What Prophets and Angels Longed To See
Passage: 1 Peter 1:10–1:12
Do you think of yourself as a privileged person? Do you see yourself as someone who has received a rare and precious blessing? God wants you to. He wants you to see the privilege of salvation as so great, that it gives you deep joy... a joy so deep and powerful that it can overshadow your present trials.
In the previous verse, Peter just wrote that “you believe in Jesus Christ and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls”. Then he says, “Concerning this salvation”, I have something to say. So what does Peter have to say concerning the salvation of your soul?...... The great men of the Bible, the prophets, and even the angels are stunned by the wonder of salvation in Christ, and you should be too. That is a paraphrase, of course. But that is what he says to us.
One way I might be convinced to try a new restaurant would if two other people I highly respected told me it is fantastic. Their opinion would affect my opinion. Peter seeks to impress upon us the grandeur of our salvation, by showing you how grand both the prophets and the angels view these things.
Here is the logic of this passage; The prophets spoke about our salvation. They predicted the coming of Jesus Christ, including his suffering and his glory to come. They longed to know and understand these things. The angels long to know and understand these things. WE NOW experience this salvation through Jesus Christ (which the prophets and angels longed to see). Therefore you and I are people of great privilege. We know things and experience things IN Jesus, which the prophets and angels would have given their right arm to experience.
Jesus said a very similar thing in Matthew 13:17, “Truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men longed to see what you see, but did not see it, and to hear what you hear, but did not hear it”. And in verse 16, “Blessed are your eyes because they see and blessed are your ears because they hear”. Joyously happy are you for seeing and hearing the things you do. Or, “How privileged you are!!”
First, the prophets, show us what a great privilege we enjoy. If Jeremiah and Isaiah and all the other prophets, through whom God spoke, had such passionate interest in THIS salvation, then you should consider what you have very precious. If you do not highly esteem the prophets you may not get the full impact of Peter's message. So I want to show you who the prophets were.
The prophets were the men in the Old Testament, through whom God spoke his word to his people. Much of our Bible consists of the revelation these men were given by God. We are talking about Isaiah, and Jeremiah and Daniel and Micah and Zachariah, and many others. God called them to speak for him, to be his voice. Over and over again it says, “the word of the Lord came to ….” and they spoke that word for the people of their day, AND they spoke much about the future. The words they have spoken will abide forever because they are the words of God.
2 Peter 1:20 says, “Above all you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophets own interpretation. For prophecy never had its origin in the will of man, BUT MEN SPOKE FROM GOD AS THEY WERE CARRIED ALONG BY THE HOLY SPIRIT”. They were moved by the Holy Spirit in such a way that they spoke from God.
Verse 10 says, “The prophets spoke about the grace that was to come to you”. They wrote about the marvelous GRACE OF GOD that would come someday through Jesus Christ. The prophets were given a glimpse of the New Covenant age and it was full of wonder and amazement to them.
God spoke to Jeremiah 31:33 “This is the covenant I will make with them, after that time, declares the Lord, I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God and they will be my people”. “Their sins and their lawless acts I will remember no more”. The prophets foretold a time coming where the things required to please God would no longer, primarily be written in stone or on scrolls of parchment paper, but would live in the hearts and minds of God's people.
The Holy Spirit moved them to write about Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world, the Messiah. Peter says the Spirit of Christ within the prophets was pointing to the times and circumstances of Christ's life and birth and death and glory. Christ himself was speaking in and through these men foretelling his own coming.
These things were so far out in the future, that even the prophets themselves, did not know WHEN they would happen, or WHO would fulfill these prophecies. The Spirit would prompt them to say things like, “he poured out his life unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors. For he bore the sin of many and made intercession for the transgressors”, and they themselves did not understand the details of what they were saying.
Their prophecies of the coming Christ, or Messiah included “Both his sufferings and his glories to follow”. They did not see how his sufferings and glory would fit together. But nevertheless they prophesied what the Spirit gave them. His sufferings would include prophecies like:
Psalm 22:16 His hands and his feet would be pierced Zechariah
11:12 He would be betrayed for 30 pieces of silver Isaiah
53:5 He would be pierced through for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; ...by his wounds we are healed.
His glories to follow would include prophecies of his resurrection and his coming to reign as Lord of lords and King of kings forever, prophecies like:
Psalm 16:9 “My body will live in hope, because you will not abandon me to the grave, nor will you let your Holy One see decay.”
Daniel 7:13 “I looked and there was before me on like a son of man, coming with the clouds of heaven....He was given authority, glory, and sovereign power; all peoples, nations and men of every language worshiped him. His dominion is an everlasting dominion, that will not pass away, and his kingdom is one that will never be destroyed.
Isaiah 9:6 “the government will be upon his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace....
Of course Jesus was the fulfillment of these things. It says in Luke 24:24 “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, Jesus explained to them what was said in all the scriptures concerning himself”. Jesus Christ was the culmination of all of the OT sacrifices, and all the prophecies and all the events of the OT. It all pointed towards HIM! And the GRACE that would flow to us through him!
*The prophets showed the great value they placed on our salvation, by their careful study of these things. Peter says into these things the prophets “searched intensely and with the greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing.” They poured over the things that they themselves had written under the inspiration of the Spirit. They searched into the things other prophets had written. Their intense interest in these things show us how important they thought they were. What you truly value you will study!
Peter emphasizes that their intense interest was in the salvation you and I NOW have! Look at verse 10, …. “The prophets spoke of the grace that was to come TO YOU. They were looking forward to THIS time. Verse 12, “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves, but YOU, when they spoke of these things.. that NOW HAVE BEEN TOLD YOU, by those who have preached the gospel to YOU...”
The prophets spoke of the New Covenant which Christ purchased for us by his blood, which WE experience, NOW. The prophets spoke of the things which WE NOW have heard from the Apostles like Peter and Paul and John. Things like “There is now no condemnation for those are in Christ Jesus”, or “how much more will those who receive God's abundant provision of grace and the gift of righteousness reign in life, through the one man, Jesus Christ”. The prophets SPOKE of the grace that was to come. YOU GET TO LIVE IN IT.
They spoke of a time of God would “cast all our sins in the depths of the sea”, when he would forgive us and “remember our sins no more”, when he would pour out his Spirit on his people, when he would take out our hearts of stone and give us hearts of flesh, hearts that want to serve and please God. WE LIVE IN THOSE THINGS!
Hebrews 9:26 says, “But now (Christ) has appeared once for all, at the end of the ages, to do away with sin, by the sacrifice of himself”. Hebrews 10:19 tell us we have “confidence to enter the Most Holy Place by the blood of Jesus, by a new and living way opened for us, through his body”. We can draw near to God with full assurance of faith!
We have received grace in Christ that enables us to be right with God, to stand faultless before the throne! He has sent his Spirit into our hearts, moving us to cry out, Abba Father! Instead of neglecting God or even hating God, the Spirit has created in our hearts a love for God and for the things of God!
Paul said, “We serve in the new way of the Spirit, not in the old way of the written code”. We died to the law so that we might be joined to Christ, in order that we might bear fruit for God! We don't live by sacrifices and laws, we live by the power and life of Christ. We look to and trust in the Holy Spirit to manifest the love and life and goodness of the risen Christ in and through us. “Sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace”.
Most of you were born in the 40s or 50s or later, some in the 90's or after 2000. But there were people born before you. Lots of them! There were billions of people born a long time before you. People were born from the time of Adam and Eve, to the days of Noah, and through the time Christ walked the earth. They did not enjoy the privileges of the full revelation of salvation that you do. Not even the prophets!
Paul said in Colossians 1 that his commission was to preach “the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, BUT IS NOW DISCLOSED TO THE SAINTS....which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. What was hidden for centuries and was a mystery to the prophets, you now know about. The thing they did not fully see but is now revealed is this: that Christ not only died for your sins, he came to live in and through you. Christ's life provides the change of heart and transformation in behavior and the new desires to live for God. This was hidden but is now revealed.
In 1 Corinthians 10:11 Paul said the culmination of the ages has come upon you. Culminations means the climactic point of something that has been waited for, for a long time. These great thing, that men have longed for and waited for and looked forward to for ages, has come upon you. After centuries of anticipation and longing for a Savior, Jesus Christ came, fulfilling the promises that the Spirit of Christ inspired in these men.
We are part of the BIGGEST EVENT in history, if we are saved. To be saved and to know the grace of God is the greatest thing a person can know in this life. To know Christ, to have all the benefits of salvation, to have our sins covered by the blood of Christ, to have the Spirit of God dwelling inside us, and to be destined to share in the glory of Jesus Christ, is the most magnificent blessing in the world.
There is way more to come, the kingdom of God is not fully here, BUT compared to the systems and partial revelation that other generations have lived under, you and I are SO privileged. We live in the days of what Joel the prophet spoke of when the Lord said, I will pour out my Spirit on all mankind …There was a promise all throughout the prophets that someday people would hear the voice of the Spirit and be led by the Spirit, enjoy communion with the Spirit. They spoke of an incomparable time of glory and breakthrough. We live in that!
*Then to cap off the great privilege of our salvation. Peters adds, (These are ) “Things into which the angels long to look”. If it doesn't impress you that the prophets so highly regarded your salvation, maybe it will impress you that angels long to look into these things. Angels are glorious beings! We are fascinated with angels. Yet Peter says angels are fascinated with you! You would be really impressed to see an angel. Yet they are impressed with what God is doing in YOU and the unfolding plan of salvation in YOUR life. They eagerly look down on God's work of saving people like you. Luke says, when they see one sinner repent they rejoice. They rejoice in your salvation.
In 1 Corinthians 4:9, Paul said, we have been made a spectacle both to men and to angles. IE Our lives are put on display before angels. They are watching you as salvation is worked out in your life! They watch you serve God. They watch how you handle your trials. They watch how you rejoice in your salvation even in the middle of various trials.
Angels have not experienced salvation. There are good and evil angels but no fallen angels have been redeemed and turned into good angels. Jesus died to redeem PEOPLE, to redeem fallen broken, sinful men and women boys and girls. The angels see us desperate, hopeless, sinful, lost and they see God reach into our lives and make us objects of his grace. Of all the creatures in the universe we alone experience the wonders of God's saving grace. We are the only creatures who go from sinners to saints, from prisoners of darkness to the liberty of the sons of God, from mourning to gladness, from guilty to not-guilty, from evil to righteous.....
A person addicted to drugs or alcohol now loves and serves Jesus. A person who cursed and swore every other sentence now worships and praises God. A person who lived only for themselves, now lives to encourage and refresh others.
Ray Prichard said, “Our greatest sin (spiritual problem), MAY be that we take our salvation for granted, or that we are even bored with our salvation”. They angels aren't bored! To them our salvation is a big deal. The angels see you and are amazed at what God did for you. They love to look in to these things. If angels are fascinated with the glories of our salvation we should be too.
The things which the prophets and angels long to see “have been announced to you, by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven”. You are a person of great privilege!
One: No matter how painful life becomes, look to your salvation and find joy. Peter's theme throughout the first 13 verses of chapter 1: Your salvation has sufficient glory to give you great joy in your present suffering. It is the only thing that does that! You may, at times have very little else to celebrate. But you can always celebrate your salvation.
Two: Start thinking of yourself as a person of great privilege! IE start valuing your salvation! Do you treasure your salvation? It is precious to you? Do you regard it as the highest honor of your life to belong to Christ? I hope you do and I hope that this message has helped you to do that. It should fill us with wonder and gratitude and a great sense of privilege.
Three: Develop a love for the Old Testament prophets and study them. If the prophets spoke of Christ and the grace that was to come to us, it makes sense that we would want to know and understand all that they had to say. Peter tells us the prophets were pointing toward this same gospel that the apostles proclaimed. You will get a full rich appreciation for all that you have, by seeing it unfold from the beginning.
Fourth: Know that Christ is the center of all human history. Since man was created, and from Adams sin, and the rebellion of the whole human race, all history is centered around God, coming to the rescue of desperate, lost sinful rebels, reconciling them to himself in Christ and preparing us for a glorious future with him. All the prophets spoke of Christ and this day of redemption. We who know salvation in Christ are the most blessed people in history.