WHAT THE PROPHETS SOUGHT AND ANGELS DESIRED
1 Peter 1:10-12
Jesus said, “But blessed are your eyes, for they see, and your ears, for they hear. For truly, I say to you, many prophets and righteous people longed to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it.” Matt 13:16-17 This is what Peter wants us to understand in this portion of his letter. Peter opens with the comfort of our salvations future reward. (v5) Peter reminds us that we must endure salvations present adversity. (v9) Peter elevates our salvation by reminding us of salvations rich prophetic past. (v12) Peter says in (v9), “Receiving the end of your faith…the salvation of your souls.” The word “end” does not mean the final point of your journey. It’s referring to…. a goal, aim, or purpose; and the ultimate purpose of our faith is the “salvation of our souls” This final salvation of our soul includes the redemption of the body and our souls being in the presence of Christ.
Peter is saying the present we endure must be
understood in the glorious future that God has secured.
The culture at large only see this life as “here and now, or this is all there is” Paul uses the world’s reasoning in contrast if there was no resurrection. “What do I gain if, humanly speaking, I fought with beasts at Ephesus? If the dead are not raised, “Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.” 1 Cor 15:32. According to society that how they live, there is no eternal element, or afterlife; other than the one they created for themselves And what we hold by faith as sacred is swallowed up by the secular worldview by a great majority of people. Christians tend to forget that we can taste and enjoy the glory now, despite the trials and sufferings we go through in this life. Charles Spurgeon said, “Little faith will take your soul to heaven, but great faith will bring heaven to your soul.” See! It’s one thing to long for heaven during times of suffering, but that we have the fullness, the completion of our salvation in the return of Christ…… partially now. The prophets of the Old Testament wrote about this salvation and they studied it closely. (v10-v11) Look at the middle of (v11) "The Spirit of Christ within [the prophets] . . . predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow." The prophets predicted the sufferings of Christ and this is what they gave their lives to searching and inquiring about. The prophets in the Old Testament refer to “the sufferings of Christ” in such passages as Psalm 22. “My God, my God, why have you forsaken Me?” Isaiah wrote, “Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted.” (How can one hang a cross and be exalted at the same time?) Isaiah 52:13
This is in reference to Jesus hanging on a cross as well as reference to in the next chapter, some 700 years into the future. “Therefore I will divide him a portion with the many, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong, because he poured out his soul to death and was numbered with the transgressors; yet he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” Isaiah 53:12. The prophets, “Searched and inquired” emphasize the intensity with which they investigated their prophecies. Just as God gave them the words to preach and write, “Now the word of the LORD came to me, saying, "Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations." Then I said, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak, for I am only a youth." But the LORD said to me, "Do not say, 'I am only a youth'; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak.” Jer 1:4-7
They searched and inquired about this to better
understand the magnitude of salvation’s grace.
They inquired about what? (v11-12) They couldn’t understand salvation as clearly as they desired, and they were physically impaired due to the nature of their work. The prophets weren’t just interested in the general doctrine of salvation or a general teaching of the Messiah. They inquired about “what person, or time” this would all occur.
“person” being. “Who would be the Savior? A judge, prophet, priest and or king, and when would this all happen? The Old Testament prophets were limited; they were all the more intent on studying, though it was a mystery to them in part. What do I mean? When Jesus came to earth, the Jewish teachers were awaiting a conquering King and Messiah who would defeat Israel’s enemies, and establish the kingdom promise to David. Even the disciples were not fully clear about the need for Messiah’s death on the cross. Matt 16:13-28. They even still inquired about the Jewish Kingdom after His resurrection. Acts 1:1-8. What Peter reveals here, is that the prophets were ministers for a future generation from the death and resurrection of Christ, to the His second coming, remained a mystery to them. (v12a). In other words, the church age was hidden from them until the church was established, or as Paul says “When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” Eph 3:4-6
The Old Testament prophets and the saints looked ahead by faith to two mountains. Mount Calvary where their Christ would suffer and die. Isaiah 53; and Mount of Olives where He would return in glory. Zech 14:4 The prophet’s limited insight could not see the “valley” between these two mountains in the present age of the church. This future revelation didn’t diminish their faith or prevented them from preaching God’s Word.
Understand! The prophets of old were the true outsiders to the world system to bring hope to the lost. The prophets of old were the ones who were kept from seeing salvation’s fullness.
The prophets of old have been ordained by God by serving a future generation, rather than their own. The prophets of old endured mostly rejection and loss from those who lived amoung them. Peter and those who read about the prophets of old would understand they had a far rougher life to go through then they did. And these prophets according to Peter searched and inquired carefully despite what happened to them.
This salvation we rest in, and enjoy, with the full assurance of heaven, came at a heavy cost. Not only to God, Himself, His Son, but it cost the prophets their lives as well. Hebrews 11 the “Hall Of Faith” chapter reveals that many went to their death for the sake of the gospel and future generations, “who through faith conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Some were tortured, refusing to accept release, so that they might rise again to a better life. Others suffered mocking and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were stoned, they were sawn in two, they were killed with the sword. They went about in skins of sheep and goats, destitute, afflicted, mistreated of whom the world was not worthy, wandering about in deserts and mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth…....” Heb 11:33-40
These poor, despised, and persecuted prophets of old, living as outcasts and wanderers, were of a character far elevated above the world. And despite all that, they were serving future generations and would never see the fulfillment of what they proclaimed, as they served as preachers of the Word. They gave their lives for those who are on this side of the cross. Doesn’t that humble you a little bit ……to know that the prophets looked into this salvation, and kept others to look ahead to future things; though they were limited, because they were serving a future generation.
You and I know nothing of this kind of
suffering and enduring faith.
But the prophets did, and they did it with a desire to know Christ more, as they pressed on for His glory. This glorious “salvation” and “grace” was foretold long ago in messianic prophecy, over centuries of careful searching and studying. (v10) Consider Isaiah the prophecy of the Christmas story of promise. He knew God had promised “a Son would be given,”, He wrote, “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder, and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” Isaiah 9:8. We also read in Isaiah, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” Isaiah 7:19 “Immanuel” would come, and a Suffering Servant would die for sinners. Through these prophets, God’s Spirit was “pointing” to a bloody cross and an empty tomb. (v11) The prophets would inquire, “But who would this Savior be, and when would he come? See! They saw redemptions plan and never the lost hope on their side of the cross. This is why Simeon could say after all those years being reminded of the prophets of old, “Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord's Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him according to the custom of the Law, he took him up in his arms and blessed God and said, "Lord, now you are letting your servant depart in peace, according to your word; for my eyes have seen your salvation that you have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to your people Israel." Luke 2:25-32. In the same moment a devote woman, a prophetess (one who had understanding in the scriptures above other women, and made it her business to instruct the younger women in the things of God.) named Anna who would be seen in the temple constantly rejoiced seeing the future suffering Christ. “She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem.” Luke 2:36-38. What Zechariah, Mary, Joseph, the Shepherds, Anna , Simeon, the disciples and the church, could rejoice over was limited to the prophets of old.
We live on the other side
of the cross.
We live on the other side of the cross, surrounded by the riches found in the death and resurrection of gospel fulfillment. Again as Jesus said, “Many prophets and saints longed to see what you now see, yet never saw it; to hear what you hear, yet never heard it” Matt. 13:17. Why? The prophets labored their entire lives to present the gospel to us. God sent “Spirit-filled prophets” to proclaim this news. (v12) The prophets travelled throughout the regions to ensure that it this message would prepare God’s people to receive it. This message was so great and earthshattering, that it had the angelic host standing at immersed attention as they watched it unfold. Peter even says that “angels long to look” into this gospel message. (v12d) “Angels long to look” describes having “a strong desire or overpowering impulse that is not easily satisfied.” This means it wasn’t a whimsical or curiosity, but a strong passion to look into this grace. “Look” means to “stretch one’s head forward or down” as far as it can go to see something. They had a holy curiosity of this grace. How amazing is that? …. considering holy angels do not need to be saved, and fallen angels cannot be saved. Angels just like the prophets of old seek to understand this salvation, so that they might glory God. “Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, "Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!" Rev 5:11-12
They were there when God presented a new star. Job 38:7. They have watched humanity from the beginning and yet they have a lot to learn. (v12b) What angels are looking into is that the church is central to history, to the gospel, and to Christian living. We know from Scripture angels are concerned for the church. 1 Tim 5:17-25. We know that they are ministering agents watching over the church. “Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?” Heb 1:14
The main point of this paragraph is that we should be amazed at the greatness of our salvation. From the garden to today the prophets have labored their entire lives to this gospel. Preachers… past, present, future has labored their entire lives to this gospel. Angels…. would like nothing better than to gaze into what God has done. This reveals God’s love for sinners by what means… God used through the prophets, to prepare us for His Son and He doesn’t forget His Covenant people. What do we remind ourselves this side of the cross, that cause the prophets to search and inquire, and the angels to look into? Christ bore our sins. Because we need to be saved from our sins. Sin is like a terminal disease that will kill us forever. Christ's wounds can heal that disease. Peter says, “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.” 1 Peter 2:24
Our sin separates us from God. So Christ died for our sins to bring us home to God. Christ’s death brides the gap to reconcile us back to the Father as Peter says, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,” 1 Peter 3::18. We need to be saved from God's judgment. The gospel is the good news that Christ bears the judgment of all who trust Him. Because God’s judgement begins with us as Peter says, “For it is time for judgment to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 1 Peter 4:17. We need salvation from the devil. The Bible says that the Son of God came into the world to destroy the works of the devil. We need salvation from a relentless predator as Peter says, “Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
This is what prophets studied and what the angels look into, this great salvation of grace that you, and I, can understand in its fullness, this side of the cross. We have the privilege to be a part of the mystery revealed that the prophets long ago searched to see for themselves. But were unable to, because they were proclaiming and preparing future generations. It is a great privilege to live in the last days, because Joel prophesied, "In the last days . . . God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh." Joel 2:17. The prophets looked forward to the day when the Messiah, the Son of David, the king of Israel, would come. Why? For the same reason you and I look forward to; for that would be a day of great blessing for God's people.
And now He has come, His kingdom has been appointed. John Piper wrote, “We live in an age of fulfillment. And what we anticipate in the future at Christ's second coming is not something completely new, but rather the consummation of the blessings we already enjoy, because the promises have begun to be fulfilled in our lives.” The prophets were not able to see their work fulfilled but that doesn’t mean they missed out on the joy you and I have today and for eternity. Why is Peter telling us all this under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit? To encourage our hearts to continue as we go through trials and sufferings. To persevere, in this great salvation that the prophets of old proclaimed and look forward too. They were ministers for us, and they did this not knowing how these things would play out after the cross. That in our testing of suffering we can know that the prophets and saints of old did the same, From Noah, to John the Baptist. Salvations eternal thread from Genesis to Revelation, that the good news of the gospel would reach future generations. They pressed on knowing less than you and I do, and they still did this by faith and future death. May we never squander, overlook, a gospel encounter. May we never take for granted what was preached so long ago, the gospel that would change your life for eternity. We are indebted to the prophets, the apostles, and the church age, to continue to do the work that God has called us to. Living in a hope of the good news preached to us; despite what we go through waiting the fullness of our salvation as Job said, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed, yet in my flesh I shall see God, whom I shall see for myself, and my eyes shall behold, and not another. My heart faints within me!” Job 19:25-27