"Oh to Grace how great a debtor
daily I'm constrained to be.
Let thy goodness, like a fetter
bind my wandering heart to Thee!"

Monday, October 22, 2007

Jesus, Our Great Goel!

The more I read and study the Old Testament, the better I understand the New Testament. There is a reason for it, and I pity the person who writes it off as boring or irrelevant. This is a passage from the book of Leviticus, and I would love to explain why it has everything to do with the explanation of our redemption through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross. This passage right here is so rich with important points I don’t even know where to start... but by the Grace of God, I will try. I know this post looks long and drawn out, but that's just because I use a lot of scripture references. Read them, God's Words are alive and it is by them that we can be transformed by the renewal of our minds.

Leviticus 25: 47-55

47 Now if a sojourner or stranger close to you becomes rich, and one of your brethren who dwells by him becomes poor, and sells himself to the stranger or sojourner close to you, or to a member of the stranger’s family, 48 after he is sold he may be redeemed again. One of his brothers may redeem him; 49 or his uncle or his uncle’s son may redeem him; or anyone who is near of kin to him in his family may redeem him; or if he is able he may redeem himself. 50 Thus he shall reckon with him who bought him: The price of his release shall be according to the number of years, from the year that he was sold to him until the Year of Jubilee; it shall be according to the time of a hired servant for him. 51 If there are still many years remaining, according to them he shall repay the price of his redemption from the money with which he was bought. 52 And if there remain but a few years until the Year of Jubilee, then he shall reckon with him, and according to his years he shall repay him the price of his redemption. 53 He shall be with him as a yearly hired servant, and he shall not rule with rigor over him in your sight. 54 And if he is not redeemed in these years, then he shall be released in the Year of Jubilee—he and his children with him. 55 For the children of Israel are servants to Me; they are My servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the LORD your God.

First of all, in verse 47 we see that someone who has become poor is able to sell themselves into servant hood to someone who is rich in order to earn money to get out of debt. The stranger that has purchased the servant is to work them hard, but not vigorously, and he must pay him, so this isn’t a description of slavery as we think of it. That person will work until he has earned enough money to return to his own land, or a close relative can come and redeem him out of servant hood, which is what we see in verse 48. The relative would take the price of a servant during that time and multiply it by the years left in the Sabbatical- and that would be the redeeming price of the servant to get out of bondage. But if neither of those 2 things happen within 50 years of work, according to Jewish Law, at the end of 49 years (7 cycles of Sabbatical years) all land is returned to its original owner and all servants are set free to return to their own land with their families and all debts that are owed are forgiven among one another. This is known as the year of Jubilee. This has great significance, and it is the reason why today Christians believe it is God’s will that you stay out of debt. In verse 55, we see the Lord’s purpose for this law. We are to be servants of the Most High, not to anyone here on this earth. When we are in debt, we are a slave to whomever it is we owe. Think about it, even in today’s terms of debt, that is so true. Being in debt doesn’t allow you to put your resources into the things of the Lord; instead, you are consumed with paying back the person you owe. But God doesn’t want us in these bonds. He wants us to be free to serve Him, thus, the Jews had the year of Jubilee where all their debts were forgiven after 50 years so that they may return their efforts to serving the Lord. For it is written, no man can serve two masters. Who would have thought that such a great, PRACTICAL, teaching point could have come straight out of exegetical reading of the book of Leviticus! AMAZING! haha

Now, on to the meat of this passage. Let’s focus our attention on the close kinsman that is able to redeem his brother out of servant hood. There are three criteria that the redeemer must meet in order to set this servant free.

First, he must be NEAR KINSMAN. He must be a close relative of this person, or he does not qualify.

Second, he must be WILLING to pay the debt. Seems logical enough: if the person didn’t want to pay the price, then the servant remained enslaved.

And lastly, the relative had to be ABLE to pay the debt. Even if the kinsman had all the desire in the world to free his brother, if he was incapable of paying then there was nothing he could do. (A great example of this situation is when Boaz meets these three criteria and redeems the land of Ruth after her husband dies.)

The Hebrew word for redeemer is goel which comes from the verb gâ'al which means: to redeem (according to the Oriental law of kinship), that is, to be the next of kin (and as such to buy back a relative’s property, marry his widow, etc.) avenger, deliver, (do, perform the part of near, next) kinsfolk (man), purchase, ransom, redeem (-er), revenger.
The same word for redeemer used in Leviticus is used also to describe Christ.

Now let's look at Jesus Christ, our goel.

Philippians 2:5-8
Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: Who, being in the form of God, thought it not a thing to be grasped to be equal with God: But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

Jesus Christ has come in the flesh. He was God manifested in the likeness of men. HE MADE HIMSELF A NEAR KINSMAN! He was born, He suffered, He died...all these things are things of man. (He also lived the life in perfection and was raised from the dead- things of God). The reason God predestined to send a Savior born of a woman to come and live a full life on earth and taste what we taste is so that Jesus Christ would fit the criteria of our goel. My friends, this right here...THIS is unique to Christianity! This right here is what separates Christians from all the other religions in the world. Christ was God in the flesh and was born into this world predestined to redeem His people from the bondage of sin. He became a man so that He could be our next in line kinsman. But let's not stop there...

John 10:11-18
I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. But he that is a hireling, and not the shepherd, whose own the sheep are not, sees the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees: and the wolf catches them, and scatters the sheep. The hireling flees, because he is a hireling, and cares not for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine. As the Father knows me, even so know I the Father: and I lay down my life for the sheep. And other sheep I have, which are not of this fold: them also I must bring, and they shall hear my voice; and there shall be one fold, and one shepherd. Therefore does my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I might take it again. No man takes it from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment have I received of my Father.

Jesus Christ was WILLING to pay the price for His sheep! He tells us in this scripture that He has the power, and He is the one who is choosing to do this. When Pilate looks at Jesus and says that he has the power to crucify Him, Jesus answers:
You could have no power at all against me, except it were given you from above (John 19:11). And we see that power from above in Hebrews 10:4-10:

For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Therefore when he comes into the world, he says, Sacrifice and offering you desired not, but a body have you prepared me: In burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin you have had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do your will, O God. Above when he said, Sacrifice and offering and burnt offerings and offering for sin you desired not, neither had pleasure in them; which are offered by the law; Then said he, Lo, I come to do your will, O God. He takes away the first, that he may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

The Lord takes away the first (the blood of bulls and goats which did not suffice), to bring in the second (the blood of Jesus Christ). That was the will of the Father, and Jesus says it plainly: He came to do the will of His Father. Jesus Christ was willing to pay the price of death for the atonement of our sins because it was His Father's will for Him to do so. And He remained obedient unto death.

Ok, so Christ is 2 out of the 3....but is He able? Check out these scriptures...

Ephesians 1:5-8
Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will, To the praise of the glory of his grace, in which he has made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace; Which he has abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence.

We are redeemed through His blood.

Colossians 1:12-22
Giving thanks unto the Father, who has made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things are held together. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were once alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now has he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight.

Here we see what Christ has delivered us from! We see what we are before Christ, and what we are now with His saving grace which reconciles us.

Hebrews 7:25
Therefore he is ABLE also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever lives to make intercession for them.

1 Peter 1:18
Since you know that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain manner of life received by tradition from your fathers; But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

Jesus Christ passes the test as our REDEEMER! And not only does He qualify, but He followed through and actually did it. Just as a servant could be redeemed by a close kinsman who was willing and able to pay the price to get him out of bondage, so are we redeemed from the bondage of our sins. Folks, this is huge. This is big time. This is real. This isn't some fairly tale thing that your grandma made up. The story in Leviticus really paints a picture of what Christ has actually done for us on the cross. How about another analogy to drive it home:
Lets say that a child is kidnapped. Usually, the people who kidnapped the kid will call the parents of that child and ask for some ridiculous amount of money in exchange for their child back. The dilemma is always that the kidnappers want a ransom that is way too much for the parents to afford, so they are left feeling hopeless. They are close relatives who have all the love and desire in the world to get their child back, but they are incapable of paying that price. THIS IS OUR CONDITION WITHOUT CHRIST! Without the sacrifice of Christ, as our great GOEL, we are left hopelessly enslaved to the bondage of our sins. And without believing in Christ and what He has done for us through His death and resurrection and trusting our ENTIRE life to Him, and without repenting (turning away from) all the sin in our life, then we are just like the parents of the kidnapped child who had no hope of paying the ransom. We are left with no hope to die in our sins and we will reap the consequence of eternal death. I know it sounds harsh, but folks, its real. The saving Grace of our Great Goel (our Redeemer Jesus Christ) is a life-altering thing. When God opens your eyes to this truth, your life is never the same again. Being a child of God calls you to be separate from this world, because you have been bought with a price and you are not your own. That is why at the end of the Sabbattical all land was given back to it's original owner, because God wanted them to know that they are but tenants of the land, because all belongs to Him.

I pray that this helps us see why it is so important to refute the "all religions are the same" heresy. No they are not all the same. Only one points to Christ as our Redeemer. Do you see now why we must be able to fight for the truth instead of just going with the flow and avoiding controversy when someone says that there are many ways to get to heaven? We are being selfish if we roll over and don't speak truth because it is a very serious matter. If you believe the Bible as the inherent word of God, then there is no way that you can think that one is redeemed of their debt of sins without the shedding of Jesus Christ's blood. And don't say that you are a good person and God will look at your heart and will know that you deserve heaven. No mam. No sir. Our hearts are deceiful beyond comprehension, so I pray that the Lord doesn't base his decision on looking into my heart. The Bible says that there is not ONE who does good, not even one. (Psalm 53:3). Hebrews 9:22 says "without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins." It is by Christ's blood that we are forgiven, we have no righteousness of our own to claim. I don't know about you, but this passage in Leviticus gives me a whole new perspective on the verse in John 14:6 when Jesus says "I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me." He is the only one who fits the criteria of our Great Goel....period...and I pray that, if the Lord wills, I will spend my entire life contending for this life-giving truth.

1 comment:

Tamara said...

This is an amazing perspective. I am trying hard right now to make some serious changes in order to get on and stay on the right track. This is just what I needed to read this morning. I hope everything is going well for you!!