Sermon notes of James Jester
September 5, 2021
Scripture Reading: I Samuel 19:1-6
“And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they should kill David. 2 But Jonathan Saul’s son delighted much in David: and Jonathan told David, saying, Saul my father seeketh to kill thee: now therefore, I pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning, and abide in a secret place, and hide thyself: 3 And I will go out and stand beside my father in the field where thou art, and I will commune with my father of thee; and what I see, that I will tell thee. 4 And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto him, Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to thee-ward very good: 5 For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the Philistine, and the LORD wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against innocent blood, to slay David without a cause? 6 And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, As the LORD liveth, he shall not be slain.” (I Sam. 19:1-6)
This message serves as a conclusion to the series, Psalms for Turbulent Times.
The First Epistle of Peter, A Living Hope
Peter’s opening greeting lets us know who he is writing to:
“Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, to the strangers scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, 2 Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” (I Pet. 1:1-2)
The “strangers” here are those of the former northern house of Israel:
“The strangers scattered” — literally, “sojourners of the dispersion”; only in John 7:35 and James 1:1, in New Testament, and Psalm 147:2, “the outcasts of Israel” in the Septuagint; the designation peculiarly given to the Jews [Judeans] in their dispersed state throughout the world ever since the Babylonian captivity. These he, as the apostle of the circumcision, primarily addresses, but not in the limited temporal sense only; he regards their temporal condition as a shadow of their spiritual calling to be strangers and pilgrims on earth, looking for the heavenly Jerusalem as their home. (JFB commentary)
The above commentary has conveniently left out (or forgotten) the earlier captivity of the northern House of Israel by the Assyrians. These were dispersed as well.
Indeed it is true that Christians are sometimes considered “strangers” in this world of rebellion against God. Peter also calls them the “elect.” The word rendered “strangers” occurs only in three places in the New Testament: here, Hebrews 11:13, and I Peter 2:11, where it is rendered “pilgrims.”
Did you also notice the word “sprinkling” in Peter’s opening greeting? Did it remind us of something in Exodus? When Israel agreed to the covenant, Moses offered the sacrifice, “And Moses took the blood, and sprinkled it on the people, and said, Behold the blood of the covenant, which the LORD hath made with you concerning all these words.” (Ex. 24:8) This is further evidence that Peter’s “strangers” were of Israelite descent.
In the following verse, Peter shows us how these former Israelites were elected:
“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, 4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” (I Pet. 1:3-5)
Notice the word “again”? Why again? Because Israel was divorced from God, her husband; and the New Covenant in Christ restored them to that former position. It is the same meaning in the word “re-deemed,” i.e., “re” means “again” and “deem” means “to buy back.” Only Israel can claim to be bought back again from a previous state. No other race in the world can make this claim. Jesus’ resurrection insured the validity of this New Covenant salvation.
“Kept by the power of God” — that is, “kept” or preserved in the faith and hope of the gospel; who are preserved from apostasy, so that we will finally obtain salvation. The word used here, rendered “kept,” is in: II Corinthians 11:32, kept with a garrison; in Galatians 3:23, kept under law; and, in Philippians 4:7, shall keep. It does not occur elsewhere in the New Testament. The idea is, that there was a faithful guardianship exercised over them to save them from danger, as a castle or garrison is watched to guard against the approach of an enemy. The meaning is, that they were weak in themselves, and were surrounded by temptations or testings; and that the only reason they were preserved, was that God exerted his power to keep them.
“The last time” — when the present world system shall close, then it shall be revealed that such an inheritance was “reserved” for you.
Peter goes on:
“Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: 7 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 honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: 8 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: 9 Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (I Pet. 1:6-9)
“In heaviness” — through many kinds of “trials,” for so the word rendered “temptation” means (q.v., James 1:2, 12). The meaning here is, that they now are enduring many things which are suited to try their faith. These might have consisted of poverty, persecution, sickness, or the efforts of others to lead them to renounce their religion, and to go back to their former state of unbelief. Any combination of these would prove them, and would show their faith as genuine.
“Being much more precious than of gold” — this does not mean that their faith was more precious than gold; but rather, the testing of it, i.e., the process of showing whether their faith was or was not genuine. This was a much more important and valuable process than that of testing gold in the fire.
“Though it be tried with fire” — this refers to the gold. The point is, that gold, though it will bear the action of fire (removing dross), is yet a destructible thing, and will not endure forever. It is more desirable to test religious faith, rather than gold, because that is more valuable. It pertains to the eternal and indestructible, and is therefore of more importance to show its true quality, and to free it from any improper mixture.
“Ye greatly rejoice” — in the hope of salvation (resurrection). The idea is, they had the prospect, not only of a heavenly reward after death, but of a future inheritance in the kingdom, which was to them a source of the highest joy, even in the midst of their many sufferings and fiery trials.
We now come to verse 10 of Peter’s first epistle:
“Of which salvation the prophets have enquired and searched diligently, who prophesied of the grace that should come unto you: 11 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. 12 Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you by them that have preached the gospel unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into.” (I Pet. 1:10-12)
“Searching what” — what does “what” refer to? We see that “time” is mentioned, so it is not time. We see “them” mentioned, so it must refer to the prophets and others of Israel, for that is what (rather, who) the Bible is about. Though the prophets were the medium through which the truth was made known, yet their own predictions became a subject of careful investigation for themselves. What about the person or persons the prophecies spoke of? Obviously, they inquired about the Christ that was to come, who He would be, what would be His character, and what about the nature of the work that He would perform.
“The Holy Ghost sent down from heaven” — accompanied by the influences of the Holy Spirit bearing those truths to the heart, and confirming them to the mind. The same Spirit that inspired the prophets and conveyed truth to the early Christians, also discloses the truth to true believers in every age (q.v., John 16:13-14; Acts 10:44-45). The object of Peter by referring to the prophets, seems to have been to impress upon the readers a deep sense of the value of the gospel, and of the great privileges which they enjoyed. They were reaping the benefit of all the labors of the prophets. They were permitted to see truth clearly, which the prophets themselves saw only obscurely. In many respects, they were more favored than even the prophets had been. It was for them that the prophets had spoken the word of the Lord; and while they themselves had not been allowed to understand the full import of their own predictions, the most humble believer was permitted to see what the most distinguished prophet never saw. Jesus confirmed this when he said, “Many prophets and righteous men have desired to see those things which ye see, and have not seen them; and to hear those things which ye hear, and have not heard them.” (Matthew 13:17)
“Which things the angels desire to look into” — the object of this reference to the angels is the same as that of the prophets. To impress on Christians a sense of the value of that gospel which they had received. It had stirred interest among the most holy men on earth, and even among the inhabitants of the skies. Christians were enjoying the full revelation of what even the angels had desired more fully to understand by their great powers of investigation. These are the things that the prophets were so desirous to understand — the great truths respecting the sufferings of Christ, the glory which would follow, and the effects of the gospel. The angels felt a deep interest in all the events pertaining to the redemption of a lost world.
From Albert Barnes:
What, then, is there in our world which we may suppose would attract their attention? What is there which they would not see in other worlds? I answer, that the manifestation of the divine character in the plan of redemption, is that which would especially attract their attention, and lead them from heaven down to earth:
1. The mystery of the incarnation of the Son of God would be to them an object of the deepest interest. This, so far as we know, or have reason to suppose, has occurred nowhere else. There is no evidence that in any other world God has taken upon himself the form of one of his own creatures dwelling there, and stooped to live and act like one of them; to mingle with them; to share their feelings; and to submit to toil, and want, and sacrifice, for their welfare.
2. The fact that the guilty could be pardoned would attract their attention, for: (a) it is elsewhere unknown, no inhabitant of heaven having the need of pardon, and no offer of pardon having been made to a rebel angel. (b) There are great and difficult questions about the whole subject of forgiveness, which an angel could easily see, but which he could not so easily solve. How could it be done consistently with the justice and truth of God? How could he forgive, and yet maintain the honor of his own law, and the stability of his own throne? There is no more difficult subject in a human administration than that of pardon; and there is none which so much perplexes those who are entrusted with executive power.
3. The way in which pardon has been shown to the guilty here would excite their deep attention. It has been in a manner entirely consistent with justice and truth; showing, through the great sacrifice made on the cross, that the attributes of justice and mercy may both be exercised: that, while God may pardon to any extent, he does it in no instance at the expense of justice and truth. This blending of the attributes of the Almighty in beautiful harmony; this manifesting of mercy to the guilty and lost; this raising up a fallen and rebellious race to the favor and friendship of God; and this opening before a dying creature the hope of immortality, was what could be seen by the angels nowhere else: and hence, it is no wonder that they hasten with such interest to our world, to learn the mysteries of redeeming love. Every step in the process of recovering a sinner must be new to them, for it is unseen elsewhere; and the whole work, the atonement, the pardon and renovation of the sinner, the conflict of the child of God with his spiritual foes, the supports of religion in the time of sickness and temptation, the bed of death, the sleep in the tomb, the separate flight of the soul to its final abode, the resurrection of the body, and the solemn scenes of the judgment, all must open new fields of thought to an angelic mind, and attract the heavenly inhabitants to our world, to learn here what they cannot learn in their own abodes, however otherwise bright, where sin, and suffering, and death, and redemption are unknown. (Barnes)
In regard to verse 12, I found this commentary quite interesting:
THE LISTENING, GAZING ANGELS. “To look into” is literally “to bend the body so as to gaze upon an object,” as the apostles did at the sepulcher. This graphic figure may, perhaps, be a reminiscence of the quiet forms which sat, the one at the head and the other at the foot, where the body of Jesus had lain; as gazing upon a mystery and guarding a holy place. Or it may even recall the cherubim bending with outstretched and meeting wings above the mercy-seat. At all events, it speaks of the remote and yet earnest interest which other orders of beings in other worlds take in the story of redemption. Men have the honor of proclaiming it, whether as prophets or evangelists. To them it belongs. He helped not angels, but he helped the “seed of Abraham?” Therefore they do not speak of it, but stand around, like spectators in some great arena, all silent and all eyes. Three great truths concerning angelic natures are here. They are capable of learning. They too know God by his work which excites in them wonder and interest as it unfolds. The life and death of Christ, with the resulting salvation, are a revelation of God to angels no less than to men; and, though they have no share in the redemption, they have a share in the knowledge which the cross brings to them as to us. From it, far-darting beams of light shoot earthwards and upwards. It is the crowning manifestation of the Divine nature for all worlds and orders of being, as for all ages. (Pulpit Commentary)
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” (I Tim. 3:16)
Called to Be Holy (I Pet. 1:13-25)
We pick up again with I Peter 1:13:
“Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ 14 As obedient children, not fashioning yourselves according to the former lusts in your ignorance: 15 But as he which hath called you is holy, so be ye holy in all manner of conversation; 16 Because it is written, Be ye holy; for I am holy.” (I Pet. 1:13-16)
“Gird up…your mind” — In the ancient world people had to gather up the long robes they wore in order to be free to do vigorous activity. In our day we would roll up our sleeves or tighten the belt to be ready for the fight. The apostle exhorts them to be faithful and persevere in anticipation of what was to be revealed to them at the final day. They, as obedient children, should not fashion themselves according to the old life, but be sober, serious, reverent, and all those things that define the character of the holy. Why? Because God your Father is holy. Peter then quotes from Leviticus 19:2, “Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy.” As he who had called them into his kingdom was holy, so it became them to be holy also.
The apostle continues:
“And if ye call on the Father, who without respect of persons judgeth according to every man’s work, pass the time of your sojourning here in fear: 18 Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: 20 Who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you, 21 Who by him do believe in God, that raised him up from the dead, and gave him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God.” (I Pet. 1:17-21)
Peter compares the blood of Christ with things people normally consider of highest value. Yes, silver and gold are corruptible, but the blood of Christ is not. The precious blood of the Lamb is eternal.
“Manifest in these last times” — According to verse 20, how is “last times” defined? What is its context? Look at the beginning of the verse (my version), “Who [speaking of Christ] was truly foreordained before the world, and was shown [now — at the time of Peter’s writing] in these last times for you [the saints].” As I have asserted before, we have been in the “last days” since the advent of Jesus Christ. It has been two thousand years since Christ came, and He is still the hope and faith of his covenant people. As long as there are stars in the sky, we can depend upon Him (q.v., Jer. 31:35-36). “They shall fear thee as long as the sun and moon endure, throughout all generations.” (Ps. 72:5)
“Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: 23 Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. 24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: 25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” (I Pet. 1:22-25)
The apostle enjoins on them the special duty of brotherly love in verses 22-23. They had purified their hearts by obeying the truth, and as they were all one family, they were to love one another fervently. Thus, they would show to their enemies and persecutors the transforming nature of their religion, and furnish an impressive proof of its reality.
To confirm all these views, the apostle reminds them that all flesh must soon die. The glory of man would fade away. Nothing would abide but the Word of the Lord. They themselves would soon die, and be released from their troubles, and they should be willing, therefore, to bear trials for a brief time. The great and the rich, those apparently more favored in life, would soon disappear. Christians should not envy them, or fret and complain at their own painful lot in life (verses 24-25). The sharpest sufferings here are brief, and the highest honors of life soon vanishes away. Our main concern should be for the eternal inheritance. Having that in mind and building on the sure word of God, which abides forever, we need not shrink from the trials appointed to us here below.
The prophets, angels and apostles are represented as deeply interested in that glorious salvation that God has declared to mankind (Adam-kind), and by which we have been redeemed. In Romans chapter 11, the apostle Paul speaks of salvation in other terms, such as: “the election of grace” and “this mystery.” The book of Hebrews queries:
“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard him.” (Heb. 2:3)
The Bible in Basic English translates the above verse quite differently (and I feel more accurately in this case) than all other translations:
“What will come on us, if we do not give our minds to such a great salvation? a salvation of which our fathers first had knowledge through the words of the Lord, and which was made certain to us by those to whom his words came.” (Heb. 2:3, BBE)
Notice there are two groups of our forefathers (bolded), which to me indicates our Old Testament fathers, and the latter (“those”) indicates the New Testament fathers. This is certainly valid, is it not? It obviously includes the prophets, the disciples, the apostles, and even the angels.
How shall America escape? Why aren’t more people interested in such a great salvation? Of course, everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. But God’s salvation also applies at the national level — when we keep His laws. That is what our many forefathers did. America once experienced God’s great salvation in the past. We didn’t fear our enemies, in fact, we had none, for God protected us. Why not again? It can happen if more Christians would comply with God’s kingdom plan. God’s “salvation” is actually God’s kingdom. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)
America needs more people like Jonathan. Because of his intervention, his father Saul changed his mind about shedding the innocent blood of David. Texas has passed a law to forbid the murdering of babies in the womb. That is a step in the right direction — more states should be adopting “heartbeat” laws. America is guilty of shedding innocent blood. Israel in her new land has already neglected a great salvation, by violating God’s laws. America needs more Christians who realize that the Bible is not just a book on religion and personal salvation, but rather a book of great political importance. What do religionists think the book of Exodus is about, or the book of Numbers, or the book of Judges, or Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, or Nehemiah? Judging these books simply by the title alone tells us they are political. And what of the other books of the Bible? Surely they must be part political. Someone said the Bible is 85 percent political; the rest being historical, poetic, prophetic, ecclesiastical and personal. The Bible is full of politics — the governing of a particular race of people. Further, what family, nation or race is the Bible about? Only one — Israel! Throughout history no nation that ignored God has escaped His judgment. “The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.” (Ps. 9:17) Isn’t America being turned into “hell” in 2021? Hey, judeo-Christian religionist, do you not want your posterity to face a sane and godly future? Men and angels have not escaped the judgment of God; how then, shall America escape? If you do want a more Christian country, then join us, and become politically and racially aware of who you are in the work for the kingdom of our Lord.
Someone has said, “God judges the fight, not the win.” In other words, it is our responsibility to be faithful; it is God’s job to deliver the results (according to his will). We may, or may not, win the battle or the war. But God will judge us in the stand we take in the battle for righteousness. The remnant church of Israel in America will remain faithful. “Fear none of those things which thou shalt suffer: behold, the devil shall cast some of you into prison that ye may be tried… be thou faithful unto death, and I will give thee a crown of life.” (Rev. 2:10)