August 22, 2017

Learning from the Prophets

Right now, I’m in awe over the magnitude of our salvation: where it comes from, how it helps us now, what it gives us in eternity. You see, I’m working on memorizing 1 Peter 1 with the group over at Do Not Depart. And, true to form, as I memorize and internalize God’s Word – it changes me.

This week we’re working on verses 10-11. I actually want to include verse 12 in this post, though. You’ll see why in a minute:

 

“Concerning this salvation,
the prophets who prophesied about
the grace that was to be yours
searched and inquired carefully…

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.”

 

Stop right there for a moment. Take a few minutes to consider the lives of those prophets that Peter mentions. They “searched and inquired carefully” for something that they would not personally receive. They served future generations – people they would never know this side of heaven – rather than fulfilling their own desires.

Would you be willing to do that? Would I?

Would I be willing to let my life be poured out for others? To pave the way so future generations could reap the blessings? To spend my whole energy seeking something that would benefit someone else?

That’s what the prophets did – those men who are so revered, whose words and lives are recorded for all time in the Scriptures, who are lauded and praised by God for their faithful obedience.

They didn’t have the Messiah back then. They had only the promise that He would come in the future.

They didn’t have the Holy Spirit’s constant indwelling. They didn’t know the saving grace of God. They didn’t have the freedom from offering flesh-and-blood sacrifices. They only had the sure hope that those things would happen in the future.

Read again those words from Peter: “It was revealed to them that they were serving not themselves but you.” They knew that the Messiah would not come in their lifetimes. They knew that they would be bound by the Law until their deaths. And yet, as Jamieson, Fausset, & Brown explains it:

“This, so far from disheartening, only quickened them in unselfishly testifying in the Spirit for the partial good of their own generation (only of believers), and for the full benefit of posterity.”

They searched the Scriptures anyway. They inquired about this future salvation. And this was no half-hearted search: they threw themselves into it. They asked diligently; they persevered in their search. Matthew Henry puts it this way:

“The words are strong and emphatic, alluding to miners, who dig to the bottom, and break through not only the earth, but the rock, to come to the ore; so these holy prophets had an earnest desire to know, and were proportionably diligent in their enquiries after the grace of God, which was to be revealed in the days of the Messiah.”

The prophets spent their lives delivering God’s message to people who didn’t hear them, either to wicked nations who ignored their words, or to future generations who weren’t around yet.

Would you be willing to give your life for the cause of Christ – either living or dying – if you were so mocked and rejected as the prophets of the Old Testament?

I’m sure they found comfort in knowing that future salvation was coming: but they didn’t reap the benefits of actually having that salvation. And yet they persevered anyway, for our benefit.

So, other than being awed by the sacrifice of those Old Testament prophets, how does this apply to us today?

  • I write {obviously}. Would I be content to continue writing, if I knew for certain that God wanted me to write, but knew that nobody would read my words until several centuries from now?
  • Perhaps you are involved in a church or missions-type of ministry. Would you be willing to give your life in service there, if you knew beyond a doubt that’s where God wanted you, but you also knew that no fruit would come until 100+ years from now?
  • Maybe you’re a teacher. What if you knew that your immediate students would totally disregard your example – but their great-great-great grandchildren would benefit from the truth you shared? Would you continue teaching faithfully?

  • Do you have children? Would you be faithful in training them according to Scripture, if you knew they would rebel and go their own way? What if you knew that they would repent later on in life, perhaps even after you passed into eternity? Would it encourage you to be faithful today?
  • No matter who you are, you have influence. Are you growing discouraged because your life doesn’t seem to be making a difference? What if you knew that, decades from now, someone would think about your life and be motivated to follow your example?

Remember, we don’t always know how God is working behind the scenes. We don’t know how He will use our words and works in the future.

But we are to be faithful. We are to follow the examples given to us in Scripture: the prophets and apostles, who obeyed faithfully whether they reaped immediate rewards from it or not {and usually, not}.

We are to persevere in what God calls us to do, no matter what fruit we may or may not see. {<– click to tweet!}

 

QUESTIONS for YOU: Have you ever been awed by all the details that go into God’s magnificent offer of salvation?

Are you discouraged by lack of results, in whatever it is God has called you to do? Perhaps a lack of response to your testimony, or a rejection of the message He’s put on your heart. How can you be encouraged by the examples of the prophets?

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Comments

  1. I find your words to be very encouraging especially as a missionary.

  2. So often in my work with children, I don’t see immediate results. But I keep sowing seeds. God will bring forth the fruit in His time.
    And it is an amazing joy when God gives us a glimpse of the fruit being born from the seeds sown. Such a blessing!

  3. I have had such trouble with these verses. I’m actually still working on them. Thanks for giving me some insight. Maybe that will push me forward to get them memorized.
    Thanks for linking with WIP!