April 2018

1 Peter 2:9 (ESV) 9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

A holy nation, the Apostle Peter labels us. The Greek ἔθνος (ethnos), means: nation, a people, a large group based on various cultural, physical or geographic ties, and figuratively it refers to heathen, pagan, Gentile in contrast to the People of God. In Exodus 19:5 (ESV) “5 Now therefore, if you will indeed obey my voice and keep my covenant, you shall be my treasured possession among all peoples, for all the earth is mine;” Obedience brings uniqueness in our relationship to God. In Deuteronomy 7:6–11 (ESV) 6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth. 7 It was not because you were more in number than any other people that the Lord set his love on you and chose you, for you were the fewest of all peoples, 8 but it is because the Lord loves you and is keeping the oath that he swore to your fathers, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9 Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10 and repays to their face those who hate him, by destroying them. He will not be slack with one who hates him. He will repay him to his face. 11 You shall therefore be careful to do the commandment and the statutes and the rules that I command you today.”
Wikipedia defines nation as: “A nation is a stable community of people, formed on the basis of a common language, territory, economic life, ethnicity or psychological make-up manifested in a common culture. A nation is distinct from a people, and is more abstract, and more overtly political than an ethnic group. It is a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its autonomy, unity, and particular interests.” So what is “a common culture”? Again Wikipedia defines culture as “the social behavior and norms found in human societies. Culture is considered a central concept in anthropology, encompassing the range of phenomena that are transmitted through social learning in human societies. Some aspects of human behavior, social practices such as culture, expressive forms such as art, music, dance, ritual, religion, and technologies such as tool usage, cooking, shelter, and clothing are said to be cultural universals, found in all human societies.”
Let me see if I can simplify this, a nation is “a cultural-political community that has become conscious of its autonomy, unity, and particular interests” So if this applies to us (the church) then we ought to have cultural expression, that is common social behaviors and norms. Is not the Decalogue (Ten Commandments) our social behavior and norms definition? Then we look at the question: is not Emmanuel Bethel an autonomous expression of the Body of Christ in Royal Oak? Following the definition are we not intentionally conscious of our unity in Christ? And are we not committed to the particular interests of the Kingdom of Heaven?
The church is God’s unique creation to reflect and demonstrate His unique interests, norms and behaviors before the rest of the world. It operates under a clear set of rules (the Word of God) for the advancement of its particular interests (making disciples).
In addition to being a “nation” we are called to be a holy nation. Holy really implies being set apart for God and reflective of His character, methods and purposes. The Greek,
ἅγιος (hagion) adj. means 1) reverend, worthy of veneration. 1a) of things which on account of some connection with God possess a certain distinction and claim to reverence, as places sacred to God which are not to be profaned. 1b) of persons whose services God employs, for example, apostles. 2) set apart for God, to be as it were, exclusively his. 3)services and offerings. 3a prepared for God with solemn rite, pure, clean. 4) in a moral sense; pure, sinless, upright, holy.
As God’s holy nation we exhibit and proclaim His unique character and life before the world as an intentionally self conscious community that is a cultural-political entity reflecting its autonomy, unity, and particular interests of Jesus Christ.
Are you still with me? We (church) are God’s (holy) unique community (nation) demonstrating “heavenly” culture (living God’s Word) for a particular interest. (making disciples). The characteristics of which are demonstrated in a common language, (Biblical) territory, (parish) economic life, (stewards) ethnicity (children of God) or psychological make-up (servants of Christ.)
So the simple question becomes are we living as faithful citizens of this holy nation? Are we living in love and unity pursuing God’s agenda of making disciples? If so, praise the Lord – a faithful citizen. If not, fix everything that needs to be fixed.

May the blessings of this season, the Great Victory of Jesus Christ our Savior, thrill, challenge and empower you to be His holy nation.