Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Intense Desire of Prophets and Angels

Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven — things which angels desire to look into. (1Peter 1:10-12)
The prophets of the Old Testament spoke by the Holy Spirit, whom Peter here calls the Spirit of Messiah (Christ). They brought the promise of salvation, which has now been fulfilled by Jesus the Messiah and is being revealed to us (see The Abundant Mercy of God Revealed). Though they brought the message, these prophets did not understand exactly how and when it would come about, but they longed to know. Peter uses three verbs to bring out the intensity of this desire:
  • “inquired,” Greek ekzeteo, the craving to know something, to thoroughly seek it out.
  • “searching,” Greek ereuneo, to investigate or examine.
  • “searched diligently,” exereuneo, an intensified form of eruneo.
Pairing together “inquired” (ekzeteo) with “searched diligently” (exereuneo),” as Peter does here, concentrates these already emphatic words even more. It is almost as if he cannot find enough words to show how much the Old Testament prophets longed to know the things Peter was now talking about. Earlier, he wrote of the intense, unmitigated, inexpressible joy we can now have in Jesus (see A Joy Words Cannot Contain). Now, he reveals another dimension of that joy by describing the passionate longing of the prophets to know all about God’s plan for us.

The Holy Spirit testified beforehand, witnessing to them in advance about the things that Messiah would suffer for the sake of God’s people and the glories (note the plural) that would follow, what this suffering would mean, not just for Israel, but for all the world. The prophets understood that these things would not be fulfilled in their own day but were for future generations. Peter says they were ministering to us to whom the gospel — the good news that Messiah has now come into the world — has been preached.

Peter knows well when and why the Holy Spirit was “sent from heaven.” He was there at Pentecost, when the Spirit of God descended upon Jesus’ disciples. Before ascending to heaven, Jesus had promised, “You shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8). The same Spirit who foretold the coming of Messiah through the prophets now proclaimed it through Spirit-filled witnesses.

Peter then says something that lifts this wonder up even higher. He has spoken of the great passion of the prophets to understand these things. Now he speaks of these as “things angels desire to look into.” The Greek word for “desire” is epithumeo. It is made up of two words: epi, which here signifies intensity, and thumeo, which is passion. The word for “look” is parakupto, also made up of two words: para, beside and kupto, to bend forward or stoop down. Picture angels leaning over, stooping sideways, stretching their necks, with an intense curiosity, passion and awe to see the wonderful things God has done for us. The Message Bible says, “Angels would have given anything to be in on this!”

The prophets of old did not live to see these things come to pass. Angels are sort of bystanders, “ministering spirits sent forth to minister for those who will inherit salvation” (Hebrews 1:14). But we heirs of this promise. If prophets passionately sought to understand it and angels intensely desire to stoop low just to see it, how marvelous it must be for us who receive it.

Keeping the Faith When Things Get ToughKeeping the Faith When Things Get Tough
Peter’s Letter to Jesus Believers Scattered Everywhere
Bite-Sized Studies Through First Peter
by Jeff Doles

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