Sermon Text: 1 Peter 1:10–12
Preacher: Pastor Brian Sauvé
Heirs of an Ancient Hope
This morning, God willing, we’ll take up three verses in 1 Peter and also the whole Bible. Let’s start with those three verses, 1 Peter 1:10–12.
Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories. It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you, in the things that have now been announced to you through those who preached the good news to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven, things into which angels long to look.”
-1 Peter 1:10–12
The section of First Peter that we finish together this morning, 1 Peter 1:3–12, is the cornerstone of the letter. Everything else rests on it; everything else flows from it; everything else is anchored to it.
In verses 3–5, Peter showed us that God has established for us a glorious, living hope and inheritance through new birth in Christ. Then, in verses 6–9, we then saw that in establishing this hope, he has given us a joy inexpressible and full of glory, even in the midst of trial and suffering.
Now, in verses 10–12, he will show us that this great hope, this hope established through the suffering of Christ, is the substance of all of God's promises through his prophets—and that we are the heirs of all of those promises through Christ.
There are three things I’m convinced Peter would want us to believe as we read these words:
That the sufferings and subsequent glories of Christ are the substance of all of God’s promises to us. Or to put it another way, that Christ’s humiliation and glorification—his crucifixion, resurrection, redemption, and reign—is the main theme of the entire Old Testament.
You are, through Christ, the heir of all of the hopes of the Old Testament.
That we are therefore fools who would be bored, halfhearted, disinterested, or lackadaisical in our cherishing of this grace and the Scriptures which reveal it.
Let’s start where we will spend the majority of our time this morning, with that first thing Peter would have us believe in these three verses.
The Center of The Old Testament
This section helps us to answer a question that is not only in itself massively important—but a question that is increasingly confusing and even controversial in the wider culture of evangelical Christianity: What is the Old Testament about? And what do we do with it?
There is a great gulf that divides two different ways of answering that question. On the one side, we could say that the Old Testament is a collection of writings whose primary concern is the nation of Israel, the Jewish people. So it is the history of the origins and spread of that people, the law of that people, the religious prophecies of that people—and even the wisdom and music and poetry of that people.
And so as with any ancient nation, we read stories about kings and conquerors and concubines. We read about laws and judges. We find tragedies and triumphs. But if we were to summarize what the Old Testament is about on this view, we would say something like: The Old Testament is a history of the origins and religion of the Jewish people.
And in this view, you might even still say that the Old Testament point forward to Jesus as the Jewish Messiah, but it does so peripherally and merely occasionally. There are special sections of Messianic prophecy, like Isaiah 53 or Psalm 22, that point forward to Jesus. But most of the Old Testament isn’t about Jesus; but rather Israel.
The other way we could answer that question is to say that the main message of the Old Testament, in its entirety and on its own terms, is Jesus. This is the view that Peter would have us hold.
“Concerning this salvation, the prophets who prophesied about the grace that was to be yours searched and inquired carefully, inquiring what person or time the Spirit of Christ in them was indicating when he predicted the sufferings of Christ and the subsequent glories.”
-1 Peter 1:10–11
What’s he saying? Clearly, that the Spirit of Christ spoke through the prophets to tell us about the suffering and subsequent glories of Jesus. That the prophets wrote concerning the salvation he has been talking about since verse 3—a salvation achieved through the suffering of Christ on the cross, and his subsequent resurrection to reign and glory.
And that the prophets themselves, the men who wrote the texts of the Old Testament under the direction of the Spirit of God, were themselves searching and inquiring and asking, “When will these things be? What will these things look like?” But at bottom, Peter tells us that the Old Testament Scriptures are about Jesus.
Now here’s the question: How is the Old Testament about Jesus? Because on it’s own, you may still be able to believe that Peter only means those special Messianic prophecies. You may think he’s saying, “Yes, in those Messianic prophecies like Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22, this is what was happening.” But that he doesn’t mean to tell us that this is what was happening throughout the entire Old Testament.
So which is it? Is the Old Testament only about Jesus primarily in a few places, or throughout? I think Peter would say, “Go read Luke 24 and tell me what you think.”
In Luke 24, we find two disciples of Jesus—who were not part of the 12 disciples—traveling 7 miles from Jerusalem to a village called Emmaus on the day of Jesus’ resurrection. Luke records what happens next,
“While they were talking and discussing together, Jesus himself drew near and went with them. But their eyes were kept from recognizing him. And he said to them, “What is this conversation that you are holding with each other as you walk?” And they stood still, looking sad. Then one of them, named Cleopas, answered him, “Are you the only visitor to Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?” And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, and how our chief priests and rulers delivered him up to be condemned to death, and crucified him. But we had hoped that he was the one to redeem Israel. Yes, and besides all this, it is now the third day since these things happened. Moreover, some women of our company amazed us. They were at the tomb early in the morning, and when they did not find his body, they came back saying that they had even seen a vision of angels, who said that he was alive. Some of those who were with us went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.” And he said to them, “O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.
Soon after this, their eyes were opened, and they realized it was Jesus.
Now, this is really important, because this is where Peter comes in. As soon as those two disciples returned to Jerusalem, they found the 11 remaining disciples (Judas Iscariot no longer being there), including Peter. And they told the 11 what had happened and what they’d heard.
And as they’re recounting the story to the 11, Jesus suddenly appears in their midst, and after he calmed them down and comforted them, he said,
“These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures, and said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance for the forgiveness of sins should be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things.”
On the road to Emmaus, Jesus rebuked them for not believing… what? The Old Testament Scriptures. What in the Old Testament Scriptures? That the Christ would suffer and enter his glory. And to the 11, what did he say? “…everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.”
The phrase that Jesus uses, “The Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms” is Jewish shorthand for the entire Old Testament. They would traditionally divide the Old Testament into the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.
The Law included the 5 books of Moses, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy. The Prophets, included Joshua, Judges, 1 and 2 Samuel, 1 and 2 Kings, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Isaiah, and the twelve minor prophets. And finally, the Writings, which included the Psalms, Proverbs, Job, Ecclesiastes, The Song of Solomon, Lamentations, Daniel, Ruth, Esther, Ezra, Nehemiah, and 1 and 2 Chronicles.
What I’m saying is that the formula Jesus uses indicates that he’s referring to the entire Old Testament being chiefly concerned with his death, burial, and resurrection—not just a few special parts.
This is so important—that Jesus is saying and that in our text today Peter is affirming that the entirety of the Old Testament is chiefly concerned with the sufferings and subsequent glories of Jesus, not just a few special parts.
I want you to see this in action. So what I want to do now is to preach the whole Bible really quick if that’s ok with you. I’ll take your silence as consent. Let’s briefly look at each of these three sections of the Old Testament—the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings—and see how they speak of Jesus, not in a few prophecies, but in their substance and on their own terms.
Christ in the Law
The Law of Moses—Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy—is about the sufferings and subsequent glories of Christ.
In Genesis, Jesus is the Gardener/Creator, the handcrafter of humanity who will suffer to save her—the Seed of the Woman who will crush the Serpent’s head through his wounded heel. He is the God of creation and of covenant—who promises Abraham a descendant in whom all the nations of the earth will be blessed. That is, he promises himself.
In Exodus, Jesus is the Lamb slain that death might pass over his people. He saves his people by judging their enemies and revealing his own awesome glory. He is the True Israel, who passes not just through figurative burial and resurrection through the Red Sea, but actual burial in the garden tomb and resurrection.
The Priests of Leviticus preach the mediating work of Jesus, who in his true humanity takes hold of humanity and in his true deity takes hold of and brings us to God through the shedding of sacrificial blood. He is the true Temple, the dwelling place of God with man, the place where suffering sacrifices brings unclean men to holy glory.
As Israel in the book of Numbers wandered the desert after passing through the Red Sea, Jesus wandered the desert after passing through the waters of his baptism. He is the fiery serpent on the wooden stake—the one who became sin and drank judgment so that all of the dying, sin-bitten sinners who looked on him could live.
And as Israel in the book of Deuteronomy learned to live as a people holy to God by their obedience to the Law of God in the land, Jesus obeyed the law of God perfectly and without omission in that same land. Yet on the cross, Jesus would suffer the wrath of God—what the penalties promised for law-disobedience to Israel only hinted at—in order to bring the people of God to dominion and glory in a better promised Land—the whole earth.
The suffering and subsequent glories of Jesus is the center of the Law of Moses.
Christ in the Prophets
How about the Prophets?
Joshua, whose name means Yahweh is Salvation, is foregleam of the the true Joshua, Jesus. As the people conquer the Canaanites to take the inheritance of Israel, the Promised Land crowned with the city of Jerusalem, so Jesus conquers sin to bring us to the New Jerusalem—a bride adorned and descending from heaven.
Jesus is the head crushing savior from the woman in the book of Judges—as in that book the woman Jael crushes the head of the serpent-enemy Sisera; as in that book the woman crushes the head of wicked Abimelech with a millstone thrown from the battlements; as when Samson brings the temple of Dagon crashing down over the heads of the Philistines.
Jesus is the true Shepherd-King of Samuel and Kings, born in Bethlehem, the man after God’s own heart, who kills his 10,000s to save the people of God from every enemy and rule over God’s people in God’s Kingdom forever.
Jesus was a weeping prophet like Jeremiah, who called the wicked rulers and shepherds of Israel to repentance and wept over their stubborn refusal.
While the sin of Adam had reached its logical conclusion in Israel—embodied in a dry valley choked with the bleached bones of dead bodies of Ezekiel—Jesus is the covenant God, the Logos, the prophetic and effective Word itself which brought forth from that valley of sorrow sinews and flesh and blood and beating hearts—new life!
Through sin, dead bones and desert waste. But from death, resurrection glory and new creation. And Jesus puts flesh on Ezekiel’s story in his own mortal suffering and subsequent glories. He himself becomes the valley of death in his betrayal and crucifixion and burial, yet he himself becomes the new-sinewed new creation in his resurrection.
Isaiah’s suffering servant, who heals by his own wounds and goes silent to the slaughter to save his people—that is Jesus.
Jesus shines from the bleakness of the Minor Prophets—the faithful husband to the whore in Hosea, like Jonah swallowed and then spit out by death in three, threatening utter destruction for the unrepentant like Malachi, rebuking the oppressor and relieving the poor with Amos.
The suffering and subsequent glories of Jesus beat at the very heart of the Prophets.
Christ in the Writings
Jesus is the center of the Psalms. He is the tree planted by streams of water, the righteous one who bears fruit from the river of life. The the nations rage against him and crucify him, yet he laughs and holds them in derision—defeating them even through death. Though he cries out, God-forsaken and pierced in his hands and feet, God plants all of Jesus’ enemies as a footstool under his feet.
Proverbs provokes us to our need for a better son of David, one whose words and works don’t war against one another. In Proverbs, Solomon shows us a shadow of the one in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and glory—the one who can bring you safely through the suffering of your own folly into the glory of his gifted wisdom and righteousness.
And who suffered without deserving it like Job? Who utterly confused the counsels of Satan in that suffering? Who gave up everything in suffering in order to receive back tenfold what was lost on the other side of that suffering? Jesus, the righteous sufferer.
Which Davidic King takes the sinful desire for her husband in the curse of Genesis and redeems transforms it into the joyful desire of Solomon’s Song?
Though the Preacher of Solomon’s Ecclesiastes laments the utterly unsatisfying nature of life under the sun for every human being, eternity set in his heart, Jesus, the true Preacher, gives new hearts in which he, the God of eternity dwells forever—utterly satisfying our eternity-starved hearts.
He laments with Lamentations, “I am the man who has seen affliction under the rod of his wrath; he has driven and brought me into darkness without light.” And yet who through that suffering restores men to himself and renews his covenant with his people.
He is the stone that through death topples kingdoms in Daniel, the restorer of the New Jerusalem in Nehemiah and he is the kinsman-redeemer of Ruth.
He is sent like Esther in the perfect timing of God, sent to hang Satan like wicked Heman—on a gallows of his own making. The suffering and subsequent glories of Jesus blaze from the Writings.
Reading the Old Testament Christianly
So please Refuge, let me and let Peter just plead with you, in light of these things, not to read your Bible like an unbelieving Jew, but like a Christian.
When you read your Bible—Old and New Testament—Jesus is speaking to you. The prophets aren’t just speaking of Jesus; Jesus is the one who is speaking through the prophets.
As Edmund Clowney puts it, “The incarnate Lord is the true witness; the eternal Logos is the source of the prophetic testimony… The Spirit that was fire in the bones of the prophets was the Spirit of Christ, driving forward to the salvation he must bring.”
Heirs of the Prophets’ Hope
So that first thing I’m convinced Peter would have us take from this text is that Jesus’ humiliation and glorification—his crucifixion, resurrection, redemption, and reign—is the main theme of the entire Old Testament. Or to put it another way, the sufferings and subsequent glories of Christ are the substance of all of God’s promises to us.
That’s what the Old Testament is about. But Peter also tells us something that we ought to be doing with that reality: Namely, owning and cherishing and resting in its great hope and promises. To see ourselves as through Christ heirs of the prophets’ hope.
Did you catch that? Peter tells us as well that the prophets of the Old Testament were serving us. How? By recording the great triumphs and glories of Christ that he would win through his suffering. By putting to pen all of the promises that Jesus would fulfill and secure for us totally.
We are the heirs of the things they longed to understand. As Paul writes, all of the promises of God find their Yes! and their Amen! in Jesus Christ and to us.
Fools to be Bored
So here is my one, big application for us this morning, that third thing that I’m convinced Peter would have us take from this text:
We would be fools to be bored, halfhearted, disinterested, or in any way lackadaisical in our cherishing of this grace and the Scriptures which reveal it. Angels long to look into these things, friends! Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Moses, David—all longed and searched and intensely desired to know and see what we know and see! How could we be bored with this? How could we halfheartedly pursue these things?
Can I challenge you? I’d challenge you to pick up your Bible and make it your joyful duty to devour it, to know it, to search it out to the bottom and believe everything you find there. Can you imagine sitting down with Peter, with all of the resources and unparalleled availability of the Scriptures to us, and telling him, “Yeah, I’ve never even read the whole thing?”
And what is the center of centers, the thing above all things in this book that the Spirit of Christ moved the prophets to tell us? Good news. Gospel. Salvation.
God would call us to wonder and awe at the contents of this book—not as some kind of dusty theology homework assignment—but for the joy of seeing and knowing and leaning into the glory of our salvation in Christ with everything we have.