By Daymond Duck
I was recently asked a question that went something like this: “The Old Testament saints didn’t know about Jesus Christ. Why do people say they will be raised from the dead and go to heaven?”
A big part of the problem is the statement that the Old Testament saints didn’t know about Jesus Christ. I don’t think they knew His name, but many people knew some of His titles, many people knew about Him and some (the saints who trusted in the coming Messiah and not the ritual of the Law) knew Him.
Before they were put out of the Garden of Eden, God revealed the Virgin Birth (Seed of Woman) to Adam and Eve (Gentiles). Before the Flood and before the beginning of Israel, God revealed the Second Coming to Enoch and he was raptured (Jude 1:14; Hebrews 11:5). Before the Flood and before the beginning of Israel, Noah was a man of faith that God talked to and warned of things to come (Hebrews 11:7). In fact, Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord (Genesis 6:8) and he became an heir of the righteousness which is by faith (Hebrews 11:7).
Noah’s faith along with that of Enoch, Abraham and Sarah are mentioned in Hebrews chapter 11. The writer said, “These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth” (Hebrews 11:13). They heard the promises of God, understood that those promises had a future fulfillment, were persuaded that they were real, embraced them, confessed them and died in faith.
Sarah conceived Isaac because she believed God is faithful and keeps His promises. Abraham was known for building altars and God appeared unto him many times (Genesis 12:7). Abraham offered up Isaac because he believed in the Resurrection of the dead (Hebrews 11:19).
Moses (a Jew) esteemed “the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompense of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:25-26). Did you notice that Moses wasn’t afraid of Pharaoh because he valued the reproach of Christ? He endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
As time passed, the list of prophecies grew and God revealed more to the Jews about their coming Messiah. The sacrifices and Feasts pointed to His death, burial, resurrection, second Coming, etc. (Leviticus 23). In the second Psalm, David asked why rulers take counsel against the Lord and his anointed (a word translated Messiah in Hebrew and Christ in the Greek). This and other prophecies (1 Chronicles 17:12-13; Jeremiah 23:5 for example) caused the Jews to start speaking of the coming “Moshiach ben David” (Messiah son of David). Daniel even prophesied the exact day of the triumphal entry of Messiah the Prince and that Messiah would be cut off or crucified, but not for Himself (Daniel 9:25-26).
David talked about His crucifixion (Psalm 22) and Isaiah talked about His suffering and death as a lamb to the slaughter for our sins hundreds of years before it happened (Isaiah 53). Simeon was waiting for the consolation of Israel, a term that referred to the coming of Messiah (Luke 2:25). “And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Spirit, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ (Luke 2:26). In fact, many Jews were expecting the coming of Christ and thought John the Baptist might be Him (Luke 3:15).
The Old Testament saints were people of faith who looked forward to the coming of Messiah just as the New Testament saints are people of faith who look back on the first coming of Messiah. Those mentioned in Hebrews 11 proved their faith by the way they lived. They developed a desire for a heavenly country and God is not ashamed to be called their God. He has even prepared a place for them (Hebrews 11:16). When Jesus was transfigured Moses and Elijah were with Him (Matthew 17:1-8). When He was raised from the dead many Old Testament saints (yes, the Holy Spirit called them saints; also see Isaiah 45:4 for elect) were raised with Him (Matthew 27:52-53).
These saints believed in a coming ruler that Micah said would be born in Bethlehem Ephrathah (Micah 5:2). When the wise men asked Herod about the birth of the King of the Jews, he called in the religious leaders and demanded to know where Christ was to be born (Matthew 2:1-7). Many Jews were just looking for a political leader, but at least some believed the King of the Jews was also the Christ (some knew about Him and some knew Him).
Anyway, the Old Testament saints didn’t have to know Jesus’ name to believe in the Messiah, know that he would die for their sins, be under grace, die in faith, be heirs of God’s righteousness, be raised from the dead, go to heaven, etc. God even told Daniel that some would be raised to everlasting life (Daniel 12:1-2).
FYI: God Has Spoken (And We Know It) by Daymond Duck is available. Books and a Kindle version are available at amazon.com. A Nook version is available at bn.com. Check out what it says about Syria, Russia, Iran, Egypt, natural disasters, the Two-State Solution, etc.