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God is with you, Part 4

1 Peter 1v10-12

The Prophets spoke about us

24th March 2017

When we started looking at this letter, we noticed that Peter said several things to assure the Christians who would read it that they were now included in Israel. He said we're God's elect – God's chosen people. He called us the Diaspora, like the Jews. He said we're sprinkled with blood, just like the ancient Israelites. And so on. It's wonderful that God now includes us among His holy people, but now Peter says something even more amazing.

1 Peter 1v10—12
Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the 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 Christ and the glories that would follow. It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, 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.

Peter says here that the Old Testament prophets were serving you and me when they prophesied.

Of course, not all Old Testament prophesies were about the coming of Jesus Christ, or about you and me. Some were about Edom, or Moab, or Lebanon, for example. Those prophesies still have useful things to teach us, but they weren't about Jesus, or about us. But many Old Testament prophecies were about Jesus, and about us. Peter says the prophets spoke of the grace that was to come to you, that is, to us. Let's remember just a few examples of Old Testament prophecies about Jesus and about us:

Isaiah prophesied the birth of Jesus:

Isaiah 9:6-7
For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counsellor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David's throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord Almighty will accomplish this.

Isaiah also prophesied about the Holy Spirit coming on Jesus:

Isaiah 61:1-3
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord's favour and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion - to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendour.

Jesus confirmed that this was about Him in Luke 4:21 when he told his synagogue "Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing".

Isaiah prophesied the trial and death of Jesus, and its purpose in atoning for our sin, in this wonderful passage:

Isaiah 53:4-12
Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, stricken by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.
We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.
He was oppressed and afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth; he was led like a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth. By oppression and judgment he was taken away. And who can speak of his descendants? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished. He was assigned a grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death, though he had done no violence, nor was any deceit in his mouth.
Yet it was the Lord's will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the Lord makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the Lord will prosper in his hand. After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied; by his knowledge my righteous servant will justify many, and he will bear their iniquities. Therefore I will give him a portion among the great, and he will divide the spoils with the strong, because 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.

Jeremiah prophesied the New Covenant that Jesus inaugurated, and that we participate in:

Jeremiah 31:31-34
"The days are coming," declares the Lord, "when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah. It will not be like the covenant I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they broke my covenant, though I was a husband to them," declares the Lord.
"This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel 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. No longer will a man teach his neighbour, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest," declares the Lord. "For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

This is a great example of a prophesy that was originally addressed to Israel and Judah, but which actually applies to all of us who believe in the redeeming blood of Jesus, because we too are now the Israel of God.

Joel prophesied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the church:

Joel 2:28-29
"And afterwards, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions. Even on my servants, both men and women, I will pour out my Spirit in those days."

Of course, there are many more Old Testament prophesies that I could have quoted.

Peter says that the prophets searched intently and with the 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 Christ and the glories that would follow". A prophet is like a postman delivering a message from God. When a person prophesies, he doesn't always know exactly what the prophesy means; a true prophesy is a message from God, not from the prophet. But the prophesies we just read are so momentous that of course the prophets wanted to know what the meant.

They wanted to know when Jesus would come, when the Holy Spirit would be poured out, when the Gentiles would be included among God's people. They studied the scriptures they had, and they asked God in prayer. And God revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you. The main beneficiaries of Old Testament prophesies are Christians. Which means we need to study the Old Testament as well as the New.

When the Old Testament prophets spoke, 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. The Old Testament prophets preached the gospel. They didn't fully understand the Gospel, and it wasn't as clear in their day as it became when Jesus arrived on earth and began to explain it. But that's what they were doing.

They were predicting that Jesus would come, that He would preach, that He would heal the sick, that He would die to pay for our sin, that He would rise again, and that He would ascend into heaven (Daniel 7). And they predicted that Gentiles would be included in God's people through faith.

Of course, the Old Testament prophets didn't fully understand. Even the angels don't fully understand. Peter says Even angels long to look into these things. God choose how much He will reveals to each person. Even we, who have the Old and New Testaments, and have received the Holy Spirit, don't fully understand, but we have seen and understood things that the old prophets couldn't grasp.

God purposed, even in the days of Isaiah and Jeremiah, to include us in His people. Actually, Ephesians 1:4 says God chose us… before the creation of the world. How privileged, how blessed does this make you feel?

We are the purpose of God's eternal plan. Knowing we would sin, God purposed to send Jesus to die in our place, to raise Him to life again, and to reveal His truth to us by the Holy Spirit. He sent the Old Testament prophets ahead of time to tell us it would happen. He sent the New Testament apostles to preach and to write about what Jesus did, and what His death accomplished – our salvation. He sends the Holy Spirit now to show us that these things are true.