BEFORE we go any further with our studies and approach the Books of the Kings, it may be best to sum up one or two of the ideas that we have so far established as being of the essence of Old Testament teaching. The Bible is the record of a Revelation : the Revelation is Jesus Christ : and the works by which a man is to attain to salvation spring directly from the faith in the Mediation of the Sacred Humanity. " The :Kingdom of Heaven is faith that worketh by Our Lord told us that the Old Testament Scriptures " testified concerning Himself." That is their whole purport. From that root they are derived; round that staple all is woven. Our first impression of the Old Testament is that it is a confused and heterogeneous work. Our last conviction, if we are helped by God's mercy to read the Book aright, is that it has a unity of design and a vital principle, denied to any other writing. The reason why we are so long in reaching this simple truth is that our minds do not grasp the meaning of the " true Religion." That is where the Old Testament is such a challenging and authoritative voice. The teaching of the Old Testament is not "Be good and ou will go to Heaven " or " It does not matter what a man professes provided he is living a good life." There was a time when Protestant theology falsely taught that Faith sufficed without Works. Our danger to-day is to think that Works suffice without Faith. This idea is so engrained in the mind of many an Englishman that it must beihard indeed for him to grasp a religion that sets so much store by external objects of devotion and God-given rules. But that was how the people of Israel were brought up; that was how they knew they were the Chosen People. They were not allowed to drift into the spirit of Cain, to forget about the Seed of the Woman, to make the best of life as they found it. No, there was a Covenant, and a Faith ; not, of course, the full Revelation that we enjoy, but the same faith in embryo. The true worshipper in the Old Testament, say, about the time of the Exodus, had three articles of Faith : 1. Faith in the one Mediation of the Seed of the Woman. (And this meant faith in ONE GOD.) 2. Faith that the Seed was to spring from a single family. 3. Faith that they would reach the land of Canaan and their inheritance would work a blessing for all the world.
Take a single instance of this objective faith that was the note of their religion. Genesis ends with these words : (Joseph at his death) " was embalmed and put in a coffin in Egypt."
What has that get to do with the true Religion? This : they had received a commandment that when they went up to possess Canaan, they were to carry his body with them and bury it there. The one thing connoted, prophesied the other. Hence a reverent care for the coffin of Joseph was a supreme expression of their religious faith. So Old Testament religion is not., as you see, " a living up to one's own lights " or " being a decent sort of fellow " but a very pointeu insistence on certain typical acts and rites. Thus came the strict obedience in the matter of Circumcision. Thus came in time the significance of the Tabernacle and the Temple Service; it was a religious centre, a bond of unity.
Such was the religion of old; and such is ours to-day. Faith and works; the works springing from the faith.
Why has the world at large lost sight of this principle ? Because they do not believe in the fact of Atevelation; that God has spoken ; that the Bible is an inspired Book or Record; that the One Church holds from God the one commission to teach, to absolve from sin and to offer the One acceptable Sacrifice.