Salvation in the Old Testament
The Seed of Salvation
Our feature articles for this issue of Israel My Glory examine salvation in the Old Testament. Indeed, the basis upon which God justifies sinners has, since the fall of Adam, been a key question for human beings facing the certainty of death and what lies beyond. The majesty of the program of redemption revealed by the Word of God is demonstrated in the simplicity of the proposition—not simplicity from the divine standpoint, but simplicity in how it was received by unworthy men and women.
The foundation upon which redemption would rest was God’s promise of a coming seed. In addressing Satan in the immediate aftermath of the fall, the Lord declared, “I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; he shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel” (Gen. 3:15).
The line of the promised seed was announced in Genesis 12:2–3: “and in thee [Abraham] shall all families of the earth be blessed.” The identity of the line of the seed to be blessed was particularized in Genesis 17:19: “and thou shalt call his name Isaac: and I will establish my covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him.”
And so, through the seed of Abraham grew the promise. The line of the promised seed flourished until it produced its final fruit in the Son: “Now to Abraham and his seed were the promise made. He saith not, And to seeds, as of many; but as of one, And to thy seed, which is Christ” (Gal. 3:16).
The window to salvation, from the manward side, is opened in a phrase associated with Abraham’s acceptance of God’s promise of an heir—His promised seed: “And he believed in the Lᴏʀᴅ; and he counted it to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6). Romans 4:1–5 verifies that Abraham’s faith was not placed in a righteousness-reward relationship. Saving faith would not be forged by observing laws, traditions, or even the repetitious sacrifices that would be the evidence, but not the means, of faith.
Arthur Pink makes an excellent statement about where the patriarch’s faith rested. The original language carries the meaning that Abraham’s faith was “counted to him ‘unto’ righteousness, rather than ‘instead of righteousness.’ Today justification (to be declared righteous) is by faith, but with this important difference, that whereas Abram believed God would give him a son through the quickening of his body, we believe that God has given us His Son, and through His death and quickening from the dead a Saviour is ours through faith.”
Therefore, the basis of saving faith, Old Testament or New, was always in the Son. The question was only whether one was looking forward to His coming or back to the Redeemer who has come.