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Christians in the Old Testament
of January 2002
Next up-date: February 1st 2002 (God willing).
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Is there really an immortal soul?
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5 And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And it repented the LORD [the Son of God] that He had made man on the earth, and it grieved Him at His heart.
7 And the LORD said, "I will destroy man whom I have created from the face of the earth; both man, and beast, and the creeping thing, and the fowls of the air; for it repents Me that I have made them."
8 But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.
There are not many ways to heaven.
Each one may not choose his or her own way.
Nor was there a different way for the Old Testament times.
Therefore Noah found grace with the LORD as we all do, by accepting the gift of a new “heart” and then using it. The Son of God told him as He told all those who would listen:
24 For I will take you from among the heathen, and gather you out of all countries, and will bring you into your own land [the new world, Romans 4:13]. 25 Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and you shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you.
26 [In the meantime] A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. 27 And I will put My Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and you shall keep My judgments, and do them.
Christ says, "I am the way:... no man
comes to the Father, but by Me." John 14:6. And the Spirit reiterated it
through Peter. “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none
other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” Acts 4:12.
<![endif]>Ever since the first gospel sermon was preached, when in Eden it was declared that the Seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head, Christ had been uplifted as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. Genesis 3:15. This promise was repeated to Abraham...
16 “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promises made. He says not, ‘And to seeds’, as of many; but as of one, ‘and to your Seed’, which is Christ.”
He was the Way when Adam chose to sin, He was the Way when Abel presented to God the blood of the slain lamb, representing the blood of the Redeemer. Christ was the Way by which patriarchs and prophets were saved. He is the Way by which alone we can have access to God. He is “the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8. Therefore He was the Way in Noah’s time.
It is written:
1 Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into His [Sabbath] rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.
2 For to us [in the New Testament times] was the gospel preached, as well as to them [in the Old Testament times]: but the word preached did not profit [the majority of] them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 3 For we which have believed do enter into rest, as He said, “As I have sworn in My wrath, if they shall enter into My rest”: although the works were finished from the foundation of the world.
4 For He spoke in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, “And God did rest the seventh day from all His works.” 5 And in this place again, “If they shall enter into My rest” [by giving up their own attempts to gain righteousness, they will be saved].
All the old patriarchs understood the position of the Son of God in their times and therefore they related to Him using the symbols that had been shown to them. Abraham was even given the privilege of actually going through the motions to illustrate God’s gift.
And He said [to Abraham], “Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and get you into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will tell you of.”
All the Old Testament Christians were blessed in proportion as they mixed faith with their ceremonies. Apart from the observance of the Sabbath and its underlying “rest”, they made burnt offerings in which the whole animal was burnt and its blood poured on the ground. In this way they “saw” the sacrifice He was making, and by faith in that understanding joined their lives with His, “crucified with Him.” Romans 6:6.
8 And Abraham said, “My son, God will provide Himself a Lamb for a burnt offering”: so they went both of them together.
This simple ceremony was later expanded
in Moses’ time to include many other aspects of redemption, but these extras did
not alter the fact, only greatly enhanced it in the minds of
those who understood.
38 Now this is that which you shall offer upon the [brass] altar; two lambs of the first year day by day continually. 39 The one lamb you shall offer in the morning [9am]; and the other lamb you shall offer at even [3pm]…
42 This shall be a continual burnt offering [one lamb was kept burning slowly until the other was added] throughout your generations at the door of the tabernacle of the congregation before the LORD: where I will meet you, to speak there to you. 43 And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and the tabernacle shall be sanctified by My glory.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>What Christ did at Calvary 4,000 years after the creation of Adam was simply a different way of showing His “death” as the Son of God, not dying as we do for He died for our sins, but still separated from His Father in spiritual death. Matthew 27:46. There, the Son of man was lifted up as a picture just as the serpent was lifted up on the pole, for there is no more value in the body of a man than there is in the body of an animal. John 3:14; Hebrews 10:3-6.
The Old Testament is as verily teaching the gospel in types and shadows as the New Testament is in its unfolding power. Hebrews 10:1. The New Testament does not present a new religion; the Old Testament does not present a religion to be superseded by the New. The New Testament is only the advancement and unfolding of the Old.
Abel and Noah were believers in Christ, and were as truly saved by His power as was Peter or Paul, and can rightly be called Christians, the Christ-like followers of Christ.
Enoch was a representative of Christ as surely as was the beloved disciple John. Enoch walked with God for 300 years, and then he was not on earth any more, for God took him into heaven without dying. Genesis 5:24. But before he left, to him was committed the message of the coming of Christ.
"And Enoch also, the seventh [generation] from Adam, prophesied of these, saying, Behold, the LORD comes with ten thousands of His saints, to execute judgment upon all." Jude verses 14, 15.
The message preached by Enoch and his removal to heaven were a convincing argument to all who lived in his time, for not many had died before that. These things were an argument that Methuselah and Noah could use with power to show that the righteous could be rewarded immediately they had finished the work they had been given. Revelation 22:12.
That God who walked with Enoch, Noah and Moses, et al, was our LORD and Saviour Jesus Christ. He was the light of the world then just as He is now. John 8:56-58. Those rejecters who lived then were not without teachers to instruct them in the path of life for the patriarchs were Christians in fact. The gospel picture was given in ceremonies in Leviticus and implicit obedience was required then, as now.
Over the millennia before the first advent, Christ appeared again and again to prophets, patriarchs and humble members of His church. But in those appearances He merely looked like a man, just as He only looked like an angel in heaven. Not until His birth did Jesus take human nature completely and permanently. “Unto us a Son is given…” Isaiah 9:6. When He appeared at the burning bush He is described as an Angel, the LORD, and the GOD of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, all in one meeting.
1 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb [Mt. Sinai].
2 And the ANGEL OF THE LORD appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. 3 And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.
4 And WHEN THE LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called to him out of the midst of the bush, and said, “Moses, Moses.” And he said, “Here am I.” 5 And He said, “Draw not nigh here: put off your shoes from off your feet, for the place whereon you stand is holy ground.”
6 Moreover He said, “I AM THE GOD of your father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.
Both Jesus and Gabriel appeared in human form to Daniel.
15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a[nother] Man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, “Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision.”
Then there was the time He veiled His glory and called on Abraham for lunch and a discussion!
1 And the LORD appeared to him [Abraham] in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day; 2 and he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him [Christ and two angels]: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground [they all stayed and had lunch with him!]…
The Son of God was the only God who appeared to men and women in the Old Testament times. How essential then, it is that we understand the importance of this word!
"If you had known Me," Christ said, "you should have known My Father also: and from henceforth you know Him, and have seen Him." But not yet did the disciples understand. "LORD, show us the Father," exclaimed Philip, "and it suffices us." John 14:8.
Amazed at his dullness of comprehension, Christ asked with pained surprise, "Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known Me, Philip?" Is it possible that you do not see the Father in the works He does through Me? Do you not believe that I came to testify of the Father? "How say you then, Show us the Father?" "He that has seen Me has seen the Father."
And that is the only way we can see God, for the words, “no man has seen God at any time”, refer to the Father. John 1:18.
<![if !vml]><![endif]>Christ had not ceased to be the Son of God when He became human at His birth in Bethlehem. Though He then humbled Himself to Christian humanity permanently, the Godhead was still His own and He did all that was required of Him in the universe even while lying as a babe in the manger at Bethlehem. But in His humanity He was dependent upon a power outside of Himself. (“I can of My own self do nothing,” John 5:30). The two natures were mysteriously blended, with the divine on earth taking a backstage part while the power was supplied by Another as in all Christians. “I am the vine, you are the branches… Without Me you can do nothing…” John 15:5.
When He said, "I am the resurrection, and the life" (John 11:25), He who had also said, "I lay down my life, that I might take it again", had come forth from the grave to life that was always in Himself. John 10:17. So Paul wrote of Him…
1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated to the gospel of God, 2 (which He had promised before by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures,) 3 concerning His Son Jesus Christ our LORD, which was made of the seed of David according to the flesh [humanity]; 4 and declared to be the Son of God with power… by the resurrection from the dead…
When the voice of the angel was heard saying, "Your Father calls you," He who had said, "I lay down my life, that I might take it again," and "Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up," came forth from the grave to life that was in Himself. Deity did not die at Calvary. Humanity died, but the risen Christ proclaimed over the rent sepulcher of Joseph, "I am the resurrection, and the life" thus showing in His divinity that He possessed the power to break the bonds of death. He had also declared that He had life in Himself to quicken whom He will and proved it there and then by calling a multitude from their graves. John 5:24-27; Matthew 27:51-53. He took them with Him when He finally returned to heaven at the end of the 40 days. Ephesians 4:8 margin.
"I am the resurrection, and the life." This language can be used only by the Deity. All created things live by the will and power of God. They are dependent receivers of the life of the Son of God. However able and talented, however large their capabilities, they are replenished with life from the Source of all life. Only He who alone has immortality, dwelling in light and life, could say, "I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again." All the human beings in our world take their life from Him. He is the spring, the fountain of life. Ephesians 3:9.
On earth Christ represented His Father to humanity, and this representation the disciples had been privileged to behold for over three years.
"Believe Me that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works' sake”, He continued.
Their faith might safely rest on the evidence given in Christ's works, works that no man, of himself, ever had done, or ever could do. Christ's work testified to His divinity. Through His humanity the Father had been revealed, for He said, “I can of My own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and My judgment is just; because I seek not My own will, but the will of the Father which has sent Me.” John 5:30.
If the disciples believed this vital connection between the Father and the Son, their faith would not forsake them when they saw Christ's humanity suffering and dying to save a perishing world. At Calvary humanity died, divinity could not. (It was this “mystery” that Noah understood.) Christ was seeking to lead His disciples from their low condition of faith to the experience they might receive if they truly realized what He was, - God in human flesh. Matthew 16:16-18.
Jesus desired the disciples to see that their faith must lead up to God, and be anchored there. Hebrews 6:17-20. How earnestly and perseveringly our compassionate Saviour sought to prepare His disciples for the storm of temptation that was soon to beat upon them. He would have them hid with Him in God.
As Christ was speaking these words, the glory of God was shining from His countenance, and all present felt a sacred awe as they listened with rapt attention to His words. Their hearts were more decidedly drawn to Him; and as they were drawn to Christ in greater love, they were drawn to one another. He had asked for this previously.
4 [Jesus prayed on behalf of His disciples] I have glorified You on the earth: I have finished the work which You gave Me to do. 5 And now, O Father, glorify You Me with Your own self, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.
6 I have manifested Your name [character] to the men which You gave Me out of the world: Yours they were, and You gave them [to] Me; and they have kept Your word.
7 Now they have known that all things whatsoever You have given Me are of You. 8 For I have given to them the words which You gave Me; and they have received them, and have known surely that I came out from You [Proverbs 8:25-27], and they have believed that You did send Me. 9 I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which You have given Me; for they are Yours. 10 And all Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I am glorified in them.
11 And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to You. Holy Father, keep through Your own name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one, as We are.
They felt that heaven was very near, and that the words to which they listened were a message to them from their heavenly Father.
"Verily, verily, I say to you," Christ continued, "He that believes on Me, the works that I do shall he do also." John 14:12. The Saviour was deeply anxious for His disciples to understand for what purpose His divinity was united to humanity. He came to the world to display the glory of God, that man might be uplifted by its restoring power into Christianity. God was manifested in Him that He might be manifested in them.
Jesus the man revealed all the qualities, and exercised all the powers that all men and women may have through faith in Him. His perfect humanity is that which all His followers may possess, if they will be in subjection to God as He was in His humanity.
"And greater works than these shall he do; because I go to My Father." John 14:12. By this Christ did not mean that the disciples' work would be of a more exalted character than His, but that it would have greater extent. He did not refer merely to miracle working, but to all that would take place under the working of the Holy Spirit. It was in this spirit that Noah and his friends built the ark during the 120 years. Genesis 6:3.
All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. Hebrews 10:7-9. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. Our will, refined and sanctified, will find its highest delight in doing His service. When we know God as it is our privilege to know Him, our life will be a life of continual obedience. Through an appreciation of the character of Christ, through communion with God, sin will become hateful to us.
As Christ lived the law in humanity, so we may do if we will take hold of the Strong for strength. Psalm 18:2. But we are not to place the responsibility of our duty upon any other, and wait for him/her to tell us what to do. We cannot depend for counsel upon humanity. The LORD will teach us our duty just as willingly as He will teach somebody else. If we come to Him in faith, He will speak His mysteries to us personally.
Our hearts will often burn within us as One draws near to commune with us as He did with Enoch and with Noah. Those who decide to do nothing in any line that will displease God, will know, after presenting their case before Him, just what course to pursue. John 7:17. And they will receive not only wisdom, but strength.
Power for obedience, for service, will be imparted to them, as Christ has promised. Isaiah 27:5.
Whatever was given to Christ - the "all things" to supply the need of fallen men - was given to Him as the head and representative of humanity. And "whatsoever we ask, we receive of Him, because we keep His commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in His sight." 1 John 3:22.
So the answer to “How did Noah [and all the others in Old Testament times] find grace?” is simply, “The same way you and I found it.”
Maybe they just used it a bit more?
He said, “Surely they are My people, children that will not lie; so He was their Saviour. In all their affliction He was afflicted, and the Angel of His presence saved them; in His love and His pity He redeemed them; and He bare them, and carried them all the days old.”
21 For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. 22 And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect's sake those days shall be shortened…
29 Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: 30 and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. 31 And He shall send His angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together His elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.
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