The words “redeem” and “redemption” occur frequently in Scripture. Such a vital subject deserves prayerful study and thought.
In Hebrew, the same word is used for ‘kinsman’, ‘redeemer’ and ‘avenger’.
The functions of a kinsman [near relation] were noted long before the giving of the law, but they were formally defined by Moses. The duties of the kinsman were as follows:
Firstly, the kinsman was to redeem or buy back the person or inheritance of his brother, if either he or his land had been sold to another. See also Leviticus 25:25-34.
Secondly, in Deuteronomy 25, he was required to marry the widow of his brother if that brother had died childless, to raise up seed to his brother, so that his name and his inheritance might be secured in the firstborn of that marriage. This was important in Israel, because their inheritance was - and will yet be - an earthly one. The church’s calling is heavenly, so this ordinance does not seem to have a counterpart in our times – at least that is my understanding now.
Thirdly, he was to avenge the wrong done to his brother if he was taken captive or was killed. Refer to Numbers 35:9-29.
The word ‘redeem’ in simple terms involves ‘purchase’ and ‘rescue’. It has two parts to it: a price, and power. The Israelites in Egypt were saved from the destroying angel, if they had the blood of the lamb on the lintels and door posts. So they were saved from wrath; the price was the blood of the lamb. But they were not said to be redeemed until they had crossed the Red Sea where the power of God had rescued them and put them in a new position.
We can see that the Lord has become our Kinsman, in that He has taken part in flesh and blood – a perfect man. He is our Redeemer – in Colossians 1:14, “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins”. The price has been His precious blood.
The completion of our salvation is the redemption of our bodies, by His resurrection power, as we get in Romans 8:23 and also in Philippians 3:20-21 where it says: “our commonwealth has its existence in the heavens, from which we await the Lord Jesus Christ as Saviour, who shall transform our body of humiliation into conformity to his body of glory, according to the working of the power which he has even to subdue all things to himself”. We are not only saved, but his power will put us is a new position.
In Hebrews 2:14-15, we see Jesus as our Avenger. He took part in flesh and blood as we are, but without sin – the Kinsman – “that through death he might annul him who has the might of death, that is, the devil; and might set free all those who through fear of death through the whole of their life were subject to bondage” – our Avenger. And in Hebrews 10 Christ is seen as our Kinsman-redeemer; he is seen as taking a body and paying the ultimate ransom price - offering himself as the perfect sacrifice, once.
Even before the law was given, there were notable examples of the redeemer’s service in this way. Abraham took 318 trained servants and rescued Lot, his nephew.
We have considered the redemption of persons, but there is also that of the inheritance. This is illustrated in Ruth 4:1-10, and Jeremiah 32: 6-15. In the Book of Ruth, Boaz superbly performs the role of the kinsman as described in Deuteronomy. Ruth was a Moabite, a young widow of an Israelite; she had come to Israel with Naomi her mother-in-law. She found in Boaz one who had not only the right to redeem her, but one who could pay the price for the redemption of her deceased husband’s inheritance. Her husband had forfeited [lost the right to] his inheritance and was guilty of going down to Moab and marrying a foreign wife, but Boaz was able to restore all. He is a type of our true Redeemer, the Lord Jesus Christ.
In Jeremiah 32:6-15, we find that his nephew asks the prophet to buy back his - the nephew’s - inheritance at a most unusual time, when the armies of Babylon were about to overrun the city. God was behind this move, to show that the land would again be valuable when Judah would return from the Babylonian captivity, a circumstance that seemed impossible at that point in time.
In Luke 1:68, Zacharias announces “Blessed be the Lord [literally Jehovah] the God of Israel, because he has visited and wrought redemption for his people…”
In Luke 2:38 Anna is said to have spoken of him [the newborn Jesus] to all that waited for redemption in Jerusalem. As faithful Israelites, they were waiting to be rescued from Roman domination and to have the kingdom of God established, and centred in Jerusalem as the prophets had spoken.
And again in Luke 24:21 we have: “But we had hoped that He was the one who is about to redeem Israel” Luke 24:21. These verses in Luke show that the faithful remnant looked forward to the redemption or restoration of their nation to its place of favour and blessing.
The account of the purchase which our Redeemer has made is shown in the Gospels; the account of the rescue which our Redeemer will make (for our inheritance) is shown in the final book of Scripture, The Revelation.
It is by the blood or sacrifice of the Lamb that he purchases us from the righteous claims of God against the sinner, as we see in the Gospels.
It is by power in judgments that we see him in The Revelation, rescuing our inheritance from the grasp of the devil, who now rules as the prince of this present evil world.
M.M. May 2012
Acknowledgments: Short Meditations, J.G. Bellett. Publisher: George Morrish