The Bonafide Equivalents of the Gospel in the Old Testament
God wanted the oldest of the Children of the Exodus Generation, ages 7 to 19, to know that He was covenanting with them, especially, much more than with those were born after these hallmark events of redemption. This is what is emphatically declared in Deuteronomy 11:1-9, in the words: “And know ye this day…” (Deut. 11:2). This unique age group is only made up of those who were old enough to be savingly wrought upon in all these salvific events of the past, from the Exodus to Kadesh-barnea, and young enough to come short of the Exodus Generation.
“Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway. And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm, And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land; And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD hath destroyed them unto this day; And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place; And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel: But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.” – Deut. 11:1-9
The Children who were born much later, during the 38-year wandering period, weren’t alive to see the mighty acts of Jehovah at Egypt or Sinai, which means that they didn’t personally know the salvific glory of these events in real time. Deuteronomy 11:2 indicates this, showing how seeing in this case is equivalent to knowing; or, to see the event, is the same thing as coming know the virtue of it. Why? Because every survivor of the audience in this Spectacle of Salvation - from the Exodus to Kadesh-barnea - was overcome by grace and saved by faith (Deut. 4:1-4)! These divine exploits were sovereign mercy at its finest: eye-opening, irresistible, and mighty to save (Ex. 33:19, Rom. 9:15-16)! However, the spiritual sight of their Fathers dimmed so that upon arriving to Kadesh-barnea, they couldn’t spiritually behold the divine acts of salvation that were visible to others by faith. The Book of Numbers & Deuteronomy clarifies this to be a heart issue (Num. 13:30, 14:6-9, 22-24, Deut. 1:36).
“My son, attend to my words; incline thine ear unto my sayings. Let them not depart from thine eyes; keep them in the midst of thine heart. For they are life unto those that find them, and health to all their flesh. Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Put away from thee a froward mouth, and perverse lips put far from thee. Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eyelids look straight before thee. Ponder the path of thy feet, and let all thy ways be established. Turn not to the right hand nor to the left: remove thy foot from evil.” – Prov. 4:20-27
From the Exodus to Kadesh-barnea, at having experienced salvation by grace through faith in repeated typological Gospel operations, the Exodus Generation suddenly denied the Gospel at Kadesh-barnea! They began running well (Gal. 5:7) - in Egypt, through the Gospel of Sacrifice; at the Red Sea, through the Gospel of the Spirit’s Baptism; in the Manna of the Wilderness, through the Gospel of the Imperishable Life of Christ; in the Water from the Rock in the Wilderness, through the Gospel of Living Waters; then they gathered before Horeb as the Church in the Wilderness to see and hear the majesty of Jehovah in the Gospel of the Kingdom (Acts 7:38; Ex. 19:1-20:21; 1 Pet. 2:9-10); nevertheless, they turned aside from faith in the Gospel at Kadesh-barnea. Why? Under inspiration, the writer of Hebrews provides clarity:
“Wherefore (as the Holy Ghost saith, To day if ye will hear his voice, Harden not your hearts, as in the Provocation, in the Day of Temptation in the wilderness: When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my works forty years. Wherefore I was grieved with that generation, and said, They do alway err in their heart; and they have not known My Ways. So I sware in my wrath, They shall not enter into my rest.)… Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. For we are made partakers of Christ, if we hold the beginning of our confidence stedfast unto the end; While it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the Provocation. For some, when they had heard, did provoke: howbeit not all that came out of Egypt by Moses. But with whom was he grieved forty years? was it not with them that had sinned, whose carcases fell in the wilderness? And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not? So we see that they could not enter in because of unbelief. Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it. For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it. 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. For he spake in a certain place of the seventh day on this wise, And God did rest the seventh day from all his works. And in this place again, If they shall enter into my rest. Seeing therefore it remaineth that some must enter therein, and they to whom it was first preached entered not in because of unbelief: Again, he limiteth a certain day, saying in David, To day, after so long a time; as it is said, To day if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts. For if Jesus had given them rest, then would he not afterward have spoken of another day. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his. Let us labour therefore to enter into that rest, lest any man fall after the same example of unbelief.” – Heb. 3:7-4:11
Only a divine commentary on the situation will identify and prevent the problem. Even so, Psalm 95 & Hebrews 3-4 identify the problem to be one of an erring heart, such that true believers are vulnerable to have. Letting scripture interpret scripture, these passages point to the frequency of rebellious instances (such that truly converted people commit during repeated backslidings) rather than a continuous state of rebellion (such that unconverted people commit without intermission). In other words, this is speaking of a preventable hardening of the heart through the deceitful of sin, a spiritual calamity that should be guarded against by the daily exhortation of unctionized believers holding each other accountable to the truth of the Gospel (Heb. 3:12-14).
Psalm 95 & Hebrews merely echo the call of Deuteronomy, the mandate to prevent the deterioration of our faith by taking heed to its liveliness working in our souls giving us ears to hear and eyes to see. Therefore, for the safekeeping of faith, and to discern its wellbeing, one must understand the inward working of faith in the biology of the soul. By interpretation, this is to take heed to how well true believers are believing today; or, this is to take heed to how well true hearers are hearing the voice of God today.
“Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known My Ways: Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.” – Ps. 95:10-11
“And to whom sware he that they should not enter into his rest, but to them that believed not?...For unto us was the Gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” - Hebrews 3:18, 4:2
To categorically identify the core problem of negligence that led to a sudden apostasy in true believers, the spirit of prophecy in David focused on one thing in particular: “…My Ways” (Ps. 95:10). Furthermore, the writer of Hebrews (expounding Psalm 95:7-11 in Hebrews 3:7-4:11), interpreted this category of biblical truth to be: “the Gospel” (Heb. 4:2). Can you believe it? A simple comparison of these two passages reveals a bonafide equivalent to the Gospel: “the Ways of God”. In other words, to preach the Gospel is to preach the Ways of God; or, to deny the Gospel is to deny the Ways of God.
My reader, “Doth this offend you?” (Jn. 6:61). Do you feel that the Gospel is somehow being disrespected? Or, perhaps you believe the Gospel is being misconstrued? Such offenses are common in those who are blind to the beauty of these bonafide equivalents of the Gospel in the Old Testament. I entreat all such readers to commit themselves to prayer, as David did, saying, “Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy Law.” (Ps. 119:18). Perhaps God will be so gracious to open your eyes to the hidden beauty of the Law (Dan. 9:13)! It is commonly accepted (howbeit superficially!), that Jesus Christ is declared all throughout the Law. Remember? The Messiah spoke of this in Luke 24:47. Even so, this being the case, should we be surprised to find the Gospel declared all throughout the Law? For, wherever Jesus is on the page, thereabouts is a Gospel Message! Or, wherever the Gospel is on the page, thereabouts is Jesus Christ!
“And beginning at Moses and all the Prophets, He expounded unto them in all the Scriptures the things concerning Himself.” - Luke 24:27
In the most pristine revelation given to Moses, could he be seeing something or someone other than Jesus Christ? Or, in his prayers that led up to this revelation of a lifetime, in Exodus 33-34, could Moses be praying for and seeking after something other than Jesus Christ? Ever since Moses prayed in desperation to Jehovah, saying, “shew me now Thy Way, that I may know Thee” (Ex. 33:13), the Ways of God have formally become a core doctrine of the faith in the Bible. For, to know the Way of God is to abide in the Presence of God, according to Exodus 33:14; which is why God answered Moses’ original petition in this manner. Literally, the Presence of God reveals the Ways of God in real time. However, Moses, being uncertain about the full extent of how God would provide answers to his prayers, pled further with the LORD, saying: “I beseech Thee, shew Me Thy Glory” (Ex. 33:18). These two earnest entreaties were answered affirmatively with the Presence and Glory of God, to show the Way of God, as the LORD said, “I will make all My goodness pass before thee, and will proclaim the Name of the LORD before thee” (Ex. 33:19).
“And the LORD descended in the cloud, and stood with him there, and proclaimed the Name of the LORD. And the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, Keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” - Exodus 34:5-7
“He made known his Ways unto Moses, his Acts unto the children of Israel. The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy.” - Psalms 103:7-8
Following the mighty proclamation of the Name of God to Moses in Exodus 34:5-7, all of Israel was formally required to walk in the Ways of the LORD, which meant that they were verbally required to walk in the Presence of God or cleave to the Person of God (Deut. 4:1-4, 5:33, 8:6, 10:12, 20, 11:22-23, 13:4, 19:9, 26:17, 28:9, 30:15-20, 32:4; Micah 6:6-8; Acts 11:22-24). Literally, each individual Israelite’s survival depended upon it. This is abundantly communicated to Israel in well over 25 explicit statements in Deuteronomy alone (Deut. 2:13-16, 4:1-4, 26, 40, 5:1-3, 4-5, 29, 33, 6:2-3, 18, 24-25, 7:4, 8:1-3, 19-20, 10:13, 11:8-9, 17, 21, 13:1-11, 17:2-13, 19:15-21, 21:18-23, 23:1-14, 29:20-21, 30:15-20). Evidently, walking with God in the Spirit for real practical obedience wasn’t just for Moses! the Ways of God weren’t something personally revealed to Moses with the common Israelites excluded from the picture, as is commonly purported through a wrong understanding of Psalm 103:7-8. Rather, Moses prayed as a figurehead on behalf of all of Israel, and God answered.
This divine proclamation, when Jehovah audibly declared “the Name of the LORD” to Moses, brings us full circle back to the original introduction of this subject matter, entitled, A Biblical Framework for Studying the Attributes of God. There, we learned how the Names of God are not mere character traits to be compiled and intellectually analyzed; rather, as a signature method of crystallizing divine revelation, we observed how a personal knowledge of the Names of God is equivalent to knowing God in salvation. Even so, here, with the added witness of Psalm 103:7-8, we observe the following amplification of harmonious biblical equivalents:
Knowing the Names of God is equivalent to knowing God in salvation (Ps. 9:10, 91:14; Ps. 20:7; Mal. 2:5; Ps. 118:10-12; Ps. 124:8, Prov. 18:10; Ex. 23:21, Ps. 75:1; Ex. 20:24, Num. 6:27, 2 Chron. 6:20).
Knowing the Ways of God is equivalent to a salvific knowledge of the Gospel (Ps. 95:10-11, Heb. 3:18, 4:2).
Knowing the Way(s) of God is equivalent to knowing God through the ministry of the Presence of God (Ex. 33:13-14).
Knowing the Ways of God is equivalent to a salvific knowledge of the Names of God (Ex. 33:19, 34:5-7, Ps. 103:7-8).
Now, at last, we are prepared to enter the Theater of divine things as they are in truth, at least to those beholden to the mystery of salvation in the Law (Heb. 11:1-40). Categorically, in being introduced to the divine network of core doctrines that pervade the Old Testament, we are prepared to survey the Exodus Generation and their Children to derive from Deuteronomy the Doctrine of Perseverance; and thereafter, in moving into the major and minor Prophets, and beyond, we will be able to trace the core doctrines of the faith as they proceed from the Old Testament into the New Testament. Only then will we discover the transcendent and eternal significance of what was begun in the Exodus Generation in the first Wilderness Experience of Holy Scripture. Then, finally, we will comprehend why Isaiah uttered a prayer of revival to God, saying, “Thy Name is from Everlasting” (Isa. 63:16), while thinking about the Exodus Generation! Or, why Habakkuk was compelled to pray and sing to God, saying, “His Ways are Everlasting” (Hab. 3:6), while reflecting upon the Exodus Generation! The ongoing stages of these Ways are increasingly glorious as time goes on. This will all be made abundantly clear in the End of the World. Soon, everyone will be forced to realize that there is much more to the Gospel than the atonement that took place on the Hill of Calvary. The ancient Gospel of Isaiah will be written across the face of the sky, just as it was foretold.
“The LORD is well pleased for his righteousness' sake; he will magnify the law, and make it honourable.” - Isaiah 42:21