1 Peter 1:10-12
LBC ABF, 10/16/2016Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.
Intro: What salvation? 10a
Our passage this morning begins by referring back to “this salvation.” What is the salvation of which Peter speaks? Of course, the same one we have spent the last three weeks looking at. A salvation planned in eternity past by God the Father, purchased by the precious blood of Christ and secured by His resurrection, and applied to us by the working of His Holy Spirit within us.
This salvation is in effect in the present time, allowing us to walk through the trials and griefs of life with a joy that is inexpressible and full of glory, but it is also a joy that looks forward to the grace to come: the eternal inheritance of life with our heavenly Father, the fully realized salvation of our souls. The words that follow in verses 10-12 are concerned with this salvation.
1: Prophetic Inquiry 10b-11
a. What did they know?
We’re going to go a little out of order in how we examine this verse, which isn’t how I generally like to do things, I like to just follow the train of thought as it comes, but I think this might help us grasp what’s going on here. The first question I want to ask as we look at these verses is what did
the prophets know? Because the certainly knew quite a bit.
God has been revealing Himself and His saving plans since the very beginning. When Adam and Eve fall, before God even pronounces the curse upon the ground and childbirth, He first curses the serpent by promising one who will crush the head of the snake. So first of all, before there were even prophets to inquire, God’s people knew one was coming whose heel would be bruised, but victorious. The first man identified in Scripture as a prophet, Abraham, is told that in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed. David was promised that one would come from him whose throne and kingdom would be established forever. Our text it specifically mentions the grace that was to be yours,
which came through the sufferings of Christ and His subsequent glories. Let’s look at a few of passages which lay these things out.
Isaiah 53:3-10 (The Suffering Servant); Psalm 22:1, 12-18 (My God, my God); Zechariah 13:7 (Strike the Shepherd); Zechariah 12:10 (Him whom they Pierced); Psalm 118:22 (The Cornerstone; see 1 Peter 2:7)
So they clearly saw His sufferings. Now it might be good to make a note here. You might be saying, “psst, Will, it says the prophets inquired, not the Psalmists.” Which would be a keen observation. It’s important to remember that the folks we refer to as the major and minor prophets aren’t the only prophets that existed in Old Testament times. There are many other prophets who are mentioned that don’t write books, there were more still who are never even named, and even certain characters such as Abraham, Moses, and David whom we may not think of primarily as prophets often served a prophetic function in that the spoke the words of God. So, it’s not out of line to refer to the prophets and then quote the Psalms because, well, Jesus did that sort of thing.
But the prophets didn’t just see His sufferings, they also saw His glories: Psalm 8:4-6 (For a little while lower); Isaiah 9:2-6 (the people who walked in darkness); Daniel 7:13-14 (the Ancient of Days); Psalm 110 (sit at My right hand)
So all of this to say: the prophets knew clearly that Messiah was coming, that there would be suffering, and that there would be glory.
b. What did they not know?
So the prophets knew a lot, right? But they didn’t know everything they wanted to. If you could imagine yourself in your place, you might see how when you’re sitting at the bottom of a cistern or fleeing from your country, or preaching to a hard hearted and rebellious people about this glorious salvation, you might be asking yourself, and certainly asking God when? When will the glory happen? When will Messiah come? Who will He be? Who will save these wicked people who keep fighting against You? These would be reasonable questions to ask. And so Peter tells us that these men searched and inquired carefully
. The didn’t just turn these things over in their head a few times, the likely looked at the things they themselves had prophesied, cross referenced them with the prophecies of others, and examined the signs of the times, as it were, and tried to make sense of it all. Is it soon? Is He here? But they couldn’t figure it out.
c. How did they know?
Before we get to why they couldn’t figure it out, let’s pause and understand for a minute how they came to understand what they did, how their prophecies happened. It says they were inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating. The prophecies of these men were not things that they themselves conjured up. If they were, they wouldn’t have to search for indications as to their meaning and fulfillment, because they would be determining these things But because these prophecies came from God, they had to search and inquire. 2 Peter 1:19-21 says,
And we have the prophetic word more fully confirmed, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the One who spoke through these men, and He is referred to here as “the Spirit of Christ”, which makes sense in light of the facts that 1) He is giving prophecy about Christ, 2) Jesus, along with the Father, sends the Spirit to do His work (John 16:7), and 3) the work of the Holy Spirit is to glorify Christ (John 16:14). So it is the Holy Spirit, the 3rd Person of the Trinity, sent by the Father and the Son, who speaks to and through these prophets.(Footnote #1)
2: Prophetic Revelation 12a
a. That they were serving not themselves, but us.
So what else did the Spirit reveal to these men? That they weren’t going to fully understand the time and person questions. Why? Because their prophecies concerning Messiah were less about them, and more about you. They wrote to serve those who were not themselves. How could their prophecies serve those to whom Peter wrote, let alone those of us serving in the 21st century?
One way is to establish and strengthen our faith. I will beat this drum probably until I am dead, so here we go again: our faith is not a blind faith. Do I trust in things I can’t see, like a future eternity with God? Absolutely. But in doing so, I’m banking on a God who 700 years prior to Christ birth told Isaiah it would happen, and that His mother would be a virgin. And that He would suffer, die, be stricken for our transgressions. And that He would reign, and that one day the lion would lay down with the lamb. I’d say the batting average on the first part is pretty good, therefore it’s reasonable to trust that the rest of it is coming.
Remember what Jesus says to the disciples on the road to Emmaus? Luke 24:25, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into His glory?”
Jesus basically calls them out for only believing the glory stuff and not paying enough attention to the suffering aspect. He calls their attention to the fact that the suffering was necessary, as is the glory. In fact, it precedes the glory.
Now think about what Peter has just been teaching us about salvation? That now for a little while, if necessary, we have been grieved by various trials. That our inheritance is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, and...kept in heaven. We taste it in part, but we don’t have it all yet. But take heart! Because in examining the prophets and subsequently the life of Christ, we see that His sufferings must precede His glory. They couldn’t fully understand this, but we on the other side of the cross can see it and take joy, courage, and hope from it.(Footnote #2) The message of the cross gives us hope not simply because of the raw facts (Christ paid for my sins!), but also because of its shape: the cross comes before the crown.
b. How do we know?
How do we know? So the prophets came to know what they knew through Divine Revelation, through the Holy Spirit speaking to and through them. The have been announced to us by those who preached the good news. Week in and week out as we come to hear God’s word ministered, His good news preached to us, we come into contact again with the message of the prophets and their fulfillment (either accomplished or coming) in the ultimate Prophet: our Lord Jesus Christ. As men preach God’s word, the Spirit moves on hearts. Certainly things like this class, private Bible reading, Flock groups, etc play important, even vital roles in our formation as believers. But I do believe there is something particular about the preaching, the heralding of God’s word as happens here for instance during a typical Sunday morning or evening service, that God uses to convict, train, equip, encourage, comfort, afflict, and save. How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone preaching? Romans 10:14.
And how does this preaching happen? By the Holy Spirit. I think this is due partly to the fact that it is the Book which He inspired that the preaching is to come from. But I also believe from the emphasis in Scripture laid upon preaching that there is a particular ministry of the Spirit that comes upon the hearts of God’s people in faithful preaching. Perhaps something to think about next time you feel like the sermon is taking too long.
Conclusion: The Angels’ Longing 12c
These things which the prophets desired to see, which have been revealed to us by the preaching of God’s word, are things into which angels long to look. This is a difficult phrase, because, well, angels have
been looking all along. God isn’t hiding His saving work from them, they can see it. So here’s what I think Peter is driving at: the angels can’t stop looking at what God is doing, and while they have perfect minds, unstained by sin, they have neither the experience of being saved (as we do) to understand what it is like to be a forgiven sinner, nor do they have the same mercy or compassion as God to understand why
One so holy would love creatures so unlovely as we. This has to be an absolutely mind-blowing movie that they have been watching (and occasionally participating in) for the last 6,000 years or so. The grace of God to sinners boggles the human mind, it must truly amaze angels. Paul says in 1 Corinthians 4:9 that the apostles were made a spectacle before the world, angels, and men. In Ephesians 3:10 he says that through the church the manifold wisdom of God is made manifest to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places. What is the point of telling us all of this? To remind us, once again, of the greatness of our salvation. To help us realize anew all that our God has done for us. The God of all the universe has loved a sinful creature such as me. He sent His own Son to absorb and absolve my debt, that He might bring me to God. This is a song the angels never tire of hearing, of singing, or seeing. Amen.
#1:Also, the terms “Spirit”, “Spirit of God”, and “Spirit of Christ” are used synonymously in Romans 8:9.
#2: A great rabbit trail to go down here would be how the prophets are incomplete without those of us in the New Covenant, in relation to Hebrews 11. But I don’t think there’s time to cover that here.