Redemption In The Old Testament
Any attempt to study the doctrine of redemption would fall woefully short of giving an understanding of this great truth if that study did not take into account the Old Testament data. As a matter of fact, this doctrine has its beginning in the Old Testament and the New Testament simply fulfills the Old Testament types; without which types we could not understand fully what is meant by redemption in the New Testament.
The first time that redemption is mentioned was when Jacob blessed the sons of Joseph. Jacob said, “ The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.” (Gen 48:16) KJV This particular text does not give us an extremely large amount of insight into the meaning of redemption, but it does inform us that one’s redemption is usually from some unpleasant situation. Jacob declared that he was delivered from all evil. It is most likely that the patriarch was referring to the fact that he was delivered the various dangers and problems of life that could have destroyed him as well as his own inherent wickedness and the consequences thereof.
Many years later the children of Israel would be enslaved by the Egyptians and would need to be delivered. It was at this time that the LORD sent Moses to bring them out of Egypt saying, “Say unto the children of Israel, I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the Lord your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the Lord.” (Ex 6:6-8) KJV It is very informative to note that not only does redemption bring one (or a group) out of bondage, but it also takes them into the blessings of the promises of God.
As Israel was given the law they were also given a civil code to direct them in their day-by-day existence as a nation. In this civil code was a provision for those who found themselves in a difficult financial position. That provision was that they could give their land as a payment for their debt. As a general rule the land would return to them at the end of a specified fifty year period, but not before. There was one way in which the land could be returned to the original owner before the fifty year period was expired. It could return by means of redemption. This simply means that, should the original owner or a family member of his be able to pay the debt, the land would be redeemed and the original owner could take possession of it once again. “If thy brother be waxen poor, and hath sold away some of his possession, and if any of his kin come to redeem it, then shall he redeem that which his brother sold. And if the man have none to redeem it, and himself be able to redeem it; Then let him count the years of the sale thereof, and restore the overplus unto the man to whom he sold it; that he may return unto his possession.” (Lev 25:25-27) KJV This same principle applies to one who sold himself into servitude to pay his debts. “If a sojourner or stranger wax rich by thee, and thy brother that dwelleth by him wax poor, and sell himself unto the stranger or sojourner by thee, or to the stock of the stranger’s family: After that he is sold he may be redeemed again; one of his brethren may redeem him: Either his uncle, or his uncle’s son, may redeem him, or any that is nigh of kin unto him of his family may redeem him; or if he be able, he may redeem himself.” (Lev 25:47-49) KJV One thing that is necessary to note is the fact that the redeemer must have a kinship to the one being redeemed. This fact will be relevant later in our study.
The resurrection is spoken of as redemption, too. Job spoke of it saying, “Oh that my words were now written! oh that they were printed in a book! That they were graven with an iron pen and lead in the rock for ever! For I know that my redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins be consumed within me.” (Job 19:23-27) KJV What makes this passage interesting is the fact that there are those who think there is no reference to a bodily resurrection in the Old Testament. Job (Who is probably a grandson of Jacob Gen 46:13 cp Gen 36:1-11) was confident that, though his body would be consumed by the worms, he would see his Redeemer face to face. Although he was in a great trial, Job was confident that he would not be caused to remain under that hardship, but would be redeemed; if not in the present, in the future when the Redeemer came to the earth. The Psalmist also spoke of the resurrection: “God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me.” (Ps 49:15) KJV Hosea , too, had confidence that there was a redemption that would overcome death, and spoke in the name of the LORD saying, “ I will ransom them from the power of the grave; I will redeem them from death: O death, I will be thy plagues; O grave, I will be thy destruction.” (Hos 13:14) KJV
The Old Testament also acknowledges that when one’s sins are forgiven they are redeemed. Isaiah spoke in the name of the LORD saying, “I have blotted out, as a thick cloud, thy transgressions, and, as a cloud, thy sins: return unto me; for I have redeemed thee. Sing, O ye heavens; for the Lord hath done it: shout, ye lower parts of the earth: break forth into singing, ye mountains, O forest, and every tree therein: for the Lord hath redeemed Jacob, and glorified himself in Israel.” (Isa 44:22,23) KJV We shall find that this aspect of the doctrine will be revealed and developed much more fully in the New Testament.
Finally, the Old Testament speaks to us of God’s redeeming His people at the time of the end. Although we have already seen the truth of the resurrection, we must also see that redemption does not simply bring us out of the grave, but also into the eternal blessings of God. “The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for them; and the desert shall rejoice, and blossom as the rose. It shall blossom abundantly, and rejoice even with joy and singing: the glory of Lebanon shall be given unto it, the excellency of Carmel and Sharon, they shall see the glory of the Lord, and the excellency of our God. Strengthen ye the weak hands, and confirm the feeble knees. Say to them that are of a fearful heart, Be strong, fear not: behold, your God will come with vengeance, even God with a recompence; he will come and save you. Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped. Then shall the lame man leap as an hart, and the tongue of the dumb sing: for in the wilderness shall waters break out, and streams in the desert. And the parched ground shall become a pool, and the thirsty land springs of water: in the habitation of dragons, where each lay, shall be grass with reeds and rushes. And an highway shall be there, and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; the unclean shall not pass over it; but it shall be for those: the wayfaring men, though fools, shall not err therein. No lion shall be there, nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, it shall not be found there; but the redeemed shall walk there: And the ransomed of the Lord shall return, and come to Zion with songs and everlasting joy upon their heads: they shall obtain joy and gladness, and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.” (Isa 35:1-10) KJV This is spoken of again when Isaiah said, “The Lord shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody. Therefore the redeemed of the Lord shall return, and come with singing unto Zion; and everlasting joy shall be upon their head: they shall obtain gladness and joy; and sorrow and mourning shall flee away.” (Isa 51:3,11) KJV “So shall they fear the name of the Lord from the west, and his glory from the rising of the sun. When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him. And the Redeemer shall come to Zion, and unto them that turn from transgression in Jacob, saith the Lord. As for me, this is my covenant with them, saith the Lord; My spirit that is upon thee, and my words which I have put in thy mouth, shall not depart out of thy mouth, nor out of the mouth of thy seed, nor out of the mouth of thy seed’s seed, saith the Lord, from henceforth and for ever.” (Isa 59:19-21) KJV These passages demonstrate to us that the Lord shall return and deliver His people from oppression and their own sins and give them eternal joy according to His promise. That will be a glorious redemption indeed.
Redemption In Christ
In New Testament times one of the first times that redemption was mentioned was when Zacharias’ wife Elizabeth bore him a son whom he named John. This child John (John the Baptist) was to be the one who went before the LORD in the spirit of Elijah (See Luke 1: ). When John was born, this knowledge caused Zacharias to rejoice saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for he hath visited and redeemed his people, And hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David; As he spake by the mouth of his holy prophets, which have been since the world began: That we should be saved from our enemies, and from the hand of all that hate us; To perform the mercy promised to our fathers, and to remember his holy covenant; The oath which he sware to our father Abraham, That he would grant unto us, that we being delivered out of the hand of our enemies might serve him without fear, In holiness and righteousness before him, all the days of our life.” (Luke 1:68-75) KJV Zacharias knew that Jesus would soon be born, and so he rejoiced that God was coming as our redeemer. While (as was typical of the time) Zacharias viewed redemption in a somewhat nationalistic way (because he was expecting deliverance from their enemies and those who hated them), yet he also believed that redemption did have a spiritual element, too. Being redeemed we shall be able to serve God without fear of man and can do so in righteousness all the days of our lives. Thus redemption can be seen as our being delivered from bondage to be ever able to serve the Lord. Anna, too, recognized that the child, Jesus, was our redeemer. The Scriptures say that “She coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” (Luke 2:38) KJV
What is the redemption that is in Christ? Redemption is forgiveness of sins. “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace.” (Eph 1:7) KJV “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:14) KJV
During His ministry Jesus stated that his life would be the redemption price for us. “The Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Matt 20:28) KJV For man to be set free from sin a price did indeed have to be paid. The Scriptures set the penalty for sin: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die.” (Ezek 18:4) KJV “The wages of sin is death.” (Rom 6:23) KJV “Without shedding of blood is no remission.” (Heb 9:22) KJV That is the price that Jesus paid for us: His blood, which means that He gave His life.