The Glory to Follow

“JESUS CHRIST, whom having not seen, ye love; In whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls. Of which salvation the prophets have inquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you; 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.” —I Peter 1:7-11

AS JESUS began his ministry, his first act was to choose, by God’s direction, the twelve apostles. The men chosen were very familiar with the Scriptures—students of the Prophets of Old. Some were disciples of John the Baptist, of whom Jesus spoke with great respect. But apparently, during their study of the Scriptures they had not uncovered any specific time spans involved in God’s purposes such as the long period of the Gospel Age. Yes, they did understand the prophecy of the “seventy weeks” (Dan. 9:24-26) and were in expectation of the Messiah, as were many in Israel.—Luke 3:16

But in their minds, the prophecies concerning the advent of Messiah were closely associated with those which spoke of the establishment of his kingdom! Therefore, they concluded, when Messiah came upon the scene, the time would have come for the wonderful blessings to flow to all the families of the earth! And they knew, too, that as disciples of the Messiah, they would enjoy a portion in his kingdom.

The apostles, as they looked about Israel, saw miserable and hopeless suffering all around. If it were not for the prospects of the kingdom they had learned about in the Scriptures they would have been desolate. But they received great comfort from the hope of Messiah’s kingdom, and anxiously desired for it to come—yearning from their hearts for the promised blessings to flow to all the human race with healing and peace. In much the same manner, we as Christians also pray daily, “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.”—Matt. 6:10

In their enthusiasm for the coming of the kingdom, the disciples continued to overlook a prerequisite which Jesus had endeavored to bring to their attention many times—the necessity for the “sufferings of Christ.” As the time for his crucifixion neared, he began to stress this essential aspect of God’s plan, and to try to prepare his friends for his death. “From that time forth began Jesus to show unto his disciples how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee.”—Matt. 16:21,22

The theme developed by the Apostle Peter in this epistle from which we have taken our theme text, resulted from a difficult but wonderful awareness of the necessity for the suffering of Christ and of Christians revealed to Peter by the Lord. Since receiving the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, he had gained an understanding of this important lesson. All the words spoken by the Master on this subject before his death began to come into focus, illustrated forcefully by the sacrificial death of Jesus himself. Once this reality had been opened up to his mind, Peter must have deeply regretted his words to Jesus, “Be it far from thee, Lord.”

The apostle began his letter with the dynamic thought of the prospect of glory which the footstep followers of Jesus have to look forward to. Just as Jesus had endeavored to impress his apostles with these thoughts, Peter now felt the urgency of fixing these hopes in the minds of his readers: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father,” he wrote, “through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied. Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you.”—I Pet. 1:2-4

The apostle reminds the brethren of the inspiring thought that they are “elect,” or “selected”—called by God and sanctified by his Spirit to be participants in an unprecedented opportunity. They are privileged to be set apart for God’s service in obedience to his will. Peter brings our attention to the fact that this call is for the purpose of selecting a class who will ultimately have the privilege of “sprinkling” “the blood of Jesus Christ.”

In using the words, “sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ,” no doubt Peter had in mind the typical arrangement inaugurated by God many centuries before at Mount Sinai with his chosen people, Israel. On that historic day, after Moses had read all the precepts of the Law to the people, he sent young men out into the camp to choose animals to offer to God in sacrifice. In Hebrews 9:18-21, Paul relates the incident, stating that Moses sprinkled the Tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry, the Book of the Law, and all the people, with the blood from these calves and goats. This was done to inaugurate the covenant between God and Israel, picturing their coming into harmony with God through the Tabernacle arrangement which he had instituted.

This is a beautiful forecast of the privilege which will belong to the church. In reality it pictures how the benefits of the ransom price paid by our Savior will flow to the world of mankind during the Millennial Age under the supervision of the Christ—Jesus Christ, the Head, and the church, his Body. Israel, representing the world of mankind, will be, symbolically speaking, sprinkled with the sacrificial blood of Jesus’ ransom sacrifice—by the antitypical Moses—Jesus and his church. And by this sprinkling, (which indicates that the sacrifice has been completed) the New Covenant will be inaugurated between God and men.

Again in the 12th chapter of Hebrews, Paul speaks of the blood of sprinkling. “To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect. And to Jesus the Mediator of the New Covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling.” (vss. 23,24) He goes on to say, “and to the blood of sprinkling, that speaketh better things than that of Abel.” Abel’s blood was shed upon the ground, and “cried out” to God for justice. He was a noble man whose life was stolen from him prematurely, before the curse of death would normally have been required by God. And Abel’s blood was shed for no purpose—his life was taken away and his death accomplished nothing. Whereas Christ’s death spoke better things; it was a voluntary sacrifice, which accomplished the redemption of Adam’s entire family.

This is the very point Peter is bringing into focus in this chapter. He says: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ which, according to his abundant mercy bath begotten us again unto a living hope, by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” (I Pet. 1:3) Peter realized the importance of the conviction that the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead gave his followers a living hope. He remembered the desolation and disappointment which not only he, but all the disciples felt, when suddenly the Messiah whom they had trusted was the one to establish the kingdom was suddenly taken away from them. For a time it left them no hope. All they had was disillusionment, loneliness, and despair. But suddenly, at Pentecost, the enlightenment of the Holy Spirit poured new understanding upon their minds, new appreciation of God’s purpose in allowing his Son to suffer and die upon the cross at the hands of evil, self-seeking men.

It is remarkable to consider how God revealed some of the mysteries concerning the promised kingdom to his faithful prophets of old! There were not many throughout the long course of history, but there were a few men who were given the responsibility of proclaiming the fact that there would be a righteous kingdom established here upon the earth, and various aspects of that kingdom were identified. Isaiah was one enlightened prophet; Jeremiah was another; in fact, Peter tells us that the times of restitution—the Messianic kingdom—have been spoken about by all God’s holy prophets since the world began!—Acts 3:21

And to these faithful men was revealed what their part would be in that kingdom. For instance, we read in Hebrews 11 about Abraham and how, “by faith he sojourned in the land of promise, as in a strange country, dwelling in tabernacles with Isaac and Jacob, the heirs with him of the same promise: for he looked for a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God.” (vss. 8-10) Abraham knew that the kingdom spoken of—the city whose builder is God—was going to be set up here on earth. He knew he would have a part in the administration of that kingdom; and he knew it would be a righteous kingdom built upon the principles established and enforced by a righteous God—as opposed to Satan’s unrighteous kingdom presently ruling the earth.

In order for these Ancient Worthies to be installed in governing positions of the kingdom they realized that a resurrection would be necessary. And they knew this would actually occur. “‘These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off [thousands of years down the corridors of time], and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth. For they that say such things declare plainly that they seek a country.” They wanted no part of this evil world; they were looking forward to the establishment of God’s holy kingdom!—Heb. 11:13,14

The phrase, “They seek a country,” has reference to a ‘fatherland’. In other words, they will claim the future kingdom as their fatherland! Paul said, “And truly, if they had been mindful of that country from whence they came out, they might have had opportunity to have returned. But now they desire a better country, that is, an heavenly: wherefore God is not ashamed to be called their God: for he bath prepared for them a city.” (vss. 15,16) God made no demands upon those faithful men of old. If they had desired to change their minds and return to their former lives, they would have received no punishment. A resurrection would still have been theirs to look forward to in that kingdom. But an idolatrous manner of life was foreign to them—they did not wish to return—and the prospect of God’s righteous kingdom, no matter how far in the future, was so overwhelming they were content to be pilgrims and strangers in the meantime.

Paul again assures us that the “holy men of old” did know that they would be given positions of authority in the kingdom. He wrote about Moses, saying, ‘By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward.”—vss. 24-26

Another mystery, thrilling to consider, revealed to the faithful people of old (who included both men and women), was spoken of by Obadiah. He wrote about the “saviors [plural form]” which shall be on Mount Zion (Obad. 21); Obadiah had the realization that the Messiah would be made up of many members: Christ and his church! What a great privilege has been offered to us to become members of the church class now, and if faithful, to reign as saviors on Mount Zion! The Apostle Paul beseeches us that we “receive not the grace of God in vain.” He quotes from the Prophet Isaiah, who wrote: “I [God] have heard thee in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I [God] succored thee: behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.”—II Cor. 6:1,2

Isaiah, David, and others of the luminous prophets wonderfully detailed the sufferings of Christ. The entire twenty-second psalm is a particularly intimate description of Jesus’ agony upon the cross. Not only are we told of the events, but we are also given insight into the very thoughts of the Redeemer, and of his certain hopes which sustained him throughout this dark hour. This is true also of Isaiah’s account in the 53rd chapter. We are told that “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” (vs. 5); but we are also assured that although “it pleased the Lord to bruise him” yet, “he shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied.”—vs. 11

Yes, it is obvious that the prophets were aware that Messiah had to suffer and die before the glorious kingdom would come. But the apostles, the disciples, and many of their contemporaries who considered themselves earnest students of the Scriptures, had overlooked the prophecies which foretold the suffering and the rejection of Messiah. Their strong misconception was that when Messiah came upon the scene he would be welcomed by Israel, and would immediately take the reigns of government, bringing honor to that nation, and peace to the world!

An indication of confusion regarding the matter is given in an account of an incident in Mark 10:35-40. Here James and John went to Jesus saying, “Master, we would that thou shouldest do for us whatsoever we shall desire. … Grant unto us that we may sit, one on thy right hand, and the other on thy left hand, in thy glory.” They had no idea what was involved in this request, and it was not until after Pentecost that the Holy Spirit opened their eyes to what were the full implications of this favor. Jesus replied, “Ye know not what ye ask.” In a very nice, gentle way, he asked them, “Can ye drink of the cup that I drink of and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?”

This question was later understood by the apostles to be Jesus’ way of indicating that he would drink the cup of suffering, and would undergo the “baptism of fire”—very difficult trials—spoken of by John the Baptist. (Matt. 3:11) But at that moment the disciples did not understand the symbolisms their Master was using, and they answered, saying, “We can.” Jesus knew that eventually the lesson he was giving them would be comprehended—and then they would indeed be found willing to suffer and die following in his footsteps—so he said, “Ye shall indeed drink of the cup that I drink of; and with the baptism that I am baptized withal shall ye be baptized: but to sit on my right hand and on my left hand is not mine to give; but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared.”

The Master took the opportunity, then, to express one of the most profound principles of God’s universe. It was—simply stated: “Whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.” He reminded them, “Ye know they that are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them. But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister. … For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

On his first appearance to the disciples after his resurrection, the main thrust of his message of comfort to them had the very same theme—the necessity and purpose of suffering. Jesus said to them, “O fools, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken: ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself.”—Luke 24:25,26

The Apostle Peter had gained a clear concept of the purpose of Christian suffering by the time he wrote his first epistle. We read in verses 6 and 7 of the first chapter, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honor and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ. … Receiving the end of your faith, [even] the salvation of [your] souls.” The words in brackets are supplied words. The salvation of souls is the work of the kingdom, which will be the end or goal of our faith! This is the hope which is ours, that one day, if we are faithful, we will have the opportunity to be with Jesus and to bring salvation to all the world of mankind!

This is the reason the Prophets of Old were so anxious about the time element. They were “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.” They were concerned about when the church’s gathering would be complete and its sufferings over, because they knew that only then would the kingdom be established, and their hopes with respect to the kingdom finally realized. They looked forward with all their hearts, as do we today, to the glory that should follow!

Dawn Bible Students Association
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