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.
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Substitutionary atonement is for real and for certain. There can be no doubting of this blessed Truth. Moses is a type of Christ willingly dying for the sins of the people. Jesus' death, burial and resurrection are a glorious fact of scripture. God ordained it, accepted it, and applied it to all who confess Jesus as Savior.
My take on these verses is that Moses, even at that time, knew that there is a "book of life", a book where our names are written and can be blotted out. This fact that there is a book of life, is confirmed in Rev 3:5; 22:19, that even if one's name is written in this book, God can take it out, meaning that He is the ultimate judge. Being written in the book is reversible. This fact gives us pause to the teaching "once saved, always saved". This then brings me to re-evaluate what actually Christ's death means? As by one man's (Adam's) sin is counted by God as sin of all mankind, so that by one man's (Christ's) death is imputed to all, this imputation's goal is "to reconcile" us to the Father, according to Paul 2 Cor. 5:18; Col 1:20. So, from being a sinner that deserves death, we are now placed in a position BEFORE Adam sinned in the garden of Eden, i.e. perfect, clean and sinless. As in the garden of Eden, we are asked to choose between the "fruit of life or the fruit of death". With the Spirit that can only be sent after the resurrection of Christ (John 16:7) we are now empowered to do "his will". Remember, "Not my will, but your will." That can only be feasible with that spirit-power given by God through this Spirit. In summary, Christ died for our past sins and repositioned or reconciled us to God, making us as pristine as Adam in Genesis BEFORE he sinned. Jesus' death is for past,not for future sin, as we can still sin. That is why, Jesus, post-resurrection, is our High Priest that we have to pray, confess and be forgiven of sins that we may commit in the future. His Spirit empowered us to choose the right way of "life" as we are being sanctified and " purified continually" into "His body". This then keeps us in His "book of life". Through Him, by His Spirit of power and guidance, we will stay in the "book of life". As it is written, "We are saved by His life, not by his death," Rom. 5:10. His resurrection got us the Spirit to be sent. We should all therefore continue to follow his will.
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