For those who may be wondering at the title—NO— this does not refer to a long lost book from a Dan Brown novel! Even if the fullest manifestation of the Gospel came in Christ we see marvellous foreshadowing’s of the Gospel in the Old Testament. We should expect this as not only predictive of Christ’s coming but also reflective of God’s character and mission, for He reigns over both Testaments and changes not.
When the Passover was celebrated (itself emblematic of Christ) Hezekiah sent “couriers” to the tribes of Israel that had recently been decimated by the Assyrian invasion. While the leaders, craftsmen, etc, were carried into exile many commoners appear to have remained. Having compassion upon them and desiring that they might be restored to the Lord the couriers message to Israel from King Hezekiah of Judah was this:
“O people of Israel, return to the LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, that he may turn again to the remnant of you who have escaped from the hand of the kings of Assyria. Do not be like your fathers and your brothers, who were faithless to the LORD God of their fathers, so that he made them a desolation, as you see. Do not now be stiff-necked as your fathers were, but yield yourselves to the LORD and come to his sanctuary, which he has consecrated forever, and serve the LORD your God, that his fierce anger may turn away from you. (2 Chronicles 30:6-8 ESV)
The first part of the Gospel is to point out and for people to come to acknowledge the bad news. Israel’s sinfulness and faithlessness as that of a whore [c.f. Hosea 5:4] (horrifically recounted elsewhere in 2 Kings and 2 Chronicles and the Prophets) had brought judgement upon them.
Having clearly identified the problem, however, Hezekiah then turns to point them to the solution:
For if you return to the LORD, your brothers and your children will find compassion with their captors and return to this land. For the LORD your God is gracious and merciful and will not turn away his face from you, if you return to him.” (2 Chronicles 30:9 ESV)
IF— the condition of the Gospel. The avenue, the means of salvation is accepting the invitation and remedy for the bad news. For the Israelites it was returning to worship the true God, offering sacrifices for sin and humbly obeying His commands. Today it is no different, we are called to acknowledge the Lord, the one true God, turn to Christ for the forgiveness of sins and live under His life giving promises.
But in Israel’s case we see the sad reality, that not all to whom the Gospel is published will repent and believe, some will, some will not:
So the couriers went from city to city through the country of Ephraim and Manasseh, and as far as Zebulun, but they laughed them to scorn and mocked them. However, some men of Asher, of Manasseh, and of Zebulun humbled themselves and came to Jerusalem. (2 Chronicles 30:10-11 ESV)
When we preach the Gospel we need to be ready to be laughed at, scorned and mocked, all the while “not being ashamed of the Gospel, for it is the power of God to salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16). Such push back also reminds us of the hardness of people’s hearts and that it is only by the Spirit that men can be lead to believe (Jn 6:44). However, we should take heart to persevere in our promotion of the Gospel:
Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory. (2 Tim 2:10)
Paul’s encouragement to Timothy was that because the elect of God are out there, we labour in preaching the Gospel trusting that the Lord will use us as the means to reach them.
Thanks be to God for the Gospel!