A PECULIAR PEOPLE
A PECULIAR TREASURE
"But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into His marvelous light" (1 Pet 2:9).
Ah, God's chosen generation is called peculiar, and I must say -- "peculiar" fits very well with those who use this statement to act less than noble in the name of our gracious Lord. They have taken this thought to new dimensions, and in their taking, some have come to resemble court jesters.
Over the years the meaning of this word (peculiar) has digressed from its primary meaning. With today's English it means something odd, strange, queer. At best, it is just something that doesn't fit, and it has little value or practical use. The first definition for peculiar in Webster's Seventh New Collegiate Dictionary is quite different: "private property, special; belonging exclusively to one person or group." With this before us, we can see why the translators of the King James Version of the Bible used this word. (We will notice the Hebrew and Greek definitions shortly).
I won't rail on these few who howl, and holler, and carry on like someone at a drunken party for very long. There are better things we can bring to light. But let us take our sensible minds and consider a few things. For instance, Paul said the prophet has power over his spirit (1 Cor 14:32). If this is true, can we not see that he also has power over his body. If he has power over his spirit, he must certainly be able to control his body. He does not become a mindless robot when the anointing of the Lord is present.
There are times when the Spirit of the Lord is so great in our midst that people are caught up to the high heavens in Christ. During these special times they can certainly be unaware that their feet are dancing, arms waving, or a number of other things. But when this happens, it brings honor to our Lord. There is no discord when it is truly of the Spirit of Christ. The Spirit, however, can upset men's order of things, this we know. But if the people have the mind of Christ and are submitted to Him, they will recognize His presence and flow with it. What we are briefly addressing at the moment is the "peculiar" (odd) way people present themselves, and with pride quote our text verse (1 Pet 2:9), and they do this as if they are boldly fulfilling it. Yet they seem to ignore another verse penned by Paul: "For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints" (1 Cor 14:33).
Now that we have embarrassed a few people, and perhaps have angered some others, don't run from the gentle word of admonition. Learn from it! Take Proverbs 22:15 to heart and be corrected: "Foolishness is bound in the heart of a child; but the rod of correction shall drive it far from him."
A PECULIAR TREASURE
The verse Peter wrote about God's chosen people being peculiar was quoted from the book of Exodus:
"Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep my covenant, then ye shall be a (1)peculiar treasure unto me above all people: for all the earth is mine" (Exo 19:5). One translation renders it: "Now therefore, if you obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession out of all the peoples. Indeed, the whole earth is mine" (Exo 19:5 NRSV). And the Emphatic Diaglott has Peter's verse as: "...a People for a purpose; that you may declare the PERFECTIONS of HIM WHO CALLED You from Darkness into His wonderful Light."
This peculiar people, peculiar treasure, treasured possession, people for a purpose, has a much more profound meaning than it being a religious bunch who acts a little strange. From the definitions of this word, permit me to speak with the understanding I have and as I hear it in the Spirit: You are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a special possession which is over and above all else, a purchased acquisition of high value who is shut up, preserved, and saved unto the appointed time of God's purpose, when you will show forth the glory and perfections of Sonship from Him who has called you out of darkness into His wonderful light (1 Pet 2:9). Wow! What a difference from someone who is merely "peculiar odd-balls" in the world.
Regardless of what a person sees concerning the peculiar people, I have not met one Christian who believes they are not a part of that elect company. Everyone embraces this verse and holds it as their own. They all believe and say that they are members of this chosen generation, the royal priesthood. They maintain that they are of an holy nation, and that they are especially a 'peculiar' people. And although they don't know much about what it is to show forth the praises of Him, they feel they have been called out of darkness and into the marvelous light of Christ. But have they? How much, if any, of the above have the average Christian known, and what does it take to become a member of this body?
The fact is, I seriously doubt that many have touched the hem of His garment in this spectrum of life. I say this because the criteria for being a member of such a prestigious body is lacking in the majority. And this is not being critical. It is simply an observation. For instance, if a person is in prison and chained in darkness -- it is not being critical to say what you see, i.e., that the man is in prison and is chained in darkness. It is a undeniable fact. This is what I see, and most of you also see it. The bulk of Christendom are imprisoned by their impoverished religions, and they are chained by dead doctrines, creeds, ordinances, rituals, and many other shackles of man's organizations. I know that hurts when it falls upon guilty ears; but don't you think it is time to be freed from darkness and enjoy the light of Day? Whether the answer is yea are nay, we will note the hard thing(s) a person must do to qualify to be peculiar:
"Now therefore, if ye will (2)OBEY MY (3)VOICE indeed, and (4)keep my (5)covenant, THEN ye shall be A PECULIAR TREASURE unto me above all people..." (Exo 9:5).
At first glance it looks fairly simple and easy to do; but when each point is brought to our attention, not to mention the definitions of the words in particular, it does get somewhat more difficult. For the ones who are walking this path it is everyday living in the presence of our Lord; but those bound by having Moses hear for them, it can be very frightful and extremely hard.
It is one thing to embrace a secondhand word, and another to hold to a first-person word. To abide by the word of the Lord that is told by someone who has stood in the midst of fire is much easier than when you are the person who turns aside to see the burning bush and hear the Voice of the Lord for yourself.
Those who do not walk in the Spirit tremble at such a prospect, "Because the carnal mind is (6)enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be" (Rom 8:7). Men of this fashion will be very religious and follow to the letter every word their leaders present to them; but their resounding cry is -- "Let not God speak with us."
Peter said they stumbled at the Word. "And a Stone of stumbling, and a Rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the Word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed" (1 Pet 2:8). What do you suppose it was that they were appointed to wherein they were disobedient? In the context from where the apostle was quoting, there were two contributing factors: not obeying God's voice and not Keeping His covenant -- "Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me..." (Exo 19:5).
Those rejecting His voice and failing in keeping his covenant are not like those who are growing to maturity, those as newborn babes, desiring the sincere milk of THE WORD, that they may grow thereby 1 Pet 2:2). And the ones who have this desire for the living word are the ones Peter called a peculiar people. They have tasted that THE LORD is good. (1 Pet 2:3). This is not merely good doctrine -- it is the Lord Himself. A word that energizes and causes one to grow cannot be separated from the Lord. He and His word are one. When you hear His Word you hear Him. This is different from hearing a word about Him. If we only hear about Him, we may gain knowledge, but knowledge puffs up, as Paul wrote, while love builds up (1 Cor 8:1). And we cannot forget that God is love.
Many have tasted of the Good Word, and we know that only God is Good, as Jesus said; nevertheless, not all who ate of Him can be numbered among the peculiar people. After tasting, there must be obedience to what is heard, as well as keeping the covenant.
IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO BE RENEWED UNTO REPENTANCE
Paul spoke of those who tasted but had no desire for Christ: "For it is impossible for those who were once ENLIGHTENED, and have TASTED of the heavenly Gift, and were made PARTAKERS of the Holy Ghost, And have TASTED the good Word of God, and the Powers of the world to come, If they shall FALL AWAY, to renew them again unto repentance; seeing they crucify to themselves the Son of God afresh, and put Him to an open shame." (Heb 6:4-6)
The above verses have been used by countless preachers to condemn hapless souls to an everlasting damnation. We have received letters from people who were literally driven insane due to the fear these hellfire and damnation sermons instilled, especially when the poor souls were led to believe they had committed the 'unpardonable' sin. But praise God! Those who had written told us of the great healing they received after reading publications (including ours) on (7)God's infinite grace and ultimate purpose for all mankind.
No doubt, things will not be pleasant for the ones who put Christ to an open shame, and rightly so, for it is a terrible thing do. And it is almost inconceivable to think that someone could fall away after they had been enlightened by the illumination of anointed revelation. The heavenly gift (the Holy Spirit) that they tasted but rejected, of course, is the Lord Jesus. We can see that He is the Spirit in Paul's second letter to the Corinthians: "Now the Lord is that Spirit..." (2 Cor 3:17). And Jesus Himself said He would send the promise of His Father upon us (Luke 24:49), speaking of the Holy Spirit.
The heavenly Gift these people reject is not the gifts of the Spirit, but the Gift Himself. They also count His Word as nothing, the very thing by which they were born.
Sounds familiar, doesn't it? And it is familiar in the sense of rebellious teens who count their mothers and fathers, and everything they have ever been taught, as nothing. They put their family name on open display, and by their actions declare that it is all worthless. They seem to have no thought or feeling that it brings shame to every member of the family, especially to the parents who had sacrificed their lives for them.
How can those who bring such shame to the ones who died, sacrificed everything for them, for them be renewed by a mere repentance? It is impossible! Much fire is in store for them before repentance comes. And how can those who bring such shame to Jesus be renewed by mere repentance? It is impossible! Is this to say that once a person has brought shame to the family or to the Lord that they can never be brought back into good standing and honor with either? Absolutely not! It is saying no such thing.
Repentance may eventually come; but that alone, without a change of heart, will not renew the relationship. They must first be broken, as was the prodigal son. Many bitter tears will be shed as they pass through the fires they ignite in their own lives. Poverty of their souls will purge them from self-centeredness, causing them to truly desire that which they had once disdained -- their first estate.
Many of our modern Bible translators rendered the chains that hold such people under darkness as everlasting and the fire of which they await as eternal. Sounds fairly final, doesn't it? But this is not close to being the end of the matter. The way these two words were handled are merely a part of the veil that covers men's minds. God uses man's way of thinking to conceal His priceless truths until the time of unveiling, which is at hand.
Everlasting chains under darkness are chains that cannot be broken. They endure, they hold firmly, they last until the time of judgment. These chains are the very darkness men and women give themselves to in place of the light of Jesus Christ. This is not someone who hates the flesh and its lusts, but give themselves to it. Such people willingly trade the power of the ages for the power of their own carnal might. It is rebellion; it is an insurrection against the King. And that to which they give themselves, the carnal chains of darkness, will hold them in that realm until they are judged. Such people will continue in their own dark ministries. They will have certain powers over followers of men. They will build their kingdoms in the "name" of Christ; yet they will all fall in the presence of the One they had disallowed.
Once such contempt for the One who birthed them and died for them is broadcast in the world, and once they have built a tower and made a name for themselves (Gen 11:4) -- it is not as it was in the beginning when salvation was brought about through repentance (Acts 3:19, 11:18, 2 Cor 7:10, etc). All a person had to do to be saved was to repent (turn from the world and its corruption), believe in the heart God raised Jesus from the dead, and confess Jesus is his/her Lord. But after all the precious things of Christ are tasted, even the powers of the age to come, and they are counted as worthless, it is a different story.
In the beginning when the Holy Spirit was drawing us to Jesus, it was so easy. But when we wipe our feet on His precious garments, we cannot expect repentance to be the open door back to the rich fellowship we so openly rejected. Ah, but there is a way our loving Father has provided that none shall be lost. It is called FIRE!
Where repentance is no longer viable -- fire is. If a person who loved the world more than the riches of Christ, and all he had to do was to "repent" in order to return to the fold of fellowship and communion with the Lord, what a mockery it would be. People would use it like a revolving door in a department store. They would be in the world one day and in Christ the next. They would use each to their own design and purpose. There would be a continual vacillating between the Spirit and the flesh. Victory would never be known in their lives. Oh, but the purging fires of God will consume the adversaries, every adverse particle to Christ, and restoration can then be known.
Those fires of indignation may come inwardly in the form of awful depression, fear, anguish, or a number of other tormenting things. They can also come outwardly as the result of sowing seeds to the wind and reaping the whirlwind. The universal law of sowing and reaping may be disavowed, but they cannot be avoided. There will be a day of reaping of every seed sown, whether good or bad. When the reaping is the whirlwind, and when it is time for God to draw a soul back into Himself, he will be swept away in judgment by the very things for which they lived. This is a part of the restoration process.
Let us lend our attention to another area of scripture that has been used to condemn poor souls to an everlasting damnation:
"For if we sin willfully after that we have received the knowledge of the truth, there remaineth no more sacrifice for sins, but a certain fearful looking for of judgment and fiery indignation, which shall devour the adversaries." (Heb 10:26-27).
As it was with repentance, so it is with the sacrifice -- there is no more. Jesus died ONCE for ALL (Heb 10:10). It is wayward to think that after a person willfully sins, he can nail Jesus to cross again and shed more blood to atone his sin. Our Father will never again subject His beloved Son to the shame of that cross.
This, however, in no way suggests the person is forever cut off from God. Although the sacrifice is history for that individual, and repentance is also gone, the refining Fire of God is a present reality. The willful sinner will reel with Godís fiery indignation of heated love. The flames of judgment will devour every wicked way, and put to rest any desire that would rise in open rebellion. There will be great loss, this is sure, but the man will be brought back as his soul is salted with fire, as Jesus promised would happen to everyone (Mark 9:49). The great loss, of course, would be spiritual loss; such as the Pharisees who were guilty of blaspheming against the Holy Spirit: "Because of this I say to you, all sin and evil speaking shall be forgiven to men, but the evil speaking of the Spirit shall not be forgiven to men. And whoever may speak a word against the Son of Man it shall be forgiven to him, but whoever may speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this age, nor in that which is coming." (Mat. 12:31-32, Young's Literal). One of their great losses was being disqualified from being a part of the ruling factor in the Kingdom of God in the age to come which was after Jesus was crucified, resurrected, and ascended. That was the beginning of the Kingdom with His many membered body; but since the rulers blasphemed against the Holy Spirit, they were not forgiven and delivered from their rebellion, so their great loss was to miss out on such a wonderful thing as living in Christ and ruling with Him. And Paul mentioned something that I believe would be a great loss; namely, to be found spiritually naked: "If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked." (2 Cor. 5:3).
Do you want to be a peculiar person? If so, never disallow the living Stone. You may think such a thing is impossible; but there are ample numbers, multitudes for that matter, who confess Jesus as their Lord, while disallowing the living Stone in their lives. And they never give it a second thought that they have done so. They profess His name, but their profession is more in the world than in the Kingdom of God. They work the works of man and not the works of Christ. Paul said this about them: "They profess that they know God; but in works they deny Him, being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate" (Titus 1:16). This is a strong indictment against people who profess Jesus, but in their works they deny Him by doing their own religious thing.
However, this is not the make up of those who are peculiar. Praise God, for "Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood..." (1 Pet 2:5)."...Ye are a chosen generation, a (8)royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should show forth the praises of Him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light" (1 Pet 2:9).
You see, we can never work hard enough or long enough in our natural might to show forth the wonders of God; for not only is it impossible for flesh and blood to inherit the Kingdom of God, it is impossible for either to do the works of the Kingdom.
We ourselves are a spiritual work. We are His handiwork who are called to good works. We are lively stones having been made alive by Him who is life. A spiritual house is not a 'church building', it is a house made up of you and me. The priesthood does not consist of men who are set in positions by other men. This priesthood is royal, it is kingly, it is ordained by the King Himself. It is not after the order of Aaron or Levi who administer the dos and don'ts, and who are always subject to blemishes themselves. The royal priesthood is after the order of Melchisedec who has no beginning or ending, and who by nature fulfills the law of God. The people of this generation are the elect. They make up a holy nation, a race that is dreadfully majestic. They are sacred, blameless and consecrated unto God.
There are some, however, who question where they are in Christ. We have heard them say that they fear they will miss the boat, that with all their shortcomings they don't have what it takes to be a son of God. Their fear of not being manifested with the rest of the body keeps them searching, ever searching for the latest and greatest revelation and teaching. This is well and good; for I too want that which is great from God, and I desire the most recent, up-to-date, anointed doctrines the Spirit is pouring into His people. Although this can be a very real part of hearing the voice of our Lord, it can border on natural zeal that makes God's living of non effect.
But this is not the case with many. Even so, it does not stop them from worrying whether they are spiritual enough, or even smart enough, to be numbered among the sons of God. The fact is, most of them are overly concerned, which is their greatest handicap. Not only are they hearing and obeying the voice of the Lord, they are also keeping His covenant.
They may not always hear; but when they do, their obedience is unquestionable. And they are to be commended for keeping His covenant. This covenant, of course, is not the law of Moses. The old covenant (testament) was instituted by God and it was between Himself and Abram. It was initiated when He passed through the carcasses that were cut in half by Abram. The old covenant was only a type of the New Covenant, which is now between Jesus and His Peculiar Treasure.
When the shed blood of Jesus is drank, when His torn flesh is eaten, and when it is esteemed as good -- then I will declare with all confidence -- you are keeping His covenant. Therefore, whether you can quote one scripture, whether you can teach or preach two minutes worth of Kingdom truth, or whether you have any fellowship with like minded saints -- if you are hearing and obeying, and you are keeping His covenant -- you are peculiar. You qualify, which makes you a rare treasure of high value which was purchased by a great price. And I will also say -- you will manifest great valor when the covering is removed! You are a valued portion of the unblemished pearl of great price.
Furthermore, this unblemished pearl was unearthed and called out of darkness and into His marvelous light. The whole of it is a special possession which is over and above all else. It is a purchased acquisition of high value. And there is more. This rare gem, this nation, this priesthood, this people -- will show forth the praises of Him.
The word praises in this verse is more than lifting hands and voices upon high. It comes from the Greek word arete and according to Strong's Exhaustive Concordance, it carries the thought of "manliness (valor), i.e. excellence". In all other places of the book of the New Testament where this word is used, it is translated virtue.
Although spiritual praise is a high and holy thing, and it is the heartbeat of our souls, this is not the subject in this case. This generation, the holy nation of God has been made ready to manifest the valor of their Lord in unprecedented excellence. Those of the royal priesthood, the members of this kingdom of priests, are waiting to be unveiled so they can declare their perfections in Christ. They are anxious to 'flex their muscles' and show forth their Manliness. This desire to display themselves is not due to vanity, but so others may know Jesus. Moreover, such manliness does not speak of infants, babes, adolescents, or even a bride -- but speaks clearly of the manifestation of the Sons of God. It is the unveiling, the exhibition, if your please, of His Peculiar People!
Elwin R. Roach
1. Peculiar treasure is translated from one Hebrew word cegullah, which means: to shut up; wealth (as closely shut up).
Peculiar: from 1 Peter 2:9, the Greek peripoiesis, means, acquisition...preservation. It comes from peripoieomai, meaning, to make around oneself, i.e. acquire (buy). [This and all other word definitions taken from Strong's Exhaustive Concordance].
2. Obey: shama', to hear intelligently (often with impl. of attention, obedience)
3. Voice: qowl, to call aloud; a voice or sound
4. Keep: hamar, to hedge about...i.e. guard. to protect, attend to
5. Covenant: beriyth,(in the sense of cutting); a compact...made by passing between pieces of flesh.
6. Enmity: echthra, (from echtho) hostility... opposition. echtho, (to hate); hateful (odious, or hostile); usually as a noun, an adversary (espec. Satan)
7. List of scriptures free upon request: 101 Reasons to Believe in God's Sovereignty and the Salvation of All.
8. royal, basileios, from G935; kingly (in nature)
G935. basileus...(through the notion of a foundation of power); a sovereign.
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