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Angelic Desire

Scripture: 1 Peter 1:6-12; Text: “Unto whom it was revealed, that not unto themselves, but unto us they did minister the things, which are now reported unto you with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven; which things the angels desire to look into" (1 Peter 1:12).

There are many marvelous subjects considered in this passage of scripture. Here we are reminded of salvation and the grace by which it came to us. We are also informed that the Holy Spirit was responsible for revealing such great truths to the prophets who wrote the Old Testament. Peter also states that the prophets did not fully understand that which they wrote. They "inquired and searched diligently" to understand, but the grace of which they wrote was to be revealed much later. It was fully manifested to us through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

It should amaze us to realize that the revelation we have through the scriptures of the New Testament, convey to us a greater and fuller knowledge than was enjoyed by the prophets of the Old Testament (Matthew 13:17). Yet there is a statement in the text which is even more astounding, for Peter declared that we have experiences which even the angels of glory have desired to look into. The implication is that saints have witnessed events and shared experiences which are not fully encountered by angels. That fact seems evident since they have a desire to look into those things. For us to grasp the full blessing of this thought, we must consider three things about angels: (1) We must discover the nature and being of them, (2) We need to study that which they have already seen, (3) Then, last of all, we should notice that which they have a desire to see.

Let us now begin our study of these holy beings which we call angels. In the teachings of the Bible, the basic meaning of the word "angel" is messenger. Because of that definition Jesus is referred to as an angel, for He is the messenger of God’s person and grace. The Prophet Isaiah described Him as the angel of God's presence. He wrote, "In all their afflictions he was afflicted, and the angel of his presence saved them: in his love and in his pity he redeemed them; and he bare them, and carried them all the days of old" (Isaiah 63:9).

In a limited way, ministers of the gospel are also angels, being God's messengers. When John wrote letters to the seven churches of Asia, he addressed them to the minister who was called "the angel of the church" (Revelation 2:1). Even today ministers continue to function as messengers when they share the word of God through preaching.

Yet we must understand that the “angels” mentioned in the text, did not have reference either to Jesus or gospel ministers. The angels under consideration were special beings, created by God to do His will as they carry His messages to mortals in this world. Two such angels are Gabriel, who is mentioned four times in the Bible; and Michael, who is referred to five times. Both angels were alive during the Old Testament dispensation and as far as can be determined from New Testament scripture, they remain alive until this present time. Evidently angels never grow old and die as do mortals. Neither are they restricted by distance as we are, for angels have the ability to travel from heaven to earth and back again. Repeatedly the Bible declares they have done so as they brought the message of God to various individuals. What remarkable beings, that neither time nor distance affects them. Their capabilities may best be explained by the fact that they are spiritual beings (Hebrews 1:4). Though we shall not actually be angels in the resurrection, we will have many of the qualities which they now possess. Jesus said that the resurrected will be "as the angels of God in heaven" (Matthew 22:30).

Both our Lord and Peter spoke of angels in the plural. Exactly how many there are, we have no way to determine. Jesus said, "Thinkest thou that I cannot now pray to my Father, and he shall presently give me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matthew 26:53). A legion was a body of soldiers in the ancient Roman army, which consisted of three-thousand to six-thousand foot soldiers and three hundred to seven hundred calvary men. No wonder Daniel referred to the angels as "the army of heaven" (Daniel 4:35). That enumerable host now desires to look into that which we have experienced.

While they have such desires, there are some things which angels have seen, that we should desire to look into. They have seen the blessed and glorious presence of our Lord Jesus. Before He came to this earth to be embodied in flesh, our Saviour dwelt in heaven's glory. While He remained in heaven, the angels were able to see and know Him in ways not yet experienced by us.

Not only did they gaze up upon His face, but they also witnessed His birth by the virgin Mary. Jesus said, "I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of Him that sent me" (John 6:38). Most likely the angels were attendants at His birth and were able to announce it to the shepherds. When the announcement was made, a great multitude of the heavenly host joined together to praise God (Luke 2:10-14). Most of us would desire to share in the privilege those angels enjoyed.

They also had special insight into His resurrection. Afterwards an angel said, "He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay" (Matthew 28:6). None of us had the privilege of seeing the grave clothes and the empty tomb where our Lord lay. Not only were angels present at His resurrection, but also attended the ascension of our Lord (Acts 1:9-11). No doubt we would have rejoiced to witness such a great event? Indeed, they have seen much that our eyes have not seen and even now they look upon the face of our Heavenly Father and Jesus, our Saviour and Intercessor.

They have witnessed so much and even now they see so much more than we do. We see through a darkened glass (1 Corinthians 3:12) and try to picture the beauty of heaven as we read the descriptive statements of the Bible. We can only imagine the blessings which God has prepared for His people in heaven. They are things which "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man ..." (1 Corinthians 2:9); yet angels have seen, heard, and felt the joys of that world to come, which is without end. While we may be envious of their experience, the fact remains that some things we have been blessed to enjoy, they now desire to look into.

The text declares that angels have a specific interest in the preaching of the gospel under the power and blessings of the Holy Ghost. The gospel is not preached in heaven, but among men and women of earth. As Paul described Jesus, while yet manifested in the flesh; he declared Him to be "seen of angels" but "preached unto the Gentiles" (1 Timothy 3:16). As God's messengers, angels have often brought a specific message to someone on earth. Angels visited Abraham, Lot, Joseph and Mary; along with many others. Yet when it pleased God to inspire the Bible to be written, He breathed upon men (not angels) by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter 1:21). God also calls men (not angels of heaven) as gospel ministers. Surely angels could do a better job, yet it pleased God to bless men to preach His wonderful words of truth. As the word is preached, it goes forth in "... demonstration of the Spirit and of power" (1 Corinthians 2:4). There is a special working of the Holy Ghost, whereby men are empowered to preach and the saints are enabled to hear with understanding. When such experiences occur, there is great joy to both the hearer and preacher. Evidently, there is an element of mystery to this, which neither we nor angels have yet fully comprehended. So they desire to look into this marvelous moving of the Holy Ghost.

There is another work of the Holy Spirit, which the angels probably have not experienced. If they desire to look into His working in the proclamation of the gospel, surely they must desire to look also at His work of regeneration. It is by the Holy Spirit that the elect are born again (John 3:7). To my knowledge, not one angel has ever experienced the new birth. The new birth is necessitated by the fact that we were dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1). The angels in heaven are not sinners, therefore they do not need the new birth. But if the workings of the Holy Spirit is of interest to them, surely this work of grace demands their attention.

Not only are we born again, but the Holy Spirit remains within us as a source of divine guidance and comfort. Jesus told His disciples that the Father would send the Holy Spirit as the Comforter (John 14:16) but He also declared that the Holy Spirit would guide us into all truth (John 16:13). Paul wrote, "For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God" (Romans 8:14). This gracious leading of the Spirit of God, is an indispensable part of the Christian life. What angel has experienced such wondrous leading, as the Holy Spirit has wrought in the souls of God’s children, as objects of His grace?

Having considered the angelic interest in the Spirit's work among mortals, let us move on to consider the work of Jesus in our behalf. When Jesus died, He died for sinners (not angels). Paul wrote in Romans 5:8, "For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us." I have already mentioned the fact that angels in heaven are not sinners. Since Christ died for sinners, He did not die for angels. Such thoughts should not cause feelings of pride, but instead should melt our hearts in humility. Just think; Jesus died for sinners, who had transgressed God's holy laws, had broken His commandments and deserved only death and endless hell. Because of God's grace, He chose a great number of Adam's fallen race, then gave His dear Son to die for those elected. Christ died to pay our sin debt. He had no sin of His own, it was for our sins that He suffered and bled. He died not for one angel, yet for all the elect He paid the supreme sacrifice. If there is any mystery which cannot be understood by man nor angel, it is this work of redeeming grace. The angels were not redeemed for they did not need to be. I do not say this in any demeaning way, but angels have neither felt the agony of sin nor the glorious liberty which the children of God experience in Christ (John 8:36). By the blood of Jesus, we have "... the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace" (Ephesians 1:7). Not one drop of that crimson tide was for an angel, it was shed for the people of God. If I was an angel, I believe I would want to look into and understand what it feels like to be a recipient of God's grace? We know the gracious change that makes us a new creature (2 Corinthians 5:17) ,perhaps the angels desire to look into this work of the Spirit too.

Because of God’s amazing grace, we can rejoice that we have a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord. How do you feel about that fact? What emotions does such knowledge stir within the depths of your soul? It should bless us with joy unspeakable and full of glory (1 Peter 1:8). We should be moved to love God more deeply and lastingly than ever before. Our soul should feel the greatest force of motivation in service, that can be experienced. Thank God for a Saviour like Jesus, Who has loved us with an everlasting love. Not one angel in heaven can accurately address Jesus as "Saviour". No angel has ever been saved by Him. Perhaps, if they do desire to look into this phenomenon, they wonder why there is not more love and appreciation shown by those who have received so much. The angels have received much, and they serve Him always; day and night, year after year. They are not busy pursuing the pleasures of this world. Angels do not put trivial matters and insignificant events ahead of the service of God. He is first with them and so often He is last in our list of priorities. People often spend their money on a variety of interests and if any is left, they share a little of the leftovers with God. Some have time to go almost anywhere but to church. Yet many of them would quickly declare, "I'm saved by grace - Jesus is my Saviour!" Can you understand that kind of indifference? Can you imagine what the angels must think as they look upon such actions of men; or more importantly, what God must feel as He views such careless and unfaithful behavior?

My friends, we have experiences which angels have desired to look into. We have the message of God's goodness and grace, as the Bible is preached. Jesus built His church in the world and it remains here that we may be edified and God be glorified. Yet, how often we have forsaken the assembling of the saints (Hebrews 10:25). As saints assemble, the gospel is preached and the Holy Spirit moves, blessing mortals, stirring hearts. We are to worship our most gracious God, “who daily loadeth us with benefits” (Psalm 68:19). How sad, that more do not appreciate these blessings; probably, none of us appreciate them as we should. Those blessings were given that we might enjoy the service of God. It is a shame that we have often exchanged them for the worthless trinkets of this worlds secular pleasures and interest, which are but for a season (Hebrews 11:25). The spiritual blessings which God has bestowed has an enduring quality and is more precious than all earthly gain. Please remember that it is not this vain world nor secular interests, that the angels have desired to look into. As spiritual beings, no doubt, their interest is in our spiritual blessings; our treasure in earthen vessels (2 Corinthians 4:7).

Let us be committed to look more deeply into those matters which are of such tremendous interest to the angelic host above. May we pray for grace to appreciate them more and love more profoundly the God who graciously gave them. Since they are of divine origin, we should be thankful for them and share with others our personal witness of His grace and goodness. We should testify of things which we have seen and heard (Acts 4:20). Hopefully, now that we know angels are interested, we shall become more interested in them too.

We should recognize that it is impossible for us to know the mind of God or angels. Perhaps, I have read too much in the statement which Peter made with regard to angelic interest. We may have misunderstood it altogether, but I think not. Yet of this we can be sure, this sermon does not over estimate the value of the workings of our great and gracious God. Give thought to these truths and give your life in service to the Maker of men and angels. He is worthy of their worship and ours. May we daily give Him praise and glory.

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This page last updated on June 7, 2014