1 Peter 1:12


Sermon preached on October 6, 1996 by Laurence W. Veinott. © Copyright 2009. All rights reserved. Other sermons can be found at http://www.cantonnewlife.org/.

Unless otherwise noted, quotations are from The Holy Bible: New International Version (NIV). Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House.


I can still remember the first time I had an airplane ride. Flying for the first time was a wonderful experience. It was something that absolutely amazed me. At times I find it incredible that airplanes can fly. I remember my first flight on a 747 and just before takeoff I remember thinking, , "It'll be absolutely incredible if this thing can get off the ground." It was so big and heavy that it was almost unbelievable that it could fly.

And of course, if something amazes you, you usually want to find out more about it. I remember reading about the
Bernoulli principle, and how he discovered that if air flows faster then the pressure within it decreases. You can see that principle if you blow over a narrow piece of paper, the strip of paper will rise. And that's what enables airplanes to fly.

When something amazes you, you want to know more about it. And it's the same way with things in Christianity. When Peter and John heard that Christ's tomb was empty, they both ran there as fast as they could. John outran Peter and when he got to the tomb he stopped down and looked it. Peter, however, went right in. They were amazed and they wanted to find out more.

Now the incredible thing about our text is that it tells us that

our salvation is so great that it astounds the angels and they want to know more about it.

Our salvation is no ordinary salvation. And the Holy Spirit wants you to realize how great and wonderful it is. Even though we go through trials that bring us grief, we should not get disheartened, we should not fall into discouragement, depression. Why? Because we have something so great, so wonderful that everything else pales in comparison with it.

And one of the things that He tells you about it is that it is so great that

it astonishes the angels.

The angels are absolutely amazed by the salvation that God has provided for human beings. Indeed, they are so astounded at it that they long to know more. That's what Peter tells us here at the end of verse 12. He says,

"Even angels long
to look into these things."

Both the Greek words that Peter uses here express a great interest. parakuvyai literally means to bend over forward to examine more closely. In Luke 24:12 and John 20:5 it is used of the bodily posture of individuals at the tomb of Jesus. ejpiqumou'sin indicates a strong interest, a craving.

Now there are many wonderful things here so let's consider some of them.

First of all, I want you to see that

if something astounds the angels it has to be something great.

Angels are no ordinary creatures. They are magnificent and glorious. If one appeared to us right now we would either be greatly afraid or we would be tempted to bow down and worship him. Those were the two typical reactions that we read about in the Bible. They are so glorious that they would almost overwhelm us. When an angel of the Lord appeared to the shepherds announcing to them the birth of Jesus, they were terrified. The first thing that the angel had to tell them was not to be afraid. And twice in the book of Revelation we read how John was so overawed by the angel that he bowed down to worship the angel that was accompanying him. (Revelation 19:10 & 22:8)

Angels are glorious creatures that serve God and are familiar with Him. They are not easily impressed.

I don't think that anything we could ever do would impress them. Think of the scene that is described in
Acts 12. King Herod was arrayed in his royal robes and he sat upon his throne with all the pomp and ceremony that the world could muster. He delivered a speech and the people shouted,

"This is the voice of a god,
not a man."

But was the angel that was present impressed? Not at all. Indeed, because Herod did not give glory to God, the angel struck him down and he was eaten by worms and died.

Or think about
the strength of the world, the might of the Roman army. Does that impress the angels? In the same chapter (Acts 12) we read about Peter being arrested. Peter was put in prison and guarded by four squads of soldiers. Indeed, security was so tight that even while he slept Peter had to sleep between two soldiers, bound to them by chains. And then there were guards at the cell entrance and then by the outer gate. Did that impress the angels? No. When it came time for Peter to be freed God sent and angel and the angel suddenly appeared in Peter's cell. He struck Peter on the side and told him to get up. And when he did the chains fell off Peter's wrists. They walked right past the guards and when they came to the iron gate leading to the city—it opened for them by itself. None of the world's security impressed the angel. It was nothing to him.

What can impress angels?

God and His works—that's what impresses the angels. The angels are so privileged. We have a glimpse into this in Isaiah 6 where Isaiah had his vision of God. Isaiah saw God on His throne, high and exalted, and then he described it as such,

"Above him were seraphs,
each with six wings:
With two wings they covered their faces,
with two they covered their feet,
and with two they were flying.
And they were calling to one another:
'Holy, holy, holy
is the LORD Almighty;
the whole earth
is full of his glory.'"

How privileged the angels are. They await around the throne of God, waiting to do His bidding. How blessed they are.

And yet, one might think that they know all there is to know about God. But they do not. God is infinite and their knowledge of Him is limited.
They do not know God exhaustively. And the lesson that we learn here is that as the plan of salvation unfolds—they are more and more amazed at what God has done and is doing for us.

Last week we talked about when the prophets predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow. When the angels heard such things they were amazed and longed to find out more.

But when it came time for Jesus to come into this world, they were more than spectators. They were the ones that
announced His birth to Mary and Joseph. After He was born an angel appeared to the shepherds announcing to them the birth of our Savior. As soon as he finished we read, (Luke 2:13)

"Suddenly a great company
of the heavenly host
appeared with the angel,
praising God and saying,
'Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace to men
on whom his favor rests.'"

The angels were astounded when Jesus was born. It thrilled them and they were filled with praise to God.

And what we must remember is that throughout the earthly ministry of Jesus the angels were spectators and sometimes participants in that great drama. In Matthew 4 we read about Jesus being in the wilderness for forty days and then afterward being tempted by the devil. And in
verse 11 of that chapter we read these words,

"Then the devil left him,
and angels came and attended him."

We see much the same thing in Luke 22 where Jesus was in great anguish in the Garden of Gethsemane. We read that after He withdrew from the disciples, He knelt down and prayed and said, (verse 42) "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." It was then that, (verse 43)

"An angel from heaven
appeared to him
and strengthened him."

Angels were there when Jesus rose from the dead. It was an angel that came down from heaven and rolled the stone away from the tomb. (Matthew 28:2) It was angels who waited at the tomb and announced His resurrection to His disciples. (John 20:12)

Now the point I'm making here is that the angels were witnesses and sometimes participants in the great drama of salvation. At least some of them were not far away when all these things happened. They were there, nearby, witnesses of these things.

And what I want you to do now is to

consider how the angels must have felt while Jesus was on the cross.

They knew the truth of the words that Jesus spoke to Peter when He was arrested. You'll remember that Peter took out his sword and wanted to fight to prevent Jesus from being arrested. But Jesus told Peter to put his sword away and then He said, (Matthew 26:53)

"Do you think I cannot call
on my Father,
and he will at once
put at my disposal
more than twelve legions of angels?"

All the while Jesus under arrest, all the while He was being beaten, mocked, spit upon, blindfolded and hit—the angels were there at the ready. When Jesus was being nailed to the cross, when the cross was dropped into the hole wrenching Jesus and causing Him unbelievable pain—they were there at the ready. When the chief priests and the rulers of the people mocked him, urging him to come down from the cross—they were there at the ready. I'm almost sure that they wanted nothing more than to hear the order to go and rescue Jesus. They would have been there in an instant. I'm sure that they longed to slay those wicked men who were putting Jesus to death.

But the order never came. They sky became black. Jesus cried out in anguish, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me." But the order never came. They watched Him die.

The angels watched what Jesus was doing and they were astounded. If one was to describe them in human terms I think one could say that it was like they had
their mouths open wide in disbelief and wonder. What they witnessed was so astounding it was unbelievable. For what was happening there on the cross of Calvary was that the Lord of glory was being crucified! (See 1 Corinthians 2:8) The One that had created them and given them their glory—He was dying on the cross. And who was He dying for? He wasn't dying to redeem members of their race, to redeem the angels who had sinned. No. He was dying for creatures below them. No. He was dying for us, for sinners, for the scum of the earth. We were made a little lower than the angels, yet He stooped to save us.

Angels marveled at these things. They were amazed at them. It was so glorious. The angels were thrilled by such things. They loved them. During it all
their eyes were being opened and they were seeing new depths to God's character. They were seeing something in Him that was even more wonderful and glorious than they had ever imagined. All through it all they were learning about the depths of God's love and the glories of His self sacrifice.

But what I want you to also see is that

this learning process for the angels is not over.

Our text says that the angels long to look into these things. And what I want you to notice here is that Peter uses the present tense. What's in view here, the longing of the angels, does not just relate to the Old Testament prophecies. Nor does it just relate to the things that happened while Jesus was on earth in bodily form. No. Right now the angels are longing to look into these things. The present tense that Peter used portrays a present, continued, inner yearning to comprehend. It is a continuing effort, a continuing longing on the part of the angels. It marks an enduring angelic effort to comprehend more of the mystery of human salvation. They just weren't amazed at the Old Testament prophecies. They weren't just amazed at what Jesus did during His earthly ministry—right now they are still amazed. They are still learning about God's love. The angels are still seeing new examples of God's love. In Luke 15:10, Jesus said that the angels rejoice over one repentant sinner. He said,

"there is rejoicing
in the presence of the angels of God
over one sinner who repents."

The angels saw the conversion of the apostle Paul. It amazed them. The angels saw your conversion and they rejoiced at it. Each day they are seeing new evidences of God's love.

But there is even more.

The angels know that in the future there are going to be even further glories.

The angels know the prophecies of the Old and New Testaments . They know that there are still further glories that are going to be revealed.

The salvation that we have in Jesus Christ is
not a superficial salvation. It's not a salvation that is simple and uncomplicated. Our salvation is complex and intricate. It involves sinners being lifted from the lowest to the highest.

It involves us being made new, with the
perishable putting on the imperishable, with the mortal putting on immortality, with our lowly bodies being made like His glorious body. (1 Corinthians 15:52f & Philippians 3:21)

As the apostle John said in
1 John 3:2,

"Dear friends, now we are children of God,
and what we will be
has not yet been made known.
But we know that when he appears,
we shall be like him,
for we shall see him as he is."

It does not yet appear what we shall be. As 1 Corinthians 2:9 says,

"No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared
for those who love him"

We are going to be made glorious and the angels are going to see it.

You see,

there are depths to our salvation that are still to be revealed.

Calvin,

"It is indeed the highest praise to the gospel, that it contains treasures of wisdom, as yet concealed and hidden from angels."



Calvin,

"Thus they see daily with admiration the wonderful works of God in the government of His church. How much greater will be their wonder at seeing the final display of divine justice, goodness and wisdom, when the kingdom of Christ is completed."


And what are they going to see?

Revelation 21:2f,

"I saw the Holy City,
the new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride
beautifully dressed for her husband.
And I heard a loud voice
from the throne saying,
'Now the dwelling of God is with men,
and he will live with them.
They will be his people,
and God himself will be with them
and be their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.
There will be no more death or mourning
or crying or pain,
for the old order of things
has passed away.'
He who was seated on the throne said,
'I am making everything new!'
Then he said,
'Write this down,
for these words
are trustworthy and true.'"

We are going to be raised to the highest.

In 1 Corinthians 6 the apostle Paul rebuked the Corinthian Christians for using the secular law courts. He said,

"If any of you has
a dispute with another,
dare he take it
before the ungodly for judgment
instead of before the saints?
Do you not know that the saints
will judge the world?
And if you are to judge the world,
are you not competent to judge trivial cases?
Do you not know
that we will judge angels?

How much more the things of this life!"

We Christians are going to judge the world. In Revelation 3:21 Jesus said,

"To him who overcomes,
I will give the right
to sit with me on my throne..."

This is astounding. That we should judge the angels that have fallen. Lifted from the lowest to the highest. He has subjected the world to come to us. New heaven and new earth. We will be the rulers.

The angels are continually learning about God's love, about His goodness.

I read an interesting comment in the Today booklet last week. In Never on Your Own, Gordon Spykman quotes a
Christian chemistry professor as saying, "For me, one of the exciting things about the world to come is the thought of having an eternity to run new experiments under ideal conditions, and thus to keep on discovering new secrets about God's wonderful love."

Every day in eternity there will be new discoveries about God's love. It will be that way for us. It will be that way for the angels.

What a wonderful God we have. What a wonderful Savior we have in Jesus Christ .

How great our God is. How wonderful He is. How wonderful the salvation we have in Him. How great it is. It is so great that the angels long to look into these things.

How wonderful the salvation we have in Christ.
Looking over our salvation Peter is awed by its depth and richness. How much you should appreciate it. The very angels of heaven are amazed at it.

Ephesians 3:17f- Paul prays that their eyes would be opened to know the height, depth etc. of the love of God.

"And I pray that you,
being rooted and established in love,
may have power,
together with all the saints,
to grasp how wide
and long and high and deep
is the love of Christ,
and to know this love that surpasses knowledge..."

Our salvation has nothing to do with the angels. If they long to look into these things—how much more should we be longing to look into them. What a rebuke to us, the objects of that salvation, that our hearts are so cold to it.

Unbelievers:

There is no salvation for the angels who sinned. 2 Peter 2:4 says,

"For if God did not spare angels
when they sinned,
but sent them to hell,
putting them into gloomy dungeons
to be held for judgment..."

(See also Hebrews 2:16, Jude 6)

Even though they are higher than us, there is no mercy for them. But God has made provision for us, for human sinners. He sent His son to die on the cross, so that whosoever believes on Him will not perish, but have eternal life. It's no ordinary salvation that is offered to you. Accept it today.