The Prophets and the Eternal Inheritance
In our investigation of the Old Testament prophets and how Peter, through the inspiration of the Spirit interpreted those prophecies, it is important to focus on another of the themes that Peter speaks of, and that is the promise of the eternal inheritance.
Peter says this:
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen you love. Though now you do not see Him, yet believing, you rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory, receiving the end of your faith—the salvation of your souls.”
Peter speaks eloquently of the inheritance that was ready to be revealed. That inheritance was incorruptible, undefilable and could not fade away! What beautiful language! What an inheritance!
The very language of “eternal inheritance” should key us into the fact that Peter is speaking of the OT promises made to Israel. That word is critical in their history and in the prophets. It is also critical in the NT studies of eschatology.
The Eternal Inheritance| Not of the Flesh!
Notice that in Galatians 4, Paul says the children of the flesh– Old Covenant Israel– would not receive the promised inheritance! There are several reasons for this:
1.) They were, when Paul wrote, persecuting the children of the Spirit, the followers of Christ.
2.) They were seeking the eternal inheritance through the keeping of Torah, and Temple observance, and not by faith (Romans 9:30-33). Paul contrasts these two ideas “Faith versus Law” in the terms of “flesh versus Spirit” in Galatians 3:1-8.
These “negative” statements should not be taken to say that God did not fulfill His promises to Old Covenant Israel. Rather, we must understand that the promises were ever and always to the righteous remnant– not the entire nation. Notice that in Romans 11, as Paul speaks of the salvation of Israel, he discusses the rejection of the gospel by the nation, i.e. the majority, but, he then says, “Israel has not obtained that for which he sought, but, the elect has obtained, and the rest were blinded” (Romans 1:7). Be sure to get a copy of my MP3 series on this verse. You will be amazed at what you will learn!
Notice also in the promise of the New Creation, found in Isaiah 65-66, the Lord said: “the Lord God slay you, and call His servants by another name” (65:15). Yet, in verse 8, He had specifically said that in spite of the coming judgment, He would save the remnant. Be sure to read my in-depth discussion of the New Creation in my The Elements Shall Melt With Fervent Heat.
But, notice again the correspondence between Zechariah and 1 Peter. Zechariah foretold the establishment of the fountain for the cleansing of sin. He foretold the River of Life flowing from the throne of the Lord. Here is the promise of the “eternal inheritance” of 1 Peter. And notice, that just as Peter said that the OT prophets spoke of the “sufferings of Christ and the glory to follow,” in Zechariah 12 and 13 we find the sufferings of Messiah, as he would be betrayed in the house of his friends, but, that suffering is followed by the Day of the Lord and the River of Life flowing from the Messianic Temple of the Lord!
Of course, we cannot fail to note once again that Peter says those OT prophets did not understand either the time or the manner of the fulfillment of their own prophecies. But, through the Spirit, the NT writers were revealing the things that those OT prophets foretold. Furthermore, Peter is emphatic that the time foretold by those OT prophets had arrived!
The eternal salvation foretold by the prophets was, when Peter wrote, “ready to be revealed in the last time.” (Cf. V. 20 as well). Peter used the word hetoimos which means not only morally prepared, but, temporally on the point of; that salvation was about to be revealed at the parousia of Christ.
So, what we have in 1 Peter is divine commentary on the OT prophecies of the coming salvation, the salvation to be revealed at the “revelation of Jesus Christ.” This is nothing but the Day of the Lord of Zechariah 14, which in that context is explicitly posited at the time of the judgment of Jerusalem (14:1-5).. This comports perfectly with Peter’s affirmations that “the end of all things has drawn near”, and “the (appointed) time for (the) judgment has come.” (1 Peter 4:7, 17).
That eternal inheritance has now been revealed: “life and immortality” has been revealed to be in Christ (2 Timothy 1:12). The River of Life flows freely to anyone and everyone that would enter the gates of the New Jerusalem and drink deeply of the “well of salvation” (Isaiah 26:1f).