“A CHOSEN RACE, AND AN HOLY NATION”

 

BY

 

Pastor Robert Bruce Record

 

The Church?  Or America?

 

To me it is passing strange that when language is as plain as words can make it, that otherwise rational and intelligent human beings could mistake its meaning or unwillingly  void the truth which the writer intended to convey. And yet this is frequently found to be the case when people read or study the pages of Holy Writ. They often come to their Bible with their preconceived notions and ideas and they read into the Scriptures things that are not there. Now the very same people are loud in their assertions that when God inspired the writings of the Bible, “He said what He meant and He meant what He said.” Yet, they’re often among the first to place an interpretation on certain verses to the effect that “While this is what God says, this is what He meant.” Now, I’m not referring here to verses which are obviously figurative, metaphorical, poetic, or symbolic, and, where a literal interpretation would give a very ridiculous, perhaps greatly exaggerated or ludicrous meaning. I am referring, rather, to scriptures that mean literally what they say, but which men have spiritualized so as to make them fit their traditions and their theological interpretations.

 

Such a verse is that of 1 Peter 2:9. Here we find Peter saying, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.”  The Weymouth translation of this verse is somewhat clearer and I believe a little more correct. It reads, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, an holy nation belonging to God that you may make known the perfections of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”  The language here should be at once familiar to any student of the Scriptures and should point to the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecy, or to a prophecy that has been in the process of fulfillment during this Christian dispensation. Yet more often then not it is mistakenly applied to a “Gentile” church, or a spiritual Israel, or to a people of whom no such prophecy was ever made! Now you will notice that this verse deals with a race, nation and people, who were chosen of God for a specific job.

 

When Peter says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God,” I ask you, of whom was Peter speaking? Well, one has but to examine the context and the facts of Biblical history to obtain the answer. But unfortunately, there are many in our day that cannot do this with profit because they look upon the Old Testament as something outmoded and done away with. That which happened, for example, in the first four thousand years of human history would seem to have no bearing or relation to that which God said He has been doing these past 2,000 years. Many take the position that what was begun there has been supplanted by the church, and that that is all that now matters. When they thus come to a text like this, what do they do? They spiritualize it and they say this means the church. What do they maintain? That this nation, this chosen race, this royal priesthood, is a church or a spiritual Israel! – which they, by the way, hold up to be largely Gentile, or a non-Israel people.

 

But what saith the Scriptures? That’s what we want to know. Turn back with me for a moment to the first chapter of 1 Peter and you’ll discover the people to whom Peter addresses this epistle. In 1 Peter 1:1, the Weymouth translation, we read these words, “Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to God’s elect of the dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia and Bithynia.” Peter’s epistle, then, is directed to “God’s elect of the dispersion.” God’s elect of the dispersion?  Well, my friend, there is only one answer. It could not possibly have had to do with the dispersion that followed the capture and destruction of Jerusalem by Titus in 70 A.D.  No, because Peter was writing this in about 60 A.D. and this dispersion hadn’t taken place yet. We must go back into the Old Scriptures for the answer.

 

In Deuteronomy 7:6, we read where God says of Israel, “For thou art an holy people unto the Lord thy God; the Lord thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.” Now this ties right in with what we have been reading here in 1 Peter 1:1. Israel was chosen to be God’s servants and witnesses to the rest of the world. Witnesses to what?  To the true and the living God. But in 721 B.C., they incurred the curse of the Law. They were divorced of God and they were taken captive as a nation out of their land into Assyria. From Assyria they later migrated into the region of Asia Minor, especially the Caucasus Mountains and from there into the coasts of Europe and finally into America. The historians record all this but they do not recognize that this was Israel migrating; that this was God moving Israel toward their new home. And at the time of Christ, where was Israel – national Israel?  They were in that region of Asia Minor. It is into this area that Paul made most of his missionary journeys. These people had to be reached with the Gospel of Christ. They were also the concern of Peter’s letter.

 

That what we’ve said is true is confirmed by the words of Peter when he says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation.” My friend, remember, there wasn’t any New Testament when Peter wrote these words. No, the only Scriptures they had were what we call, “The Old Testament.” So, any allusion to a race, to a priesthood or a holy nation would have to come from the Old Scriptures. By no stretch of the imagination could these words be applied to a few individual Christians who might possibly have been scattered by persecution before the siege of Jerusalem in 70 A.D.  These words are addressed to a particular race and nation. This race and nation, I say, were now in the process of being rebuilt on the true and sure foundation, the Rock, Christ Jesus.

 

Now let us see that this is so. In Matthew 21:43 we find Jesus turning to the leaders of the Jewish nation, who had failed in their stewardship of the kingdom. He says, “Therefore I say unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof.” Notice the word, “nation” here. It is true that the nation to which the kingdom of God was now being committed was still scattered. They had not yet arrived in their new home in the West. But my friend, the transfer was made here, none-the-less. Here the Divine Potter was beginning to mold anew a vessel that would be pleasing in His sight. You will recall, that in the eighteenth chapter of Jeremiah, the potter was making a vessel, and as he spun it on the wheel, it was marred in the making and so he took it off to mold anew. This vessel was Israel, and here in this Christian dispensation the remaking of the vessel has been taking place. This new vessel would be pleasing in the sight of the Divine Potter. The prophet Isaiah refers to this spiritual change to be made in God’s people when, in Isaiah 28:16 (Moffatt), we read, “This is the Lord God’s word, Here I lay Zion’s foundation, a rare and tested stone, secure and solid (he who has faith in me will never flinch); I will build up Zion with justice and mold it upon equity.” This is the verse to which Peter refers in 1 Peter 2:4-6 (Weymouth), where he says,

“Come to Him, the Living Stone, rejected indeed by men, but in God’s esteem chosen and valuable. And yourselves also like living stones be built up into a spiritual house as a holy priesthood to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it is contained in Scripture, See, I am placing in Zion a Cornerstone chosen and valuable. And he who’s faith rests on Him shall never be disappointed.”

 

Peter is here declaring that through faith in Jesus Christ, the living Stone; we ourselves in effect, become living stones and are built up into a spiritual house to comprise a holy priesthood to serve the kingdom purposes of God. To put it in other words, we, through faith in the Son of God, do ourselves become sons of God, and are thus prepared for citizenship in that “city” which Abraham saw whose builder and maker is God.

 

My friend, herein is the secret of the “Stone Kingdom” of which Daniel prophesied in Daniel 2:34-35 & 44. It is the Stone Kingdom because through faith in Christ, the living Stone, we become living stones which make up the citizenship of that kingdom, It is in truth, my friend, a spiritual house and a holy nation. That Christian leaders should attempt to apply such expressions as, “a chosen race”, and, “an holy nation,” to the church, which has no racial or national characteristics whatever, is a sorry example of Bible exegesis or elucidation. Oh, they try to excuse themselves on grounds that God doesn’t mean for us to take this literally, but a spiritual race and nation is meant.


Did you ever hear anything so ridiculous as that? Just how would you go about describing a spiritual race and a spiritual nation? Why do these religious leaders thus strain at a gnat and swallow a camel by spiritualizing the people whom Peter designated as a race and nation? The answer lies in the fact that they have succumbed to the tradition that all that remains of the great national house of Israel, is that remnant of Judah which God brought back to Palestine from Babylon under Zerubbabel and Nehemiah, more commonly known as The Jew!  Thus it is that when Peter points out in 1 Peter 2:7-8, that this remnant rejected the “Stone” in unbelief, many of our theologians have concluded that those who now believe, must of necessity be a Gentile church, or a non-Israel people. Let us therefore, note these verses carefully.


”Unto you therefore which believe He is precious; but unto them which be disobedient, the Stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, and a stone of stumbling and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient; where unto also they were appointed.”

 

In these two verses, Peter turns from the “elect of the dispersion”, and turns the believers scattered throughout Asian Minor, to the “builders” which had rejected Christ. Yes, these Judeans had been builders. These builders were primarily the leaders of this Judah remnant residing in Judea and Jerusalem. They said, “We will not have this man to reign over us, away with him!” To them He was a “rock of offence, a stone of stumbling.”

 

Beginning in verse 9, Peter leaves the builders again, and he turns to another people who were now to be the builders. He says, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a people belonging to God that you may make known the perfection of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” Here, then, are the people whom Jesus said were His sheep, who would hear His voice. (John 10:26-27) To the Jews Jesus said, “You believe not, because ye are not of my sheep.”

 

While believers in Christ are said to become a part of the church, it is not the church, as such that Peter has in mind here, but believing Israel. You see, God promised that he was going to pour out His spirit on His people Israel. He would put His Spirit within them and give them a new heart. Ezek.36: 26-27 . Well, then, why should it be so difficult to believe Peter was talking about believing Israel? Religious leaders in our day would seem to have forgotten that when God scattered His people before Mt. Sinai where He organized them into a kingdom and nation, that He said unto them, “You shall be unto me a kingdom of priests and an holy nation.”  You will find this in Exodus 19:6. Now isn’t this the same language that Peter is using here in 1 Peter 2:9?  Why certainly! And in Deuteronomy 14:2 we also find God saying, “For thou are an holy people unto the Lord thy God, and the Lord hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto himself; above all the nations that are upon the earth.” The word peculiar, here, doesn’t mean “odd.” No, it rather indicates a people belonging to God. Now what are we going to do? Shall we ignore these obvious references to Israel? Shall we pervert the clear intent of Peter to identify these people in Pontus, Galatia, etc., by trying to make out that he meant a so-called Gentile church? Because Christians are said to truly belong to God, and they do, this doesn’t justify us in glossing over the fact that Peter was not referring to the church as a whole. He was referring to a chosen race, a holy nation which was predestined of God to become a “kingdom of priests.”

 

The reason that many stumble over this is that they have previously erred in assuming that  the builders, who rejected Christ, were one with the nation of Israel. But having assumed this, there was no room in their thinking for any other Israel people which have believed in Christ – as was prophesied in Jeremiah, Hosea, and some of the other prophets. We would seem to have forgotten that to Israel was promised the New Covenant of salvation and redemption. We would seem to have ignored the fact that Christ came to confirm this promised covenant to His people with His blood. And we have blindly ignored the fact that Paul said in Romans 9:4, “to Israel pertaineth the sonship, the covenants, the service of God and the promises.”  I say to you, we have ignored these things completely by trying to show that these things are fulfilled in a Gentile or non-Gentile people to whom no such promises were ever made.


Now Peter further points out that these people to whom he is writing in Asia Minor were especially called and chosen of God to “make known the perfections of Him who had called them out of darkness into His marvelous light.” My friend, this was the mission of Israel! God has never changed it! Whom has God used as His servants and witnesses in this Christian dispensation? Where do we find the people who have been the instruments of God in carrying the Gospel to other peoples and nations? In America and Britain. Fully 90% of the world’s Christians live in that 9 % of the earth that is English speaking! Then beyond all peradventure of a doubt, we must be an Israel people.


That Peter was not referring to Gentiles, as such, is clear in verse 10, where he adds, “Which in times past were not a people, but now are the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy.” The interpretation usually placed upon these verses ignores the fact that they are quotations from the first two chapters of Hosea. “The Gentiles”, they say, “which were once strangers to the covenants and the promises, are now the people of God through faith in Christ.” But that is not what Peter is saying! Peter is bearing witness to the fulfillment of promised mercy to the Israel of God. In Hosea 1:9 we are told that when Israel was divorced and put away, they became “not God’s people.” And in verse 6 of this same chapter God says, “I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel.” This of course, refers to the coming divorcement and the captivity of Israel. It didn’t mean that at a future date He would not show mercy, but at this particular time He was going to take them captive out of their land and put them away. Then in Hosea 2:23 God says,

“I will sow her unto me in the earth; and I will have mercy upon her that had not obtained mercy; and I will say to them which were not my people; Thou art my people; and they shall say, Thou art my God.”

 

From those words of Peter and the prophet Hosea, we can come to but one conclusion: that God in this Christian dispensation has been rebuilding His kingdom and nation on the firm foundation of faith in Jesus Christ. Peter makes it clear that while the salvation of God is free to all who believe, the fact remains that the kingdom of God centers in a people, a race, a nation chosen and prepared of God, to serve His purposes.


History and the Bible bear witness to the fact that, in keeping with the prophecies of Daniel and Micah, God has set up His kingdom nation on this North American Continent, particularly in America. Here in America is a nation whose God is Jesus Christ! Furthermore, the Bible is our book of Faith!  We are the greatest single nation of all time! In the light of world affairs, and the things that are going on today, we are a people and a nation of destiny. We are the beginning of the restoration of the return of Jesus the Christ. While our land is full of sin, and corruption, and evil and wrong-doing, and remains to be cleansed, we are told of one of the first things that our Lord does when He comes is to cleanse His kingdom. What Kingdom? Well, the kingdom that was promised to Israel. We are not saying that the non-Israel people are not going to share in this kingdom. What we are saying and trying to get you to see is, that God has a people whom He chose to be His builders, and the beginning of it in the earth.


When national Israel were divorced in 712 B.C., and taken captive out of their land, the kingdom was entrusted to the remnant of Judah in Babylon. They were the builders. But when our Lord came, they were not bringing forth the fruits of the kingdom, and so our Lord turned to the Jews and said in effect, that the kingdom would be taken from them, and given to this chosen race, this chosen nation, the “other sheep” which God has. They would hear His voice, and He would give unto them eternal life. They would be a Christian people. My friend, one of the first things our Lord does when He comes as the Deliverer of His people, is to gather out of His kingdom – out of His chosen nation, a people who have been re-gathered into a great and mighty nation – all the sinful, the offenders, and those who practice lawlessness. Then shall the righteous shine forth as the sun in the kingdom of their Father.  My friend, God says that this is the heritage of the servants of the Lord.

 

To therefore make no distinction, to put everybody in one basket, to ignore the promises that God made to Israel, to ignore the fact that those promises have been fulfilled in the people to whom He made them, is to miss the truth that is important for us to see in this momentous hour of history. Yes, when our nation is cleansed, when we are rid of those who have corrupted our nation, they we will truly be a kingdom of priests unto God, and a holy nation.

 

All this is marvelous in our eyes. Here is a glorious truth in which our people should come to see and rejoice in this turbulent hour of history.

 

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Pastor Robert B. Record had a radio program for many years and published many papers similar to this one; all addressed the Christian Israel message and the restoration of His Kingdom and that the nations, the lost sheep of the house of Israel are now gathered, co-located as prophetically noted and promised within the Word – and will emerge triumphant with His return.