Monthly Archives: August 2013

Joshua 2:15-24 – A Sure Sign

Last week we saw how the work of God in the history of the Israelites “melted” the hearts of the residents of Jericho.

  • And in Rahab’s case, the “melting” was such that she acknowledged Yahweh as “God in the heavens above and on the earth below” (Joshua 2:11).
  • The book of Hebrews confirms for us that her confession was a trusting on par with Abraham.
  • She was not simply a calculating pagan adding one more god to her collection and using it to her advantage.

 

In fact, it is argued that given the arrangement of Joshua 2, her confession of faith is the central point of Joshua 2.

  • Dale Ralph Davis’ says Rahab’s faith is the meat of a literary “structure sandwich”.

 

Structure Sandwich (chiastic structure):

  • Commission by Joshua, 1a
    • Arrival/concern: protection of the spies, 2–7
      • Confession of faith, 8–14
    • Escape/concern: protection of Rahab and Co., 15–21
  • Return to Joshua, 22–24

 

It needs to be pointed out that her confession contains both elements of trust that we spoke of a few weeks ago.

  • (1) Done Work – A recognition of the “done” work of God – Exodus.
  • (2) Future Promise – A trust in the future promise of God – Delivery of Promise Land to Jews at Jericho’s expense.
    • The second is implied because she asks to be saved – “deliver our lives from death” (Joshua 2:13).

 

Note also that her confession here also acknowledges the following:

“Genuine faith never rests content with being convinced of the reality of God but presses on to take refuge in God. Rahab not only must know the clear truth about God but also must escape the coming wrath of God” – Dale Ralph Davis.

 

We also saw that Rahab pleaded with the Jewish spies for mercy on her.

  • She asked that they “deal kindly with my father’s house” (Joshua 2:12)
  • And she even asked them to enter into an oath with her.
    • please swear to me by the LORD” – Joshua 2:12
    • The spies obliged her request – “our life for yours even to death” (Joshua 2:14).
    • More on this in a moment.

 

Her words to the spies in 2:12 also hint that more was to come from this interaction.

  • She asked that they give her “a sure sign” – Joshua 2:12.

 

 

Sworn Oath:

Joshua 2:15–17 (ESV) — 15 Then she let them down by a rope through the window, for her house was built into the city wall, so that she lived in the wall. 16 And she said to them, “Go into the hills, or the pursuers will encounter you, and hide there three days until the pursuers have returned. Then afterward you may go your way.” 17 The men said to her, “We will be guiltless with respect to this oath of yours that you have made us swear.

 

In spite of the fact that 15 comes before 16 as written, in reality, the conversation most likely took place before the men were lowered down the wall.

  • David Howard, Woudstra, Hess and others address this issue, no reason to get into it here.

 

In the course of the conversation, she tells them to go in the opposite direction of the king’s posse.

  • Whether or not the waiting 3 days is supposed to be a connection to three days Jesus was dead, we don’t really know.
  • But it is clear that there life depends on following her instructions – “hide there three days”.

 

Importantly, for our purposes, we have the spies confirming that they did indeed swear an oath with Rahab in verse 17.

  • This swearing an oath with Rahab requires that we contend with the words of Moses.
  • Deuteronomy 7:1–2 (NIV) — 1 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are entering to possess and drives out before you many nations—the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, seven nations larger and stronger than you—2 and when the Lord your God has delivered them over to you and you have defeated them, then you must destroy them totally. Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.
  • Deuteronomy 20:16–18 (NIV) — 16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you.

 

It seems that, “The entire incident relates a situation expressly forbidden to Israel and articulates an opposition to the introductory affirmations of obedience” – David Howard.

  • So were the spies disobedient to God’s command?
  • Were they bamboozled by a shrewd pagan prostitute?

 

The answer, of course, is to be found in the meat of the “structure sandwich”.

  • Rahab had confessed belief in Yahweh.
  • Her melted heart was circumcised.

 

James Boice sums up Rahab’s faith this way:

  • She “put her life on the line”
  • She “repudiated her own past and people”
  • She “identified with the Jewish people”

 

So the answer to the two questions is no.

  • Why?
  • Because, what we have here is more OT Gospel.
  • Or to put another way, this is the “outworkings of the Abrahamic covenant” – David Howard.

 

How so?

  • We musn’t lose sight of the fact that the nations were to be blessed through God’s election of Israel.
  • So the faith that united Abraham to Christ and put him in a place of being seen as obedient to the law did the same for Rahab.
  • And as Paul tells us, in Christ nationality is meaningless.

 

David Howard puts it as follows:

“By this [her faith], she made herself an Israelite, so to speak. She chose to cast her lot with Israel’s God, not the Canaanites’ gods. Prior to this confession of faith, the spies showed no intentions of entering into any treaties or agreements with her or any other Canaanite. However, her confession of faith made all the difference. She was, in effect, no longer a Canaanite” – David Howard.

 

The book of Joshua and Gospel of Matthew reveal just how true Howard’s statement that she was “no longer a Canaanite” is:

  • Joshua 6:25 (ESV) — 25 But Rahab the prostitute and her father’s household and all who belonged to her, Joshua saved alive. And she has lived in Israel to this day, because she hid the messengers whom Joshua sent to spy out Jericho.
  • And we know from Matthew that, “She married a Jew and became an ancestor of the Lord Jesus Christ. She married a man of the tribe of Judah named Salmon. Their son was Boaz, who married Ruth the Moabitess. Their son was Obed, who was the father of Jesse, who was the father of King David (see Matt. 1:5–6)” – James Boice.

 

 

Scarlet Cord:

Joshua 2:18–21 (NIV) — 18 unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house. 19 If any of them go outside your house into the street, their blood will be on their own heads; we will not be responsible. As for those who are in the house with you, their blood will be on our head if a hand is laid on them. 20 But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath you made us swear.” 21 “Agreed,” she replied. “Let it be as you say.” So she sent them away, and they departed. And she tied the scarlet cord in the window.

 

We have in this text the sure sign and the seal of the sworn oath that Rahab asked for earlier.

  • The spies say to her that when they return all will be well with her if she has “tied this scarlet cord in the window”.
  • The presence of the scarlet cord will secure her safety.
  • And it will save not only her from certain destruction, but also her family, as long as she and they are “in your house”.

 

There is but one thing that will negate this salvation.

  • But if you tell what we are doing, we will be released from the oath…” – verse 20.
  • It is clear that this certainly means that she can’t betray the spies.
    • Hiding in the hills, for example.
  • But it may also mean that she must remain silent about Jericho’s coming destruction.
  • No doubt, she had many friends that she wanted to warn, but the text seems to indicate that only her family could be saved.
    • This is unclear.

 

Symbolism of the Scarlet Cord:

How far can we take the symbolism of the scarlet cord?

  • Mark Woudstra tells us that some of the Church fathers considered the cord “a symbol of the blood of Christ”.
  • But interestingly, Howard, Woudstra, and Boice are hesitant to see the cord as a type for Christ.
    • “…it is questionable as to whether the typology pointed out here—that the scarlet thread represents shed blood or the blood of Christ and that Rahab represents the Church—is truly warranted” – David Howard.
    • They give a number of reasons – no time to get into them here.

 

So does it symbolize anything?

  • There are at least three things that seem to find consensus.

 

(1) David Howard sees a clear connection between both the scarlet cord and the women of our text and Genesis 38:28.

  • Genesis 38:28 (ESV) — 28 And when she was in labor, one put out a hand, and the midwife took and tied a scarlet [sani] thread on his hand, saying, “This one came out first.”
  • Here we have Tamar tying a “scarlet thread” around one of her twin son’s wrists at his birth – Zerah.
    • Zerah is actually mentioned in Matthew’s genealogy of  Jesus.

So what is the connection?

“Rahab and Tamar are linked together in being two of the four foreign women in this same genealogy. Now we see a further link between the two women in the scarlet cord. In God’s providence, these two women—both of them foreigners, societal outcasts, prostitutes, and in possession of a scarlet cord—came to be part of the lineage of Jesus Christ himself” – David Howard.

 

BTW – If this connection is legit, then it would seem that the scarlet cord can represent Christ.

  • If He is the one that ultimately links Rahab and Tamar then doesn’t He participate in the symbolism?

 

(2) Passover

“…there is a remarkable parallel between the cord that marked her house and the blood of the lambs spread on the doorposts and lintels of the Jewish homes in Egypt when the angel of death passed over the Jewish homes and families” – James Boice.

 

The similarities are many:

  • Blood of Lamb as sign of protection – Scarlet Cord as sign of protection
  • Must remain in house to be safe – Must remain in house to be safe
  • Lives of the faithful spared – Lives of the faithful spared

 

BTW – As with (1), if the scarlet cord parallels Passover and Passover points to Christ, then here again we seem to be saying that the scarlet cord hints at Jesus.

 

(3) The Gospel

  • Given one and two, and what we’ve said about Rahab’s faith, it is no wonder that John Piper suggests that the cord represents the Gospel.
  • In fact, he wrote a poem called “The Gospel of the Wall of Jericho” to drive this point home.

 

 

Safely Home:

Joshua 2:22–24 (ESV) — 22 They departed and went into the hills and remained there three days until the pursuers returned, and the pursuers searched all along the way and found nothing. 23 Then the two men returned. They came down from the hills and passed over and came to Joshua the son of Nun, and they told him all that had happened to them. 24 And they said to Joshua, “Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.”

 

Our final verses make clear that Rahab kept her end of the sworn oath.

  • She didn’t rat out the spies.
  • …the two men returned.

 

The spies then gave a report to Joshua about what they had found – “told him all that happened”.

  • But, the author of Joshua summed up the report in one sentence.
  • Truly the Lord has given all the land into our hands. And also, all the inhabitants of the land melt away because of us.

 

This sentence reveals some pretty cool things.

  • (1) The spies are convinced that the promise land will be theirs.
  • (2) And there is the added bonus that the people of Jericho are terrified – “the inhabitantsmelt away because of us”.
    • Panic-stricken condition – TWOT.

 

It is unclear (translations differ) if their certainty about the promise land is because of the fear they encountered.

  • Let us hope that it is based on their trust in God – the surety of His Done Work and Future Promises.
  • For these are the very things that Rahab cited for the fear and for her faith.

 

Finally, the spies’ report harkens back to the recon mission Joshua was a part of 40+ years earlier.

  • At that time the Jewish spies (except Joshua and Caleb) were the ones terrified.
  • It seems God’s judgment upon Israel to wander the desert for 40 years bore some fruit.

 

Joshua 1:10-18 – Joshua’s Response to God’s Word

In Joshua thus far we have seen God install Joshua as Moses’ replacement.

  • God restate the promise He made to Moses concerning His gift of the promise land.
  • God link the success of Joshua’s leadership to Joshua’s obedience.
    • “The importance of obedience to the law as the key to Joshua’s success cannot be overestimated” – David M. Howard, Jr.
  • This fact led us to explore the law and the Gospel in the OT.
  • Today, Joshua begins to act in obedience.

 

Joshua 1:10–11 (ESV) — 10 And Joshua commanded the officers of the people, 11 “Pass through the midst of the camp and command the people, ‘Prepare your provisions, for within three days you are to pass over this Jordan to go in to take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you to possess.’ ”

 

Here we see Joshua’s first response to God’s promotion, promise and admonitions.

  • Joshua commanded the officers of the people” – vs. 10.
  • In other words, using the leadership infrastructure setup by Moses, he delegated his authority.
  • The officers were the “respected leaders in Israel, who had the Spirit of the Lord on them” – David M. Howard.
  • Numbers 11:16–17 (ESV) — 16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Gather for me seventy men of the elders of Israel, whom you know to be the elders of the people and officers over them, and bring them to the tent of meeting, and let them take their stand there with you. 17 And I will come down and talk with you there. And I will take some of the Spirit that is on you and put it on them, and they shall bear the burden of the people with you, so that you may not bear it yourself alone.

 

Joshua called on the officers to do/say the following to the people.

  • pass through” the camp
  • And tell the people to “prepare your provisions
  • Because we need to get ready to “pass over” the Jordan and “take possession” of the promise land.

 

It is here we see clearly what a believing response is to the Word of God.

  • We already determined that Joshua was a beneficiary of the Gospel.
  • He was counted as righteous and God saw him as obedient to the law – in Christ.
  • This is all grace, grace, grace.

 

And yet, it is impossible to be the beneficiary of grace and not respond to it with action – faith w/o works is dead.

  • (1) Whether that be upon one’s first exposure to it which would result in confession and repentance;
  • (2) Or as we continue to grow in the grace of the Lord.

 

Here the author of Joshua wants us to see that Joshua’s response to God’s grace and commands was action.

  • Pass through
  • Prepare
  • Pass over
  • Take Possession

 

On some level, these four actions can exhort us to examine our Christian life and also respond with action.

  • We need to “pass through” our own life taking inventory of our Christian walk.
  • We need to assess what we have found and “prepare” to grow – to move from milk to meat.
  • We need to do what is necessary, abandon what is necessary, add what is necessary that we might continually “pass over” self and daily surrender to Christ and grow in Christ.
  • We need to constantly find hope and comfort in what we will one day “take possession” of – resurrection.

 

BTW – the same goes for the church body as well.

 

So Joshua’s words convey that he was ready to obey.

  • Like his willingness to go into the promise land 40 years before, he did not hesitate to do so here.
  • And his obedience and willingness as leader meant it was time to see if Israel would follow him.
  • And to that end, Joshua had some specific words for the Transjordan tribes in particular.

 

One more important point:

This is a significant moment in the history of God’s relationship with the Hebrew people.

  • “Israel is now about to convert ownership by promise into actual possession” – Mark Woudstra.
  • That which was theirs by promise was about to become theirs by possession.
  • This concept of ownership by promise is not foreign to the NT.
  • Resurrection is an excellent example!

 

BTW – In case you are interested in understanding the timeline here:

“The first three-day period was spent preparing provisions (1:11), at the same time the spies went into Jericho and then hid in the hills (see 2:22; 3:2). Then, it was another three days before Israel actually crossed the Jordan (see 3:2)” – David Howard.

 

Joshua 1:12–15 (ESV) — 12 And to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh Joshua said, 13 “Remember the word that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, saying, ‘The Lord your God is providing you a place of rest and will give you this land.’ 14 Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain in the land that Moses gave you beyond the Jordan, but all the men of valor among you shall pass over armed before your brothers and shall help them, 15 until the Lord gives rest to your brothers as he has to you, and they also take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving them. Then you shall return to the land of your possession and shall possess it, the land that Moses the servant of the Lord gave you beyond the Jordan toward the sunrise.”

 

We can see two things here:

The first is that the Reubenites, Gadites and half-tribe of Manasseh had already taken ownership of their part of the promise land.

  • How this came to be can be seen in Numbers 32 and Deuteronomy 2-3.
  • Joshua repeats Moses’ words from this earlier event to them.
  • Moses told them their soldiers must cross over the Jordan, “until the Lord gives rest to your brothers” – Deut. 3:20.
    • The fighting men are commanded to help the rest of Israel.
  • Apparently, these three tribes might be tempted to reject Joshua, but certainly not Moses.
  • So it was a wise move for Joshua to repeat the words of Moses here.

 

BTW – Manasseh was a half-tribe because, though Joseph was their patriarch, their matriarch was his pagan, Egyptian wife.

 

The second is that Joshua’s words here reveal to us his understanding of the historical event that was about to take place.

  • The LORD your God is providing” (vs. 13)
  • will give you this land” (vs. 13)
  • until the LORD gives rest” (vs. 15)
  • that the LORD your God is giving them” (vs. 15)
  • And we can’t leave out verse 10’s, “the LORD your God is giving you

 

Joshua was not under the illusion that he or the Israelites could do this on their own.

  • It is God who will be the source of the “giving” of the land and the “rest” that follows.
  • It must be noted that the wisdom shown by Joshua here comes from a right understanding of God’s grace and sovereignty.
  • The less in awe of these one is, the more likely it is that one would think that God is not worthy of all worship and honor.
  • The more likely it becomes that one might displace God with self or another idol.

 

So we have seen Joshua’s initial response.

  • Now, will the tribes’ response be to submit to the new leadership of Joshua?

 

Joshua 1:16–18 (ESV) — 16 And they answered Joshua, “All that you have commanded us we will do, and wherever you send us we will go. 17 Just as we obeyed Moses in all things, so we will obey you. Only may the Lord your God be with you, as he was with Moses! 18 Whoever rebels against your commandment and disobeys your words, whatever you command him, shall be put to death. Only be strong and courageous.”

 

Some scholars point out that the answer given here is not just the answer of the Transjordan tribes.

  • They suggest that the grammar makes clear that these 3 verses come from all twelve tribes.

“…the grammar of the narrative framework of the chapter (vv. 1, 10, 12, 16a) points to this response coming from representatives of all twelve tribes of Israel” – David M. Howard.

 

So, if true, we see that all twelve tribes fall in line behind Joshua and God.

  • Joshua was chosen by God and the twelve tribes submit to God’s choice.
  • No doubt an encouragement to Joshua.

 

And yet, the answer seems too good to be true.

  • They had often said the same to Moses, and yet then proceeded to stray mightily.
  • Before the golden calf incident, for example, they told Moses, “All the words that the LORD has spoken we will do” (Exodus 24:3).

 

Given this propensity of the Israelites to overstate their commitment, Joshua would be wise to continue to trust in God’s “Done” work and His future promises – not the words and actions of the Israelites.

  • For as we spoke of last week, the presence of God is foundational to Joshua and his success.

 

But, what is important to see here is that the tribes of Israel were unified behind the leader chosen by God to replace Moses – Joshua.

  • The Transjordan tribes had good reasons to stay behind – but they did not do so.
  • This is a powerful illustration for the church of the sacrifice needed to maintain unity.

 

 

The Gospel in the Old Testament

Old Testament Law and Old Testament Gospel

 

Introduction – Why This Lesson:

In Joshua 1, God says repeatedly that Joshua’s success is dependent on his obedience.

  • If Joshua obeyed, spoke, and meditated on the law, he would succeed in securing the promise land.
  • These verses make it appear that Joshua’s relationship with God was based on Joshua’s works.
    • And of course, so does much of the Pentateuch.

 

Some Scriptural examples:

  • Deuteronomy 10:12–13 (ESV) — 12 “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord, which I am commanding you today for your good?
  • Deuteronomy 30:8–10 (ESV) — 8 And you shall again obey the voice of the Lord and keep all his commandments that I command you today. 9 The Lord your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the Lord will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

 

But we can’t help but wonder where the Gospel of grace is in this relationship.

  • In Joshua 1:9 the text tells us – “…for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.
    • What is God’s presence supposed to mean in the context of all this law?
    • Skeptically, God’s presence could be construed as bad news for Joshua.

 

But on the other hand, God’s presence could just as likely point us to the Gospel of grace in the OT.

  • But why might we see an OT Gospel of grace in God’s presence?
  • What is the OT Gospel anyway?
  • And how do we square the Law with this OT Gospel?

 

Misconceptions:

Not knowing the basics on these issues gives way to some serious misconceptions about the OT.

  • Michael Horton puts the misconceptions like this:

“Many of us were raised not knowing what to do with that first half of our Bible. The idea was, Israel in the Old Testament was under the law and Christians in the New Testament are under grace. This means that the Old Testament equals works-righteousness and the New Testament equals the gospel of grace” – Michael Horton.

  • This view couldn’t be more wrong.

 

And these misconceptions are understandable.

  • The OT seems to suggest that God’s law can be kept.
  • “The general assumption of the OT is that the law can be kept, although occasionally another note is struck (see 24:19, Ps. 143:2)” – Marten Woudstra.

 

Leading to Bad Teaching:

But what’s worse is that our misconceptions lead to terrible teaching.

  • The idea of “works-righteousness” begins to crowd out the “gospel of grace”.
  • It is simply easier to understand and to teach law rather than grace.
  • And doing so mistakenly puts humanity in a position where they think they can mediate their relationship to God through their behavior.
    • Do works = Be righteous
    • Religion formula 101

 

Sally Lloyd-Jones frames this problem in context of teaching our children:

“When we drill a [OT] Bible story down into a moral lesson, we make it about us. But the Bible isn’t mainly about us, and what we are supposed to be doing—it’s about God, and what he has done. Children don’t need to be told to try harder, believe more, or do it better. That just leaves them in despair. The moral code always leaves us in despair. We can never live up to it” – Sally Lloyd-Jones.

  • This results in the development of an overly pious, moralistic, and legalistic relationship with God and His word.
  • Not the more desired and accurate Guilt-Grace-Gratitude progression.

 

Michael Horton is even more adamant about this flaw in teaching.

“David really lived in history. And the usefulness of that life, measured by the fact that the Bible records great segments of it, is not determined by how many instructive lessons we can learn from character studies, for there were greater men and women of character, no doubt, who never made it into the Bible. David’s inclusion into the canon of Holy Scripture is defined by the place he had in redemptive history—not only as a precursor of Christ, the Son of David, but as someone to whom the gospel promise came, in spite of all his failures and unfaithfulness” – Michael Horton.

 

Review Summary:

So to answer the questions we have raised and put aside our OT misconceptions, we need to dive a little deeper into a number of issues.

  • We need to know what the OT Law is.
  • We need to know what the OT Gospel is.
  • And we need to know how they relate to each other.

 

We need to be aware of some obvious basics as we go forward.

  • Yes, God commands, demands and expects obedience, as we saw with Joshua.
  • And yes, obedience led to blessings – disobedience led to curses
  • But…obedience to God’s law did not save Joshua, Moses, or anyone else.
    • Salvation was not a blessing arising out of an act of obedience to the Law
  • Galatians 3:21b (ESV) — 21b For if a law had been given that could give life, then righteousness would indeed be by the law.
  • “Since we are unable to achieve righteousness by adhering strictly to the law, the role of the law is not to justify…” – Millard Erickson.
  • Yes, salvation via an OT Gospel of Grace is present in the OT.
    • A Gospel involving Faith–Grace–Done work of God–etc.

 

 

1) THE LAW OF THE OT

 

What is the OT Law of God?

  • Before we can get into the role, use and purpose of the law and deal with our misconceptions, we need to get an idea of what the OT law is.

 

Three Kinds of Law:

Typically, the OT law is seen in three categories.

  • Ceremonial Law
  • Civil Law
  • Moral Law

 

Ceremonial Law:

These laws governed Israel’s religious life.

  • “There are the special feasts and fasts, together with the elaborate sacrificial system and temple worship” – Michael Horton.
  • These laws were given as part of the Mosaic covenant on Sinai – a renewal of God’s covenant with Abraham – Calvin and Sailhamer.
    • Sinai is often called a different “administration” of the covenant of grace.

 

Importantly, these laws are no longer in effect post-Jesus:

“As we can see, especially from the book of Hebrews, all of these types and shadows are fulfilled in Christ. They all pointed to Him. He was the temple, so why go on with temple worship? He was the sacrifice, so how could we offend God by thinking there was still a need for a better or fuller sacrifice for sins? Therefore, the ceremonial laws vanish with the coming of the one they were designed to foreshadow” – Michael Horton.

 

Civil Law:

Because Israel was a theocracy, civil laws were issued by Yahweh to regulate how Israel was to operate as a society and nation.

  • This law included things related to the death penalty, economic statutes, etc.
  • “Just as Israel’s ceremonial laws prefigured Christ as the great prophet and priest, so her civil laws prefigured Christ as the great king” – Michael Horton.
  • And like the ceremonial law, “so too we ought not to seek to return to the Jewish theocracy when we have the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom in His spiritual reign through the proclamation of the gospel” – Michael Horton.
  • These laws were also given on Sinai and were part of the covenant renewal – a new administration of the covenant of grace.

 

A further word about the ceremonial and civil laws:

  • Calvin called the ceremonial and civil laws, “supplements to aid in observing the moral law” – John Sailhamer.
  • These were not originally part of God’s law but were added at Sinai.

 

Why were they added?

  • Both Paul and Jesus give us insight into this question.
  • Galatians 3:19 (ESV) — 19 Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions, until the offspring should come to whom the promise had been made, and it was put in place through angels by an intermediary.
  • “…the law is not laid down for the just but for the lawless and disobedient, for the ungodly and sinners” – 1 Timothy 1:9.
    • because of transgressions” of the “lawless and disobedient
  • “Jesus also said that the law (of divorce) was given ‘because of the hardness’ of Israel’s heart” – John Sailhamer.
    • because of your hardness of heart” – Matthew 19:8
  • Both of these reasons are exemplified by Israel’s making of the golden calf at Sinai.

 

Why have they been abrogated?

As already alluded to, in the new covenant of grace mediated through Jesus, the old administration of the covenant of grace “passed away, [therefore] so did the law that had become a part of it (cf. Heb 7: 12: “For when there is a change in the priesthood, there is necessarily a change in the law as well”) – John Sailhamer.

 

And “In the New Testament, we not only do not find explicit calls to obey various ceremonial or civil laws of the Old Testament, we find it expressly forbidden, as a return to shadows after the reality has come. However, the New Testament does reiterate the moral laws of the Old Testament, giving them fuller explanation and a particular New Testament application” – Michael Horton.

  • So what of the “moral laws of the OT”?
  • The moral law is the third type of law and is still in effect post-Jesus.

 

What is an important implication of this abrogation?

  • In the OT, an adulterer could be stoned.
  • In the OT, an old man collected fire wood on the Sabbath and was put to death.
  • In the OT, God’s people were to not eat certain foods.
  • In the OT, God’s people were not to wear clothes made of different materials.
  • So why don’t Christians stone adulterers or refrain from eating certain foods, etc.?

 

Tim Keller puts the answer as follows:

“One way to respond to the charge of inconsistency may be to ask a counter-question— ‘Are you asking me to deny the very heart of my Christian beliefs?’ If you are asked, ‘Why do you say that?’ you could respond, ‘If I believe Jesus is the resurrected Son of God, I can’t follow all the ‘clean laws’ of diet and practice, and I can’t offer animal sacrifices. All that would be to deny the power of Christ’s death on the cross. And so those who really believe in Christ must follow some Old Testament texts and not others’” – Tim Keller.

 

Moral Law:

Formalized in the 10 Commandments, this law was “given to regulate personal [moral] conduct for covenant members” – John Sailhamer.

  • This law has always been in existence.
  • Adam, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and Joshua all lived under the moral law of God.
  • “Every person—even the most perverted or confused person—has the law written on his or her conscience” – Michael Horton.

 

J. Budzisewski says our knowledge of this law resides specifically in our “deep conscience”:

Now, deep conscience “is the interior witness to the foundational principles of moral law“. In it resides “the knowledge of basic goods, of formal norms, and of everyday moral rules.” It is not a feeling but an innate knowledge of morality. In fact, it was “designed as a witness to moral truth” by God. Therefore, it “cannot be erased, cannot be mistaken, and is the same in every human being.” And knowledge of moral truth obligates us with duties to self, neighbor and God.

 

The apostle Paul puts it like this:

  • Romans 1:19–21 & 32 (ESV) — 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened…32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.

 

BTW – This means the 10 Commandments weren’t given because of “a lack of data” – Horton.

 

Both Jesus and the OT sum up the moral law in this way:

  • “Individuals are to love God with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and their neighbor as themselves” – Michael Horton.

 

 

2) OT LAW AND ITS USES

 

Now having a basic understanding of what OT law was, we need to look at its purpose or use.

 

Three Uses of the Law:

What was the purpose of all this law?

  • Generally, three uses of the law have been identified.
  • They have gone by a variety of terms.
  • Here I have tweaked these terms a bit for simplicities sake.
    • Civil Use
    • Condemning Use
    • Conforming Use

 

Civil Use:

The “first use of the law is that of a deterrent in the civil sphere” – Michael Horton.

  • How were citizens of Israel to conduct themselves as citizens?
  • How were they to handle the inheritance of assets, etc.?
  • God’s civil law answered these questions for the people of Israel.
  • And importantly, this law is “part of God’s common grace and is not a means of special grace” – John Sailhamer.
  • In other words, this use of the law is relevant to the believer and unbeliever alike.
  • A nation’s laws are for the good of her people, believer and non-believer alike – Romans 13:1-7.

 

Condemning Use:

Paul explains this use of the law as follows:

  • Galatians 3:24 (ESV) — 24 So then, the law was our guardian [or tutor] until Christ came, in order that we might be justified by faith.
  • “The function of the law is to bring men and women under conviction of sin and of their inability to meet the demands of the law” – John Sailhamer.
  • “Just when we think we are not quite as bad as the guy down the street living with so-and-so, the law puts us on trial and compares us—not to other fallen men and women, but to God. This is meant to drive us to despair so that we seek our shelter from God’s wrath…” – Michael Horton.
  • This use of the law is also relevant to both believer and unbeliever alike.
    • The law condemns all because, simply put, we can’t keep it.

 

Scripture is clear on this point – all are unrighteous.

  • Psalm 143:2 (ESV) — 2 Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you.
  • Jeremiah 17:9 (NTL) — 9 The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked.
  • Romans 3:23 (ESV) — 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,
  • John 2:24–25 (ESV) — 24 But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people 25 and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.

 

It must be said, that the law is not the problem.

  • Romans 7:12 (ESV) — 12 So the law is holy, and the commandment is holy and righteous and good.
  • The law is “holy and righteous and good”.

 

The problem is that the sinful heart “employs the law for its own purposes” – Alistair Begg.

  • Paul puts it like this –
  • Romans 7:9 (ESV) — 9 I was once alive apart from the law, but when the commandment came, sin came alive and I died.
  • Romans 7:11 (ESV) — 11 For sin, seizing an opportunity through the commandment, deceived me and through it killed me.

 

The sinful heart corrupts the law in at least two ways.

  • (1) It purposely disobeys it and relishes the rebellion.
  • (2) It creates a religion of works and works righteousness.

 

But, when the condemning use of the law comes into contact with a “circumcised heart” – a heart given eyes to see and ears to hear – it has the following result.

  • Psalm 32:3–5 (ESV) — 3 For when I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy upon me; my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer. 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.

 

So, where the law solicits religion or rebellion from the sinful heart, it solicits confession and repentance from the circumcised heart.

  • If grasped with a “circumcised heart”, this use of the law will lead one to “acknowledge” and “confess” and thus into the Gospel of Grace.
  • Romans 7:24 (ESV) — 24 Wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?
    • The words of a “circumcised heart” to be sure.

 

Conforming Use:

This use of the law has effect only for believers.

  • The law is meant to conform believers to the will and character of God.
  • It answers the question, what is God’s will for my life as a believer.

 

CAUTION:

“Christians cannot conform perfectly to this law, and they ought never to approach the law as though they could even come close to its moral excellence. Rather, believers ought to approach the law as the perfect standard God requires as the expression of His moral character and live, not in order to meet God’s requirements (for that is achieved only in Christ), but in order simply to obey God’s requirements. In the former approach, one sets out to earn God’s favor by attaining His own righteousness; in the latter, one sets out to obey a gracious heavenly Father simply because He has already accepted him or her as righteous and holy” – Michael Horton.

 

This is the relationship King David had to God’s law; he speaks of this use of the law as follows:

  • Psalm 19:7–11 (ESV) — 7 The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; 8 the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; 9 the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. 10 More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. 11 Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.
  • “Revive” here means “to return”, “bring back”, or “restore”, the very thing this use of the law is to do for the believer.

 

Only the Gospel of Grace can bring us into this relationship with the law.

  • And as David’s words make clear, this relationship did exist in the OT.
  • As we have said, the Gospel of Grace was in the OT and we are headed there.

 

Blessings and Curses of the Law:

In the OT, and especially in Deuteronomy, much is made of the blessings of obedience and curses of disobedience to the law.

  • Joshua, having replaced Moses and being tapped by God to take the promise land, would have been well aware of the blessings and curses.
  • And in Joshua 1:6-9 the blessings and curses were no doubt part of the equation.

 

Curses:

All of Israel was subject to the curses of disobedience – even those who were saved.

  • The bulk of the disobedience curses are outlined in Deuteronomy 27:9ff and Deuteronomy 28:15-68.
  • Deuteronomy 28:15 (ESV) — 15 “But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes that I command you today, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.

 

Blessings:

Likewise, all of Israel could find blessings in obedience as the covenant people of God – even those who were not saved.

  • The bulk of the obedience blessings are outlined in Deuteronomy 28:1-14.
  • Deuteronomy 28:1–2 (ESV) — 1 “And if you faithfully obey the voice of the Lord your God, being careful to do all his commandments that I command you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.

 

But – and this is a very big but – there was never a time in the OT where a blessing of obedience is salvation.

  • We have already seen why this is.
  • The main blessing was always nation, people and land – not salvation.
  • But it must be repeated to emphasize that the OT does not contain a message of works righteousness.
  • Salvation is by the Gospel of Grace – which we will get into soon.

 

Paul taught us this:

  • Galatians 3:10–11 (ESV) — 10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.” 11 Now it is evident that no one is justified before God by the law, for “The righteous shall live by faith.”

 

Summary of Law:

So it should be clear that the law of God was operating in two contexts.

  • Although all of Israel was chosen by God – Deuteronomy 7:6 (ESV) — 6 “For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.
  • Not all of Israel was the elect – the remnant – the saved.
  • And whereas the unbeliever of Israel had one relationship to God’s law.
  • The believer had another relationship to God’s law.
  • There were many similarities, but there were some drastic differences.
  • The law could not conform an unbeliever to the will and character of God.
  • And the law could not condemn a person who was righteous by faith.
  • And though obedience would bring the blessings of nation, people and land, it would never result in salvation.

 

And this finally leads back to the questions we had earlier.

  • What saved the elect of Israel?
  • What was the Gospel of the OT?
  • Why did the writer of Joshua want to make the connection between Joshua’s obedience and the presence of God? 

 

Galatians 3:7–9 (ESV) — 7 Know then that it is those of faith who are the sons of Abraham. 8 And the Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “In you shall all the nations be blessed.”

 

 

3) THE GOPSPEL OF THE OT

 

Thus far we have seen that Joshua 1:6-9 clearly suggests that Joshua’s success depends on his relationship with the law of God.

  • Because of the nature of his relationship to the law, we proceeded to learn a few things about God’s law.
  • We saw three kinds of law – ceremonial, civil and moral.

 

Interestingly, we saw that the ceremonial and civil laws were added by God at Sinai because of what Paul calls the Israelite’s transgressions.

  • “The laws are a sign of Israel’s failure. The laws in the Pentateuch are a graphic picture of Israel’s failure to obey God” – John Sailhamer.

 

We saw three uses of the law – civil, condemning and conforming.

  • Importantly, the conforming use is in effect only for the elect.
  • Only the elect/saved can be conformed to the character of God.
    • Millard Erickson puts it as follows, the law was “the standard God set for those people who would adhere to” the covenant of Grace.
    • It condemned those not adhering to this Covenant.

 

We also examined the concept of blessings from obedience and curses from disobedience of God’s law.

  • All the Israelites had this blessings/curses relationship with God’s law.
  • The saved and the unsaved alike.
  • But, the chief blessing of obedience related only to people, nation and land.
  • Never is a blessing of obedience salvation in the individual spiritual sense.

 

So understanding the law, we can now turn to salvation in the OT.

  • We can finally answer the question how were OT people saved.
  • What is the Gospel in the OT?
  • And what is the importance of the presence of God that the author of Joshua wanted us to take notice of to this Gospel?

 

Some Preliminaries:

Like the concept of “life after death” and resurrection, the concept of spiritual salvation gradually shows up in the OT.

  • “Although the OT begins to point [to spiritual salvation], the majority of references to salvation speak of Yahweh granting deliverance from real enemies and out of real catastrophies” – TWOT.
  • So as you read through the OT, just as you won’t find much talk of either “life after death” or resurrection, you won’t find much talk of “being saved”.
  • However, spiritual salvation is always under the surface because of God’s covenant of grace with Abraham.
  • So, “the acts of salvation in the OT build toward the final act of salvation which will include all people under its possible blessing (Isa. 52:10)” – TWOT.

 

Scriptural Examples of Spiritual Salvation:

Allusions to spiritual salvation:

  • Psalm 24:5 (ESV) — 5 He will receive blessing from the Lord and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
  • Psalm 51:14 (ESV) — 14 Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, O God of my salvation, and my tongue will sing aloud of your righteousness.
  • Isaiah 46:13 (ESV) — 13 I bring near my righteousness; it is not far off, and my salvation will not delay; I will put salvation in Zion, for Israel my glory.”
  • Isaiah 62:11 (ESV) — 11 Behold, the Lord has proclaimed to the end of the earth: Say to the daughter of Zion, “Behold, your salvation comes; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.”
  • Ezekiel 37:23 (ESV) — 23 They shall not defile themselves anymore with their idols and their detestable things, or with any of their transgressions. But I will save them from all the backslidings in which they have sinned, and will cleanse them; and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.

 

Now we can look at the Gospel of the OT as contained in:

  • (1) Covenant of Grace
  • (2) Faith
  • (3) God’s Presence as His Done Work, Future Promises and the object of saving Faith.

 

(1) Covenant of Grace:

The Covenant of Grace “is that arrangement whereby God planned to save man from the just consequences of his sin; namely, immorality, misery, death, and damnation” – Calvin Knox.

  • “The covenant of grace is the progressive historical account of the administration of the Gospel in the history of redemption” – R. Scott Clark.

 

Adam and Eve:

“The first Gospel promise in Genesis 3:15 announces the covenant of grace, i.e. redemption of the elect by the Mediator” – R. Scott Clark.

  • Genesis 3:15 (ESV) — 15 I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.”

“God manifested his grace here in two ways. First, he would make Adam and Eve enemies of Satan and therefore friends of God. Second, through the promised Redeemer God would break the power of Satan over men. When Christ died on Calvary’s cross, Satan’s power was broken. Wherever the gospel of the crucified One is preached with the blessing of the Spirit, Satan is powerless to enslave” – Calvin Knox.

 

This expression of the Covenant of Grace in Jesus is immediately followed by a present reality for Adam and Eve.

  • Genesis 3:21 (ESV) — 21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them.
  • God apparently killed an animal (a sacrifice) and used its skin to symbolically “cover” their sin.

 

Noah:

In spite of man’s depravity and evil heart, God changed/modified/relented in the Adamic curse on the land (many scholars argue).

  • Genesis 8:21–22 (ESV) — 21 And when the Lord smelled the pleasing aroma, the Lord said in his heart, “I will never again curse the ground because of man, for the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth. Neither will I ever again strike down every living creature as I have done. 22 While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

 

Abraham:

“The Abrahamic covenant is a renewal of the…covenant/promise made to Adam (Genesis 3:15; 17). In the history of redemption, the covenant of grace was renewed in Abraham such that he is the father of all who believe (Romans 4:11; John 8:56)” – R. Scott Clark.

  • Genesis 12:1–3 (ESV) — 1 Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. 2 And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. 3 I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

 

Other OT Mentions:

Throughout Israel’s history, God revealed more and more about how he would ultimately fulfill His covenant.

  • Hosea 2:19–20 (ESV) — 19 And I will betroth you to me forever. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and in justice, in steadfast love and in mercy. 20 I will betroth you to me in faithfulness. And you shall know the Lord.
  • Jeremiah 31:33 (ESV) — 33 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people.
  • Ezekiel 36:26–27 (ESV) — 26 And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

 

Summary of Covenant of Grace:

“In the covenant of grace God promised eternal life to those who put their trust in the promised redeemer. At different times and within distinct contexts, the covenant of grace was administered in a variety of ways. God’s covenant with Israel at Mount Sinai was one way in which the covenant of grace was administered. The new covenant that Christ initiated by his death and resurrection is another distinct administration of the one covenant of grace. The Sinai covenant and the new covenant are thus the same covenant with different administrations” – John Sailhamer.

 

(2) Faith in the OT:

(1) Faith Connected to Righteousness of God

  • Just as in the NT, salvation in the OT involves the righteousness of God.
  • And as in the NT, in the OT this happens “through faith”.
  • Genesis 15:4–6 (ESV) — 4 And behold, the word of the Lord came to him: “This man shall not be your heir; your very own son shall be your heir.” 5 And he brought him outside and said, “Look toward heaven, and number the stars, if you are able to number them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” 6 And he believed the Lord, and he counted it to him as righteousness.
  • Habakkuk 2:4 (ESV) — 4 “Behold, his soul is puffed up; it is not upright within him, but the righteous shall live by his faith.

 

And looking at the OT spiritual salvation texts we just cited one sees clearly the connection made between spiritual salvation and righteousness.

  • Psalm 24:5 puts it so clearly when it speaks of a “righteousness from the God of salvation”.
  • This is the same idea when Ezekiel says that God “will cleanse them” from their sin – Ezekiel 37:23.
  • And this is why David speaks of being delivered from “bloodguiltiness” and praising God’s “righteousness” in Psalm 24:5.

 

Paul puts this relationship of faith and righteousness as follows:

  • Philippians 3:9 (ESV) — 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith
  • 2 Corinthians 5:21 (ESV) — 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

 

(2) Faith Connected to Law Fulfillment

  • Faith’s relationship to righteousness also carries with it another NT parallel.
  • In the NT, believers are seen by the Father as having perfectly met the requirements of the law.
    • Because of our union with Christ, we participate fully in the benefits of Christ’s perfect obedience.
  • His works are seen as our works.
  • This perfect obedience of Christ is the basis for the imputation of God’s righteousness to us.

 

Interestingly, the same is said of Abraham.

  • Genesis 26:3–5 (ESV) — 3 Sojourn in this land, and I will be with you and will bless you, for to you and to your offspring I will give all these lands, and I will establish the oath that I swore to Abraham your father. 4 I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, 5 because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.

 

Now, it must be noted that the law as referenced by Moses in verse 5 did not exist yet.

  • So Moses has done either one of two things:
    • (1) He has committed an anachronistic error.
    • (2) He is teaching us something about the nature of the righteousness that is by faith.
    • The answer is of course, the second.
    • Moses is showing us the relationship between faith and law fulfillment.
    • “Abraham could not have ‘kept the Sinai law’ in a literal sense, as it had not been given until the time of Moses (cf. Ex 15: 25b). Abraham lived a life of faith, and God counted that to him as his ‘keeping the law’ (cf. Gen 15: 6)” – John Sailhamer.

 

Now we can move on to the significance of the presence of God to the OT Gospel.

 

(3) Presence of God – Done Work, Future Promises and the Object of Saving Faith:

We saw in our handling of Joshua 1:6-9 that God’s presence provides the foundation and context for Joshua’s conquest historically of the promise land.

  • We saw via the connection to Deuteronomy that the author of Joshua wants us to make God’s presence of utmost importance to Joshua’s success.
  • Being strong and courageous; knowing, talking about, meditating on and obeying God’s law; and not being afraid or dismayed are all possible because of the presence of Yahweh.

 

So how does the presence of God relate to the Gospel of the OT?

  • A question we asked in our Joshua 1:6-9 lesson.
  • The answer is that the presence of God, as we are about to define it, is the object of saving faith.
  • And because it is the object, not the faith, that does the saving; God as the object of faith is foundational to both the Gospel of the OT and the NT.

 

What is the presence of God?

  • Very simply, it is the self-revelation of God in history.
    • Certainly, not just this – His covenant faithfulness, holiness, eternity, etc and so much more.
  • It therefore includes His word spoken into and His active involvement in history.
  • In the beginning, God acted and created (in history) and made Himself known to Adam and Eve with His words, “And God said…
  • The God we love and trust is the God whom has revealed Himself to us – His revelation of Himself in history.
    • Or what we can infer about Him from the things He has revealed.

 

A couple more examples of presence of God as Revelation:

  • Exodus 20:2 (ESV) — 2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
    • God then goes on to present the 10 commandments.
  • He created; He brought them out; He has the authority to command.
  • Ezekiel 36:27 (ESV) — 27 And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.
  • John 1:14 (ESV) — 14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

 

Two Aspects of Our Faith in God as He Has Revealed Himself to Us:

It is God as He has revealed Himself that is the object of our saving faith.

  • And in this respect, faith is “cumulative” or “progressive”.
  • As God reveals more, faith will trust the “more”.

 

And in the OT, as in the NT, faith in God has two aspects.

  • (1) Faith in the Done Work of God in history.
    • Faith is to trust that God has done what He has said He has done and then submit to the implications of this.
  • (2) Faith in the Future Work of God in history – His Promises.
    • Faith is to trust that God will do what He has said He will do and then submit to the implications of this.

 

John gets at (1), the Done Work of God in history when he says:

  • John 3:16 (ESV) — 16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

 

The writer of Hebrews speaks of (2), the Future Work of God when he says:

  • Hebrews 11: 1–2 (ESV) — 1 Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction [evidence] of things not seen. 2 For by it the people of old received their commendation [the approval/attestation of God].
    • Commendation means, in contrast to John 2:24, that Christ did entrust Himself to them.
  • The things hoped for are the promises of God.
  • Two examples:
    • For Abraham an example would be the offspring
    • For us an example would be resurrection

 

This is not blind faith – it is grounded in the Done Work of God.

  • If God created everything and brought Abraham out of Ur – a “done work” of God – then Abraham has every rational reason to trust that God will do in the future what He has promised.
  • This is why Abraham can have assurance of his “offspring”.

 

Likewise, if Joshua trusted that God brought them out of Egypt, then he also has every rational reason to trust in God’s future promises.

  • Specifically, he can have every reason to trust that God will deliver the promise land.
  • In the same way, given the Done Work of God through Christ’s incarnation, death, burial and resurrection, we have every reason to trust in our own resurrection.

 

All of these are the “assurance of things hoped for” – the Future Promises of God – grounded in the Done Work of God.

  • Offspring
  • Promise Land
  • Resurrection

 

Quick Summary:

So the Gospel of the OT should be taking shape now within:

  • (1) Covenant of Grace
  • (2) Faith and Righteousness
  • (3) Presence of God – Done Work and Future Promises
  • BTW – there are obviously more aspects to the Gospel of the OT.

 

Our response should be Faith and Trust which involves submitting to all the implications of the God’s Done Work and Future Promises.

  • Our response should not be religious – works righteousness!

 

A Final Question:

What about the necessity of Jesus in Salvation?

  • How are the faithful of the OT “connected” to Christ, whom they did not know?

 

The simple answer is that the OT Gospel looked forward to the Done Work of the Messiah.

  • We know this to be true because the NT tells us.
  • Hebrews 11:13 (ESV) — 13 These all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth.
  • This means that OT faith in both the Done Work and Future Promises of God is ultimately faith in Christ.

 

Paul also addresses this concept we he talks about the forbearance of God in dealing with the sin of the OT believer.

  • Romans 3:25 (ESV) — 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God’s righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins.
  • God’s forbearance is “a ‘truce with the sinner’, awaiting the final revelation and redemption in Christ (Acts 17:30)” – NBD.
  • “In the Old Testament, God gave his people a forbearance until Christ could come and pay their sin-debt for them. In this way they could avoid the punishment for their sins, even though Christ had not yet died for them” – Greg Johnson.
    • What does this say about OT sacrifice?

 

Final Summary of OT Gospel:

“The believing Jew, therefore, whether he understood what he was doing or not, was committing himself to the God of the promises, the God who had faithfully formed the nation of Israel and brought her out of Egypt and into the land, and the God who had revealed all along that sin could be atoned for by means of blood sacrifice…The person who committed himself in faith to that God, and all that He had revealed about His saving and keeping power, was saved” – John Feinberg.