Isaiah 14 & 1 Peter 2

Isaiah 14

    For the LORD will have compassion on Jacob and will again choose Israel, and will set them in their own land, and sojourners will join them and will attach themselves to the house of Jacob. And the peoples will take them and bring them to their place, and the house of Israel will possess them in the LORD's land as male and female slaves. They will take captive those who were their captors, and rule over those who oppressed them.

    When the LORD has given you rest from your pain and turmoil and the hard service with which you were made to serve, you will take up this taunt against the king of Babylon:

    “How the oppressor has ceased,
        the insolent fury ceased!
    The LORD has broken the staff of the wicked,
        the scepter of rulers,
    that struck the peoples in wrath
        with unceasing blows,
    that ruled the nations in anger
        with unrelenting persecution.
    The whole earth is at rest and quiet;
        they break forth into singing.
    The cypresses rejoice at you,
        the cedars of Lebanon, saying,
    ‘Since you were laid low,
        no woodcutter comes up against us.’
    Sheol beneath is stirred up
        to meet you when you come;
    it rouses the shades to greet you,
        all who were leaders of the earth;
    it raises from their thrones
        all who were kings of the nations.
    All of them will answer
        and say to you:
    ‘You too have become as weak as we!
        You have become like us!’
    Your pomp is brought down to Sheol,
        the sound of your harps;
    maggots are laid as a bed beneath you,
        and worms are your covers.
    “How you are fallen from heaven,
        O Day Star, son of Dawn!
    How you are cut down to the ground,
        you who laid the nations low!
    You said in your heart,
        ‘I will ascend to heaven;
    above the stars of God
        I will set my throne on high;
    I will sit on the mount of assembly
        in the far reaches of the north;
    I will ascend above the heights of the clouds;
        I will make myself like the Most High.’
    But you are brought down to Sheol,
        to the far reaches of the pit.
    Those who see you will stare at you
        and ponder over you:
    ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble,
        who shook kingdoms,
    who made the world like a desert
        and overthrew its cities,
        who did not let his prisoners go home?’
    All the kings of the nations lie in glory,
        each in his own tomb;
    but you are cast out, away from your grave,
        like a loathed branch,
    clothed with the slain, those pierced by the sword,
        who go down to the stones of the pit,
        like a dead body trampled underfoot.
    You will not be joined with them in burial,
        because you have destroyed your land,
        you have slain your people.
    “May the offspring of evildoers
        nevermore be named!
    Prepare slaughter for his sons
        because of the guilt of their fathers,
    lest they rise and possess the earth,
        and fill the face of the world with cities.”
        “I will rise up against them,” declares the LORD of hosts, “and will cut off from Babylon name and remnant, descendants and posterity,” declares the LORD. “And I will make it a possession of the hedgehog, and pools of water, and I will sweep it with the broom of destruction,” declares the LORD of hosts.

    The LORD of hosts has sworn:
    “As I have planned,
        so shall it be,
    and as I have purposed,
        so shall it stand,
    that I will break the Assyrian in my land,
        and on my mountains trample him underfoot;
    and his yoke shall depart from them,
        and his burden from their shoulder.”
    This is the purpose that is purposed
        concerning the whole earth,
    and this is the hand that is stretched out
        over all the nations.
    For the LORD of hosts has purposed,
        and who will annul it?
    His hand is stretched out,
        and who will turn it back?
        In the year that King Ahaz died came this oracle:

    Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of you,
        that the rod that struck you is broken,
    for from the serpent's root will come forth an adder,
        and its fruit will be a flying fiery serpent.
    And the firstborn of the poor will graze,
        and the needy lie down in safety;
    but I will kill your root with famine,
        and your remnant it will slay.
    Wail, O gate; cry out, O city;
        melt in fear, O Philistia, all of you!
    For smoke comes out of the north,
        and there is no straggler in his ranks.
    What will one answer the messengers of the nation?
    “The LORD has founded Zion,
        and in her the afflicted of his people find refuge.”

(Isaiah 14 ESV)

1 Peter 2

    So put away all malice and all deceit and hypocrisy and envy and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation—if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

    As you come to him, a living stone rejected by men but in the sight of God chosen and precious, you yourselves like living stones are being built up as a spiritual house, to be a holy priesthood, to offer spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ. For it stands in Scripture:

    “Behold, I am laying in Zion a stone,
        a cornerstone chosen and precious,
    and whoever believes in him will not be put to shame.”
        So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe,

    “The stone that the builders rejected
        has become the cornerstone,”

    “A stone of stumbling,
        and a rock of offense.”
        They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do.

    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. Once you were not a people, but now you are God's people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy.

    Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul. Keep your conduct among the Gentiles honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day of visitation.

    Be subject for the Lord's sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor.

    Servants, be subject to your masters with all respect, not only to the good and gentle but also to the unjust. For this is a gracious thing, when, mindful of God, one endures sorrows while suffering unjustly. For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth. When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten, but continued entrusting himself to him who judges justly. He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls.

(1 Peter 2 ESV)

1 Peter 2: If we were to read in the Old Testament history about the exodus of God’s people from Egypt, we would notice that they came to trust God for their salvation from slavery and were initially blown away by the excitement of the whole experience. They saw all the miracles that God did for them, and they experienced the initial rush of walking through the Red Sea and into a new life of freedom as God’s people. However, shortly after the rush of all that began to fade, they found themselves in the middle of the desert confused and wondering, “Ok. Now what?” And it wasn’t long after that, that they were falling into all sort of sinfulness because even though they knew what they had been saved from, they were still failing to understand exactly what they had been saved for. 

God had not saved His people from slavery for them to now just go and do whatever they wanted to do in life. He had set them free, but He had set them free for a specific focus, a specific identity and a specific destination. 

They were set free to be the holy people of God representing to the watching world who God is and reflecting through their obedience to Him what God is like. God called His servant Moses to the top of a mountain where He would give Moses the commandments that would help His people understand and actually be the people God intended them to be. And they would spend the next forty years wandering through the wilderness learning how to trust God, obey God and truly be the people of God before eventually inheriting the final destination that God had promised them.    

Now, here in his letter, the apostle Peter describes us as Christians today in this way. He says,

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who has called you out of darkness into his marvelous light. Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God.

Peter very specifically uses language that described the Old Testament people of God to now describe us today. He then goes on a few verses later to say,

Brothers, I urge you as exiles to keep your conduct among the watching world honorable, so that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may see your good deeds and glorify God.

So the comparison is plain. Just as the Old Testament people of God were saved for a specific focus, a specific identity and a specific destination, we as God’s people today have actually been saved for the ultimate fulfillment of all these things. 

So many of us are only viewing our Christian life in light of we’ve been saved from. Saved from our sins. Saved from God's judgement. Saved from God's wrath and from the horrors of hell. And while all these things are true, the essence of our Lord’s teaching throughout Scripture actually goes much further than what we are saved from. Jesus not only taught about what we are saved from, but He was very vocal about what we have been saved for. 

God had not saved us from our slavery to sin, death and Satan so that we can now just go and do whatever we want in life. God has set us free in order that we might now belong to His holy people who represent to the watching world who our Lord is and reflect through our obedience to Him what our Lord is like.

Our entire lives as Christians here in this world is our period of wandering through the wilderness learning how to trust God, obey God and truly be the people of God before that day that we collectively inherit our final destination — the New Heavens and New Earth that God has promised us. We should rejoice about what we’ve been saved from, but let’s begin to faithfully represent what we’ve truly been saved for.