Salvation in the Old Testament - Part 1 (Before the Law and Circumcision)
Gen. 15:1 After these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision: “Fear not, Abram, I am your shield; your reward shall be very great.” 4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him . . .
Gen.15:6 And he [Abraham] believed the LORD, and he [The LORD] counted it to him [Abraham] as righteousness. Rom. 10:17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. Can you see the Old Testament pattern for becoming right with God? The Law will be given to the Israelites as a part of the covenant 400 years later so this “counted it to him” righteousness was given to Abraham before the Law and before instituted circumcision. Paul uses this in Romans 4 to teach us no one is made righteous (justified) before God by following the Law . . . and in Romans 3 the real purpose of the law is to announce we are sinners and to assure us that none of us meet God’s righteous standard (Rom. 3:10-11). Basically the law is there to shut us up and let us know we stand before God accountable as condemned for our sin (Rom. 3:19-20). At this point you can either agree with God or disagree. Romans 4:20 No unbelief made him [Abraham] waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, 21 fully convinced that God was able to dowhat he had promised. 22 That is why his faith was “counted to him as righteousness.” 23 But the words “it was counted to him” were not written for his sake alone, 24 but for ours also. It will be counted to us who believe in him who raised from the dead Jesus our Lord, 25 who was delivered up for our trespasses and raised for our justification. Rom. 5:1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faithinto this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. As Abraham becomes the New Testament Poster Child for Faith - take a quick look at his initial faith and where it came from - It follows Romans 10 - faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ -
Gen. 15:1 . . . the word of the LORD came to Abram . . . “ 15:4 And behold, the word of the LORD came to him . . .”
Gen. 17:5 No longer shall your name be called Abram, but your name shall be Abraham, for I have made you the father of a multitude of nations. “I have made you the father” is an example of the the prophetic future - God speaks in the past tense because it has already happened, even though it takes hundreds/thousands of years for this to occur. Genesis 17:6, 7, and 8 take the past tense action and translate it as a future event even though the literal Hebrew is in the perfect completed tense . . . I have made you exceedingly fruitful, I have made you a nation, I have established my covenant, I have given you and your offspring after you the land, I have become their God are all translated as future “will” to help the reader in the King James, New American Standard, and ESV understand they had not taken place yet but the truth is they had taken place because God said so.
This same prophetic future tense is used in Isaiah 53:5 “he was pierced for our transgressions” for a future event some 600 years in the making.
Salvation in the Old Testament (Part 2 - After the Law) Simply read all of Psalm 40 or all of Psalm 30, 31, 32, 33, 34 - they all testify David is a deeply wrecked sinful man and the only thing he can do is trust God for deliverance. As David declares God is his Rock and Refuge, is this the gospel of the Old Testament?
Read all of Psalm 40 While taking note of how many times David gives credit to his church-priest tabernacle system. Psalm 40 is all about God’s deliverance of David from sin and David wanting to talk only about God’s character of mercy, steadfast love, faithfulness, and deliverance. It is a gospel centered on God’s character while taking note and confessing one’s lack of character (sin). Remember Jesus said to the Pharisees (religious people of the day) the tax collectors and prostitutes go into the kingdom of God before you because the Pharisees who were full of sin just like David would not repent (Matt. 21:32 “change minds”) and believe the message of John the Baptist.
Ps. 40:12 For evils have encompassed me beyond number; my iniquities have overtaken me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me. Ps. 40:17 As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!
Ps . 30:2 LORD my God, I cried to You for help, and You healed me. 3 LORD, You brought me up from Sheol; You spared me from among those going down to the Pit. 4 Sing to Yahweh, you His faithful ones, and praise His holy name. (Holman Christian Standard Bible)
Ps. 31:5 Into your hand I commit my spirit; you have redeemed me, O LORD, faithful God. 10 For my life is spent with sorrow, and my years with sighing; my strength fails because of my iniquity, and my bones waste away.
Psa. 32:1 Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered. 2 Blessed is the man against whom the LORD counts no iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit. 5 I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, “I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,” and you forgave the iniquity of my sin. Selah
Ps. 34:2 My soul makes its boast in the LORD; let the humble hear and be glad. 3 Oh, magnify the LORD with me, and let us exalt his name together! 4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. 5 Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed. 6 This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. 7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them. 8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him!
If you were to sit down now and write out your testimony - would it sound like Psalm 30-34 or Psalm 40? Is your testimony in God’s hand of deliverance or in your work? Is your testimony in your church, baptism, or the rules you keep, or what you believe? Is your testimony in your decision, your commitment, your uprightness? David in his testimony will not trust himself, or the might of the king, war horse, or warriors (33:16-17) his only trust is God who is good, merciful, steadfast in love. Ps. 34:18 The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.
Salvation in the Old Testament (Part 3 - The prophecy) The Song of Moses is a song of prophecy before the event: Deut. 31:19 “Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. 20 For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant.
Jeremiah is a Prophet after the event - God acknowledges Israel is still his people . . . Jer. 2:13 for my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water. Jeremiah 17:5 goes onto to explain you are “cursed” if you trust in your own strength instead of depending on the LORD - he is like a shrub in the desert vs the Jer. 17:7-8 person who trusts in the LORD and he is compared to a tree planted by God next to a stream that bears much fruit. Jer. 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? 10 “I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
What is the heart of man that is deceitful and sick? The heart is your inner man - your thoughts, feeling and attitude - your ability and inability to tell the truth based on how you feel and your emotions. Can trust in God be based on how you feel? I know in my heart of heart this is true is a statement that has to be met with your heart is sick and deceitful. Feelings end up being one of the worse ways to acknowledge and follow God, it will not result in worship but in worship of your own ideas. Rom. 10:1 Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them [chosen Israel] is that they may be saved. 2 For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For, being ignorant of the righteousness of God, and seeking to establish their own, they did not submit to God’s righteousness. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes. Paul was praying for these good intentioned Jewish people who had a passion/zeal for God but it was not based on knowledge. They had been deceived into thinking they were serving God but at the end of the day when they tried to “establish their own” righteousness they were actually ignorant of “the righteousness of God.” Why does God put into plan a man and woman in a perfect garden knowing they will disobey Him? Why does God make a nation that will turn their back on him? Why does God put up with a sinning king who commits adultery and has a good man murdered? God knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10) and his will is that all men be saved (2 Pet. 3:9 & 1 Tim. 2:4) yet they are not all saved . . . this does not show God’s weakness nor does it show his lack of control - the only way you can have God in control with free will men wanting to reject the Shepherd is to have a Good Shepherd who calls the sheep that are His own while all men are culpable (guilty) and deserving of not having a Shepherd at all - only those who listen (John 10:16) or as Jesus says it “I know my own and my own know me.” John 10:14
To hear Jesus is totally different from hearing men
Matthew 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
Salvation in the Old Testament - (Part 4 - Calling on the name of the LORD) Joel 2:32 And it shall come to pass that everyone who calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved. Romans 10: 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10:13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.” This is a quote from Joel 2:32 “everyone one who calls on the name of the Yahweh shall be saved”
We are acknowledging that Jesus is Rev. 21:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” Isaiah 44:6 Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: “I am the first and I am the last; besides me there is no god. The confession is Jesus is the Author of Life (Acts 3:15, Heb. 12:1-2) the Alpha and Omega, the end of the law, the righteousness of God, the Yahweh who spoke it all into existence “the Word was God” and “the Word became flesh and dwelt among us”(Jn. 1:1&14)” and “all things were made through him (Jn. 1:3)” and “by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible (Col. 3:16). Anyone who says Jesus was created or not equal with God is basically saying he is not God (Alpha and Omega, Yahweh, Word become flesh) which according to Romans 10:9 is a necessary part of the confession Jesus is Lord!
Another necessary part of the confession that David makes is the “LORD is my shepherd” He makes me lie down . . . He restores my soul . . . He leads me in paths of righteousness . . .his rod and staff comfort . . . surely goodness and mercy shall follow [Hebrew: radaf - hunt you down] and I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever. David could only make a good list of the LORD’s work with an eternal consequence of dwelling in his presence forever.
Have you confessed Jesus is LORD! Have you had his goodness and love (mercy - Hebrew chesed) chase you down? It almost like a Romans 5:8 confession . . . Romans 5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Eph. 2:13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. far off - Eph. 2:11 “called the uncircumcision” and Eph. 2:12 “alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.” John 10:26 but you do not believe because you are not among my sheep. 27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. 28 I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. 29 My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. 30 I and the Father are one.” Jesus is of the same essence (one Being/Substance) as the Father - not created - fully God (Col. 1:19, Heb. 1:8) as a Shepherd he takes me “who once was a far off” and brings me near and I “listen” (Jn. 10:16) because I am His and He is mine.