The Gospel Preached Under the Old Testament
Hebrews 4:1-2
Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.…


1. They had the same gospel blessings and mercies that we have. That God would be their God. This includes —

(1) Regeneration, or the new heart, the heart of flesh, the writing of God's law in the heart (Jeremiah 31:33; Deuteronomy 30:6; Ezekiel 36:25-27).

(2) Reconciliation and remission of sins (Isaiah 1:18; Jeremiah 31:34; Leviticus 5:6, 10).

(3) Everlasting life and salvation in heaven (Psalm 17:15; Psalm 73:24; Psalm 16:11).

2. They had these blessings upon the same account, and in the same way, as we have them now. We receive all from the mere mercy and free grace of God in Christ; and so did they (Psalm 51:1; Daniel 9:8, 9, 18, 19).

II. A second argument might be taken from an historical induction of all those former times, and the several gospel discoveries which the Lord vouchsafed to them all along from time to time.

III. Either the gospel was preached unto them of old, or else it will follow that they were all condemned, or else that they were saved without Christ; which to imagine were infinitely dishonourable to the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12; Romans 3:20; Galatians 2:16; Hebrews 13:8). Objections:

1. Why do we call it the Old Testament, if it was gospel? This is only in regard of the manner of dispensation.

2. That the apostle often speaks of it as "that ancient dispensation," as if it was law and not gospel. We must distinguish between the thing preached, and the manner of preaching, between the shell and the kernel, the shadow and the substance. The thing preached was the gospel, though the manner of preaching it was legal.

(1)  It was dark, but the gospel is clear.

(2)  It was weak, but the gospel is powerful.

(3)  There was much of external splendour, but little of that power and spirituality that is in gospel worship.

(4)  It was a burdensome dispensation.

(5)  The manner of administration was legal, in regard of the bondage and tenor of it. Uses:

1. Encouragement to study the Old Testament, and the types and shadows of the Law.

2. Direction how to attain to the understanding of those mysteries. Study the gospel.

3. There is no part of the Scripture but is of use. We might see much of God and of the gospel in the chapters of the Levitical law, if we had the skill to search out the meaning and mystery of them.

4. Encouragement to believe and receive the gospel.

(S. Mather.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: Let us therefore fear, lest, a promise being left us of entering into his rest, any of you should seem to come short of it.

WEB: Let us fear therefore, lest perhaps anyone of you should seem to have come short of a promise of entering into his rest.

The Gospel of Rest
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