We often (correctly) say that NT saints are saved through their faith in what the Messiah did and OT saints were saved through their faith in what the Messiah would do. I’m wondering when the Old Testament saints were responsible to put their faith in the Messiah save them specifically by dying on their behalf, taking God’s just wrath against them on himself.
In reverse chronological order, here are some major OT passages that point towards Jesus taking our punishment so we could be shown mercy:
Isaiah’s Suffering Servant
There can be no doubt that Israel was responsible to understand that the Messiah would die a substitutionary death by the time of Isaiah:
But he was wounded for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his stripes we are healed…
Yet it was the will of the Lord to crush him; he has put him to grief; when his soul makes an offering for guilt, he shall see his offspring; he shall prolong his days; the will of the Lord shall prosper in his hand.
There is no mistaking Isaiah’s prophecy of the “Suffering Servant.” The Messiah would suffer for the guilt of his people.
The Levitical Sacrifices
The sacrifices recorded in Leviticus are primarily about payment for sin:
Then he shall kill the goat of the sin offering that is for the people and bring its blood inside the veil and do with its blood as he did with the blood of the bull, sprinkling it over the mercy seat and in front of the mercy seat. Thus he shall make atonement for the Holy Place, because of the uncleannesses of the people of Israel and because of their transgressions, all their sins. And so he shall do for the tent of meeting, which dwells with them in the midst of their uncleannesses.
My only reservation here is that I don’t find textual clues that would make Israel believe the Messiah would one day become the guilt offering on their behalf.
The Promise in the Curse
The very first redemptive prophecy of the Bible holds a reference to Christ’s sufferings:
I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.
My question on this passage is whether or not the original audience would have understood “bruise his heel” as substitutionary.
My Questions to You
1. Have I correctly interpreted these passages in respect to penal substitution?
2. What other OT passages point to the penal substitution provided by the Messiah?
3. When was Israel responsible for placing faith in the penal substitute to come?
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