WE ARE BLESSED WITH KNOWLEDGE OF CHRIST THAT INSPIRED PROPHETS AND ANGELS DID NOT HAVE
By Wayne Camp
TEXT: 1 Peter 1:10-12 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.
I continued to be amazed at the abundant blessings that we have as Gods children even though being his makes us pilgrims in this world. Though I have read this passage many times, and have used it in sermons, it had a new impact on me when I read it as I was getting ready to prepare this message. I had to read it a second and a third time. I must tell you a surge of joy went through my soul as I looked at it.
We may be pilgrims, but, as I have said before, we are pilgrims who are greatly blessed. Has it occurred to you yet that we are blessed with knowledge about Christ for which the prophets searched diligently and which angels desired to look into?
There were times in my early ministry when I sometimes wished I could have been with Elijah in the times of his great triumphs. I would think how great it would have been to have been with him and have shared with him when he taunted those false prophets of Baal on Mt. Carmel. I thought I would have liked to have seen the look on the faces of those false prophets when Elijah prayed that little quiet, short prayer and flames licked up the water on and around that altar.
But, no longer, my fellow pilgrims. I am glad I live this side of the cross. I am glad I live this side of the completion of the writing of the Scriptures. I am glad I have the complete word of God and have, also the sources of information written by great men of God and great students of Scripture such as John Gill, A. W. Pink, J. R. Graves, R. L. Dabney, Charles H. Spurgeon, J. L. Dagg, J. P. Boyce, T. P. Simmons, and a number of others. We have concordances, electronic Bibles with amazing search features and study assistance. Give me any word (except such words as the, and, of, etc.) found in the Bible and I can tell you within seconds every Scripture in which it is found. I often study a word by printing out every verse in which it is found and reading them.
I am truly blessed. We are truly blessed. And, it occurred to me that those holy prophets of whom Peter wrote were looking for Christ to come, but God had not chosen to reveal to them clearly the details of his coming.
THOSE PROPHETS ENQUIRED DILIGENTLY INTO THIS GREAT SALVATION WHICH WE ENJOY
From the fall of Adam there was some information pertaining to his coming. Eve thought she had given birth to the Saviour when Cain was born. Genesis 4:1 And Adam knew Eve his wife; and she conceived, and bare Cain, and said, I have gotten a man from the LORD. My Hebrew teacher said that the last part of this verse could be rendered, "I have gotten a man, even Jehovah." Others confirm this rendering or interpretation.
W.H. Griffith Thomas said that the literal rendering of her words could be, "I have gotten a man, even Jehovah." Thomas also suggested the possibility of rendering the words, "I have gotten a man in relationship to Jehovah."
Donald Grey Barnhouse says the true meaning of Eves words are, "I have gotten a man, even the deliverer."
John Philips says, "When Cain was born his mother thought he was Christ. She thought that already the promised Seed had come, the promised one who would crush the serpents head." Philips translates the words, "I have gotten a man, even Jehovah."
Alexander White suggests that Eve would have been "a cold-blooded atheist if she believed anything else."
C.I. Scofield says the expression "of the Lord" is better rendered "even Jehovah."
God had promised Christ. Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. Eve did not know much but knew enough that she thought she had given birth to the promised Saviour.
Moses diligently looked into this salvation which is in Christ. He recorded the promise of Genesis 3:15. He recorded the exclamation of Eve, "I have gotten a man from the LORD." He recorded the words of Jacob as he anticipated the coming of Jesus Christ. Genesis 49:10 The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. One of the principle prophecies of Moses was where he prophesied that one like unto himself would be raised up a prophet. Deuteronomy 18:15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.
Haggai wrote of Christ and enquired into this matter of our salvation. Haggai 2:7 And I will shake all nations, and the desire of all nations shall come: and I will fill this house with glory, saith the LORD of hosts.
Zechariah certainly enquired into and prophesied of this matter of our salvation. Zechariah 13:1 In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and for uncleanness. He knew this but did he know all that was implied in this prophecy which he recorded as he was born along by the Holy Spirit? Did he know that saints would one day sing,
"O precious is the flow,
that makes me white as snow.
No other fount I know,
Nothing but the blood of Jesus"?
But Dear Pilgrims, we can sing that song with the accounts of the actual sufferings of our sinless Saviour vividly in our minds. We have knowledge which Zechariah did not have.
One can only wonder at what Isaiah thought as he was inspired to write the 53rd chapter of his book. Isaiah 53:1-12 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. 4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth. 10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
That message is so clear to us. But, would it be that clear if we did not have the New Testament in which the prophecy is recorded as fulfilled. It was wonderful for Isaiah to look into. Of this substitution he could prophesy. Of God making Christs soul an offering for sin he could speak, but we can read and study about those three hours of darkness in which that great transaction transpired.
Jesus referred to this desire of the prophets to look further into this matter of our salvation and the grace of God. Matthew 13:17 For verily I say unto you, That many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them. There you have it from the mouth of Jesus Christ. Those holy prophets desired to see what many saw and recorded for our "seeing." We have eye witness accounts of what the prophets desired to see. We have heard things they desired to hear but never heard in this life. How blessed we are to see these things through eyewitness reports. I am so glad I live now and not before the cross.
Stephen verified this desire of the prophets and their prophesying of the grace and salvation which would come to us through Christ. Acts 7:52 Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers.
Peter preached concerning this testimony of the prophets concerning Christ. Acts 10:43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins. Yes, they all preached the same gospel we preach. God has never had but one way of salvation. It has always been preached. But, those prophets of old could not preach it and give the details of it that we can. We have the inspired report of it from the apostles. They saw Christ with their eyes and touched him with their hands and beheld him in his resurrected glory. How much more we can know of that good news than those prophets who preached it before it was finished.
Paul was able to use these prophets in preaching the grace of God and proving that Christ was the one for whom the prophets longingly enquired and looked. Acts 28:23 And when they had appointed him a day, there came many to him into his lodging; to whom he expounded and testified the kingdom of God, persuading them concerning Jesus, both out of the law of Moses, and out of the prophets, from morning till evening. The Old Testament Scriptures testify of Jesus Christ. John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. These prophets died without having as much information as we have. Hebrews 11:13 These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. They could see them in the distant future. I grew up out in the country. I am not an Arkansas hillbilly, I am a former Arkansas flatlander. I recall many times seeing someone walking down the road that ran in front of our house. When they came into view from the North, they would be about 3 miles away. You knew someone was coming, but could not tell who. As they got closer you might think you could identify their stride, or some other characteristic. They were usually pretty close before the details of their dress, walk, and appearance could be clearly distinguished. Finally, you could definitely identify them. After they passed, they could be seen for another mile and if they turned west, still another mile. As they went away, you knew exactly who they were and what they looked like. Those prophets of old saw Christ in the distance, but they died not ever seeing him close up as the Apostles did. They knew he was coming and some of the details about his coming but even John the Baptist, his harbinger, sent and inquired, "Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another? (Matthew 11:3)
THESE PROPHETS PROPHESIED OF THE GRACE THAT SHOULD COME TO US
They preached Christ who is full of grace and truth. John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth. Their message was a message of salvation by grace. 1 Peter 1:10 Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you. Salvation has always been by grace as is evidenced by the fact that this is the message of the prophets as well as the apostles.
THESE PROPHETS SEARCHED TO TRY TO DETERMINE THE TIME OF THE COMING OF CHRIST INTO THE WORLD
It should be pointed out that these prophets were indwelt by the spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Peter 1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow. Any person who does not have the spirit of Christ is not his. Romans 8:9 But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
It is obvious from this text and from the writings of the prophets that they knew something of the sufferings of Christ. Consider the first promise of the coming of Christ and see that it has some reference to his sufferings. Genesis 3:15 And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel. God is speaking to the serpent, the embodiment of the Devil, and warns him that the seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, who was "made of a woman," would bruise his head. But, he also says that the serpent would bruise the heel of the seed of the woman. This speaks of the suffering of Christ which was yet a mystery but was being preached in the garden shortly after the fall.
Consider these words from the Psalmist. Psalm 22:12-18 Many bulls have compassed me: strong bulls of Bashan have beset me round. 13 They gaped upon me with their mouths, as a ravening and a roaring lion. 14 I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. 15 My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. 16 For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. 17 I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. 18 They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. Psalm 69:20-21 Reproach hath broken my heart; and I am full of heaviness: and I looked for some to take pity, but there was none; and for comforters, but I found none. 21 They gave me also gall for my meat; and in my thirst they gave me vinegar to drink. A good deal of detail is found here but the Psalmist probably would have loved to know what we know about the fulfillment of those prophecies.
Consider these words of Isaiah which precede the well-known 53rd chapter of his book. Isaiah 52:13-14 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men.
Consider these words found in Daniel. Daniel 9:26 And after threescore and two weeks shall Messiah be cut off, but not for himself.
Yes, they testified of the coming of Christ and of his death on the cross and his resurrection. But, they desired to look into it more. We have been enabled to look into what they did not see nor hear. Thank God, we have the Old and the New Testaments. We have seen that for which they looked.
THESE PROPHETS ALSO KNEW SOMETHING OF THE GLORY WHICH WOULD FOLLOW THE SUFFERINGS OF CHRIST
These prophets also enquired somewhat into the glory which would follow upon the sufferings of Christ. 1 Peter 1:11 Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.
Isaiah saw the glory of Christ. John 12:41 These things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him. Isaiah 53:12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
Zechariah spoke of this glory. Zechariah 14:9 And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one.
Daniel saw and prophesied of this glory. Daniel 7:13-14 I saw in the night visions, and, behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of days, and they brought him near before him. 14 And there was given him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all people, nations, and languages, should serve him: his dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and his kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.
They had a glimpse; we have had a lingering look. We may be hated pilgrims in this world but we have had a lingering look at things holy prophets longed to see and hear. How blessed we are, my fellow pilgrims!
THESE PROPHETS KNEW THEIR MESSAGES WOULD NEVER MEAN TO THEM AS MUCH AS THEY DO TO US
It was revealed to them that we would be so greatly blessed. 1 Peter 1:12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into. What they preached with the limited knowledge they had was and is proclaimed by those who preach the gospel of Jesus Christ.
THE ANGELS DESIRE TO LOOK INTO THIS BLESSING OF SALVATION BY GRACE
The incarnation of Christ was a mysterious thing to the angels and they wondered if they should worship him. Hebrews 1:6 And again, when he bringeth in the firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him. Since their creation they had worshipped him. When he takes upon himself the likeness of sinful flesh they were doubtless very hesitant to worship him. It must have truly been a mystery to the angels to see the treatment that Christ received on earth yet he who had spoken the world into existence opened not his mouth. The mystery of God hidden from the foundation of the world was revealed and the angels were doubtless mystified by it.
The arch angel Lucifer had fallen and no plan of redemption had been devised for him and his angels. Christ came into the world to save human sinners not angelic sinners. He did not lay hold of angels in his redemptive work. Hebrews 2:16 For verily he took not on him the nature of angels; but he took on him the seed of Abraham. It must have mystified those holy angels that God willed to let all their fallen comrades be reserved in chains for the judgment of the great day; yet Christ laid hold of an innumerable multitude of these sinful human beings, took on him their nature and died for them.
The elect angels had never known personal sin; had been preserved from sin, and they cannot understand many things about this salvation that we do. But they desire to look into it.
We may be pilgrims. We may be living in a world where we are hated and despised. We may sometimes have to suffer for Christ as were these to whom Peter immediately addressed his letter. But we are greatly blessed. We have been given knowledge of this great salvation that the prophets who foretold it did not have. Rejoice Pilgrims. We have a great salvation that stirs the minds of prophets and angels. Let us rejoiced for we are truly blessed.
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Last updated on Friday, March 04, 2011