Vol. 11 No. 7 July 2009
D. Gene West
In Matthew 13, Jesus spoke His famous Parable of the Sower. Thousands of sermons have been preached on this august text. After the Lord taught the parable, the disciples came to Him asking Him why He taught the people in parables rather than with plain language. Jesus explained that He spoke to them in parables because they were too defiant to see and understand the truth, just as Isaiah the prophet said they would be. Then to his apostles the Lord said, “But blessed are your eyes for they see, and your ears for they hear; for assuredly, I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it” (Matthew 13:16-17). The part of the statement in which we are interested is really v. 17, where He told the apostles that many of the prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see and did not see it, and they desired to hear what the apostles were hearing and did not hear it. Since Jesus had just quoted the Old Testament prophet, Isaiah, we are sure that it was to this great group of men He referred.
This statement of Jesus coincides perfectly with the statement Peter later by inspiration made concerning the Old Testament prophets. He wrote, “Of this salvation the prophets have inquired and searched carefully, who prophesied of the grace that would come to you, searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of Christ who was in them was indicating when He testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ and the glories that would follow” (1 Peter 1:10-11). Consequently, from both Christ and one of His inspired apostles we have testimony to the fact that the Old Testament prophets, who wrote of the very things that came to pass while Jesus was on the earth (his suffering and death and the glories that would follow his ascension) had a great number of questions about all these events, which included the coming of the kingdom of Christ. Peter went on to say of those prophets, “To them it was revealed that, not to themselves, but to us they were ministering the things which now have been reported to you through those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven—things which angels desire to look into” (1 Peter 1:12).
Peter said that God revealed to those prophets that the things involving Christ and the redemption of mankind were not going to come to pass while they were still living on earth. These things were to come to pass in the generation that lived at the time of Christ’s sojourn on earth. However, the thing that really staggers the minds of those of us who are modern readers of these truths is that the prophets of the age of Moses, including Moses, wrote about things that were going to come to pass at a time after the end of their lives, but they did not know when! They hungered and thirsted to know more about those things, especially regarding when it was going to happen and what all would be involved therein. The only thing that God revealed to these men was that they would not live to be a part of it, but those in the generation of the Lord would. Incidentally, Peter went on to say that the angels desired to look into the matters that were delivered to the prophets, some of them by angels.
From these passages, we learn some important truths. (1) Revelation of the will of God for the salvation of mankind was progressive. God did not give it all at once, and many of those who received it did not fully understand what God was going to do for us when Jesus came to us. (2) Progressive revelation was not fulfilled until the time was right in the eyes of God. Paul told the Galatians, “But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). Brethren, how marvelous it is to have a firm grip on spiritual realities that the prophets desired to look into to, but were not privileged to do so. Thank God for his innumerable blessings.