Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Gospeling in the Old Testament

What does gospeling — the preaching of the gospel — look like in the Old Testament? The Greek word for “gospel” is euaggelion (Strong’s Greek #2098) which means “good news.” Associated with it is the word euaggelizo (Strong’s Greek #2097), from which we get the word “evangelize,” which means to “announce good news.” I call it “gospeling.” In the Septuagint, (or LXX , the ancient Greek translation of the Old Testament) we find the word euaggelizo a number of times.
  • It is used to announce the defeat of an enemy (1 Samuel 31:9; 2 Samuel 4:10; 2 Samuel 18:19-31).
  • It is used to announce the anointing of a new king: “Then Zadok the priest took a horn of oil from the tabernacle and anointed Solomon. And they blew the horn, and all the people said, ‘Long live King Solomon!’ And all the people went up after him; and the people played the flutes and rejoiced with great joy, so that the earth seemed to split with their sound. Now Adonijah and all the guests who were with him heard it as they finished eating. And when Joab heard the sound of the horn, he said, ‘Why is the city in such a noisy uproar?’ While he was still speaking, there came Jonathan, the son of Abiathar the priest. And Adonijah said to him, ‘Come in, for you are a prominent man, and bring good news.’ Then Jonathan answered and said to Adonijah, ‘No! Our lord King David has made Solomon king’” (1 Kings 1:39-43).
  • It is used to proclaim God’s righteousness, His faithful acts in delivering His people: “I have told the glad news of deliverance in the great congregation; behold, I have not restrained my lips, as you know, O LORD. I have not hidden your deliverance within my heart; I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation; I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness from the great congregation” (Psalm 40:9-10 ESV).
  • It is used to proclaim a great victory. In Psalm 68, which extols the victory of Yahweh over the enemies of His people, we read, “The LORD gave the word; great was the company of those who proclaimed it” (v. 11).
  • In Psalm 96, it is used to speak of God’s saving acts for His people and to declare His glory to the nations: “Sing to the LORD, bless His name; proclaim the good news of His salvation from day to day. Declare His glory among the nations, His wonders among all peoples” (Psalm 96:2-3; see Exploring the Gospel ~ Psalm 96).
  • Isaiah 40, a Messianic passage, speaks of the coming of the LORD to shepherd His people and rule over their enemies: “O Zion, you who bring good tidings, get up into the high mountain; O Jerusalem, you who bring good tidings, lift up your voice with strength, lift it up, be not afraid; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’” (v. 9).
  • In Isaiah 52, another Messianic passage, it is used to announce the peace (shalom, wholeness) and salvation that comes from God, and to proclaim His reign: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns!’” (v. 7).
  • In Isaiah 60, still in Messianic mode, it is used of all the nations coming to proclaim the praises of Yahweh. “A multitude of camels will cover you, the young camels of Midian and Ephah; all those from Sheba will come; they will bring gold and frankincense, and will bear good news of the praises of the LORD” (v. 6 NASB).
  • In Isaiah 61, is it used in regard to the anointing of the Messiah (“Anointed One”). “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, because the LORD has anointed Me to preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound. To proclaim the acceptable year of the LORD.” The whole chapter speaks of God’s Anointed King coming to set everything right in the world. It is this entire passage that Jesus indicated when He quoted the first verses and then declared, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing” (Luke 4:17-21).
  • In Jeremiah 20:12, euaggelizo is used to announce the birth of a child.
  • In Joel 2:32, it relates back to the promise in Isaiah 40:9, about good news coming out of Zion and Jerusalem. “And it shall come to pass that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved: for in mount Sion and in Jerusalem shall the saved one be as the Lord has said, and they that have glad tidings preached to them, whom the Lord has called” (Brenton’s English Septuagint).
  • In Nahum 1:15, it speaks of the deliverance of God’s people from their enemies. “Behold, on the mountains the feet of him who brings good tidings, who proclaims peace! O Judah, keep your appointed feasts, perform your vows. For the wicked one shall no more pass through you; he is utterly cut off.” (A similar word, apaggelizo, is here translated “proclaims.”)
The use of euaggelizo in the Septuagint is significant because the Septuagint was the Bible for the early Church. Also, the New Testament writers, whenever they quote from the Old Testament, most often do so by way of the Septuagint. So the early Church was conversant with what euaggelizo and euaggelion conveyed.

The gospeling we find in the New Testament fits very well with the gospeling we find in the Old Testament. All its categories find their ultimate fulfillment in Jesus the Messiah. He is the One whose birth was announced when angels brought “good tidings” (euaggelizo) to the shepherds in the field (Luke 2:10-11). He is the King whose kingdom the gospel proclaims (e.g., Mark 1:14-15). He is God’s Anointed King who fulfills the gospel in Isaiah 61. He is the Good Shepherd who gives His people peace (John 10:11, John 14:27). He has destroyed the works of the devil (1 John 3:18) and disarmed the “principalities and powers” (Colossians 2:15). Not only has He won the victory over the enemy, but through Him we also are “more than conquerors” (Romans 8:37).

Like the old Gospel song said, “Ain’t that good news!”

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