Q. What was the criteria for Old Covenant saints to go to Abraham’s bosom? Was it based on their behavior or on faith of the Messiah to come? For instance Lazarus and the rich man; it seems unlikely to me that Lazarus in his state was able to keep all the rituals of the law. However, the rich man very well could have ritually been following the law, but his heart was corrupt. When I look at David, he obviously had a revelation of God’s Grace that leaves me amazed as I am slowly grabbing hold of Grace. Were they only accountable to be obedient for what they understood?
A. In the time before the cross, spirits of the faithful who died could not be admitted directly into Heaven like they are today. This is because the Lord had not yet died for their sins and the blood of sacrificial animals was not sufficient to perfect them (Hebrews 10:1-4). It could only set the penalty for their sins aside until the Lord came to be their perfect sacrifice. Instead they went to paradise, also called Abraham’s bosom, to await Him.
There were two qualifications that had to be met for admittance into paradise. First and foremost they had to have died in faith that God would send His Redeemer to atone for their sins, and second they had to have demonstrated this faith by keeping God’s Commandments during their life. Both were necessary. Without their faith in the coming Redeemer, obedience to the Law was insufficient to save them (Psalm 51:16-17).
According to Rev. 14:12 these same qualifiers will apply during Daniel’s 70th Week after the Church is gone. “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God’s commandments and remain faithful to Jesus.”