10 ¶ 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.
Peter now states that salvation was prophesied of in the Old Testament by the Prophets and that the sufferings of Christ were prophesied as well as the glory of His resurrection. It is important that Peter, talking specifically to Jews saved by the grace of God and faith in Christ, should present a connection between what they have learned and the prophecies of the Hebrew Bible.
It is clear that the Jews’ minds had been so distorted by the manmade traditions of the Pharisees that they could not and did not see that these prophecies were being fulfilled in front of their eyes so saying that the Jews were looking forward to the Cross is a real stretch. Peter didn’t get it himself when he walked with Christ.
Matthew 16:21 ¶ From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day. 22 Then Peter took him, and began to rebuke him, saying, Be it far from thee, Lord: this shall not be unto thee. 23 But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.
John 20:6 Then cometh Simon Peter following him, and went into the sepulchre, and seeth the linen clothes lie, 7 And the napkin, that was about his head, not lying with the linen clothes, but wrapped together in a place by itself. 8 Then went in also that other disciple, which came first to the sepulchre, and he saw, and believed. 9 For as yet they knew not the scripture, that he must rise again from the dead.
But the Old Testament does point to Christ as is evident in many places, some easier and more obvious than others to see. For instance, look at Isaiah, at the end of chapter 52 and in chapter 53.
Isaiah 52:13 ¶ Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. 14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: 15 So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider.
53:1 ¶ Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed? 2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. 3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 ¶ Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. 5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. 6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. 7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth. 8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. 9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 ¶ Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. 11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities. 12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
In the eleventh century, possibly in response to the brutality of the Roman Catholic Crusades, the Jewish rabbi known as Rashi began to teach that these verses in Isaiah referred to the Jewish people rather than to the Messiah. (6)
So, from these and other passages in the Old Testament we can see that Christ, the Messiah, was preached in the Old Testament but was made invisible by the manmade traditions of the Pharisees much as, for instance, a Christian fundamentalist or liberal Christian today, does not see the doctrines of the Bible or the commands placed on them by Christ because of preaching and teaching that is agenda driven, creating a system of rules and expectations of the Christian that are not Biblical and would have been impossible for the first century Jewish or Gentile Christian to follow. Nor are they possible for us to follow now.
Early Christians, as evident here, were clearly taught the Old Testament as it pertained to Christ’s first and second advents. Such preaching today, like the Pharisaical of old, is mostly absent and instead focuses on rules and regulations invented by the faith tradition; whether it be Baptist, Methodist, Presbyterian, or one of the many Charismatic movements.
Peter’s statement is that the prophets preached for our benefit, not their own, as Isaiah, for instance, may not have even understood his own prophecy. The immediate context of Isaiah’s statements following may not have been understood by Him but were by these early Christians and should be by us.
Isaiah 7:14 Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.
Isaiah 9:6 For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this.
And yet, we believe these verses foretold Christ’s arrival, both first and second in Isaiah 9. See how chapter 7 is alluded to in Matthew.
Matthew 1:23 Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.
Do you look at the Old Testament like these ancient Christians, seeing Christ in every chapter almost? So, Peter is saying that the Old Testament prophets preached not for themselves and their understanding but for the Christian and his or her understanding and now preachers preach these things by the power of the Holy Ghost knowing what they meant, to God’s glory.
As the angels desire to know about these things it is clear that spiritual beings have no more special knowledge of this than they are given. Notice how the prophecies in Revelation of the end are sealed in the hand of God and only Christ can open them.
Revelation 5:1 ¶ And I saw in the right hand of him that sat on the throne a book written within and on the backside, sealed with seven seals. 2 And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? 3 And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon. 4 And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon. 5 And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof.
Note the nature of prophecy as Christ told His disciples;
John 16:4 But these things have I told you, that when the time shall come, ye may remember that I told you of them. And these things I said not unto you at the beginning, because I was with you.
As the prophets warned Israel about things to come if they did not repent so we are told about things to come, not so that we can boast of knowledge, but so that when they happen we remember that we were told and our faith is confirmed.
(6) Joel E. Rembaum, “The Development of a Jewish Exegetical Tradition regarding Isaiah 53,” The Harvard Theological Review,Vol. 75, No. 3 (Jul., 1982), 294. http://www.jstor.org/stable/1509755.