Sweet Sunday Sermon – Old Testament REDEEM
Submitted by Dr. GP
The word “Redeem” as found in the Old Testament
The Bible may practically and logically be divided into two very unequal portions. The first portion begins at Genesis one and ends at chapter 3:14 with the fall of man. The other section deals with the solution to the SIN problem which the fall caused, that is REDEMPTION. Redemption is thus certainly the major story of the Bible. The Redemption story is like a major river than runs throughout the Bible and embraces all the time known to man whether past, present or future. All the other topics or stories are like tributaries of various lengths and sizes which flow into the mainstream of the Redemption story
The English word “redeem” is derived from the Latin verb redemere which means to buy back;
to buy again; to ransom.
“Redemption is a comprehensive term used in the Bible to refer to the special intervention of God for the salvation of mankind. This use of the word deals with the work of Jesus Christ on the Cross in which He paid the price to “purchase” human beings and set them free from their slavery to sin. On account of Christ’s substitutionary atonement, He is called the Redeemer.
There are other ideas closely related to the primary concept of redemption which relate to the necessity for redemption and its various aspects and to the effects of the ministry of God’s grace in the life of the Christian believer.” (1)
“REDEEM” IN THE OLD TESTAMENT
In the first chapters of the book of Genesis, we see how the need for redemption developed. God created man in his own image for a special relationship with himself. Because they were created in the image of the sovereign God, they were endowed with freedom. God tested Adam and Eve by forbidding them to eat the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, warning them they would die if they disobeyed. Satan appeared in the form of a serpent, and tempted them to go ahead and eat. Contradicting God, he deceived them saying, “You will not die” and “you will be like God.”
Tragically, our first parents believed the lie of the Devil instead of God’s word, and fell from their created perfection into corruption. Since like reproduces like in the spiritual realm as well as in the physical, moral pollution entered into the whole human race. By Genesis 6, the Lord was grieved that he had ever made man, because “every inclination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil all the time.” We need to be redeemed because the whole human race has fallen into a depraved condition. Such things as crime, wars, injustice and holocausts are manifestations of this root spiritual problem. Spiritual death, separation from God, became the common lot for the human race. That is why we need to be redeemed.
When God curses the serpent after the Fall, he foretells something of the Redeemer who will come, “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heal” (Genesis 3:15). That is, Satan will wound the Messiah who would come, but the Messiah would destroy the Devil. God was not caught unawares when Adam fell. The all-knowing Lord knew he would fall, and God began to reveal his great plan of Redemption, which was prepared from eternity.
The entire balance of the Old Testament is about God’s preparation of the world for his redemption. God calls Abraham out of heathenism into a covenant relationship with himself. And out of Abraham would come the nation Israel, and through Israel would come the Redeemer, Jesus Christ.
In Genesis 12, God calls a man named Abram into a special covenant relationship with himself. A covenant is an unbreakable agreement which establishes a special relationship. When God called Abram, whom he renamed Abraham, he made certain wonderful promises:
I will make you into a great nation and I will bless you; I will make your name great, and you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and whoever curses you I will curse; and all peoples on earth will be blessed through you (Genesis 12:2-3)
God the gave Israel the moral law in the form of the Ten Commandments. In their covenant relationship, the one true God will be their God, loving them, giving them his gracious favor and
abundantly meeting their every need. In return, they pledged themselves to fidelity to Him, and the Commandments define their responsibilities toward God under the Old Covenant. Because of
the sinfulness of humanity, the moral law served a critical function for their redemption. It served to make the chosen people aware of the fact that they were sinners who needed a Savior. (See Romans 3:20 and Galatians 3:24)
In addition to the moral law, God gave the ceremonial law. God ordained a system of blood sacrifices which Israel would perform in order to receive forgiveness for their sins. He established the principle that “without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sin” (Hebrews 9:22). Similarly, when God brought Israel out slavery to Egypt, he commanded Israel to sprinkle the blood of a lamb on their doorposts. The Angel of the Lord brought the judgment of death to every firstborn in Egypt, but spared the Israelites and passed over those who were covered by the blood of the lamb. Again, God established the principle of deliverance or redemption through blood. In this object lesson, God provided an understanding of the way he had prepared for the coming of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world in picture. Just as God led his people Israel out of slavery in Egypt into the promised land of Canaan, one day he would lead his chosen people the Church out of slavery to Satan and sin into the promised land of God’s Kingdom.
The historical books of the Bible reveal something of the faithful, gracious character of God, who brings his beloved Israel back to himself, even after her repeated unfaithfulness over many centuries. His redemption flows from the goodness of his heart, rather than from any merit on the part of his chosen ones. The books of wisdom and poetry prepare the way for the coming of redemption by defining the
wise life for the people of God. Wisdom is characterized by a particular kind of relationship with God.
In the books of Prophecy there are some 300 Messianic prophecies which foretell the coming of the Redeemer. God prepared the world for his coming through the prophecies which foretold his deity, humanity, birth, life, death, resurrection and redemptive mission. He will be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2); he will be born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14); he will be “cut off” at the beginning of the Christian era (Daniel 9:25); he will be born as a child, yet called “God” (Isaiah 9:6). Isaiah describes the Messiah’s redemptive mission this way in Isaiah 53:4-6:-“ Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.”
Having thus recounted the redemption story as it is given on the Old Testament, we can with that background look at some of the words the Holy Spirit chose to use in the Old Testament for “redemption.”
In The Old Testament, the two words that are translated redeem are padah and ga’al or its active participle go’el. Vine notes that the use of these two words is indicative of a relation between Jehovah and Israel by way of his personal possession of them as His property. Whereas padah lays stress on the purchase price, ga’al points to the kinsman side of the redemption [as we will discuss below]. Vine notes further that these two facts are brought out in the New Testament doctrine of redemption, such that the Old Testament teaching in various ways foreshadows the acts of God’s grace in His Son Jesus Christ in his becoming by his incarnation our kinsman and in the twofold aspect of his redemptive sacrifice as a price paid and liberation accomplished on behalf of sinners, and as the deliverance wrought and yet to be consummated for believers. (2)
According to Vine, “padah is used of the payments required for the redemption of the firstborn in passages such as Exodus 13 13,15; Leviticus 27:26,27; Numbers 3:46-49; 18:15-17 or for the release of persons from slavery as in its use in Exodus 21:8; Leviticus 25:47-49.
Padah is also used figuratively with the meaning of delivering whether in the case of individuals as in Psalms 34:22, or of the deliverance granted to Israel as a nation (Deuteronomy 9:26; 2 Samuel 7: 23; I Chronicles 17:31; Isaiah 29:22. Padah is especially associated with the deliverance from Egypt
(Deuteronomy 7:8; 13:5; 24:18; Micah 6:4. It is used in one instance of redemption from sin in Psalm 130:8.” (3)
To better understand the use of padah in the Old Testament we must review its use in relation to the typology concerning the redemption of Firstborn Sons, Firstlings of the Flock, First fruits etc.
Here padah has the sense also of “to deliver” or “to sever” or to separate.
It was continuously stressed to the Israelites that they belonged to Jehovah because He had redeemed them (severed or delivered them from bondage) and had provided them with the land of Canaan for them to use as a gift from God and for His glory. For this reason, all Israel owed their lives and their service to God, in effect making the whole nation a kingdom of priests, at least in spirit. They were thus redeemed in the sense that they were separate, or a special people.
They were redeemed too, because God had bought them back. God had previously owned them. He had chosen them as a special nation as seen in the conditions given to Abraham in the Abrahamic covenant. However, Israel became lost as it were and severed from God during their sojourn in Egypt, where, although they remained separate ethnically, they did not retain the spiritual separation that God required, for they became enslaved not only physically, but also morally and spiritually as they engaged in calf worship and became captive to the cuisine of Egypt as is clearly evident from their murmurings in the wilderness wanderings.
As a result God had to redeem them or purchase them from both their physical and spiritual bondage. It is imperative for us to realize that God’s deliverance or redemption or positional sanctification or separation is both physical and spiritual. To lose sight of this “cheapens” God’s work of redemption and makes its workings of little or no effect in our lives; as was evident in the Mosaic period in the wilderness.
Although all the people who were delivered from Egypt were to be separate or sanctified to God’s use and service, only Levi and the descendants of his tribe (the priestly tribe) were actually set apart for the service of the tabernacle. All of the individual Israelites from each of the eleven other tribes were to be redeemed, or purchased, from service by redeeming the firstborn of both men and animals.
A son was considered “firstborn” if he was the first son born to his mother. If a man had more than one wife, each wife could have a firstborn son. Each firstborn son was presented to the Lord on the 40th day after his birth and redeemed by a payment of five shekels to the priests (Num. 18:16: Ex. 13:15; Luke 2:27).
The firstlings of oxen, sheep, and goats were to be brought to the sanctuary within a year and eight days after their birth, and sacrificed (Num. 18:17).
The firstborn of an ass, which was an unclean animal, was redeemed by sacrificing a sheep in its place; or, if not redeemed in this manner, was put to death itself (Ex. 13:12 ff; 34:20). Later, the law provided that the ass could be redeemed with money, the amount to be determined by the market value of the ass plus 20%, according to the priest’s valuation (Lev. 27:27; Num. 18:15). There is no more striking or succinct picture in the Bible that this analogy to Christian salvation issues. The firstfruits of the harvest were sacred to Jehovah because He is the Lord of the soil (Ex. 23:19). These were given to the priest to be presented in offering. The whole congregation was required to offer an annual thanksgiving offering at harvest time by presenting a firstfruits sheaf at the Passover. These were not to be burned but were to be given to the priests for their use, with the provision that only those priests who were ceremonially clean could eat the firstfruits. The amount of offering of first fruits was not specified by the Law but was left to each person’s discretion.
Later in Jewish history, the children of Israel began to be called the Redeemed of the Lord, after they had
been set free from the Babylonian captivity (Isa. 35:9; 51:11; 62:12).
Vine teaches that the word padah was also used of deliverance from adverse circumstances; such as deliverance from death ( Job 5:20 and Psalm 49:15), deliverance from captivity ( Zechariah 10:8-10), deliverance from adversity itself ( 2 Samuel 4:9; 1 Kings 1:29; Psalms 25:22). (4)
According to Vine, the Hebrew word ga’al is used sometimes in the legal sense, of the recovery of property which had passed into other hands. (Leviticus 25:26; Ruth 4: 4,7). In this case, the go’el could buy back the forfeited inheritance for an Iraelite who, owing to poverty, had sold his land, as Boaz did for Ruth (Ruth 4:3-5), or he could hold land in possession for a poor kinsman till the year of jubilee (Leviticus 25:10-28).
The go’el or kinsman redeemer could also ransom his kinsman from bondage to a foreigner from bondage to a foreigner (Leviticus 25: 47-49) or avenge the death of his slain kinsman, as a point of honor. Vine asserts that Job “combines all three of these functions of the go’el in his assurance of faith as to his Go’el (Job 19:25-27) to show that he was not suffering because of his guilt”. Vine also points out that as our Kinsman-Redeemer that the Lord Jesus is in all three respects His people’s go’el; by incarnation saving them from eternal disinheritance ( Hebrews 2:14-18), by redemption ( 1Peter 1:18f,; compare Isaiah 49:26), and by avenging them in overcoming by His own death the one who had the power of death Hebrews 2:14f.). (5)
Ga’al is used also of the act of commuting a vow, the valuation of the offering being made by the priest (Leviticus 27: 13,15,19,20) or of the redemption of a part of a tithe (27:31).
Ga’al is used of God’s deliverance granted to Israel (Psalm 77:15; Isaiah 48:20; 52:3, 9 ) and especially of the coming deliverance of the nation from gentile domination (Isaiah 35: 9; 62:13; 63 4).
Let us consider more carefully the role and true meaning of the go’el or the Kinsman-Redeemer According to the laws regarding punishment and retribution for crime, when a person was assaulted, robbed or murdered, it fell to the nearest kinsman to bring the criminal to justice and to protect the lives and property of relatives. This obligation was called “redeeming”, and the man who was responsible for fulfilling this duty was known as a “redeemer” .The job of redeemer would fall to full brothers first, then to uncles who were the father’s brothers, then to full cousins, and finally to the other blood relatives of the family (Lev. 25:48). The kinsman-redeemer of the Old Testament was thus a type of the Lord Jesus Christ as Redeemer. There were four requirements for the redeemer, both in the type and in Christ:
- The redeemer must be a near kinsman. To fulfill this Christ took on human form as stressed in several New Testament passages which speak of his incarnation, such as the prologues of both the gospel and first epistle of John. However, Paul’s account in Philippians 2:5-8 is perhaps the most supreme! To mediate as our Kinsman Redeemer, Jesus had to become the GOD-MAN (I Timothy 2:5).
- The redeemer must be able to redeem. The price of man’s redemption was the blood of Christ (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). Christ was qualified to redeem from sin, because he was sinless- i.e without spot or blemish ( 2 Cor 5:21; 1Peter 1:22).
- The redeemer must be willing to redeem (Heb. 10:4-10). Christ was willing to be our Redeemer.
- The redeemer must be free from that which caused the need for redemption; that is, the redeemer cannot redeem himself. This was true of Christ, because He needed no redemption.
As noted above He was perfect- he was sinless. He was thus fully qualified to be our redeemer.
The nation of Israel as a whole required a Redeemer to redeem the lands which had been taken over by foreign powers, so they looked to Jehovah to become their go-el. The period of exile gave an even greater force and meaning to the term “redeemer” than it had before; and the book of Isaiah contains nineteen of the thirty-three Old Testament references to God as Israel’s covenant redeemer.
We join with them, as we look forward to Jesus’ work of redemption in this respect, when in the millennial kingdom, he will redeem the land of Israel for his chosen people Israel, and we will with them share in the bliss predicted in the Abrahamic covenant of Genesis 12.
Vine posits that ga’al is also used for deliverance from oppression and violence as in Psalm 72:14, of deliverance from captivity in Psalm 107: 2- 3, and deliverance from death in Psalm 103: 4 and Hosea 13:14. (6)
Vine page 115
Ibid page 115
Ibid page 87
7- Ibid page263
Vine’s Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words. Fleming H Revell (A Division of Baker Book House).