10 Concerning this salvation, the prophets, who spoke of the grace that was to come to you, searched intently and with the greatest care, 11 trying to find out the time and circumstances to which the Spirit of Christ in them was pointing when he predicted the sufferings of the Messiah and the glories that would follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.
As Peter is encouraging the early believers to stand firm in the midst of persecution, he reminds them of how precious their salvation is. He points to the prophets who so earnestly sought out the time and place Jesus the Messiah would suffer and be glorified. And the revelation to them was through the Spirit of Christ, the same Spirit that spoke through the apostles to the first believers. It was a revelation that even angels longed to hear about!
We see many of the prophet Isaiah's prophecies about Jesus as the "suffering servant" And in Psalm 22 "My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from the cry of the my roaring? I cry in the daytime, and thou hearest not; in the night seasons, and am not silent. But thou art holy, O thou that inhabitest the praises of thy people Israel" (Psalm 22:1-3).
The early believers had the privilege of hearing the Gospel regarding the person and work of Jesus Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit. So why did Peter spend time writing about the history and manner in which the disciples received the Good News, the salvation of their souls?
I think he wants them to understand the incredible nature of the grace that has now been revealed to them in Christ Jesus, and how it transpired in history. This is a truth that was longed for thousands of years, by men who devoted their whole lives to hearing God's word then proclaiming it boldly in the face of death. These messages were for the people of that day, but also foretold of the grace of God in Jesus. So as they understood what a great a truth they have received and how they received it, they can be confident that in their suffering it would serve a great purpose beyond them. As the prophets did not know all their words would accomplish, neither did these early Christians.
So how can this help us to understand the trials we go through? We never know what effect our lives will have on the lives of those around us and those to come. Just as we are reading about the men and women of God in Peter's day who were encouraged in their persecution, so our lives can encourage others. This is one of the ways God uses our trials for His glory.