In the book of 1 Peter, Peter addresses his audience as "exiles", which means “strangers, resident aliens, sojourners.” They are called, “sojourners and exiles” (KJV says, “strangers and pilgrims”) in 1 Peter 2:11. These people were citizens of heaven through faith in Christ (Phil. 3:20), and therefore were not permanent residents on earth. Like Abraham, they had their eyes of faith centered on the future city of God (Heb. 11:8–16). They were in the world, but not of the world (John 17:16).
The idea behind the word exiles is of someone who lives as a temporary resident in a foreign land. Exiles are sojourners and travelers, and exiles live in constant awareness of their true home. Exiles walk in hope because exiles are not living for this world, like Abraham, they are looking for a city whose builder and maker is God.
The important thing for us to know about these “exiles”, is that they were going through a time of suffering and persecution. That's the thing about "strangers", strangers are considered strange. The world we live in doesn't understand us. When I visited the beautiful country of Chile, I was a stranger to them. They think differently than we do, act differently than we do, show affection differently than we do, value different things than we do, and eat different food than we do.
As believers, we've been born-again of another world. Old things have passed away and our lives are now new. The Psalmist said, "... he will give you the desires of your heart." (Ps. 37:4). That doesn't mean God is going to give you everything your heart desires. That doesn't mean you can desire wealth and God will give it to you. It means there is a desire transplant. When you are filled with His Spirit, He takes your old carnal desires, and He replaces it with new holy desires!
In the first section of chapter 1, Peter makes an appeal to hope. How do we survive trials? We have a living hope.
1 Peter 1:3 ESV
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
Here's the incredible thing about our experience in Christ. We aren't simply waiting for heaven, we have been born-again to a living hope THROUGH the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. We have a LIVING hope, grounded in a LIVING word, made possible by a LIVING God who arose from the dead! In other words, we don't have to wait until we get to heaven to enjoy the blessing of a resurrected life. We can walk in that living hope today!
1 Peter 1:8 ESV
“Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory,"
Notice, it is NOT the end of our faith, heaven, when we receive unspeakable joy. It’s when we can’t see Him, yet still believe that we experience this unspeakable joy.
Job couldn't see God... but he declared in HOPE, "Though he slay me, I will hope in him; " (Job 13:15 ESV)
Moses desired to see God's face, yet God tucked him away in the clift of a rock and covered Him with His hand. Though Moses couldn't see God, he could sense Him.
Hope is born out an assurance, that even when I don't see Him, I know His hand is still on me.
People often ask "exiles", how can you have so much joy? It's easy, it's the blessing of our living hope.
Pastor Joshua McElhaney