B. J. writes,
- Is the following passage from Exodus an example of saving faith? “Then Moses and Aaron went and gathered together all the elders of the children of Israel. And Aaron spoke all the words which the LORD had spoken to Moses. Then he did the signs in the sight of the people. So the people believed; and when they heard that the LORD had visited the children of Israel and that He had looked on their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshiped” (Exod 4:29-31, italics added).
- A follow-up question: When looking online for an answer, I ran across this statement on Bible.org and was wondering if you agree with it: “In the Old Testament, salvation was restricted to Israel and those who by faith joined with Israel.”
Regarding the first question, I see no indication that what Aaron shared had anything to do with the promise of everlasting life. That is not what the Lord was speaking with Moses about. He had been talking with Moses about sending him and Aaron before Pharaoh so that he would let the people of Israel go. That is what the elders of Israel believed. Of course, it is possible that Aaron also shared the promise of everlasting life to all who believe in the coming Messiah. But there is no hint of that in the text.
I am a bit shocked by the statement B. J. quoted in her second question. No, I do not agree with that. Salvation was not restricted to Israel, even from the birth of the nation in the Exodus until the time of Jesus. But if you think about it, there were untold millions born again before Israel was even a nation. Adam and Eve, Enoch, Abraham and Sarah, Lot, and so many others all came to faith and were born again long before Israel.
And during the time from the Exodus to Christ, there was no requirement that a person became a proselyte to be born again. Anyone who believed in the coming Messiah for everlasting life received that life (cf. John 5:39-40).
That suggestion about OT salvation is a bit like the heresy found in Acts 15:1 and in the false gospel of the Judaizers who confronted the churches in Galatia (cf. Gal 1:6-9; 4:21-31; 5:4). People in the early church did not have to be circumcised and keep the law of Moses to be saved. Neither did people during the time before Christ’s incarnation.
How do we discern saving faith in the OT? It is tough, because the OT has no book like John’s Gospel or like Paul’s epistles. We do have Gen 3:15 and Gen 15:6. Occasionally we read something like, “[God] turned [Saul] into another man” (1 Sam 10:5-6). Or that David was a man after God’s own heart. Hebrews 11, of course, tells us about people who were not only born again, but who were overcomers in their experience. But in reading the OT itself, it is hard to know when people came to faith or even who is born again and who is not.
I hope that helps.