In last week’s blog, I was talking about the important word of justification. Today I would like to talk about another important theological word that I believe is really the theme of the entire Bible, this is the word redemption. We read again in Paul’s writing to the Romans: “This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus,” (Rom.3:22-24 NIV). This concept of redemption is seen throughout both the Old and the New Testaments. In fact, I believe a simple outline of the Bible can be seen through this powerful theme: Genesis 1 – 3 – the need for redemption, the rest of the Old Testament – the preparation for redemption, the Gospels – the revelation of redemption, the book of Acts – the proclamation of redemption, the epistles – the explanation of redemption and Revelation – consummation of redemption.
In the Old Testament redemption involved someone who was in bondage or in danger. It is most clearly seen in the concept of a kinsman-redeemer as viewed through the book of Ruth. The Hebrew word “ga’al” means to play the part of a kinsman and to act on behalf of the relatives in trouble or in danger. This Hebrew word places the emphasis on the relationship between the Redeemer and the redeemed. The Redeemer had to be willing to redeem and also able to redeem. In the book of Ruth, one of Naomi’s closer relatives was in the position of serving as a Redeemer but was unwilling to do so, which then allowed Boaz to become Naomi’s Redeemer and to change his own personal history and biblical history as well, as he became the great-grandfather of David. Another one of the early pictures in the Old Testament of God’s redemption is God redeeming Israel from Egypt by an intervention that transferred ownership of Israel to the Lord. God’s redemption is seen as an affirmation of close kinship with his covenant people.
In the New Testament the concept of redemption is rooted not so much in Greek culture or Roman law but in the Old Testament revelation of redemption. The Greek word “lytroo” means to “redeem or ransom” and has a special family focus on the victory won and the means by which that release (victory) was achieved. Our redemption in the New Testament illustrates the fact that Jesus Christ has released us from the bondage to our sinful past and has given us a new beginning. Paul describes this very clearly in Titus when he writes, “Who gave himself for us (referring to Jesus), that he might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for himself a people for his own possession, zealous for good deeds,” (Titus 2:14 NASB). We have been redeemed from the bondage to sin that was the natural outcome of our fallen nature. The price of our redemption was the shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is a demonstration of how deeply God loves us and cares for us that he allowed Jesus to die on our behalf. Redemption reveals helpless humanity, while at the same time affirming a God who loves us and sent a kinsman redeemer to set us free from the wages and power of sin.
What should our response be this great redemption that God has provided for us? Well, I think of Fanny Crosby’s famous song “Redeemed” in the first stanza that so captures how we should respond when she writes- “Redeem, how I love the proclaim it! Redeemed by the blood of the Lamb; redeemed through his infinite mercy, this child and forever I am”. We have the opportunity to declare the great redemption that God has purchased for us through the blood of Christ. What a wonderful message of hope and freedom and deliverance God has given to us. Let us not be lax in declaring the excellence of His grace and love towards us every opportunity that we have.
All for God’s glory,
Pastor Rich Sivo