“Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 2:5). Several metaphors are used to show the relationship between Jesus and His church or the “called out” ones. We often read of Jesus as the Good Shepherd with Christians being His sheep. We are children with God as our Father and Jesus as our older Brother. We are God’s husbandry and His building (1 Corinthians 3:9), Christ’s household (Hebrews 3:6). Other analogies speak of Jesus as the Vine and His disciples as the branches (John 15:1-5). The church is called His body (1 Corinthians 12:12-27; Ephesians 2:22-23; 3:6; 4:4-16; Colossians 1:18), with Jesus being the Head of that body. Scriptures are replete with lessons about the kingdom (Matthew 13:38-42; 16:15-19; Mark 9:1; 14:25; Luke 17:20-21; John 3:3-5; Ephesians 2:19; Acts 1:3) with Jesus being the King of that kingdom. A deeper study of the church reveals about ten such metaphors with each comparison given to help us see our position or relationship to each other, to God and to Jesus.
Focusing on the temple analogy, we see Christ is the chief corner stone (Ephesians 2:20-22; 1 Peter 2:6-9), and we are “lively stones” in that one temple (1 Peter 2:5; 1 Corinthians 3:9-11; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Revelation 3:12), while the apostles are the foundation (Isaiah 28:16; Ephesians 2:19-22; Revelation 21:14). We are called “living” or “lively stones” in His holy temple.
Under the Old Testament Law, the stones of a building had to be cleansed if they became “infected” to be sure the whole building was not polluted (Leviticus 14:34-57). In a similar way today, we cleanse the “living stones” of the spiritual temple (the church) or deliver them to Satan for the benefit of the whole congregation (1 Corinthians 5:1-7; 2 Corinthians 7:12). We must purge out the leaven (sin) so the whole building/temple/body comprised of other living stones can be saved.
Christians also serve as His holy priesthood (1 Peter 2:9), and it is our duty to offer up spiritual sacrifices (Psalm 50:14, 23; 141:2; John 4:23-24; Romans 12:1; Hebrews 13:15-16), because this is acceptable to God by Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:11; 4:18; Colossians 3:17; 1 Peter 4:11). Using the analogy of a royal priesthood, we see our relationship to our own High Priest. First of all, the priests in the Old Testament, chosen from the tribe of Levi (specifically the sons of Aaron), were continually serving God in the tabernacle (prior to the Temple), and He dealt with them there (Numbers 3:3-10; 2 Chronicles 13:10; 26:18; Luke 1:5-23). Today, we are a holy priesthood, a chosen people of God (Romans 8:28-29; 1 Corinthians 1:27-29; Ephesians 1:3-5; James 2:5; 1 Peter 2:9), and we serve Him in much the same way Aaron’s sons served under the Old Covenant, except that our sacrifices are primarily spiritual rather than physical (John 4:24).
As priests, we not only have a right to pray directly to God, but it is our duty to pray as part of our spiritual sacrifice (Hebrews 13:15). Like the priests in the Old Testament Temple, our prayers are heard because we have authority to go to God directly (John 16:23; Ephesians 2:18). We are priests of the true tabernacle, which the Lord pitched (Hebrews 8:2; 9:11; 9:22-24) and Jesus is our high priest (Hebrews 2:17-18; 3:1).
Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession. For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
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