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Salvation and the Gospel in the Old Testament

As followers of Jesus Christ, we all understand that we’re sinners in need of a Saviour and that Jesus is that Saviour. However, prior to Jesus’ death on the cross, the atoning sacrifice through which we are all able to have our sins washed clean and be given the gift of everlasting life, God continually warned His people to turn from their wicked ways and back to Him for their salvation. He also promised the righteous a bodily resurrection and everlasting life. And He proclaimed the good news, the gospel, of His coming kingdom.

God’s Love For Us

Foundational to the entire Bible, both Old and New Testament, is that God loves us, for we are his creation. It is because of His love that He sent Jesus into the world to be the propitiation for our sins (John 3:16).

The LORD did not set his love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because he would keep the oath which he had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. (Deuteronomy 7:7-8)

The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. (Jeremiah 31:3)

When Israel was a child, then I loved him, and called my son out of Egypt. (Hosea 11:1)

But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. (Isaiah 53:5)

Called to Be Perfect, Holy and to Walk in His Ways

God created us in His image, and because He is perfect and holy we are called to be perfect and holy. And if we are to walk in His ways, we must follow God’s will not ours, just as Jesus did while He walked the earth (John 6:38).

Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. (Deuteronomy 18:13)

Speak unto all the congregation of the children of Israel, and say unto them, Ye shall be holy: for I the LORD your God am holy. (Leviticus 19:2)

Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess. (Deuteronomy 5:32-33)

Perfect means to be without fault, blameless. Otherwise, we are guilty of all (James 2:10).

Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen. (Deuteronomy 27:26)

We Are All Sinners

The word “sin” in the Old Testament is translated from two different Hebrew words:

  1. H2403: חטּאת / חטּאה (chaṭṭâ’âh / chaṭṭâ’th)
  2. H2398: חטא (châṭâ’) [root of H2403]

Forty percent of the time, the word “sin” (including sins, sinner, sinneth, sinned) is translated from H2398.

H2398 can be defined as to “fall short” or “miss the mark”. When shooting an arrow at a target, the goal is to hit the bulls-eye. Often, however, we miss the mark; and, sometimes, the arrow doesn’t reach the target but falls short. Because of our sinfulness, we constantly miss the mark and fall short of perfection and holiness; we are all unrighteous. (Romans 3:10; 3:23).

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one. (Psalms 14:2-3)

For there is not a just man upon earth, that doeth good, and sinneth not. (Ecclesiastes 7:20)

Another definition of H2398 is to ‘lose oneself’ or “wander from the way”. We are like sheep, who wander from the flock and get stuck in brambles or on the wrong side of the fence. When we sin we stray from the ways of the Lord and are as lost sheep that need to be found, as sinners who need to repent. (Luke 15:4-7).

I have gone astray like a lost sheep; seek thy servant; for I do not forget thy commandments. (Psalms 119:176)

All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isaiah 53:6)

Sin separates us from God in that He does not hear the prayers of the unrighteous. (1 Peter 3:12)

The LORD is far from the wicked: but he heareth the prayer of the righteous. (Proverbs 15:29)

The eyes of the LORD are upon the righteous, and his ears are open unto their cry. The face of the LORD is against them that do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. (Psalms 34:15-16)

Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear. (Isaiah 59:1-2)

Works Without Faith Are Worthless

It’s not sufficient to be a “good” person, doing “good works”, because we are saved by God’s mercy, not our works (Titus 3:5), by faith through grace (Ephesians 2:8-9).

I will declare thy righteousness, and thy works; for they shall not profit thee. (Isaiah 57:12)

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And there is none that calleth upon thy name, that stirreth up himself to take hold of thee: for thou hast hid thy face from us, and hast consumed us, because of our iniquities. (Isaiah 64:6-7)

And he [Abraham] believed in the LORD; and he counted it to him for righteousness. (Genesis 15:6)

Behold, his soul which is lifted up is not upright in him: but the just shall live by his faith. (Habakkuk 2:4)

The Wages of Sin

The consequence of sin is death (Romans 6:23).

But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. (Genesis 2:17)

The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin. (Deuteronomy 24:16)

Behold, all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son is mine: the soul that sinneth, it shall die. (Ezekiel 18:4)

The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son: the righteousness of the righteous shall be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked shall be upon him. (Ezekiel 18:20)

God’s Will Is that None Perish

God’s will is not that we perish but that we repent, and live (2 Peter 3:9).

Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die? saith the Lord GOD: and not that he should return from his ways, and live? (Ezekiel 18:23)

Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11)

Turn to the Lord and Call Upon Him to Be Saved

When we call upon the name of the Lord Jesus, believing in Him as our Lord and Saviour, we are saved (Romans 10:9-10; Romans 10.13).

If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14)

As for me, I will call upon God; and the LORD shall save me. (Psalms 55:16)

Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. (Isaiah 45:22)

Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even the sure mercies of David. (Isaiah 55:3)

Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near: Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. (Isaiah 55:6-7)

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the LORD shall be delivered: for in mount Zion and in Jerusalem shall be deliverance, as the LORD hath said, and in the remnant whom the LORD shall call. (Joel 2:32)

The Gospel of the Kingdom

Isaiah 52:7
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When Jesus started his ministry, he came preaching the gospel of the kingdom (Matthew 4:17; Mark 1:15), the good news of God’s coming kingdom on earth (Revelation 11:15) which will be ruled over by Jesus Christ, the king of Kings.

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6-7)

And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. (Daniel 2:44)

And the kingdom and dominion, and the greatness of the kingdom under the whole heaven, shall be given to the people of the saints of the most High, whose kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and all dominions shall serve and obey him. (Daniel 7:27)

And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. (Zechariah 14:9)

The Promise of Everlasting Life

God’s promise of everlasting life (1 John 2:25) is to the righteous, to those whose sins have been covered by the righteousness of Jesus Christ by believing on Him as our Lord and Saviour (John 3:16; Romans 6:23).

Therefore prophesy and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, O my people, I will open your graves, and cause you to come up out of your graves, and bring you into the land of Israel. And ye shall know that I am the LORD, when I have opened your graves, O my people, and brought you up out of your graves, And shall put my spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I shall place you in your own land: then shall ye know that I the LORD have spoken it, and performed it, saith the LORD. (Ezekiel 37:12-14)

Thy dead men shall live, together with my dead body shall they arise. Awake and sing, ye that dwell in dust: for thy dew is as the dew of herbs, and the earth shall cast out the dead. (Isaiah 26:19)

For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me. (Job 19:25-27)

And at that time shall Michael stand up, the great prince which standeth for the children of thy people: and there shall be a time of trouble, such as never was since there was a nation even to that same time: and at that time thy people shall be delivered, every one that shall be found written in the book. And many of them that sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt. And they that be wise shall shine as the brightness of the firmament; and they that turn many to righteousness as the stars for ever and ever. (Daniel 12:1-3)

The Saviour: The Promised Messiah

Early in His ministry, Jesus went into the synagogue in Nazareth and, when He stood up to read, was handed the Book of Isaiah. He began reading from the place where it was written, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor” (Luke 4:18-19). Thus, from the start of His ministry, Jesus declared Himself to be the prophesied anointed one — the Messiah, or the Christ — who had come to preach the gospel, the good news or glad tidings.

The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me; because the LORD hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that he might be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3)

Here’s the Brenton translation of the Greek Old Testament scriptures, which includes recovery of sight to the blind, something that Jesus did many times in His ministry.

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me; he has sent me to preach glad tidings to the poor, to heal the broken in heart, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind; to declare the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of recompence; to comfort all that mourn; that there should be given to them that mourn in Sion glory instead of ashes, the oil of joy to the mourners, the garment of glory for the spirit of heaviness: and they shall be called generations of righteousness, the planting of the Lord for glory. (Isaiah 61:1-3, Brenton)

The Saviour: Wounded for Our Transgressions

Isaiah 53, known as the forbidden chapter, is not read in synagogues today. The weekly readings stop part-way through Chapter 52 and resume the following week with Chapter 54, entirely skipping those passages that have convicted many Jews and brought them to Christ.

Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high. As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men: So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider. (Isaiah 52:13-15)

Isaiah, Chapter 53

1 Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3 He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6 All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8 He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9 And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10 Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11 He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12 Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

The Saviour: Shed His Blood

Psalm 22, written by David, is a clear prophecy of Jesus’ crucifixion. Here are two key passages from the Psalm:

But I am a worm, and no man; a reproach of men, and despised of the people. All they that see me laugh me to scorn: they shoot out the lip, they shake the head, saying, He trusted on the LORD that he would deliver him: let him deliver him, seeing he delighted in him. (Psalms 22:6-8)

I am poured out like water, and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted in the midst of my bowels. My strength is dried up like a potsherd; and my tongue cleaveth to my jaws; and thou hast brought me into the dust of death. For dogs have compassed me: the assembly of the wicked have inclosed me: they pierced my hands and my feet. I may tell all my bones: they look and stare upon me. They part my garments among them, and cast lots upon my vesture. (Psalms 22:14-18)

The Saviour: The Lord Our God Is One Lord

Jesus was God manifest in the flesh (John 1:1, John 1:14; 1 Timothy 3:16).

When a scribe asked Jesus, “Which is the first commandment of all?”, Jesus replied saying, “The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord” (Mark 12:29-30).

Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD: And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. (Deuteronomy 6:4-5)

When Jesus spoke with the Jews who said He had a devil, He concluded his reply with the words, “Before Abraham was, I am.” (John 8:58). In saying this, Jesus directly connected Himself with the “God of the Old Testament”, the “I AM” who spoke with Moses from the burning bush.

And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you. (Exodus 3:14)

When Jesus was born, the angel of the Lord told the shepherds that their Saviour had been born (Luke 2:11).

Ye are my witnesses, saith the LORD, and my servant whom I have chosen: that ye may know and believe me, and understand that I am he: before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the LORD; and beside me there is no saviour. (Isaiah 43:10-11)

In writing to the Philippians, Paul told them that “at the name of Jesus every knee should bow” and that “every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Tell ye, and bring them near; yea, let them take counsel together: who hath declared this from ancient time? who hath told it from that time? have not I the LORD? and there is no God else beside me; a just God and a Saviour; there is none beside me. Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth: for I am God, and there is none else. I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear. (Isaiah 45:21-23)

When John received the vision of the revelation of Jesus Christ, he saw Jesus and fell at his feet as dead. Jesus laid His right hand upon told John and said, “Fear not; I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead” (Revelation 1:17-18).

Hearken unto me, O Jacob and Israel, my called; I am he; I am the first, I also am the last. (Isaiah 48:12)

Amen, and Amen!