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I started this blog when I was following the Life Journal Bible reading plan on YouVersion. (I've since completed that plan.) At that time, YouVersion didn't provide any way for people to respond to my notes, other than to "like" them. So this blog is here to remedy that problem. You may comment on my notes here in the comment section.
I also have a general blog.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Royal priesthood vs earthly authorities

23/7/11 2 Kings 20, Isaiah 38-39, Psalm 75, 1 Peter 2

S: 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvellous light; who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy.

1 Peter 2:13-20 Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men—as free, yet not using liberty as a cloak for vice, but as bondservants of God. Honour all people. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king. Servants, be submissive to your masters with all fear, not only to the good and gentle, but also to the harsh. For this is commendable, if because of conscience toward God one endures grief, suffering wrongfully. For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God.

O: Peter wrote this while living under Roman imperialism. Roman imperialism was a blend of good and bad -- the good is that they had laws and (at first) followed them, and because they were the sole superpower in the Mediterranean world, they brought a relative peace (Pax Romana) instead of the constant warring between little nations that was "normal" in the ancient world.

The bad was that they subjugated the other nations, non-Roman-citizens were second classed, and eventually the emperor became so powerful that when he went despotic, next thing you know, he burned Rome and blamed it on the Christians and started the Great Tribulation, martyring large numbers of Christians. (But that last part was still in the future at the time Peter wrote this.)

Peter points out, however, that even in such a circumstance, we are still God's chosen people. We are a royal priesthood -- not only do we exercise God's authority on earth even as we are subject to earthly authorities, but also that we are priests -- intermediaries between God and people.

So even while we submit ourselves to the earthly authorities God had allowed to rule over us, we are a holy nation superseding them. We are members of the Kingdom of Heaven and our ultimate allegiance is to Christ.

A: It is sometimes a delicate balance to be citizens of a Malaysia ruled by an ungodly government, submitting to their authority most of the time, but not when they demand going against God's higher law.

Peter himself demonstrated that balance when he said “Whether it is right in the sight of God to listen to you more than to God, you judge. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard.” (Acts 4:19-20)

P: Father, guide me as I seek to follow you faithfully as a Malaysian Christian. Sometimes it's confusing what the right thing to do as a Christian is in our current situation. Lead me in the way everlasting. In Jesus' name, amen.

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