A good question that I’ve been asked in the past is where did the Old Testament Saints go when they died since Jesus Christ had not come yet. Hebrews 11 talks about those who walked by faith and trusted God’s promises for a better day when Christ would come. By their faith, “people of old received their commendation” (Heb. 11:2). Many names are identified such as Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah (to name a few). Scripture says that they “all died in faith, not having received the things promised, but having seen them and greeted them from afar, and having acknowledged that they were strangers and exiles on the earth” (Heb. 11:13). We are told, “they desired a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Heb. 11:16). They looked forward to the day that they would dwell with God and they trusted God’s provision for that day. It was only by their faith in the promises of God that they would see Him again one day.
One example of walking by faith and looking for a better day would be Abraham. We are told that when God tested Abraham, he acted in obedience by offering his son Isaac as a sacrifice unto the Lord. Although Isaac was spared, Abraham followed through by trusting in the character and promises of God. All of those identified in Hebrews 11 are examples of those who placed their faith in God and God commended them for their faith in Him. Throughout Scripture there is a progressive revelation of the person of Jesus Christ and what He would accomplish. The closer to His arrival the more God’s people understood about the plan of salvation.
So what happened to those who walked by faith in God who passed away before Christ came? It would appear that the Old Testament believers, when they died, went to a place called “Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:19-30). It was a place of comfort and rest prior to the resurrection of Jesus Christ. At that point in time they were united with Jesus Christ in Heaven (Eph. 4:8-10). The Bible teaches that believers who die today go immediately to heaven and live in the presence of the Lord (Phil. 1:21-24; 2 Cor. 5:1). Believers today are saved in the same manner as believers of old~~they place their faith and belief in God alone for their salvation, they repent of their sins, and they follow Him.
We can plan on seeing and enjoying common fellowship with the Saints of old some day!