Tag Archives: creator god

Exploring the gospel – The gospel in the Old Testament

12 Jun

The gospel is often presented as a ‘New Testament’ phenomenon with a huge chasm between its counterpart ‘the Old Testament’. It is offered as a new message, bringing a seeming divide between the Ancient Jewish/Gentile and first-century Jewish/Pagan worlds. Was this the case concerning the gospel in the days of the likes of Isaiah? Is the gospel present in the Old Testament, and if so, is this the gospel message personified in Jesus the Messiah?

700 years before Jesus’ ministry on earth the prophet Isaiah emerges amongst an exiled Jewish people who desire desperately for God to vindicate them and to rid them of evil that manifested itself in forms of oppression, injustice and poverty. Their beloved temple had been desecrated and its creator God had seemingly withdrawn. Their world seemed to be in major disorder, their land desolate and government corrupt. Israel had failed to be a light and redeeming nation, there seemed to be no hope. This sets the scene for the announcement of ‘good news’. Isaiah proclaims as follows in chapter 40 and 52:

Get yourself up on a high mountain,
O Zion, bearer of good news,
Lift up your voice mightily,
O Jerusalem, bearer of good news;
Lift it up, do not fear.
Say to the cities of Judah,
“Here is your God!” (40.9)

How lovely on the mountains
Are the feet of him who brings good news,
Who announces [b]peace
And brings good news of [c]happiness,
Who announces salvation,
And says to Zion, “Your God [d]reigns!” (52.7)

These scriptures speak of God returning to Zion and returning his people from exile. The good news is to be announced, declaring ‘here is your God’, ‘your God reigns’. God is creation affirming, he is coming to restore his earth by becoming King, by reigning on earth as he does in heaven.

N T Wright states, ‘When their [Israel’s] god, YHWH, acted within history to deliver his people, the spurious gods of the heathen would be defeated. If and when YHWH set up his own king as the true ruler, his true earthly representative, all other kingdoms would be confronted with their rightful overlord.’

The hope of the gospel had been proclaimed through Isaiah, that God would send his messenger to declare God King of all by bringing forth justice.

So is this the same gospel we see proclaimed in the New Testament?

The good news is announced in and through the Messiah to Israel as he gathers disciples unto himself. Jesus presents throughout his life the Kingdom of God through word and deed as he heals the sick and raises the dead, affirming God’s creation and restoring God’s people unto himself. As the climax of Christ’s death and resurrection unfolded, many of his follower’s hopes would have dwindled. Their longing for restoration, vindication, freedom from exile, oppression, and purging of evil had been dashed as they saw their beloved teacher and hopeful Messiah overcome, yet again, by the imperial pagan powers they longed to be freed from. But, the story did not end there.

This Messiah who looked in certain defeat, gloriously and authentically rose from the powers of death. The King could not be overcome by evil, rather the declaration that ‘God reigns’ was confirmed eternally. ‘God is King of this world you belong to, and as you follow this announcement your belief and confession grants you to become part of the King’s redeeming, earth affirming, and creation dwelling family.’ The gospel spoken by Isaiah of peace, happiness and salvation becomes very real as God continues to redeem his creation through his reign. The world that is in turmoil, conflict and chaos is reordered through the death and resurrection of the Messiah.

The gospel therefore is continuous throughout all scripture, New and Old. The good news is declared all the way through the Old Testament and points to the climactic appearance of the Messiah, who will one day return with an even fuller climax to establish his Kingdom, renew his creation and grant his sons and daughter’s peace, happiness and salvation from this present evil age.

Sources:

http://ntwrightpage.com/Wright_Gospel_Theology_Galatians.pdf