For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:8-9
Many people believe that there is a complete separation between the Old Testament and the New Testament. While saying that God never changes, they say that “the God of the Old Testament is a stern God, the chosen nation of the Old Testament is Israel, and that salvation came through the law;” but when you get to the New Testament YHVH is now “a God of love, He has replaced the nation of Israel with a ‘spiritual’ Israel, and salvation now comes only through grace.”
If you study the Bible beginning in Genesis, working your way through in order, you find that there is no separation. There is a complete story that is being written through all the ages that has yet to end. The same plan YHVH had from the very beginning (Genesis 1:1) is the same plan He has now, and it is the same plan that will be completed as told in Revelation.
Remember the former things of old: that I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like Me; Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things that are not yet done; saying: ‘My counsel shall stand, and all My pleasure will I do’; Isaiah 46:9-10
As you work through the Word from the beginning of the story, instead of from where we are right now in the plot, misconceptions and misunderstandings begin to be replaced with Truth. These beliefs that seem to give us two different gods are proven wrong, and we are able to see who YHVH really is. An understanding of the truth is not something that is gained overnight or with a single teaching, but is developed in us along with the story of the Word.
As you work through the Word, you begin to see how YHVH teaches His children, such as how He gives us physical understandings before giving us spiritual so that there is complete understanding, and how He does everything in patterns to confirm our understanding of who He is and what He is looking for from us. One such pattern that He has given us is the pattern of Salvation. This is the pattern that this study looks at. What did Old Testament salvation look like? Was it faith based or works based? How does New Testament salvation differ from Old?
The first example in the pattern that we are given is in the story of Adam and Eve. (Genesis 2-3) YHVH created them and gave them a land. He provided all of their needs and walked with them in the garden. He placed two specific trees in the land, The Tree of Life, and The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Finally, He gave them a set of laws, or instructions, to keep – replenish the earth (fill it), subjugate it (rule or take care of it), dress and keep the land, and finally do not eat from The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
Next we are shown the story of Noah. (Genesis 6-9) The entire world had become corrupt, and all men on the earth only did evil continually – all except Noah. YHVH had decided to completely blot out man and animal from the face of the earth, but Noah found grace with Him. This grace is what saved Noah and his family. This grace is how, through Noah, YHVH decided to establish his covenant that would pass on to all who call on His name, or love God. This grace is what saved mankind and all the creatures of the world from complete annihilation by way of the ark. Finally, once Noah and his family were back on dry ground, YHVH gave them a set of laws to keep – replenish the earth, do not eat the life blood of any creature, and do not kill. The repeating pattern that we will see in all the salvation stories are as follows:
- Something happens to break YHVH’s covenant.
- YHVH takes the first step in redeeming the offenders, showing grace. Part of this grace is the covenant He makes with them.
- YHVH builds a relationship with the covenant party.
- YHVH requires obedience.
Here in the story of Noah we see:
- Mankind became evil and did evil continually.
- YHVH offered salvation by way of the ark, and promised to establish His covenant through Noah.
- Through the trial of the flood, YHVH protected Noah building his trust in and love for God.
- YHVH gave Noah instructions to live by, or Law.
Although Noah’s family began in the worship and obedience of YHVH, throughout generations, mankind had ended up in the same condition as that of those leading up to the great flood. They had gathered themselves to build a tower that reached to the heavens, a tower that was in the face of YHVH. Just as with Adam and Eve, God scattered all the people from His presence. Abraham’s story begins in a land where idol worship is prevalent. (Genesis 11-22) Although we are not told how YHVH found Abraham, we can see that He was gracious to him. When Abraham was 75 years old, YHVH told him He would give him a land, make him a great nation, bless him, and make his name great. Through the next 11 years, YHVH grew Abraham’s trust and faith in Him. Finally, He established His covenant (the same one established through Adam and Noah) through Abraham. We know that Abraham was not perfect. He made many mistakes throughout his journey. He lied about his wife to two different kings. He married his wife’s handmaiden and had a child with her. He had moments of doubt. Yet the Bible says, “And he believed in the LORD; and He counted it to him for righteousness.” -Genesis 15:6. It wasn’t until Abraham was 99 years of age though that YHVH commanded him to be circumcised and to circumcise his entire family.
- Mankind began worshipping other gods.
- YHVH offered a land, seed, and re-established His covenant through Abraham.
- Through Abraham’s journeys, YHVH built Abraham’s trust in and love for Him.
- YHVH gave Abraham instructions to live by, or Law.
YHVH then re-established His covenent with each generation of Abraham’s family.
Now we are going to skip ahead to the story of Moses. (Exodus 2-20) At this point in history, the nation of Israel has spent over 400 years in captivity in Egypt. They have had time to forget who YHVH is while they have been born and raised into Egyptian culture. YHVH chose a man through whom He could show the world who He is. This same man will lead them out of captivity and to the land promised to Abraham. YHVH used the time of plagues not only to judge Pharaoh, but to grow the faith and earn the trust of the Israelite people. Finally, during Passover and the slaughter of all the first-born Egyptian males, YHVH redeemed His people. They were rescued from slavery and the armies of Pharaoh, and they were promised a land flowing with milk and honey. It wasn’t until after the nation of Israel had come to Mt. Sinai that YHVH gave them the law.
- Israel had been 400 years in slavery and inundated with Egyptian culture.
- YHVH redeemed the children of Israel from death during Passover as well as a certain death due to slavery from Pharaoh.
- Throughout the trial of the plagues and in their escape from Pharaoh, YHVH built trust and love in the Israelite nation.
- YHVH gave the nation the instructions to live by, or Law at Mt. Sinai.
The God in the Old Testament has always redeemed first, and required obedience second. The law was never intended to bring salvation. Adam and Eve were born perfect, not needing redemption in the beginning, then given instruction to live by. Noah was saved from the flood and then given Law. Abraham was brought to the land promised to his sons and given a covenant, and then told to circumcise. If the children of Israel could have been redeemed through Law, the Passover would have never been necessary.
As the pattern has shown, First YHVH provides redemption through which we may have salvation. He then develops a relationship with His people. The redemption and relationship work together to produce love. Finally YHVH commands obedience. Salvation has never been acheived through works, or Law.
Why is it then, that the Law seems to have such a huge part in the reason that YHVH scattered Israel and separated himself from them? The fact that the Law was broken was never the problem; it was the result of the problem. The real problem was with the heart of the people. Remember, YHVH redeems first, develops a relationship second, and commands obedience last. What YHVH wants first and foremost is our hearts – our love. How do we show YHVH our love? By keeping His commandments:
and showing mercy unto the thousandth generation of them that love Me and keep My commandments. Exodus 20:6
Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep His charge, and His statutes, and His ordinances, and His commandments, alway. Deuteronomy 11:1
Only take diligent heed to do the commandment and the law, which Moses the servant of the LORD commanded you, to love the LORD your God, and to walk in all His ways, and to keep His commandments, and to cleave unto Him, and to serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul.’ Joshua 22:5
Throughout scripture, YHVH equates loving Him with keeping His commandments. Is the pattern for salvation in the Old Testament any different from that of the New? Do we still show our love by keeping God’s commandments? Does YHVH really have to choose between giving grace and giving us a law to live by? Has God changed?
For I the LORD change not; Malachi 3:6
Israel turned her back on YHVH. Throughout the Old Testament, YHVH compares His covenant with her to a marriage. She was unfaithful to Him by going after other gods and breaking her covenant with Him. The result of her heart condition was that she broke the commandments. YHVH had enough and divorced her, but He promised to bring her back under a new covenant. (Recommended reading: Ezekiel and Hosea) The change that occurred in the covenant would not be in YHVH or in what He requires. Remember, He never changes. The change that occurred had to be in whatever the root of the problem was. The root of the problem was not YHVH, not His covenant, and not His Law, but the heart of the people. This is the change YHVH promised:
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 a heart of flesh. And I will put My spirit within you, and cause you to walk in My statutes, and ye shall keep Mine ordinances, and do them. Ezekiel 36:26-27
But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the LORD, I will put My law in their inward parts, and in their heart will I write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people; Jeremiah 31:33
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; and I will put My fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from Me. Jeremiah 32:40
Not only will YHVH not turn away from Israel, but Israel will not depart from Him. Israel will love Him as God has always planned, showing their love to Him through the obedience of His Law.
Our final example comes from the story of Jesus. Remember, Israel is now divorced from YHVH. God sent Jesus to show His people what it means to truly love YHVH, but he also sent him to show us how He really loves us. Through Jesus’ death, YHVH redeemed Israel once again, and re-established His covenant with us. As we walk out our life in belief in Him, our trust and love continue to grow. We still have all the commandments – the entire Law – that was given to Adam, Noah, Abraham, and Moses; but they are not what brings our redemption.
- Israel broke the covenant with YHVH.
- YHVH gave redemption and grace through Jesus, which allows us to enter into His covenant.
- As we learn about Him, our trust and love grows.
- We can now show YHVH our love by keeping his commandments, or Law.
YHVH has not changed. He is the same all the way through the Bible – all the way through the ages. He still has a covenant available to all who believe in Him first. This is grace. Secondly, he redeems us through Jesus so that we can have salvation. Lastly, he commands us to show our love to Him by following His commandments.
The Old Testament has never shown a salvation by works plan, and it still doesn’t. The Law was never intended to bring salvation. The Law is simply the best way for us to show our love to YHVH.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” John 14:15
“Whoever has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me. And he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” John 14:21
Yeshua answered him, “If anyone loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words. And the word that you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent me. John 14:23-24
“If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” John 15:10
Whoever says “I know him” but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him, but whoever keeps his word, in him truly the love of God is perfected. By this we may know that we are in him. 1 John 2:4-5
“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not burdensome.” 1 John 5:3
“And this is love, that we walk after his commandments.” 2 John 1:6