I’ve heard people say several different things regarding the timing of our salvation. Some people say we are already saved and some say we won’t be saved until some point in the future. They also define salvation in various ways. I decided it would be interesting to study the theme of salvation from Genesis to Revelation to see if there was continuity in its definition or not; as well as to see its timing, and anything else YHVH would reveal to me. This post is the first of four parts on the subject of “Salvation from Genesis to Revelation.” Here we will look at the progression of salvation from Genesis through the gospels.
We need to begin by defining our terms. The Hebrew noun yesha means deliverance, salvation, rescue, and safety. The Greek equivalent is soteria. This word can be applied several ways. Physically, it is rescue from danger; spiritually, it refers to the safety of the soul; and messianically, it is the deliverance at the end of the present age.
The Hebrew verb yasha exists in two binyanim. The niphal is passive; it means to be saved or be delivered. The hiphil is active and means to save, deliver, or give victory to. The Greek verb sozo means to save, preserve from harm, rescue, or deliver. This Greek verb is used extensively in the Apostolic Scriptures for the healing of diseases but I did not include those references in my study.
As I perused the Scriptures for the theme of salvation, I came upon a concentric structure in Isaiah 51:6-8:
6 Lift up your eyes to the heavens, And look on the earth beneath. For the heavens will vanish away like smoke, The earth will grow old like a garment, And those who dwell in it will die in like manner; But My salvation will be forever, And My righteousness will not be abolished.
7 “Listen to Me, you who know righteousness, You people in whose heart is My law: Do not fear the reproach of men, Nor be afraid of their insults.
8 For the moth will eat them up like a garment, And the worm will eat them like wool; But My righteousness will be forever, And My salvation from generation to generation.”
Note the concentric structure: The theme of YHVH’s long-lasting righteousness and salvation SURROUNDS the central focus of His people who have the law in their hearts.
The fact that YHVH’s salvation will be le-olam, or generation to generation shows that it will always be necessary.
The reason people will need to be saved is because prior to the 7th day, there will always be people who will not obey YHVH’s law. These people will bring the curses of the law down on everyone including themselves. The reason I’m emphasizing the need for salvation is because I’ve actually heard people say salvation is no longer necessary.
Please don’t let anyone tell you salvation is obsolete or not necessary. They obviously don’t know the Scriptures very well.
Now let’s see what else we can glean from the Bible about SALVATION…
For now, let’s start with Noah. Noah and his family were saved from the flood that destroyed the earth because of his:
- Faith/trust in YHVH,
- Righteousness and obedience.
Hebrews 11:7 tells us: “By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.”
It is curious to note that the same water that YHVH used to destroy the wicked is the same water YHVH used to keep the ark afloat. Perhaps this foreshadows the idea of being washed by the water of the word or the water of regeneration…just a thought.
Sometime after Noah, we see the theme of salvation in a major way in the life of Joseph.
In Genesis 45:7, Joseph said: “And God sent me [Joseph] before you to preserve (la-soom) a posterity for you in the earth, and to save (ul-hachayot) your lives by a great deliverance (li-peleytah).”
This verse does not use the same words we covered previously but the theme is certainly the same.
- soom- to preserve (and a great number of other applications)
- chaya – to preserve, save alive, restore to life (also has a great number of other applications)
- peleytah – deliverance, escape
Joseph accomplished a great deliverance by ordering the collection and storing of grain; and by distributing it during a famine that affected the known world including his family.
Later, salvation was evident in the book of Exodus. During the Passover, God’s people were saved/delivered from the slavery and oppression they experienced in Egypt by God’s judgments. If that wasn’t awesome enough, the drowning of the Egyptians in the Red Sea was even far more spectacular. The miracles didn’t stop there; they just kept coming.
While the mixed multitude wandered in the wilderness, the pillar of cloud and pillar of fire protected them from their enemies. This protection was actually part of an on-going salvation process.
Elohim (God) was known as the Rock of Salvation who provided for his people in the wilderness. He gave them water, meat, and bread even when they complained and spoke against Him. Elohim did this to preserve for Himself a people who would live in covenant with Him.
Despite all of this, the mixed multitude did not appreciate what God was doing for them.
Deuteronomy 32:15 indicates they scornfully esteemed the Rock of their salvation.
There’s a lesson for us here:
- We should make sure that we don’t scornfully esteem the Rock of our salvation!
How do we do that? I think the answer is found in Psalm 78:21-22. These verses indicate that YHVH was angry with His people in the wilderness because they did not:
- BELIEVE in Him and
- TRUST in His salvation
In other words, we esteem the Rock of our Salvation my demonstrating both belief in God and trust in His salvation!
There are a few other things I want to emphasize from the Exodus and wilderness wanderings that are mentioned in Jude 1:5: “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved (σώσας) the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe.”
This verse reminds us:
- That the whole multitude experienced salvation;
- But that later, those who did not believe were destroyed.
We need to make sure that we aren’t destroyed for lack of belief.
AFTER YHVH delivered His people from Egypt and gave them manna and water in the wilderness, the mixed multitude ENTERED into a covenant with YHVH.
Side Note: According to Exodus 19:5-6, YHVH intended for them to be a special treasure to Him above all people; and a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
At Mt. Sinai, God gave his people the Levitical sacrificial system as a means to:
- Be forgiven of sins and transgressions;
- Have guilt removed;
- Have the sins of the people carried away on the Day of Atonements;
- Be blameless
Currently, the Levitical sacrificial system is temporarily on hold. For now, we need to understand that the death of Yeshua accomplishes the same things as the Levitical system.
Colossians 1:21-23: “And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled 22 in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight — 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
The word “reconciled” implies that sin and guilt have been dealt with so that the relationship with God and man can continue as long as we continue in the faith.
Let’s go back to Moses’ time. Deuteronomy 4:37-38 teaches us a few important concepts that we tend to overlook. Moses was talking with the people just before his death when he said:
- “And because He [YHVH] loved your fathers, therefore He chose their descendants after them; and He brought you out of Egypt with His Presence, with His mighty power, 38 driving out from before you nations greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day.”
The Israelites experienced salvation/deliverance because YHVH loved their fathers and chose their descendants to be His people. What I’m trying to emphasize is that God’s love didn’t begin in John 3:16-17. God’s love has played a role in the Father’s plan of salvation for a long time. Also, I want to emphasize that YHVH delivered their families from Egypt BEFORE they ever entered into a covenant with Him. This covenant was for all of their descendants. Since that time, these descendants understood that they were born into the covenant; but somehow they missed the concept that whether or not they remained in the covenant was up to them.
Clearly, not everyone remained in the covenant. This is evident in Luke 19:9-10 where Yeshua said to Zacchaeus….
- “Today salvation (sotaria) has come to this house, because he also is a son of Abraham; 10 for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.”
You see, being lost didn’t have anything to do with a person’s physical location. Many of the descendants of Israel were lost because they were not abiding by the covenant. Yeshua came to seek out lost people like Zacchaeus and bring them back to the covenant. Before we move on, let’s take a minute and focus on this other phrase – son of Abraham. Who is a son of Abraham if it’s not those directly descended from him? The answer is found in Galatians 3:7:
- “Therefore know that only those who are of faith (emunah) are sons of Abraham.”
A son of Abraham is one who is in the covenant because he:
- and is faithful.
This is the kind of person that Yahweh wanted the mixed multitude to be during Moses’ time.
Let’s go back to Moses again. Recall what Moses told the people before they entered the Promised Land:
- Deuteronomy 4:40 “You shall therefore keep His (YHVH’s) statutes and His commandments which I command you today, that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”
Moses told them this same concept several times in slightly different ways.
Moses starts to get a little more specific in Deuteronomy 11:26-28.
- “Behold, I set before you today a blessing and a curse: 27 “the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you today; 28 “and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you today, to go after other gods which you have not known.”
There were lots of specific blessings and curses. I will eventually focus on only a couple of curses and one blessing. For now, I’m trying to lay the foundation of what else is to come.
After the death of Moses, the 2nd generation finally began to take over the Promised Land under Joshua’s leadership. Joshua sent 2 spies to view the land, especially Jericho. Once there, they met a woman named Rahab; she hid them and sent them out another way. Before sending them off, she declared, “YHVH your God, He is God in heaven above and on earth beneath,” and she begged to be spared. The spies made a deal with Rahab that would secure her deliverance and that of her family. Rahab bound a scarlet cord in the window to mark her home as the one to be PASSED OVER instead of destroyed. Because of her faith and works, she was justified. When it came time for the destruction of Jericho, Rahab and those with her were saved. We’re going to come back to Rahab in a later post but for now I want us to continue to see how the theme of salvation progresses in the Scriptures.
The 2nd generation that left Egypt entered the Promised Land; but they didn’t completely drive out the inhabitants as they took over and got settled in the land. At least they remembered who brought them through the wilderness, and at least to some degree, they knew who was helping them take over the land. That wasn’t the case with the next generation.
- Judges 2:10 “When all that generation (2nd) had been gathered to their fathers, another generation (3rd) arose after them who did not know the LORD nor the work which He had done for Israel.”
The word “know” means they did not know Him by experience; they were not personally acquainted with YHVH or His works. At this point, trouble began.
OK, now it’s time for me remind you of one of the blessings and curses. Here’s the blessing:
- Deuteronomy 28:7 “The Lord will cause your enemies who rise against you to be defeated before your face; they shall come out against you one way and flee before you seven ways.”
In other words, YHVH was going to save them from their enemies.
Here’s the curse:
- Deuteronomy 28:25 “The Lord will cause you to be defeated before your enemies; you shall go out one way against them and flee seven ways before them; and you shall become troublesome to all the kingdoms of the earth.”
If they disobeyed, YHVH would no longer save them from their enemies. This 3rd generation obviously did not have these blessings and the curses drilled into their heads. Well, maybe they did, and they just chose to ignore it.
Later, we see the results of disobedience over and over in the book of Judges – Its often called the cycle of sin.
- Whenever God’s people forgot YHVH, they did evil in His sight by committing idolatry.
- Eventually, they experienced various curses of the law.
- When they remembered YHVH, they cried out to God.
- Eventually, He sent them a deliverer (an agent of salvation) – these deliverers were judges who physically saved them from their enemies.
This is what we typically think of when we think of salvation. We see it as a physical salvation or deliverance. What we must understand is that physical salvation is tied directly to obedience to YHVH which is both a physical and spiritual activity; therefore salvation is not just physical, it is also spiritual. In fact, both physical and spiritual salvation requires belief and trust.
After the time of the judges, Israel was finally ruled by kings. I think most of us are familiar with Saul, David, and Solomon. During the period of the united kingdom, Israel experienced blessing and victory over its enemies who were primarily the Philistines. If the 2nd generation had conquered the land the way YHVH had commanded them to, the nations who remained might not have been as much of a problem over the years. God used initially used King Saul and his army as his instrument of salvation against Israel’s enemies. BUT, Saul didn’t always trust God. Instead of fighting Goliath himself, Saul showed a lack of belief or trust in YHVH to deliver him. David was different; he was full of belief and trust that YHVH would deliver him just as he had been delivered from the lion and the bear.
After Saul’s death, Ishbosheth was made king over Israel except for Judah (2 Samuel 2:8-10). David was initially anointed king only over Judah (2 Samuel 2:4). During this time, the house of Saul had war with the house of David until the murder of Ishbosheth. Afterward, David became king over all of Israel. Once David was anointed king, he continued to save Israel from its enemies as he’d already been doing.
Many years later, David had to deal with enemies in his own household. First, there was a group of people who anointed David’s son, Absalom over themselves. Eventually Absalom died in battle. (2 Samuel 19:10). Later, Adonijah, another son of David had the audacity to say he would be king. Finally, with a bit of help from Nathan and Bathsheba, David commanded that Solomon be anointed the next king (1 Kings 1:39, 43). According to 1 Kings 4:21, 24: Solomon reigned over all kingdoms from the River to the land of the Philistines, as far as the border of Egypt. They brought tribute and served Solomon all the days of his life…and he had peace all around him.
After Solomon’s death, YHVH caused the kingdom to split in two. Jeroboam was the first king of the northern kingdom (Israel, Ephraim). Previously, he had been Solomon’s servant. The last king of the northern kingdom was Hoshea. The northern kingdom was carried away to Assyria in 722 BCE. Rehoboam , Solomon’s son was the first king of the southern kingdom (Judah) and Zedekiah (Mattaniah) was the last king of the southern kingdom. The southern kingdom was carried away to Babylon in 539 BCE.
You see, after years of idolatry, Israel began to experience another major curse of the law that is mentioned in Deuteronomy 28:36. It says, “The LORD will bring you and the king whom you set over you to a nation which neither you nor your fathers have known, and there you shall serve other gods– wood and stone.” Israel was carried to Assyria, and later Judah was eventually carried away to Babylon because they did not keep YHVH’s covenant.
The prophecies of Daniel show us the consequences of not keeping YHVH’s covenant. The kingdom of Judah was in Babylon which eventually fell to Medo-Persia. Eventually, the Persian king Cyrus let people return to Jerusalem, but they were still part of the Medo-Persian empire.
As Daniel’s prophesied, the Israelites would continue to be under the rule of other empires and their leaders. Alexander the Great conquered Israel around 333/331 BCE. His empire was divided amongst his 4 generals after his death. The Jews were held under suzerainty by the Ptolemies and Seleucids from 320-168 BCE. During this time, the culture and institutions of the Jews were protected until Antiochus Epiphanes IV reversed that.
Antiochus was the 8th ruler of the Hellenistic Greek Seleucid dynasty (175 BCE). The word Epiphanes means visible god/God Manifest. His persecutions and changes to the law led to the Maccabean revolt (166-160 BCE). Even though Judah previously had not completely kept YHVH’s covenant, YHVH did not completely forsake them. He raised up the Maccabees to be His agents of salvation in that time period. I think he did that because the Maccabees and others were zealous for the law.
After Antiochus, the Jews were autonomous under the Hasmoneans 142-129 BCE. In 63 BCE, Rome annexed Israel under Pompey. At that time, many were waiting for the Messiah and hoping he would save them. During the time of the Roman Empire, Yeshua was born.
Let me remind you that in Matthew 24:15-16, Yeshua said: “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), 16 “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains.” This means there is someone like Antiochus Epiphanes IV who is still to come. People will be crying out for salvation during that time just like they have down through the millennia.
Let’s take a closer look at the time around Yeshua’s birth. After the birth of John the Baptist, Zacharias prophesied that YHVH had raised up a horn of salvation for the Jews in the house of David as prophesied by the prophets (Luke 1:69). According to Luke 1:71-75, this horn of salvation was raised up so…”That we should be saved (sotarian; fs noun) from our enemies And from the hand of all who hate us, 72 To perform the mercy promised to our fathers And to remember His holy covenant, 73 The oath which He swore to our father Abraham: 74 To grant us that we, Being delivered (rusthentas; aorist passive participle) from the hand of our enemies, Might serve Him without fear,75 In holiness and righteousness before Him all the days of our life.”
The people were expecting physical deliverance from Rome but that’s not what happened. This is a common problem with interpreting prophecies; we just don’t always know the exact timing in which every aspect of prophecies will be fulfilled. I believe we can expect this to be fulfilled in the future and we will discuss that later.
Since this prophecy has not yet been fulfilled, is there a prophecy that was fullfilled? I believe the answer is yes. In Matthew 1:21, an angel of YHVH clarified Yeshua’s purpose in the first century to Joseph by saying: “And she (Mary) will bring forth a Son, and you (Joseph) shall call His name JESUS [YESHUA; he will save], for He will save (sosei) His people from their sins.” This was the purpose of Yeshua in the first century CE.
On one occasion, after Yeshua had become an adult, He cried out to whoever was around him: “And if anyone hears My words and does not believe, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save (soso) the world” (John 12:47).
In other words, Yeshua wanted His listeners to know he was their Agent of Salvation. Understand this: The world contains lost people. Matthew 18:11 tells us, “For the Son of Man has come to save that which was lost.”
The lost were/are those who are living a lifestyle of disobedience to the law. How did he intend to save them? Yeshua was finding those who had left the blessings of the law and who were likely suffering the consequences of it. He wanted them to escape the ultimate curse of the law. Yeshua saved people by calling them to repentance; He was calling them to return to the law. When individuals repent of their sinful ways, they can be saved from the influence of a wicked world and from their sins so they can live righteously. When enough people repent, the nation can be saved from the curses of the law.
Yeshua was leading them to do what’s outlined in 2 Chronicles 7:13-14:
- “When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people,” (When I bring curses instead of blessing on My people)
- “if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” (bring blessing instead of cursing)
Yeshua desires not just individual, but also corporate repentance so that all Israel will be saved, delivered, or rescued from the curses of the law we’ve already mentioned.
This is the end of part 1. Be sure to come back in the future to read Salvation from Genesis to Revelation Parts 2-4.