Someone said to me recently on hearing that I was preaching through Numbers and 1 Peter that those books don’t have much in common. On the surface that is true. Numbers is a mix of historical narrative and laws given by God. 1 Peter is a letter written by a New Testament apostle encouraging a group of Christians in the midst of trials.
But as I’ve continued through these books I’ve seen that under the surface there are great similarities.
The book of Numbers teaches us how God was faithful to his people, despite their complaints and rebellions. He was leading them out of slavery in Egypt and bringing them to a land of promise. He was leading them through the wilderness so that they could enter into their inheritance. God was keeping his promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob generations before and nothing would stop their fulfilment.
1 Peter teaches us how God is faithful to his people, despite the various trials they must endure. It tells us of how God is leading his people out of the slavery of sin and idolatry and bringing them into an eternity of promise. He is leading his people through the wilderness of this life so that they can enter into their inheritance. God is keeping his promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob and nothing can stop their fulfilment.
For the New Testament people, though, the inheritance is not a piece of land in a far away country but new life for all eternity with God. And this was purchased for us by the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. We rightly focus upon the cross where ‘he himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed’ (1 Peter 2:24). This is glorious good news. The people in the wilderness had the shadow of this with the sacrifices in the tabernacle. Christians have the full light of knowing that Christ’s sacrifice has accomplished all things.
But, as J. Gresham Machen reminds us in Christianity and Liberalism:
‘The New Testament does not end with the death of Christ; it does not end with the triumphant words of Jesus on the cross, “It is finished”. The death was followed by the resurrection, and the resurrection like the death was for our sakes. Jesus rose from the dead into a new life of glory and power, and into that life He brings those for whom he died. The Christian, on the basis of Christ’s redeeming work, not only has died unto sin, but also lives unto God.’
The power that was at work in Jesus when God ‘raised him from the dead and gave him glory’ (1 Peter 1:21) is the power at work in each and every one of you who believe. We will, like him, be raised from the dead. And we will be raised to glory. This is our inheritance. This is our hope. To God be the glory.