The Better Inheritance
1Pe 1:3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
1Pe 1:4 To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,
Peter was an apostle to the circumcision (GAL 2:8) and his epistles had a special relevance to Jewish Christians who were part of that nation which once received an inheritance in earthly Canaan (PSA 78:55 c/w ACT 13:17-19). That inheritance was fragile, it being conditioned upon their obedience (DEUT 28:58-63), which was sometimes lacking. At such times when their sin cost them their inheritance, they pleaded, “...There is no hope...” (JER 18:12), “...our hope is lost...” (EZE 37:11). At the time of Peter’s writing, natural Israel’s inheritance was in grave peril and soon to be lost again. The teachings of Christ had made this clear to believers (LUK 21:20-24). NOTE: Any inheritance conditioned upon obedience of sinners is uncertain, and in the case of heaven, impossible. Bless God that sinners do not make themselves heirs by their obedience but rather by grace are “...made heirs...” (TIT 3:7) by the obedience of One Who had no sin (ROM 5:19).
Peter here reminds Christians that they have a better hope than a figurative resurrection of a nation such as God once illustrated to Israel when the Babylonians had dispossessed them of their land centuries earlier. Then, God gave them hope of return by the hope of future resurrection of bodies (EZE 37:1-14). Their return to that earthly inheritance would not endure. By contrast, God’s elect saved by the obedience and blood of Christ (1PE 1:2) are begotten again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ (1PE 1:3). The bodily resurrection of Christ was not a mere figure: it was/is a reality, and in that reality is the power that spiritually quickens dead sinners (EPH 2:1-5) and the certain promise that believers shall rise in like manner (ROM 8:11; 1CO 15:20-23) to a superior inheritance: “...incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven...” (1PE 1:4). NOTE: bodily resurrection was not a type or figure of the national “resurrection” of Israel as if the latter were the reality in God’s plan. Rather, national “resurrection” was a type or figure of the actual bodily resurrection by the miracle of God: “...that there shall be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and unjust” (ACT 24:15), “...all that are in the graves shall hear his voice, And shall come forth...” (JOH 5:28-29).
The inheritance which natural Israel once had was prone to all kinds of corruption/decay, for it was “...upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt...” (MAT 6:19). The human body corrupted (PSA 38:5 c/w PSA 16:10). There was moral corruption (JDG 2:19; ISA 1:4) and religious corruption (MAL 2:8). There were all these manners of corruption before they were dispossessed of their land by the Babylonians and after they returned to it. Corruption forbids a hope-filled picture of an enduring inheritance but the obedience of Christ has secured an incorruptible one. All of Christ’s seed shall be raised, not just uncorrupted but incorruptible (1CO 15:51-52). In heaven, moth and rust do not corrupt (MAT 6:20), the very bondage of corruption will be gone (ROM 8:21-23) of which Paul says, “...we are saved by hope...” (ROM 8:24). The elect are begotten again unto a lively (living) hope, “...which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and stedfast, and which entereth into that within the veil; Whither the forerunner is for us entered, even Jesus...” (HEB 6:18-20). We trust in the living God (1TI 4:10), in Christ Who says, “I am he that liveth, and was dead, and, behold, I am alive for evermore...” (REV 1:18) and “...because I live, ye shall live also” (JOH 14:19).
Natural Israel’s inheritance was often defiled by wicked works: “...when the house of Israel dwelt in their own land, they defiled it by their own way and by their doings...” (EZE 36:17), including idolatry and bloodshed (NUM 35:33-34 c/w EZE 22:3-4). The defiling was not entirely purged by their figurative resurrection, i.e., their restoration to their land from Babylon. It was not long before the priests “...corrupted the covenant of Levi...and...Judah hath profaned the holiness of the LORD which he loved...” (MAL 2:7-11), and eventually that defiled land vomited out its inhabitants again as it had done to the heathen centuries earlier (LEV 18:25). But in heaven “...there shall in no wise enter into it any thing that defileth...” (REV 21:27): the actual resurrection of Jesus Christ guarantees an undefiled inheritance in a land that never vomits out its citizens: they “...shall go no more out...” (REV 3:12).
Natural Israel’s inheritance faded because of sin, its glorious beauty became a fading flower (ISA 28:1-4). Its crown was taken away and overturned (EZE 21:25-27) and their figurative resurrection to their land never saw the crown restored until Christ came as King over a new nation, a heavenly nation, the church. We see Him now crowned with glory and honour (HEB 2:9). When He returns, His actual resurrection guarantees that He will deliver up His kingdom to God:
1Co 15:20 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the firstfruits of them that slept.
1Co 15:21 For since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead.
1Co 15:22 For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive.
1Co 15:23 But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits; afterward they that are Christ's at his coming.
1Co 15:24 Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; when he shall have put down all rule and all authority and power.
Peter spoke of that great day: “And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, ye shall receive a crown of glory that fadeth not away” (1PE 5:4). The heavenly crown will never be overturned. Nothing about the heavenly inheritance fades, not even its gold (ct/w JAM 5:3) because that city is “...pure gold...” (REV 21:18). On earth, “...the flower fadeth...” (ISA 40:7-8) but even the most delicate part of heaven, its bloom, never fades.
How much better is the actual resurrection of Christ than the figurative resurrection of a “dead” nation! The actual resurrection of Christ guarantees the actual resurrection of His saints to an actual “...inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven...” (1PE 1:4). And this has always been the true hope of Israel, nothing less:
Act 26:6 And now I stand and am judged for the hope of the promise made of God unto our fathers:
Act 26:7 Unto which promise our twelve tribes, instantly serving God day and night, hope to come. For which hope's sake, king Agrippa, I am accused of the Jews.
Act 26:8 Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the dead?
It was in view of this power that Abraham offered up Isaac (HEB 11:17-19). It was because of this hope Job looked for his Redeemer (JOB 14:12-15 c/w JOB 19:25-27) and some “Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection” (HEB 11:35).