There are those who think that salvation in the Old Testament was different than it is for us today.
Some think that it was through keeping the Mosaic law. But that seems strange since the law came 430 years AFTER God's promise to Abraham.
And God in fact proclaimed the gospel to Abraham in the pregnant statement, "in you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed."
Which is explained at Gal. 3:9, "so then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham the believer."

(1) The NEED for salvation has always been the same since Adam and Ishah lost relationship with God through the sin of disobedience.
"In the day you eat of it you shall surely die." Gen. 2:17

"Through one man THE sin (nature) entered into the world and THE (spiritual) death through THE sin (nature)." Rom. 5:12
All people are born dead in trespasses and sin. Eph. 2:1
Thus, "all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." Rom. 3:23.
That is, they are deficient of divine righteousness.
"There is none righteous, no not one." Rom. 3:10

(2) The gospel message is an everlasting gospel.
According to Mat. 10:23, it will be proclaimed by the church throughout Israel before Jesus returns.
According to Mat. 24:14, it will be proclaimed by the church throughout the entire world and then Jesus will return.
And according to Rev. 14:6, after Jesus returns, the everlasting gospel will be proclaimed to those who live on the earth; to every nation, tribe, tongue and people.

So, because of man's sinfulness, there is a need for redemption from sin and the need to be righteous in God's eyes.
The sin of man must be paid for. This required someone to make that payment; a "redeemer."
God provided the promise of a redeemer at Gen. 3:15ff and through the animal sacrifice, He taught Adam and Eve what the redeemer would have to do. Gen. 3:21.
It should be obvious that God taught them everything they needed to know about their sin problem, the need for a redeemer, and the symbolic significance of the animal sacrifice.

And so their relationship with God was restored by accepting God's provision and putting faith in His policy for forgiveness of sins.
The faith trust in that promise is always a mental choice. At that time, the animal sacrifice was simply an overt demonstration of faith.
The acquisition of salvation; relationship with God and the possession of everlasting life WAS and always has been by FAITH alone, in the redeemer-promise alone.

At Heb. 9:15, it is called "the promise of the everlasting inheritance."

I believe that the people of the OT knew and understood MUCH more than the text reveals, and that includes in the area of God's plan of salvation. The OT was not designed as an evangelistic manual but I see evidence that they understood what the CORE of the salvation provision was. That is, A Savior; the sacrifice of the Savior for REDEMPTION; resurrection; everlasting life in heaven, AND the required response of trust in God and God's redeemer-promise.

I'm pretty sure that the people did not offer animal sacrifices without UNDERSTANDING that it symbolized the salvation promise that had been taught since the time of Adam.
When God made animal clothing for Adam and Eve, I truly think that He taught them then and there WHY the animal had to die in order to provide the clothing.
The animal sacrifice then became the primary teaching aid about salvation, symbolizing God's plan for the future redeemer.
And it was established as policy for demonstrating one's faith in the salvation promise from the beginning.
We lean a lot from Gen. 4:1-7.

Rejection of God's policy indicated that one did not trust in God and in the redeemer-promise.
Heb. 11:4 tells us that Abel believed and followed God's policy.
"By faith Abel offered to God a better sacrifice than Cain, through which he obtained the testimony that he WAS RIGHTEOUS."

Cain did not believe and chose not to follow God's policy.
According to 1John 3:12, Cain was an unbeliever and was "of the evil one."
Because he didn't trust in the Messianic promise, he didn't have a relationship with God and he rejected God's policy for proper worship protocol.
God rebuked Cain, "If you do right, surely you will be accepted (lifted up). And if you do not do right, SIN (the sin nature) is crouching at the door (influencing your life) and ITS desire is for you. But you must master it."

The pattern for teaching about salvation through the symbolism of the animal sacrifice is seen in Scripture for the next 2400 years and then was formalized in the Mosaic law.

In that context, Heb. 10:3-4, gives us its significance.
It is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sin.
But in those sacrifices there is a REMINDER - that is, a teaching aid - of sins year by year.

Now as stated there, performing an animal sacrifice did not secure, any kind of relationship with God. But it was the center piece of overt worship activity for those who had truly trusted in the redeemer-promise.

Sadly, later within the nation of Israel, sacrifices were performed by many of the unbelievers of the nation, because it became a cultural and sometimes, even a superstitious activity, and such practices were unacceptable to God as Isaiah 1:10-11 declares, "Hear the word of the Lord, You rulers of Sodom; Listen to the instruction of our God,
You people of Gomorrah! What are your many sacrifices to Me? Says the Lord. I have had enough of burnt offerings of rams and the fat of fattened cattle; and I take no pleasure in the blood of bulls, lambs, or goats.

While the animal sacrifice was the overt symbol for salvation, the reality of a salvation relationship with God could only be realized by personally trusting in God and God's redeemer-promise. At Gen. 4:26, this trust in God was indicated by the expression, "calling upon the name of the Lord."
The promise is stated by Isaiah at 55:6-7 and encompasses both a change of mind and faith in God's policy for salvation.
"Seek the Lord while He may be found;
Call upon Him while He is near.
Let the wicked abandon his way,
And the unrighteous person his thoughts;
And let him return to the Lord,
And He will have compassion on him,
And to our God, for He will abundantly pardon."

The true issue of a change of mind is to reject one's present belief system and accept the divine belief system, which is trust in the Messianic promise.
That was the problem with Cain back in Gen. 4. He had adopted his own personal belief system - that the production from his own labors could give him credit with God.
He was rebuked and needed to reject his belief system and hold onto the policy that God had established for salvation and for worship protocol.
He needed to call upon the Lord - that is, trust in God's policy and reject his own human and satanic ideas.

This policy was established and summarized throughout the written revelation from God.
Such as at Joel 2:32,which is given in an end-times context, "Whoever will call upon the name of Yahweh will be saved."
And Paul confirms the universal validity of the promise when he quotes it at Romans 10:13.
"Whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."

The gospel was proclaimed symbolically by the very fact of the created universe as Psalm 19 declares,
"The heavens tell of the glory of God; And their expanse declares the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, And night to night reveals knowledge."

And as Paul confirmed at Rom. 10:18,
"But I say, surely they have never heard, have they? On the contrary:  Their voice has gone out into all the earth,
And their words to the ends of the world."

Paul clarified this earlier at Romans 1:18-20,
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident among them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made."

But let us keep in mind - God's wrath is not revealed and assigned unless the remedy is also proclaimed.
For God desires all to be saved and come to a knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:4
He is not willing for anyone to perish but for all to come to a change of mind. 2Peter 3:9

So, even more beyond the written revelation, the details of the gospel and the required response was ORALLY proclaimed by those who had been appointed by God to be His representatives.
Romans 10:14-15 clarifies,
"How then are they to call on Him in whom they have not believed? How are they to believe in Him whom they have not heard? And how are they to hear without a proclaimer? 15 But how are they to proclaim unless they are sent? Just as it is written: How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news of good things!"

Peter tells us that Noah was a "proclaimer of righteousness," Certainly his message was how to get RIGHT with God. He and the hearers understood that he was talking about being right with God through forgiveness of sins.
Noah's message was not to get people to come on the ark. God's plan was not to get anyone else on the ark except Noah + 7. Noah's message was to get people saved.

Job understood about redemption and a redeemer.
Job 19:25-26, "I know that my redeemer lives and later He will arise on the earth. Even after my skin is destroyed, yet from my flesh I shall see God."
And he was a family priest administering God's truth to his society before and probably after the crisis recorded in the book. Job 29:7ff
"When I went out to the gate of the city, When I took my seat in the public square,
The young men saw me and hid themselves, And the old men arose and stood.
The leaders stopped talking And put their hands on their mouths;
The voices of the prominent people were hushed, And their tongues stuck to their palates.
To me they listened and waited, And they kept silent for my advice."

Abraham as a representative of God, lived and proclaimed God's standards.
God proclaimed at Gen. 26:5, "Abraham obeyed Me and fulfilled his duty to Me, and kept My commandments, My statutes, and My laws."

The OT does not tell us specifically that Abraham and the other believers understood about their heavenly destiny, but the New testament tells us that they did in fact understand it.
Heb. 11:16, "but as it is, they desire a better country (destiny), that is a HEAVENLY one. Therefore God is not ashamed about them to be called their God, for He has prepared for them a (heavenly) city."

Moses understood about the redeemer-promise and the PERSON of that promise; the Messiah. Heb. 11:26, "Moses evaluated that the reproach associated with the MESSIAH was greater riches than the treasures of Egypt; for he was looking at the reward."
Certainly it was a heavenly reward that he had in view just as with those at Heb. 11:16.

They understood WHAT redemption meant and understood that it was only available on God's terms.
MANY of the Psalms teach this.
Psalm 49:7-9 for example -
"no man can redeem another or give to God a ransom for him . . .
that he should live on eternally."
Verse 15, "but God will redeem my soul from the power of Sheol, for He will receive me."

The OT prophets taught about forgiveness of sins through a savior.
At Acts 10:43 Peter proclaimed
"Of Him all the prophets bear witness that through His name everyone who believes in Him receives forgiveness of sins."

And of course, Jesus understood that the Messiah was in view all throughout the OT.
At Luke 24:46-47, He told the disciples,
"Thus IT IS WRITTEN, that the Christ should suffer and rise again from the dead the third day; and that repentance for forgiveness sins should be proclaimed in His name to all the nations beginning from Jerusalem."

Believers living in an OT context understood that God would provide a Savior for both Jew and Gentile.
At the birth of Jesus, Simeon proclaimed, "For my eyes have seen Your salvation, Which You have prepared in the presence of all the peoples." Luke 2:30-31.

The Samarian woman whom Jesus witnessed to acknowledged, "I know that Messiah is coming."
And the people of Sychar confessed, "we have heard for ourselves and know that this One truly is the Savior of the world."

Lets go back further. At Luke 11:31-32 we learn that the queen of the south and the people of Ninevah received eternal salvation.
The Queen of the South will rise up with the men of this generation at the judgment and condemn them, because she came from the ends of the earth to listen to the wisdom of Solomon; and behold, something greater than Solomon is here."

What she heard and believed MUST have been "redemption" information from Solomon.
Solomon's wisdom certainly included his knowledge as stated at Ec. 12:13, "the conclusion when all has been heard, is REVERENCE GOD and keep His commandments.
Reverencing God begins with accepting His policy for redemption.
The message of the everlasting gospel is "reverence God, give Him glory and worship Him who is the creator."
Keeping His commandments is accepting His policy for living here on earth after salvation.

The men of Nineveh will stand up with this generation at the judgment and condemn it, because they repented at the preaching of Jonah; and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

Again, the specifics are not RECORDED but repentance - that is, the change of mind - indicated a rejection of their present belief system and acceptance of God's policy for adjustment to His justice.

At 1Peter 1:10-11, he tells us that the Old Testament prophets understood about the need for salvation and the redeemer-promise.
And as they received that revelation from God, they continued to search for more details about the person of the Messiah and the timing for His arrival.

"As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories to follow."

Remember the Bereans?
When they were taught about Jesus being the promised Savior of the world, they were able to confirm it by examining the Old Testament Scriptures.

The gospel was proclaimed throughout the OT, but it needed to be taught and explained. Just like the NT needs to be explained. That is why we have the spiritual gifts of pastor-teacher, exhortation and evangelist.
And that's why the Ethiopian needed to be taught about Isaiah 53 as recorded at Acts 8:

Remember the Philippian Jailer at Acts 16? He was moved by the testimonial impact of the apostles and asked the question, "what must I do to be saved."
Their answer was a summary statement. Of course, they had to explain what it meant.
To just say that to someone does not communicate the true message of the gospel.
The same thing goes for simply telling someone, "you must be born again."
It means nothing unless it is explained.

Throughout the OT and to this very day, the principles of Romans 10 apply.
"So then faith comes out from (ek) hearing, and hearing comes through (dia) the word about Messiah."
"And whoever will call upon the name of the Lord will be saved."



Questions and comments are always welcome

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