Old Testament/Covenant scripture teaches us that everyone was of one corrupt mind, save for a few souls: Namely, Noah, Abraham, Lot and others. Therefore, Almighty God decided to take justified, invasive action and remove them from the face of the earth. The first set were destroyed by water; although an ark was prepared for anyone who wanted to enter and be saved from the impending judgment. The other set were destroyed by fire and brimstone because of widespread sexual immorality and I’m sure other abominations were being committed.
However, the same-mindedness of the majority was enmity towards the true and living Almighty God. Therefore, it was imperative that Almighty God separated to Himself, a people. This group of people was required to go against the trending norms and mores of the day. They were given Ten Commandments with its corresponding punishment, which was, death, if any one of them was broken. He then dubbed them, “a peculiar people” or in a couple instances, “a peculiar treasure.” Of course, the honour and privilege of being called peculiar meant that one had to adhere to keeping His covenant and obeying His voice (Ex. Ch. 19 v 5).
The term, a peculiar people/peculiar treasure, is mentioned in the bible six times. First in Exodus 19 v 5, “Now therefore, if ye will obey My voice indeed, and keep My covenant, then ye shall be a peculiar treasure unto Me above all people; for all the earth is Mine.”
Notice the caveats above; if ye will obey…and keep My covenant, then ye shall be…
Second in, Deut. Ch. 14 v 2, “For thou art 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.”
It may seem peculiar to some readers that the Israelites were called ‘a holy people,’ considering their constant display of rebelliousness. However, Leviticus Ch. 27 v 28 teaches us that, “every devoted offering is most holy to the LORD.” They were set apart from the other nations and devoted by the LORD to His self for His glory. They, being made qualified for that honour, through a promise that was made to Abraham, even before the circumcision.
Third in Deut. Ch 26 v 18, “And the LORD hath avouched thee this day to be His peculiar people, as He hath promised thee, and that thou shouldest keep all His commandments.”
Fourth in Psalm Ch 135 v 4, “For the LORD hath chosen Jacob unto Himself and Israel for His peculiar treasure.”
Expositional bible commentators have explained the distinction when Jacob and Israel are used as though in juxtaposition to each other. Recall that Jacob was renamed Israel by Almighty God (see Gen. Ch. 32 v 28). Jacob means deceitful and Israel means Prince with God. Therefore, it has been posited that Jacob is used to indicate the nation when they’re in the flesh and Israel is used when they’re demonstrating their spiritual calling or when Almighty God is reminding them of same.
Fifth in Titus Ch. 2 v 14, “Who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
Sixth in 1Peter Ch. 2 v 9, “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 marvellous light.”
The Oxford English Dictionary (OED) defines the word ‘peculiar’ as odd or strange among other definitions, taken from the Latin word peculllium, which means private property.
The term ‘peculiar people’ stands for, in the Greek — a people selected by God from the other nations for his own possession. As well as, light-bringing, illuminating power, a heavenly light, as an appellation of God, that is, as by nature, spotless, holy and in a state of supreme sanctity.
Here we have the true and living Almighty God claiming unto Himself a people as His very own. (Meditate on the preceding for a moment). Incidentally, they would have been a rather peculiar/strange bunch to the other nations (according to the OED’s definition); as they, (the Israelites), would be the only group of people on the face of the earth to have faith in and worship a god they could not see, let alone touch.
Unfortunately, their desire to be like the other nations led to, in my opinion, the saddest verses in the entire bible which say, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah, and said to him…, “Now make for us a king to judge us like all the nations.” But the thing displeased Samuel…And the LORD said to Samuel, “Heed the voice of the people in all that they say to you, for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, that I should not reign over them”” (1 Sam Ch. 8 vv 4-7). Those verses tug at my heart strings every time I read them, as even today nothing has changed.
The people were not interested in being God-owned or God-led. Again, I bemoan the fact that nothing has changed even today. We seem to be caught up in a labyrinth of worldly isms, selfishness and unscriptural doctrines, that woo us away from the “simplicity that is in Christ.” Opting instead to magnify “the cares of this world” with its myriads of trials and tribulations (like the rest of the world dwellers) than to magnify the God who lives in us (as a peculiar people ought to do).
In the New Testament/Covenant Paul reminded Titus about “Our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto Himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.”
1Peter Ch. 2 v 9 echoes the sentiment by letting us know, “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 marvellous light.”
The preceding is often preached in sermons; but can we honestly declare that our lives reflect the profound spiritual meaning of those two scriptures? In essence, we are supposed to be different from the rest of the world. Our conduct and speech should reflect same. Especially in the face of adversities. We’re commanded by Jesus to, “Do not worry about your life…” (Matt. Ch. 6 v 25). Also, Paul and Timothy urge us to, “Be anxious for nothing…” (Phil. Ch. 4 v 6).
Too many of us in the body of Christ are falling victim to mental illness brought on by worry. How many times were the apostles held in chains? Their reaction to their incarceration was to pray and sing hymns to God. (See Acts Ch. 16 vv 16-40). Peculiar! It really doesn’t matter which part of the world one resides because, “The earth is the LORD’S, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein” (Psa. Ch. 24 v 1).
When one decides to accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour, one is consenting, among other things, to being labelled ‘peculiar.’ A people who are, according to Jesus, “Not of the world, just as I am not of the world” (Jn. Ch. 17 v 16).
Hence the plea by Paul to, “Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Rom. Ch. 12 vv 1-2). The peculiar people of Almighty God are mindful of their thought processes. He/she is well aware of the world he/she lives in but is determined to, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (Col. Ch. 3 v 2).
Early and sincere followers of Christ understood the preceding sentiment. They accepted it, were persecuted for it, suffered for it and died for it with exceeding joy, all for the glory of God.
Disclaimer: The mention of one of the sources of mental illness is not in any way an attempt to trivialize the importance of adhering to doctors’ medicinal recommendations to treat same. I am well aware of the intricacies of the mind and its environmental and genetic connections. If any is suffering from any form of mental illness, it does not mean that one is less than in the Body of Christ.
By Gail Reid
Scripture was taken from the King James Version (KJV) and the New King James Version (NKJV).
Definitions were taken from the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), The New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible and Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament.