Lesson 18: The Promise Saved Them
15And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance. 16For where a testament is, there must also of necessity be the death of the testator. 17For a testament is of force after men are dead: otherwise it is of no strength at all while the testator liveth. 18Whereupon neither the first testament was dedicated without blood. 19For when Moses had spoken every precept to all the people according to the law, he took the blood of calves and of goats, with water, and scarlet wool, and hyssop, and sprinkled both the book, and all the people, 20Saying, This is the blood of the testament which God hath enjoined unto you. 21Moreover he sprinkled with blood both the tabernacle, and all the vessels of the ministry. 22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
In these verses, God is pointing out that the sacrifice of animals during Old Testament times was a demonstration to the people that God had made a covenant with His Elect, that Jesus would one day die for their sins on the cross and serve as their redemption. And since God is not bound by time, when Moses or other priests made animal sacrifices for the people, it was not only to obey and honor God, but also those sacrifices were reassuring The Elect of the Old Testament that their sins would be covered by Christ’s blood. Likewise, today we are covered by Christ’s blood if we are one of His Elect, even though Christ died at the cross nearly 2000 years ago. God doesn’t require us to perform animal sacrifices anymore because we live at a time after the promise had already been fulfilled, after 33 A.D. And we have the completed Bible, including the New Testament, to give us reassurance, as well as new understanding, so that we may bring Him greater praise and glory.
There are those that have proposed that Christ must have died before the foundation of the world in order to save the Old Testament Elect because of verse 22 that states that without the shedding of blood, there is no remission of sins. We have just explained how blood was indeed shed during Old Testament times through animal sacrifices, which were symbolic of the redemption that was to come, i.e., Christ’s sacrifice of himself to the saving of His Elect.
Let’s look at the last verse in this passage again, Hebews 9:22:
22And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.
Notice it doesn’t say when that blood (referring to Christ’s blood) was shed. This verse has been used by individuals that believe Christ must have died at or before the foundation of the world, otherwise none of the Old Testament Elect could have been saved. They read it like “first there must be shedding of blood…” but it doesn’t say “first.” And we know God dwells outside of time and applied Christ’s death on the cross to save the Old Testament Elect (for more proofs of this, see Lesson 16, posts #2-11 & posts #12-17, Lesson 23).
Remember Romans 3:24-25:
Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.
So blood was indeed shed through symbolic animal sacrifices during Old Testament times to save the Old Testament Elect, and because of the promise of the covenant, it was “a surety” that they would become saved and inherit eternal life. The promise is what saved them. And as we have discussed in the prior two lessons, when God makes a promise, it’s as good as done, and that’s why He speaks in language sometimes as if the covenant had been completed already before the foundation of the world. From God’s standpoint outside the realm and laws of time, he declares the end from the beginning.
9Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me,
10Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:
11Calling a ravenous bird from the east, the man that executeth my counsel from a far country: yea, I have spoken it, I will also bring it to pass; I have purposed it, I will also do it.