Living Stones – 3

1 Peter 2:4-10  |  Sermon Notes


The Stoning of Israel

I think it’s worth looking at the literary structure of this passage. Here’s a revised version of the sheet I handed out after the sermon.

As I’ve written before, modern readers (and commentators) only look at the content of the text, but the authors of Scripture also communicate to us through where they place that content within that text, i.e. how it is arranged.

Without any punctuation or text layout, all we have to go on is previous literary structures, all of which can be traced back to Genesis 1. Each phrase is “self effacing,” that is, it is symbolic, a type, pointing away from itself to something else as part of a process of redemption. By its “symbolic” or typological content, we can identify the structure of the text. (When brilliant theologians look at this theory and reject it, I must admit I feel like picking up rocks.)

Because of the complexity of the diagramming, I’ve uploaded the text as a PDF, which you can download here. But the commentary will remain here, so (if you have a wide enough screen) you can have both open at once and not have to scroll up and down.

  1. We have seven stanzas, following the Bible matrix, which means that as a body of text, these stanzas will work through (a) a process of Creation or renewal, from forming to filling; (b) the “festal” process of agriculture, from planting to harvest; and (c) a process of Conquest (Dominion), from Egypt to Canaan.
  2. Within these, each stanza works on the same pattern (“fractally”) which is where it gets interesting, because the authors of the Scriptures, and the authors of any good literature, often play with well-established structures (and our expectations) to make a point. They slay them (open the Word) and resurrect them (expound the Word) as something new, taking us from where we are to where they are, like all good preachers.
  3. The first stanza is five-fold, following the Biblical Covenant structure. We can tell where this ends because the second stanza begins with “you also,” the Hierarchy.
    The first stanza begins with the source of their life, the Son of God. Notice where His rejection is placed in the text. Jesus was judged under the Law of Moses—at least according to the PR campaign of the Jewish leaders. As I mention in The Covenant Key, men cannot live without rules, so the best way to avoid obedience to the Laws of God is to replace them, and to then work on classifying actual obedience to God as an offensive hate crime.
    The words chosen and rejected occur many times in this passage. This is the Urim and Thummim process of the judgment of God, light and dark, night and day, the two goats of Atonement, the execution of the Covenant sanctions. This line stands in this stanza where the High Priest stood on the Day of Atonement, the true Adam able to stand face to face with God. This puts the word “precious” at Glorification, the finished product, a New Covenant for Israel. If we group the centre three stanzas together under “Ethics,” we see the five-fold Covenant structure of the first stanza played out in first century Israel as a new seven-fold Creation. The Law is split into three, recreating the structure of the Trinity administered by the Spirit in the people of God: Father – Spirit – Son here becomes Head (Son) – Spirit – Body.
  4. Stanza 2 is seven-fold because the Law is opened in the people of God. Notice “built up” at Ascension and “offer up” at Maturity. Built up is the bloody bronze altar and “offer up” is the fragrant golden altar. The passage forms the house, then fills the house. We see the same thing in Peter’s ministry. At the house of the High Priest, he condemns himself by denying Jesus, who then “looks” at Him from above (the fiery eyes of the Lampstand-Law). This is the altar of death, a sentence carried out on the Land. But later, Peter sees Jesus by another fire, a fire by the Sea (Gentiles). This is the altar of resurrection, and Peter’s threefold Covenantal “no” is resurrected as a threefold Covenantal “yes” or Amen.
  5. Notice that all the mentions of stone are in the first four stanzas. The passage itself calls the nation of Israel into the courtroom of God. She is presented with a new Law written on flesh, Jesus as the tablets of God. Like Moses, the Law of Moses in this passage doesn’t make it past Deuteronomy. In fact, it is “cut off” in the “midst of the week.” The house of unbelieving Israel became demonic after Pentecost. Perhaps the phrase “rock of offence” means a rock of transgression. In this stanza, Adam’s feet trip on Day 6, and there is judgment, not rest, on Day 7.
  6. The sixth stanza matches the second. Stanza 2 is delegation, the oracles given to Israel. Stanza 6 is vindication, their fulfilment. The hearts of stone in 2 are now hearts of flesh, and the particular thread of the matrix that shines here is the festal one.
    We think that the difference between stone and flesh is only their hardness, but there is also the comparison between Lot’s wife and Abraham’s. She who had children became barren and she who was barren became fruitful. The New Israel is not a barren Land, and the Old Israel became the incestuous cave of Lot and his daughters, who manipulated nature to obtain a future, but only bred enemies of the Covenant. (They can most certainly be redeemed, as Ruth was.) The old Israel was not only stoned. She was a Land “sown with salt,” a mineralized miscarriage of justice (2 Kings 2:21).
    The Ten Commandments were good, but they could not have true children (paedobaptists, take note). In a sense, the Old Covenant itself, the Succession of Moses, stones without the Spirit of God, was a eunuch, and could not enter into the heavenly Tabernacle. But a eunuch with the Spirit of God could enter. Not only would he not enter to serve, but he would be enthroned at the feast. [1]
    It is fitting that the word “possession” is placed at Pentecost. It is followed by the fulfilment of the feasts in the apostolic ministry and the first resurrection. The firstfruits martyrs saw God face to face and now reign with Him.
  7. The final stanza concerns the finished house. It is a shelter for the nations, the shelter that Israel was called to be, but could not truly be until the True Israel arrived.

Can you imagine the length of a Bible commentary that took literary structure into account?

[1] See New Covenant Virility.

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