DID GOD REALLY FORGIVE PEOPLE IN THE OLD TESTAMENT TIMES? IF HE DID, THEN WHY WAS IT NECESSARY FOR JESUS TO COME AND DIE? COULDN'T HE ALSO FORGIVE THE NEW TESTAMENT PEOPLE THE SAME WAY?
All are forgiven only because of Jesus, whether in the Old Testament or in the New Testament.
The Old Testament people looked forward to the Lamb of God and His atoning sacrifice for their sins, as we look backward for our forgiveness. Looking forward or backward does not matter.
ONE MIGHT SAY: It required more faith for the Old Testament believers as the event was yet to take place in the future, but for us it is a completed act.
Well that needn't be true. Don't we look forward to the Second
Coming of Christ? Are we uncertain of it because it is a future event? Not at all! It requires the same faith either to look forward or backward. The ones who lived before the Cross had no problem in looking forward to the sacrifice of Jesus, though it did not happen in their day. It is basically trusting God's Word that makes us so confident of an act that we have not seen. That is faith; and we know it is not blind faith, as we know the Word of God is sure. God cannot lie.
The Old Testament believers were forgiven only because of Jesus' death that would take place. The sacrifices they brought when they sinned were not the means of forgiving them, but it was only a shadow of the Cross. Paul wrote:
For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. (Hebrews 10:4)
When they sinned they brought a sacrifice as was prescribed, and they were assured that they were forgiven, (if it was done in true faith,) not that the blood of animals could take away their sins, but it was reflecting the Lamb of God to come, who would take the penalty of their sin one day. By faith, all were to:
Behold the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world. (John 1:29)
And it was at Calvary that:
Christ was once offered to bare the sins of many. (Hebrews 9:28)
That one sacrifice was all sufficient to pay the price for the sins of the whole human race, as the One who died was not an ordinary Person.
Now, if Jesus came and lived a sinless life, but did not die, or did not rise again from the dead, do you think the saints in the Old
Testament period (though theoretically were pronounced forgiven by God) would have practically received forgiveness? Even though
God pronounced it to them, that sentence would have to be revoked.
Because their forgiveness was based on the Son of God's sinless life on earth, His victorious death, and triumphant resurrection, etc.
Listen to Paul as he argues it out with the Corinthian believers about the resurrection. He wrote:
If Christ be not raised, your faith is vain, ye are yet in your sins. Then they also which are fallen asleep in
Christ are perished. (1 Corinthians 15:17, 18)
If Jesus did not conquer death or the grave, then our faith is vain. That is, even if we believe with all our heart and live righteously (by God's grace) it is useless. And Paul says all who died believing in Him are perished. Which means, Abraham, Daniel,
Job, Noah, and all the mighty men of the Old Testament would perish forever like any other sinner. They were saints only based on the victory of Jesus over the devil. And even the ones God took beforehand to Heaven like Moses, Elijah and Enoch would have to come crushing down and perish! But God took them beforehand, and assured believers even before Jesus' victory, because He knew by His foreknowledge that Jesus would win that terrible battle!
Therefore God gave the Old Testament believers the assurance that they were truly forgiven based on His foreknowledge that Jesus would come, and win over the devil.
All the promises of God are only fulfilled in Jesus. Paul wrote:
For all promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen. (2 Corinthians 1:20)
That is, whatever God promised human beings-whether forgiveness,
Heaven, inheritance, eternal life-are all because of Jesus our Savior and His plan of salvation.
The divine Son of God had to come and die because there cannot be forgiveness without atonement. Forgiveness is based on that atoning sacrifice of the Lamb of God. It was either-man dies or his
Creator dies as a substitute. The price has to be paid. For the:
Wages of sin is death. (Romans 6:23)
If God forgives man without the penalty being paid, then sin would be immortalized; then sin cannot be wiped off. And that would spell danger to the whole universe. Sin and the author of it had to be defeated if man has to be saved.
The penalty had to be paid. God decided to pay it Himself.
There is no short cut. "The wages of sin is death", and it has to happen. If there was a short cut possible then God would have saved both, man and His Son, from the punishment. Just canceling sin and forgiving without the penalty being paid would spell doom.
God preferred seeing His Son die than see the human race perish!
He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all. (Romans 8:32)
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten
Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)
God delivered up His Son for us all-He delivered up Jesus for the whole human race, covering all periods of time, and all people.