What does it mean to be a living stone and a holy priesthood?
1 Pet 2:1-5 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious. Coming to Him as to a living stone, rejected indeed by men, but chosen by God and precious, you also, as living stones, are being built up a spiritual house, a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.
According to Peter, we need to come to God:
- as a living stone to build up a spiritual house
- a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Christ.
Peter is comparing stones for building the Temple where God dwells and the priesthood offering the sacrifices to God.
Living stone to build up a spiritual house
Each follower of Christ is a living stone, joined together with other living stones to form a spiritual house where God dwells. However, it is important to understand how the stones are used to build the temple.
1Kgs 6:7 And the temple, when it was being built, was built with stone finished at the quarry, so that no hammer or chisel or any iron tool was heard in the temple while it was being built.
When Solomon’s temple was built, the stone was finished at the quarry itself. No tools were used or heard at the temple. This is an important part in building the temple of God. This is exactly why Peter is referring to God’s people living stones.
When the gospel is preached, we find many who accept Christ as their Lord and Saviour are stones of different shapes.
1 Pet 2:1-2 Therefore, laying aside all malice, all deceit, hypocrisy, envy, and all evil speaking, as newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby, if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is gracious.
As in the parable of the sower from Jesus Christ, the Word fell on roadways, among thorny bushes and rocks. Many received the Word with joy. But Satan took away, they are chocked or they have no root. Only those who are good ground bear more fruits. Just as the ground can be roadside, thorny or rocky, each individual can have malice, deceit, hypocrisy, envy, evil speaking etc. Hence, each individual representing a stone can be of any shape unfit for temple building. If there is malice or deceit or hypocrisy or ency or evil speaking, or any sinful behaviour, it must be chiselled and removed before it is fit for building the spiritual house. Note that the chiselling or usage of any tools must not be done at the building site, but rather at the quarry. Hence, if you are not chiselled yet of your sinful behaviour, you may not be fit for the building.
Holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices
Lev 21:6 ‘They shall be holy to their God and not profane the name of their God, for they offer the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and the bread of their God; therefore they shall be holy.
Lev 21:21 ‘No man of the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, shall come near to offer the offerings made by fire to the LORD. He has a defect; he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
Being a priest to the LORD means, they are holy to God. No one with any defect cannot make an offering to the Lord.
Num 16:3 They gathered together against Moses and Aaron, and said to them, “You take too much upon yourselves, for all the congregation is holy, every one of them, and the LORD is among them. Why then do you exalt yourselves above the assembly of the LORD?” … (8-10) Then Moses said to Korah, “Hear now, you sons of Levi: Is it a small thing to you that the God of Israel has separated you from the congregation of Israel, to bring you near to Himself, to do the work of the tabernacle of the LORD, and to stand before the congregation to serve them; and that He has brought you near to Himself, you and all your brethren, the sons of Levi, with you? And are you seeking the priesthood also? …. (30-33) But if the LORD creates a new thing, and the earth opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that belongs to them, and they go down alive into the pit, then you will understand that these men have rejected the LORD. Now it came to pass, as he finished speaking all these words, that the ground split apart under them, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. So they and all those with them went down alive into the pit; the earth closed over them, and they perished from among the assembly.
The above incident is about Korah who was not a priest, claimed the following:
- All the congregation is holy
- The LORD is among them
Yet, the LORD punished them by making the earth swallow alive, showing they are neither holy to stand before the LORD nor the LORD was them, for they have rejected the LORD. Being a priest according to the law means, a strict set of ritual holiness as described in the chapter of Leviticus 21.
Rev 1:4-6 John, to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace to you and peace from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler over the kings of the earth. To Him who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood, and has made us kings and priests to His God and Father, to Him be glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.
The same is true with the holy priesthood of the new covenant. Christ with His own blood washed us from our sins and made us kings and priests to our Father.
Ps 4:5 Offer the sacrifices of righteousness, And put your trust in the LORD.
Ps 51:19 Then You shall be pleased with the sacrifices of righteousness, With burnt offering and whole burnt offering; Then they shall offer bulls on Your altar.
Mal 3:3 He will sit as a refiner and a purifier of silver; He will purify the sons of Levi, And purge them as gold and silver, That they may offer to the LORD An offering in righteousness.
The offering that is acceptable to God through Christ is righteousness.
Lev 22:22 ‘Those that are blind or broken or maimed, or have an ulcer or eczema or scabs, you shall not offer to the LORD, nor make an offering by fire of them on the altar to the LORD.
Just as the offering in the law is without defect, our righteousness must be acceptable to God.
Lev 21:17-21 Speak to Aaron, saying: ‘No man of your descendants in succeeding generations, who has any defect, may approach to offer the bread of his God. For any man who has a defect shall not approach: a man blind or lame, who has a marred face or any limb too long, a man who has a broken foot or broken hand, or is a hunchback or a dwarf, or a man who has a defect in his eye, or eczema or scab, or is a eunuch. No man of the descendants of Aaron the priest, who has a defect, shall come near to offer the offerings made by fire to the LORD. He has a defect; he shall not come near to offer the bread of his God.
Just as a priest with defect cannot offer any offering in the law, if we have any sin remaining in us, we cannot offer sacrifices of righteousness acceptable to the LORD. A holy priesthood means, without sin and being holy to God. Only the priest who is holy can offer sacrifices of righteousness acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.