make things right for himself. But God is a merciful God, and His plan would not be thwarted by man’s rebellion. Throughout all this God repeatedly reaffirmed His promise to redeem and to provide a redeemer who would make a people for Himself.

Here in this verse Peter declares that the promise made to Abraham by which all the nations would be blessed had indeed come to pass. Through the blood of Jesus Christ both Jews and Gentiles were brought together into one people to become “THE PEOPLE OF GOD”. Sure, God has yet to restore Israel fully, but He has brought in His Son made it so that all who believe are made into one body as His people. And the amazing thing is that He does this knowing perfectly our hearts and our rebellion.

We have been moved from judgment and death by His mercy to receive forgiveness and life. In Romans, the apostle Paul wrote, “For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.” (Romans 9:15–18, NASB95)

And in Titus 3:4-5 we read, “But when the kindness of God our Savior and His love for mankind appeared, He saved us, not on the basis of deeds which we have done in righteousness, but according to His mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewing by the Holy Spirit,” (Titus 3:4–5, NASB95)

The bottom line is that there is not one thing that anyone of us can do to make ourselves any more righteous or worthy of forgiveness and salvation (Romans 3:10). We have all sinned and fallen short of His glory (Romans 3:23) Every single person is due just one thing, and that is death. Our only hope is found in God’s incredible mercy. “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:23, NASB95) And the reason that He does this for us is exactly what Jesus told Nicodemus when he came to Jesus at night. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16, NASB95)

This is what it is to know the mercy of God.

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