During this first week of advent this year I’m focused on the theme of hope. Remembering the birth of Jesus invites us to consider the hope of the people of Israel had long ago as they anticipated the coming of God’s promised Messiah. For us today, our hope is similar, but different. Our hope is in God’s promise that Jesus will make all things new when he returns to earth to establish the Kingdom of God in all its fullness and to offer his followers immortality as they join him in reigning on the earth.
Today we are going to look at the very next part of the passage in 1 Peter to continue to understand the hope that we have in Jesus as we await his second advent.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he gave us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, that is, into an inheritance imperishable, undefiled, and unfading. It is reserved in heaven for you, who by God’s power are protected through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” – 1 Peter 1:3-5
Yesterday we focused on the first part of this passage where Peter talks about God giving us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. Today we’re going to look at how Peter clarifies what he’s talking about by drawing our attention to the idea of inheritance.
When I think of inheritance I am immediately reminded of a recent opportunity I had to study Paul’s letter to the Ephesians with our home church family. I found myself drawn to the third chapter where Paul begins to explain in more detail the mystery that God revealed to him. And in verse 6 we are able to see how this idea of inheritance is key to Paul’s hope and his understanding of what is offered to us in Christ Jesus.
“This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel.” – Ephesians 3:6 (ESV)
The Gentiles are now heirs and members of the new family of God, the new covenant, and can now share in the promise of God through the gospel.
This was a big deal for the early church. It was a big deal for the Jews because they always thought of themselves as the people of God, separated from all the others, and now God was changing that. It was a big deal to the Gentiles because they now had the opportunity to belong to the family of God and to gain immortality when the Messiah returns, just like the Jews.
So Paul is telling us that because of Jesus, the Gentiles are now able to share in the promise of God. So, what is Paul referring to when he mentions the promise of God? Let’s take a look at some passages from the Hebrew Scriptures and the New Testament to gain an understanding.
7 “And I will establish my covenant between me and you and your offspring after you throughout their generations for an everlasting covenant, to be God to you and to your offspring after you. 8 And I will give to you and to your offspring after you the land of your sojournings, all the land of Canaan, for an everlasting possession, and I will be their God.” – Genesis 17:7-8 (also consider 12:7; 13:14-15; 15:18)
The promise of God that Paul is referring to has everything to do with the promise that God made with Abraham that he and his descendants would be given the land of promise as an inheritance, a possession.
The thing is that Abraham took up residence as a foreigner, but never had possession of or around any of the promised land. It is still a future acquisition for Abraham and his descendants…all who are in Christ.
“Yet he gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot’s length, but promised to give it to him as a possession and to his offspring after him…” – Acts 7:5
“And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise.” – Galatians 3:29 (Also consider 3:18)
You and I are Abraham’s offspring if we are in Christ and will share in the promise as well.
Jesus himself spoke often about the kingdom of God and specifically about inheriting the earth.
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” – Matthew 5:5
There is a lot more for us to unpack when it comes to our promised inheritance in Christ Jesus. Tomorrow we’ll take it one step further as we look at the remainder of our passage in 1 Peter. But before I pull this post to a close, I want to look at one more thing.
The description of this inheritance as imperishable, undefiled, and unfading reminds me of what is recorded in the gospel of Luke when the angel Gabriel appeared before Mary. Let’s read part of what the angel declared to her:
30 So the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God! 31 Listen: You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David. 33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and his kingdom will never end.” – Luke 1:30-33
The description in 1 Peter of this inheritance is consistent with what the angel spoke of Jesus in his announcement to Mary. This new king would reign and rule forever and his kingdom would never end. Our inheritance is secure.
As I consider my hope this advent season I find myself longing for the God who is making this all possible. Perhaps for the first time in my life my heart is filled with joy and excitement as I anticipate Jesus’ return, instead of being indifferent or fearful. The author of the book of Hebrews captures how I’m feeling right now:
“So since we are receiving an unshakable kingdom, let us give thanks, and through this let us offer worship pleasing to God in devotion and awe.” – Hebrews 12:28 (NET)
I pray that your hope is being stirred as you continue to journey with me.