What do God's words to Moses about blotting out of his book mean for substitutionary atonement?

In this passage Moses gives a plea for the people that is characteristic of his role as intermediary between God and Israel: he asks God to forgive the Israelites, or else blot out his name from the "book" God has written (presumably the book of life or of the living). In this sense we can perhaps (by contrast?) see a foreshadowing of Christ's redemptive work in suffering and dying to forgive our sin.
That being the case, God's response seems a bit chilling:
"Whoever has sinned against me I will blot out of my book."

Is this God's refusal to consider substitutionary atonement?
I don't think so; to me, it seems to be based on the fact that Moses is not worthy to die for the Israelites' sins, and it seems to point forward to the fact that only Christ's blood can redeem us and blot out our sins.

But I'm not sure if this interpretation is consistent with the text, and/or justified (rather than just reading something in that wasn't meant).

Exodus 32:31 - 34

ESV - 31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, "Alas, this people has sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will forgive their sin - but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.

Clarify Share Report Asked September 23 2013 Mini Sammy Luo

For follow-up discussion and general commentary on the topic. Comments are sorted chronologically.

Be the first to start the discussion!

Login or Sign Up to add your comment.