HIGHLY PRIVILEGED PEOPLE
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with greatest care, trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when He predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. It was revealed them that they were not serving themselves when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things (1 Peter 1:10-12).
In these three long and complicated sentences, what exactly was Peter getting at? We have to look at these thoughts in the context of what he had already written.
His readers were a rejected and abused people. Some of them were Jews who had embraced Jesus as their Messiah and others had come to faith in Christ from worshipping idols and practicing wicked things in the name of their religion. Instead of being recognised as upright citizens, they were despised and rejected by both Jews and Gentiles because they no longer fitted in. They would not acknowledge Caesar as Lord and they refused to take part in idolatrous worship and the practices of their pagan neighbours.
It was natural that they should feel like outcasts. One can sense, from Peter’s encouragement, that they were in danger of forgetting who they really were. It was his intention to show them who they were in God’s eyes regardless of what the people in the world thought of them and how they treated them. He had to put their circumstances into perspective so that they would not lose heart and go back to their old ways.
Far from their suffering being the evidence of God’s neglect, it was proof that they were genuine children of God. Rejected by the world? They were chosen, holy and beloved of God. Suffering for their faith? God was purifying their confidence in Him. They had reason to rejoice because, far from being the off-scourings of the earth, they were a privileged and blessed people.
They were so blessed, in fact, that they experienced what prophets and angels could not! God’s prophets of old were the most privileged of all His people. They were called and anointed with His Spirit to stand between God and His people. They stood in the presence of God to hear His word in order to speak it to His people. They had access to God’s counsel in ways which kings and people and even the priests did not. They not only understood what God was doing in the lives of His people in their current circumstances – they also had insights into future events.
It was from those who lived in intimate fellowship with God that we can draw an accurate picture of the Messiah long before He arrived on the earth. When we compare Jesus with the predictions the prophets made about Him centuries before, we come up with a perfect match. How else can we be sure that the man who claimed to be the Son of God and sent from God was who He said He was?
But there was one thing the prophets could not do – experience what they predicted because it was for a future time. They could only see it from afar. They would experience the benefits of His death because He was ‘the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world’ but they would never experience the temporal blessings which are part of the package of salvation. However much they longed to be a part of what they had written, it was not to be.
Only those to whom Peter was writing and all those who follow in their footsteps of faith are privileged to be participants in the blessings Jesus, the Messiah brought when He came to earth.
Why is it important that believers go through the kind of things of which Peter wrote? Why does God not snatch us out of here the moment we believe? Firstly, of course, He needs witnesses to live and speak of His grace to a broken world. But secondly, and this is the part we don’t like, He takes time to sanctify and purify our hearts from the corruption of the world.
While we are here on earth in the midst of the world’s brokenness and wickedness, we are serving our apprenticeship for the life to come. God is grooming us for our role as co-rulers with Christ on His restored and perfected earth. He is teaching us to reign in life now so that we can reign with Him then. He cannot use untrained and untested rookies for so great a responsibility! How we function now will determine where we function then.
Far from being underdogs, Peter had to ensure that his readers understood who they were, why they were suffering and what their privileges were so that they would persevere, not with gritted teeth but with joyful purpose because, in God they were going somewhere – into the eternal realm of unimaginable blessing.
So are we if we hang in there!
Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.