What does the Old Testament say about the death of Jesus?

One of the readers of this portal commented on the following article “The origin of the Moon movement”:

The OT prophets do not say that Jesus must die and that this is God’s plan, as you interpret it. God’s plan was for Jesus to be believed and known (John 6: 28-29). But no one believed Him. If He had been known and believed, no one would have crucified Him (1 Cor. 2: 8). Of course, God foresaw that if the Israelites did not believe in Jesus (that was not in His plan, because He had their share of responsibility), then Jesus would have to walk the cross.

In the previous article “The Death of Jesus: God’s Plan or Failure? What Jesus Says About His Death” I showed that the Lord Jesus came to earth for the hour of death and that this was the will and commandment of the Father and was for the good of the disciples. In this article I want to present what the Old Testament says about the death of Jesus. Reading the Old Testament, like an art book, without making a deep analysis of the text, it is difficult to understand which are the prophecies that speak of the Lord Jesus. However, for us, since many prophecies concerning the person of the Lord Jesus have already been fulfilled, it is easier to realize what the prophecies about the Lord Jesus are.

Psalm 22 describes very clearly and in great detail the death of the Lord Jesus. We find such details as:

My God, my God, why have You forsaken me? Far from my help are the words of my groaning. (Psalms 22:1 NASB, identical with Matthew 27:46 and Mark 15:34.)

But I am a worm and not a person, a disgrace of mankind and despised by the people. All who see me deride me; They sneer, they shake their heads, saying,’’ Turn him over to the Lord; let Him save him; Let Him rescue him, because He delights in him.” (Psalms 22:6-8 NASB, identical with Matthew 27:39-43)

For dogs have surrounded me; A band of evildoers has encompassed me; They pierced my hands and my feet. (Psalms 22:16 NASB, Identical to Matthew 27:35, Mark 15:24, Luke 23:33)

They divide my garments among them, and they cast lots for my clothing. (Psalms 22:18 NASB, Identical to Luke 23:34 and John 19: 23-24)

Psalm 22 was written by King David about 1,000 years before the crucifixion of the Lord Jesus. Perhaps someone will reproach me that this does not prove that the death of Jesus was in God’s plan, but is only a prophecy of what was to come. I agree. But there are other texts that show why the Lord Jesus would die, and this proves that the death of the Lord Jesus was part of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind.

Isaiah 53 is an extraordinary text! How much pain and heartache you read the first verses and how much hope and joy the last verses offer you! The first three verses speak of the sufferings of the Lord Jesus, and in verses 4-6 and 8-9 explain why the Lord Jesus had to suffer:

However, it was our sicknesses that He Himself bore,And our pains that He carried;Yet we ourselves assumed that He had been afflicted,Struck down by God, and humiliated. But He was pierced for our offenses, He was crushed for our wrongdoings; The punishment for our well-being was laid upon Him,And by His wounds we are healed. All of us, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; But the Lord has caused the wrongdoing of us all to fall on Him.(Isaiah 53:4-6 NASB)

By oppression and judgment He was taken away;And as for His generation, who considered that He was cut off from the land of the living for the wrongdoing of my people, to whom the blow was due? (It seems that even today few believe this, I mean especially the Moonists.) And His grave was assigned with wicked men,Yet He was with a rich man in His death,Because He had done no violence,Nor was there any deceit in His mouth. (Isaiah 53:8-9 NASB, Identical to Matthew 27:57-60)

Verses 10 to 12 show that through His death, the Lord Jesus gave His life as a sacrifice for sin and put many in a state according to God’s will:

But the Lord desired to crush Him, causing Him grief; If He renders Himself as a guilt offering, He will see His offspring, He will prolong His days, And the good pleasure of the Lord will prosper in His hand.(there will be no need for another Messiah)As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied; By His knowledge the Righteous One, My Servant, will justify the many, For He will bear their wrongdoings. Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great, And He will divide the plunder with the strong, Because He poured out His life unto death,And was counted with wrongdoers;Yet He Himself bore the sin of many, And interceded for the wrongdoers. (Isaiah 53:10-12 NASB )

Another text, which shows us that the death of the Lord Jesus was decided by God before the Lord Jesus came to earth, is Daniel chapter 9. The vision written in this chapter, Daniel had in the year 539 BC. This vision is known as “Daniel’s vision of the seventy weeks.” What are these 70 weeks? Who are they determined for? Until when? What is going to happen in these 70 weeks? 

The 70 weeks were decided for the people of Israel and Jerusalem

“Seventy weeks have been decreed for your people and your holy city…’’ (Daniel 9:24 NASB)

Daniel was one of the young men of the nobility and of the royal family who were taken to the court of Nebuchadnezzar during the first siege of Jerusalem. (Daniel 1)

… were decreed until the establishment of the Kingdom of God

’’…to finish the wrongdoing, to make an end of sin, to make atonement for guilt, to bring in everlasting righteousness, to seal up vision and prophecy, and to anoint the Most Holy Place.’’(when the Messiah will reign as king on earth, which the Jews expected to happen at the first coming of the Messiah). (Daniel 9:24 NASB)

What has God decided to happen in these 70 weeks?

In the first seven weeks Jerusalem will be built, and for 62 weeks the squares and pits will be repaired and this, being oppressed by other peoples (including the Greeks, the Romans).

So you are to know and understand that from the issuing of a decree to restore and rebuild Jerusalem, until Messiah the Prince, there will be seven weeks and sixty-two weeks; it will be built again, with streets and moat, even in times of distress. (Daniel 9:25 NASB)

So, from the command to rebuild Jerusalem to the Messiah, it would be 7 + 62 = 69 weeks. During all this time the people were oppressed by other peoples.

The culmination is that after these 69 weeks, when the Anointed One will come, He will not take the kingdom, as the Jews expected, but will be wiped out (and we know that He was crucified):

Then after the sixty-two weeks, the Messiah will be cut off and have nothing. (Daniel 9:26 NASB)

I remind you that in verse 24 it is written that these are things decided by God, they are not a coincidence and a failure of God’s plan!

After the Anointed One is cut off, the people from whom a king spoken of in verse 27 will be drawn in the future will destroy Jerusalem and destroy it, even the Temple will be destroyed as by a flood:

and the people of the prince who is to come will destroy the city and the sanctuary. And its end will come with a flood; even to the end there will be war; desolations are determined. (Daniel 9:26 NASB)

This happened in the year 70 AD, when the Roman army besieged Jerusalem because of an uprising. The temple in that siege caught fire and burned. Because much of the gold that was in the Temple came in through the cracks of the stones, the Roman soldiers tore down what was left so that they could take the gold from the stones and fulfill the prophecy spoken by the Lord Jesus that there would be no stone left in it. This happened about 40 years after the crucifixion of Jesus.

Verse 27 tells us what will happen in the seventy weeks decided by God on the people of Israel and on Jerusalem:

And he (the prince who will come from verse 26) will confirm a covenant with the many for one week, but in the middle of the week he will put a stop to sacrifice and grain offering; and on the wing of abominations will come the one who makes desolate, until a complete destruction, one that is decreed, gushes forth on the one who makes desolate.” (Daniel 9:27 NASB)

(The book of Revelation gives us more details about the seventh week determined for Israel and Jerusalem)

If you have noticed, a keyword in this text is “decreed”. So everything that is said in this text, including the death of the Lord Jesus, is God-determined things that cannot be changed. In Isaiah 14:24 God says that the things he has decided will be fulfilled:

“Certainly, just as I have intended, so it has happened, and just as I have planned, so it will stand.’’ (NASB)

Of course, there are many texts in the Old Testament that speak of the death of Jesus, but I think that those presented in this article are enough to understand that the death of Jesus was not a failure, but was God’s plan. I want to write another article in the New Testament to show that the death of Jesus was not a failure, but was part of God’s plan for the salvation of mankind, in other words, to show that the Lord Jesus had to die.

May the Lord help us to know and understand the Holy Scriptures so that we may not be “children, tossed here and there by waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of people, by craftiness in deceitful scheming.’’ (Ephesians 4:14 NASB)

Translated by Ina Croitoru