17 And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, 18 knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited from your forefathers, not with perishable things such as silver or gold, 19 but with the precious blood of a lamb without blemish or spot. 20 He was foreknown before the foundation of the world but was made manifest in the last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your faith and hope are in God.1 Peter 1:17-21
We are continuing on our journey through 1 Peter, looking at passages regarding hope. We have looked at our “living hope” (1 Peter 1:3) in Christ Jesus through His resurrection. And last week, we looked at how we need to “set [our] hope fully on the grace that will be brought…at the revelation of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 1:13). Today, we are going to see how we are to look to our heavenly Father for hope in the depths of exile.
As we walk through these passages, it is easy to forget that Peter’s original readers were displaced from their homes and in foreign lands. It is easy to look at how these verses apply to us in our every day lives. And it is even easier to forget that we are exiles on the earth and distant from the Father’s house where He has a room for us in Heaven.
Let us think on that image of the Father’s house. So, often our view of heaven is some ethereal cloud city with harp playing and naked baby angels floating around. While there are numerous descriptions of Heaven in the Bible, Jesus’ words to His disciples – while they were afraid and confused, and He was about to be crucified – describe the specific living arrangements that should give us the most hope:
“Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.(John 14:1-3)
To use the language from our passage today, “if you call on Him as Father” – that is, if you are saved/born again/have faith in Christ as Lord – you have a room in the Father’s house! That’s good news for us in our time of exile!
Now, some of us struggle with the idea that we are are currently in exile, but, rest assured, there is a much better future to be had with Christ than this world can possibly offer. Let Peter’s words give us correct context for our lives here on earth:
“And if you call on Him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile, knowing that you were ransomed from the futile ways inherited by your forefathers….”(vv. 17-18a)
Fear seems to be an odd command since we are focusing on hope. But God, in His Sovereign wisdom, put these Scriptures exactly as He intended. What does that mean for us, then? How can fear produce hope?
The Bible talks a great deal about the fear of the Lord. A few verses that come to mind and have bearing on our passage today are:
- Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.
- 2 Corinthians 7:1 – Since we have these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, bringing holiness to completion in the fear of God.
When these verses speak of fearing God, they are not talking about a “paralyzing terror” but, instead, a “fear of God’s discipline and Fatherly displeasure…a reverence and awe that should characterize the lives of believers during their exile on earth”[i]. In other words, we live out what I often remind Keri and Xander when they are going places; I remind them whose they are and to act like Candice and I have taught them how to act!
We need to remember that – if we call on Him as Father – we are His! And, when we remember who we belong to, it affects the way we live. As I type this, I think about all the lessons and training that my parents gave me that still come to mind and have bearing on how I live, work, and raise my own children. What lessons and training have you received from the Father?
When Peter talks to these exiles about Who they belong to, he reminds them that they were “ransomed” (v. 18). First, they were ransomed – liberated/set free/delivered by paying a ransom – from their bondage to sin and death! Second, they were ransomed from the baggage of their flesh – the things that still linger in our flesh after we are saved but while we are still exiled on earth and awaiting heaven.
Peter wants them to remember that they do not have to be in bondage to the “futile ways” – useless ways – that were a part of their past. They hold no power over us anymore! This is like Paul’s reminder in Ephesians 4:17 that we “must no longer walk as Gentiles do in the futility of their minds”. Instead, we “set [our] hope fully on…grace” (1 Peter 1:13).
Peter also gives his readers a reminder of the ransom – the cost – that was paid for them. The cost was the “precious blood of Christ, like that of a lamb without blemish or spot” (v. 19). He gave His sinless, perfect life for us that we may have Life! He – who was “foreknown before the foundation of the world” (v. 20) – humbled Himself and died in our place. And it is through Him alone that we are “believers in God” (v. 21).
It is because of that sacrifice – and because of the resurrection that came from it – that we have reason for faith and hope. You see, we can now understand why Jesus would tell His disciples to not let their hearts be “troubled” but to “believe”. We can understand what it means for belief to produce hope amid fear. We just have to remember whose we are.
Jesus – the One whom God “raised from the dead and gave Him glory” – is the One in whom we have faith in and, thereby, hope. And “hope does not put us to shame” (Romans 5:5).
So, if you are calling out to the Lord as Father and living in fear, let us make sure that our fear is put in correct placement.
God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way…. (Psalm 46:1-2a)
Let us set our hope on Christ. Let our fear be reserved for Him while we trust that His loving-kindness carries us through our troubles until our exile is over and we see Him face to face.
[i] ESV Study Bible