555 Difficult Bible Questions Answered

335. Was the Atonement an Old Testament Belief?




The expectation of the coming Messiah, who should redeem his people and should suffer for their sakes, is as old as the beginnings of Hebrew nationality. See Isa. 53; Zech. 11:13. The idea of propitiation, reconciliation and expiation was associated with his coming, and although substitution is not mentioned it is implied. In connection with the sacrificial offerings similar terms are sometimes used, but the broader view of vicarious sacrifice, with special reference to the Messianic atonement, is most fully set forth in Isa. 53. The Messianic mission was the salvation of the race (Isa. 11). This expectation was not wholly confined to the Jewish people. The Samaritans held it; the Magi knew of it; even in the days of Melchizedek and Job it was understood by inquiring souls (Job 19:25). The very first recorded Scriptural allusion to it is in Gen. 49:1a See also Isa. 9:1-7; Isa. 40; Micah 5:2. There were periods in Jewish history during which the Messianic predictions and expectations temporarily ceased, but they were never wholly extinguished. It should be admitted, however, that while some of the Jewish Targumistic writings refer to a suffering Messiah, the greater number deal with a powerful and conquering Messiah. Faith in God, belief in his word and a willing obedience were accounted for righteousness in the old dispensation. See Gen. 15:8 and Rom. 4:3-6, 20, 25 and other passages. Incidentally it may be mentioned that Job is supposed to have lived about the time of Isaac, some 1800 B. C, Daniel 600 B. C, Micah 950 B. G, Isaiah 750 B. C, Zechariah, 520 B. C.