It is well before any new undertaking to ask the question, Why?
Why should this new work be initiated? Why should the time and effort which it requires be spent on this project? Why is this the activity for which the moment calls, or at least, why is it the activity which will benefit us today?
These questions certainly are in order, and ought to be asked, as we with these lines begin what will be, the Lord willing, a lengthy series of visits with the Old Testament saints—and sinners—from Adam onward, who, though they are dead, yet speak to us from the pages of Holy Writ.
Why should we consider the earthly and spiritual lives of men who lived so many generations ago? Why concern ourselves with the problems and actions of people whose names we have difficulty pronouncing, who lived in lands where we have never been, and whose very existence is questioned today by many “learned” men?
We have our own problems of this present day, problems of drugs and crime, of social inequalities and unrest, of war and riots, of disease and environmental pollution. Would it not be better to devote words, and lines, and paragraphs and pages to these at-hand problems of our own? Should we not, do we not owe it to our children to look at ourselves, at the present and to the future, rather than to go back to generations with whom we have lost contact?
In answering these questions we assume that our readers receive the Scriptures as the infallible, inerrant Word of God. Those who do not receive them as such are not able to give the correct answer to these questions, nor will they be able to follow us in our answer taken from the Scriptures. And the answer taken from Scripture must be accepted, because no one is able to prove that the Scriptures are not the infallible, inerrant Word of God. Men may claim that they are not. They may be vehement in their denial of, or be subtle in their attack upon the truth. But they cannot prove their claim. It is still nothing but the creature’s word over against the Creator’s word. It is nothing more than the theory of a creature who at best sees only seventy to eighty years of the history of this world, then by death has his mouth silenced, and not only loses his power to uphold and propagate his theory, but will appear before the God Whose word he has ascribed to fallible men. It still is the proud denial of a creature who was not there, and yet dares to call Him Who was there a liar!
What then is the answer to these questions? Why investigate, dig into this ancient history, weigh it in the light of the New Testament Scriptures, and review the actions of the enemies who are now in the lake of fire? Yes, you guessed the answer. Our title gave you the clue. We are personally involved. We may not want to be involved. It might please our flesh to deny that Adam is our first father, the root of the whole human race and its corporate head. Our folly may cause us to prefer an ancestry that can be found behind the bars in some zoo, or climbing a tree in the jungle, swinging by its tail and sporting ridiculously silly features compared with those which we see in man. Yet we are personally involved. And God says that we are. To mind comes the text in Romans 5:12, “Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world and death by sin, so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned.” And again in I Corinthians 15:22, “For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive,” to say nothing of Luke 3 where the line from Joseph is traced down to Adam and back.
We are descendants of Adam, and of Seth and of Noah. And although Scripture is not a history book of the human race, but rather the record of the work of the Son of God as He gathers from the beginning to the end of the world a church chosen to everlasting life (together with an account of the enemies of that church who foolishly rage and imagine that they can destroy her), this record reveals that we are involved as branches on the tree of which Adam is the root, but also as members of that Church that the Son of God is gathering. This is our history as such descendants of Adam and of Eve, but also as branches on the true Vine. And a consideration of this truth will work in us a richer appreciation of the fact that we are also personally involved in that salvation which is in Christ. In the measure that we are spiritual and concerned with our salvation, we will want to visit those whom the Son of God gathered out of the Old Testament dispensation, by meeting them on the pages of Holy Writ. For, and get this, these are the people with whom we shall spend eternity! With these we shall eternally be involved in singing God’s praises in the new Jerusalem. These are members of the same body to which we belong. Surely we wish to listen to them as they speak a word of warning and of encouragement, witness to us of the Son of God and sing the praises of our God. Their struggle is our struggle. Their victory is our victory. Their hope is our hope. Their Saviour is our Saviour.
Let us, then, consider certain truths which should rule us in our consideration of what is recorded concerning them. And let us bear in mind, first of all, that this whole record is God’s word to us. Not only must we stress that all of it, every word fromGenesis 1:1 through Revelation 22:21 is the Word of God, but also that it is His word to us. It was not written for the world, although it pleases God at times to cause the world to come in contact with that Word, but it was spoken and written for us.
You have His word for that in II Timothy 3:16, where Paul declares, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” God gave it for the man of God. And all this Old Testament is for our doctrinal enrichment, for reproof unto us, for our correction and for our instruction in righteousness, that we may be perfect and be fully equipped unto every good work.
At the same time, and for this very reason, the Old Testament Scriptures are the gospel, the good news of salvation, They are not simply the background of salvation, the background of the gospel. They are the gospel, the good news God gives us in His Son. They do from Genesis through Malachi speak the truth that “Christ is Coming,” while, the New Testament Scriptures declare that “Christ is Come.” Yet to all the saints in the Old Testament dispensation God spoke the good news of salvation in Christ. This also we purpose to hold before your eyes throughout this whole series of visits with the saints, both in the old world before the flood, and with those in the new world under the law and in the days of the shadows. We will, the Lord willing, from the first Adam’s appearance to the Last Adam’s advent hear of salvation in Christ. We will see that, from the creation of the heavens and the earth, and from the moment that God called into being the light, God was bringing forth the Christ. This we begin to consider more in detail next time. But at the moment let us consider that all sixty six books of the Bible are the gospel. All reveal the good news of salvation in Christ when seen in the light of the whole. All do not reveal that good news in the same way. For that matter neither do Matthew, Mark, Luke and John present it in exactly the same way. All manifest the love of God for His people. All therefore reveal Christ through Whom that love is dispensed to the Church. And when our series is finished, and we lay our pen down, we trust that the Spirit will have opened our eyes to some beautiful manifestations of this truth, some marvelous works of God, so that we shall in our souls sing the song of Moses and of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are Thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are Thy ways, thou King of saints.” (Revelation 15:3)
We have, therefore, a calling in regard to these Old Testament Scriptures. That calling, first of all, is to listen to what God has to say to us. As already suggested, these saints do speak to us. The author of the epistle to the Hebrews declares that of Abel in Hebrews 11:4 when he writes that “he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts; and by it he being dead yet speaketh.” Yet it is God Who speaks to us through him. And it is God Who has something to say to us today in these historical accounts which He has preserved, and which are a part of His infallible Word. It behooves us, therefore, to listen to Him and to learn what He has to say to us. We are not to speak and tell Him what a given passage means. It is our duty to listen to Him interpret His Own Word. We must then take any given passage in the light of the whole. We must let Scripture interpret Scripture and bow before its testimony. If we do that, we can never throw away the first eleven chapters of Genesis as fiction with a moral, a teaching in them. Instead we will cherish these eleven chapters and let the light of the New Testament shine on them. We will not run to some proud, prating scientists,—so-called. We will not listen to what men have to say, but to what God says.
The second element we are called to do with the Old Testament Scriptures, and particularly in these historical events is to look for Christ and His cross. Always we must find Him as the Seed of the woman Who is vehemently hated by the seed of the serpent. Always we must see Him as the Seed of the woman who crushes the serpent and his seed for us. If we do that we will find that blessed truth of Scripture that we are saved by grace and not by works. The Jews so often did not see Christ in the types and shadows, and exactly therefore they sought salvation by the works of the law. They sought salvation by their work of bringing a lamb, instead of seeking it in The Lamb of God.
It is also because men today do not see Christ in the Old Testament Scriptures that they say especially of it that it is not relevant, and in answer to our original questions as to why we ought to treat this history today, they have no answer. They, too, will ask, “Why?” But their answer will be, “There is no reason why we should.” And it is because men do not see Christ, the true Christ in the New Testament Scriptures, that they cannot find Him in the Old Testament writings either. But seeing Him in the New Testament, we have the advantage over the saints whose lives we purpose to treat. And let us not be guilty, then, of not seeking Christ in this Old Testament history. Yea, let us be sure that we find Him with His cross. For without that cross He is no Saviour, and without finding that cross we will find no comfort or peace in considering the lives of the saints in the Old Testament dispensation.
The continuity of the contributions in this department will be that of the history itself. We will not try to attach the various articles to each other, and will seek to avoid carrying a subject over to the next issue. Rather our plan is to write contributions to this department which are a complete thought in themselves. At times we may go rather slowly. And then again we may take larger and broader steps. But exactly because our plan is to have each contribution to this department a whole thought in itself, we, will have to find Christ in every incident, and in the lives of all His saints of the Old Testament dispensation.