LET THEM TALK!
A lineup of O.T. characters speak up.
Many of you wrote yesterday about Abraham. Like me, you were astounded that God had preached about Jesus to Abraham, and that even Jesus admitted that Abraham knew Him. Is he the only Old Testament character who knew of Jesus? James Boice, a down to earth scholar, pieces together scriptures and uses some poetic license to help us understand their testimonies regarding a Savior they’d never seen, but One who justified them by faith. I hope you are as moved as I am by this piece and the history of our salvation.
Abraham is the focus of Paul’s attention in this section of Romans. But it is worth saying that the same point can be made about any of the other Old Testament believers. They would all have explained the hope of their salvation in the same terms.
Let’s ask a number of them what they “discovered in this matter” (cf. Rom. 4:1).
Here is Adam. Let’s start with him. “Adam, you were the first man, and we should assume from this that what you believed in regard to salvation is of value for us. What did you believe in this matter? Did you believe that you could be saved by your works? Or did you have an anticipation of the coming of Jesus Christ and ground your faith in him?”
Adam replies, “You know my sad story, how I sinned by eating of the forbidden fruit and how I carried the human race into sin and death as a result of my transgression. But if you know that, you also know how God appeared to me after my fall and announced the coming of a Savior who would crush the head of Satan, though he would himself be wounded in the process. I did not know who he was at that time, but I believed in him. And I expressed that faith by naming my wife ‘Eve,’ because she would be the one through whom the gift of spiritual life would come. ‘Eve’ means ‘life giver.’ We thought she would give birth to the Messiah. So we named her first son ‘Cain,’ meaning ‘Here he is!’ We were wrong in that; it was many thousands of years before our line actually produced Jesus Christ. But we had the right idea, and we were credited with righteousness because of faith in Jesus.”
Let’s ask Jacob what he “discovered in this matter”—“Jacob, were you saved by your good works or by faith in the deliverer to come?”
Jacob replies, “I wasn’t saved by my works—or by my ancestry either, even though I was the grandson of Abraham. I didn’t have as much understanding as my grandfather. He was the spiritual giant in our family. But you will recall that as I lay dying I looked forward to the coming of the Savior and said, ‘The scepter will not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs and the obedience of the nations is his’ [Gen. 49:10]. I was saved because I believed what God said about that Savior.”
Here is Moses. Let’s ask him. “Moses, how were you saved?”
Moses replies that even he, the lawgiver, was saved by faith in Jesus Christ and not in any ability he might be supposed to have had to keep God’s commandments. “The Lord told me, ‘I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him’ [Deut. 18:18]. I was saved because I believed that promise.”
Our next witness is King David. “Tell us, David, you were called a man after God’s own heart, weren’t you?”
“Yes,” replies David.
“That means you tried to think and act as God does. Does that mean that you were saved by your own good works or obedience?”
David explains that he was an adulterer and murderer. “If I had trusted my works, I wouldn’t have had a chance. No, I was saved because I looked forward in faith to that one who God promised would sit upon my throne forever. I knew that a person who would rule forever was no mere man. He must be the Savior-God. I believed that and was saved by him.”
Lord Jesus, I see it. You can reveal Yourself to anyone, at any time. We don’t need you here in the flesh to know You exist. You long to be known and if I seek for You, You delight in revealing Yourself. I am a seeker! Amen