1 Peter 1:12

‘things angels desire to look into.’
(1 Peter 1:12)

Angels are fascinating beings, who interestingly are fascinated by us too, and God’s unfolding plan for mankind. That’s what they were desiring ‘to look into’ in this verse. Obviously we should desire to look into that as well, it being about us, but we’d benefit from knowing what God is doing with angels too. They’re amazing friends and partners with us in God’s plan, who one day we’ll see more clearly, and rejoice with for all eternity.

In many ways angels are uniquely like us. They’re intelligent spiritual beings created by God, so we’re not alone in that respect. One day we’ll be even more alike, after the ‘“resurrection… like God’s angels in heaven”’(Matthew 22:30). It’s of note however that angels are rather more powerful than perhaps is commonly appreciated. For example, when Jesus returns He will be accompanied by ‘His mighty angels in flaming fire’(2 Thessalonians 1:7). Such ‘heavenly hosts’ aren’t usually visible to us now, like with the ‘chariots of fire’(2 Kings 6:17) that weren’t visible to Elijah’s servant, initially at least. If they do become visible their appearance can vary. The ‘glory of the Lord shone around’(Luke 2:9) the angel who announced Jesus’ birth to the shepherds. Likewise, the angel who rolled the stone from His tomb had an appearance ‘like lightning, and… clothing white as snow’(Matthew 28:3). However, it’s possible to come across and even serve ‘angels without knowing it’(Hebrews 13:2) disguised as ordinary people. Most often though angels serve us, perhaps similarly disguised, or invisible, under God’s direction, as ‘serving spirits, sent out to do service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation’(Hebrews 1:14).

However, there’s a dark side to angels too. Paul mentions the ‘chosen angels’(1 Timothy 5:21), meaning holy angels who never fell into sin. However, there’s also the ‘serpent… called the devil and Satan’(Revelation 12:9), a leading ‘angelic’ being, ‘fallen from heaven’(Isaiah 14:12), with his subordinate ‘angels… thrown down with him’(Revelation 12:9), demons. Under such dark influences mankind fell too.

God could quite justly have condemned us all to the same fate, ‘“‘the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels’”’(Matthew 25:41). However, the thing that so fascinated the holy angels, which they desired ‘to look into’ according to Peter here, is the way of salvation that had opened up for mankind. The angels could see this for what it is, a glorious display of God’s grace to marvel at. Mankind, although ‘made… a little lower than the angels’(Psalm 8:5) nevertheless has this special place in God’s heart, perhaps because we’re uniquely made in His ‘image’(Genesis 1:27)? Since this amazing grace and salvation is for us, we especially should be interested ‘to look into’ it.

That’s Peter’s point, and that the prophets had been interested too, in ‘this salvation… prophets sought and searched diligently. They prophesied of the grace that would come’(1 Peter 1:10). Peter describes this as ‘the Spirit of Christ, which was in them’(1 Peter 1:11) pointing to the ‘Good News’(1 Peter 1:12) of the gospel, now preached and brought home to us by the same ‘Holy Spirit sent out from heaven’(1 Peter 1:12).

As John’s account of this gospel opens, the amazing news is that ‘the Word… God… became flesh, and lived among us… Son of the Father, full of grace’(John 1:1&14). The plan was that being ‘made a little lower than the angels [i.e. like us, as above], Jesus… by the grace of God… should taste of death for everyone’(Hebrews 2:9)! This letter from Peter spells it out very clearly: Jesus ‘Christ… suffered for sins… the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring you to God’(1 Peter 3:18). He ‘bore our sins in His body on the tree [i.e. cross, as our substitute]… You were healed by His wounds’(1 Peter 2:24), echoing Isaiah’s earlier prophecy ‘He was pierced for our transgressions. He was crushed for our iniquities. The punishment that brought our peace was on Him; and by His wounds we are healed’(Isaiah 53:5).

By repentance and faith in this gospel, we can receive this ‘salvation’(1 Peter 1:9), angels rejoicing when we do, since there’s ‘“joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting”’(Luke 15:10). We might still suffer ‘various trials’(1 Peter 1:6) in this world, as Peter acknowledges, perhaps supported quietly by ‘angels’(Psalm 91:11; Matthew 4:11, cf. Luke 22:43), and we can always be encouraged by ‘the joy… set before’(Hebrews 12:2) us, awaiting God’s ultimate ‘grace… at the revelation of Jesus’(1 Peter 1:13) to come. Then we’ll rejoice with ‘All the angels… saying, “Amen!… glory… thanksgiving… be to our God forever and ever! Amen”(Revelation 7:11-12).

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