Since its inception 20 years ago the Hubble Space Telescope has both delighted and amazed people around the world through its spectacular imagery. In May 2009 astronauts gave the Hubble Space Telescope what will likely be its final overhaul. They repaired power and control systems, installed a new camera to give Hubble several more years of life and make it more productive than ever. After conducting the repairs, the project scientist Ken Sembach said, “The best times for this telescope are ahead of it.” If you are a scientist or an astronaut this may the most optimistic and hope filled statement isn’t it? In other words what he was saying is that, Hey guys! Get ready for a treat! What you will see in the future will be far more glorious than what you have already seen. The best is yet to come. I am curious to see what the Hubble telescope will unfold about this vastly unknown universe of ours.
When I read that statement I couldn’t help but think about my life as a Christian in this world. Since the time I became a Christian in 1982 all what I have read, heard, believed in, experienced or preached about life, the life after death and the glories of heaven will amount to nothing in comparison to the actual reality that I will get to see and enjoy in the end. Heaven will be far more amazing and totally mind boggling than we could ever imagine. We will be awestruck.
That’s what Peter was communicating through his first letter to the believers who were scattered and endured persecution under the cruel emperor Nero. He wrote this letter to cheer them up. One way he was saying: hey guys don’t give up the fight, don’t loose hope, take courage, look up, smile and trust, your redemption is drawing near, and the best is yet to come.
In I Peter 1:3-5, Peter introduces the main theme of hope by a prayer. Let’s read it. “Praise be to the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ. In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil, or fade kept (reserved) for you, who through faith are shielded (protected) by God’s power until the coming salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time.”
Peter praised God for His great gift of salvation. It is only by his mercy we are saved. Then he shares three powerful truths that could bring hope to the persecuted believers of his time and subsequently to us. Living by these profound truths can deeply impact the way we live. They are. 1. An imperishable inheritance 2. A reserved inheritance 3 God’s powerful protection.
I. AN IMPERISHABLE INHERITANCE:
Wouldn’t you get excited if someone told you that you were in someone’s will to inherit millions of dollars? Most people would. According to the American federal government statistics in subsequent years since 1985, the overall amount of total annual inheritance was more than doubled, reaching nearly $200 billion. By 2050, there is an estimated $25 trillion average inheritance transmitted across generations. Some researchers have attributed this rise to the baby boomer generation. For this reason, Thomas Shapiro suggests that this generation "is in the midst of benefiting from the greatest inheritance of wealth in history.”
It doesn’t matter how rich you may become by obtaining your earthly inheritance, on this side of the earth nothing lasts forever. But we are given an imperishable inheritance which will last forever. Readers of this letter knew the meaning of inheritance.
God had given Israel the inheritance of Canaan the Promised Land. But Canaan was often ravished by alien armies, and its fields were often wasted by insects and drought. Peter was pointing them to look forward to a much better inheritance. Unlike their earthly inheritance the heavenly inheritance will not perish, spoil, or fade. It is the imperishable inheritance. Every born again Christian can receive this inheritance. Jesus made a reference to this in Matt 6:19-20, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.”
What does this imperishable inheritance look like? By looking at several scriptures we get a glimpse of what we will be inheriting: Salvation(Heb 1:14) Eternal life( Lk 10:25, Mt 19:29), the kingdom(James 2:5) A relationship with our heavenly father(Rev 21:7) The presence of Jesus Christ(I Th 2:19) The reigning with God forever( 2 Tim 2:12,Rev 22:5). That is the living hope we have. Who will receive this inheritance? Is it for everybody or only for a few privileged ones? Peter makes it clear that this imperishable inheritance is not for every one but is only reserved for those who has accepted Jesus as their savior. If you are a child of God it is reserved for you.
I. A. RESERVED INHERITANCE
A professional singer Ruthanna Mezgar was asked to sing at the wedding of a Millionaire. According to the invitation the reception would be held on the top two floors of Seatle’s Columbia Tower, the Northwest’s tallest skyscraper. Ruthanna along with her husband Roy showed up at the reception place. It was announced that wedding feast was about to begin. At the top of the stairs a gentleman with a bound book greeted the guests outside the doors.
May I have your name please? I am Ruthanna Mezgar and this is my husband Roy” He searched the M’s I am not finding it. Would you spell it please? Ruthanna spelled her name slowly. After searching the book, he looked up and said, “I am sorry, but your name isn’t here. Ruthanna replied, “there must be a mistake I am the singer, I sang at his wedding. The gentleman answered, “It doesn’t matter who you are or what you did. Without your name in the book you cannot attend the banquet. He motioned the waiter and said, “show these people to the service elevator please.” Disappointed, utterly humiliated the couple left passing the beautifully decorated tables laden with shrimp, whole smoked salmon, and magnificent carved ice sculptures. After driving for a few miles Roy reached over and put his hand on Ruthanna’s arm, Sweetheart what happened. When the invitation arrived, I was busy, Ruthanne replied. I never bothered to RSVP. Besides I was the singer. Surely I could go to the reception without returning the RSVP.” She started to weep not only she had missed the most lavish banquet she’d ever been invited to, but also because she suddenly had a small taste of what it will be like someday for people as they stand before Christ and find their names are not written in the Lamb’s Book of life.” (Rev 21:27)
What a poignant story, it reminds us of the importance of making sure that our names have been entered the lambs’ book of life. The entrance into heaven, the heavenly banquet and receiving of the reserved inheritance doesn’t depend on how famous, successful, rich, generous, or spiritual you have been on the earth but it all depends on whether your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life or not. Let me warn you there will be no party crashers in heaven like the Salahis who crashed the state dinner at the White House recently. Are you too busy in life that you don’t have time to respond to God’s invitation to surrender your life to Jesus Christ?
This inheritance is Reserved! Fully assured! No disappointment. What the Christian will come into is more significant that what he has already experienced. The best is yet to be.
Peter encouraged the believers to look forward with hope and anticipation to this incredible imperishable inheritance that was reserved for them. Does it mean that only when we get to heaven do we enjoy God’s blessings or can we have a foretaste of those blessings while we are still living on the earth? The answer is a resounding YES!! If you are a born again believer there are many blessings you get to enjoy because you belong to the family of God. One of such blessings that Peter has mentioned here in this passage is God’s powerful protection.
III. GOD’S POWERFUL PROTECTION: Several scriptures indicate God’s powerful protection over his Children. To name a few:
Psalm 5:11, “God spreads his protection over those who take refuge in Him”
Psalm 34: 18, “God protects the righteous and delivers them from all their troubles.”
Psalm 116:6, The Lord protects the simple hearted.
Prov 2:7, God is a shield to the blameless and protects his faithful
God has promised to protect us. There is nothing we should be afraid of. God is powerful to protect us when we call upon his name. I have experienced God’s powerful protection over and over again in my life. Two years ago while our family was travelling to the Berkshires on the high way the front tire of our car burst. Thankfully the traffic was moving slowly and I was able to pull over the car to the side. Praise God none of us were hurt. As I was making a call to AAA a truck pulled over. A man walked up to us and helped changed the tire. Within twenty minutes we were on our way rejoicing. My youngest daughter said, Papa do angels drive cars? I thought for a while and said yes they can and God just sent us one. That reminds me of the beautiful scripture Psalm 91:9-12 “If you make the Most High your dwelling… “he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.”
What an assuring truth to know that God is powerful enough to protect us from all the known and the unknown dangers. We have the living hope that we have an imperishable inheritance awaiting us, it is reserved and assured and God is powerful enough to protect us throughout our lives. I believe this hope is essential for all of us, and without it life looses its meaning. If that is so important how can we receive this hope? And who can truly give us this hope? Three scriptures will help us in our pursuit of hope. Firstly, In Jesus Christ alone we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.(Heb 6:18). Secondly, sufferings make way for hope. “Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us,”(Romans 5:3-5) Thirdly, “we receive hope through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures.( Rom 15:4) That is why it is so important that we read and understand God’s word.
In conclusion: May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Rom 15:13) Amen