The Laws of Redemption
When I was a child growing up as a missionary kid in the Philippines, we sang many times about Christ our Redeemer. My mother, who was Swedish, taught us the old Swedish song, “Thanks to God for my Redeemer.” I also remember Fred Ruhl, Roy Thomas, and Roy's father singing with their powerful voices the old hymn written by Philip Bliss in 1876 entitled, “I Will Sing of My Redeemer.”
Sing, oh sing, of my Redeemer,
With His blood, He purchased me.
On the cross, He sealed my pardon,
Paid the debt, and made me free.
Perhaps it was assumed that we understood the definition of a redeemer, but I do not recall a single sermon or Bible study teaching us what a redeemer actually was. And so it was decades later before I discovered it in the law of Moses and was able to apply it beyond myself to all of creation.
You can purchase anything, but you can redeem only that which you once owned. Having been taught in my early life that we were all conceived in sin and thus “lost” from the beginning, I believed that Jesus never really “owned” me until I became a believer and gave myself to Him. It occurred to me that Jesus may have purchased me, but He was really not my Redeemer. Either the Bible was wrong, or I was wrong in my biblical understanding.
Well, the Bible won the dispute. Yes, He really is my Redeemer, because I was a part of creation, which He owned by right of creation. In other words, the picture was bigger than any individual person. When Adam was “sold” into bondage, his children were sold also, along with his entire estate (“creation”). Thus, Jesus came to redeem that which He had owned but which later had been sold according to the divine law. And I was just one part of that which He owned at the beginning.
“In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” the Bible begins. This verse establishes God's ownership and certain rights that come with ownership. He owns it by right of creation. As another song goes, “This is My Father's world.” Yet all was sold at the Cosmic Pawn Shop in order to make payment for Adam's sin. And even then, the creation itself, with all its wealth and natural resources, was insufficient to pay for the smallest sin. So we entered a time of bondage according to the law.
If a man cannot repay the debt for sin, “he shall be sold for his theft” (Ex. 22:3). If the debtor is purchased by a non-kinsman, who presumably does not love the debtor, he is likely to think only in terms of increasing his own wealth, rather than the welfare of the slave-debtor. But as an antidote to this situation, a kinsman was given the right of redemption (Lev. 25:47-49), as long as he had sufficient money to pay the debt. Lev. 25:48 says (NASB),
48 then he shall have redemption right after he has been sold. One of his brothers may redeem him.
You see, a friend may have the money to redeem a debtor, but he does not have a redemption right. The slave-master has no obligation to sell his slave to a non-kinsman—at any price.. The right of the slave-master to refuse the sale supersedes the right of a friend to purchase him. But if a kinsman comes with a sufficient amount of money to pay the remaining portion of the debt note, the slave-master has no choice in the matter. The kinsman's redemption right takes precedence over the slave-master's desire to keep the slave in his possession.
This is an extremely important law when we apply it to Jesus, the Redeemer of Creation. This is why Jesus had to come as a man of flesh and blood. Hebrews 2:11 says, “He is not ashamed to call them brethren.” Verses 14 and 15 say,
14 Since then the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, 15 and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.”
Verse 16 says further that He came more specifically as a descendant of Abraham. Thus, He came as a near kinsman on two levels: first as flesh and blood in order to qualify as a Kinsman Redeemer of Adam, and secondly as a descendant of Abraham in order to redeem Israel.
Our primary concern here is the fact that He came as a flesh-and-blood “Son of Man,” in order to ensure His redemption right as a near kinsman to Adam. The law says that He had the legal right to redeem all mankind back to Adam, along with the entire estate that Adam lost.
The implications of this are enormous. Suppose you were to redeem an estate with all its contents. Then when you came to claim it, let us say you discovered that very little of it was left. Would you be satisfied? Of course not. Jesus redeemed everything that He had created before it was sold at the Cosmic Pawn Shop. He had the means to do it, for even though creation itself was insufficient to pay the debt for Adam's sin, certainly His life and blood was worth far more than all the sins that have ever been committed from Adam to the end of time.
Jesus therefore had the MEANS to redeem all of creation, and as a near Kinsman, he also had the lawful RIGHT of redemption. The only serious question remaining is this: Did Jesus actually WANT to redeem all of creation, or, as Calvinism teaches, is he content to redeem only a few items which He purchased by His blood?
This is really a question about the extent of the love of God. Does He love everything that He created? Does He really want it? Or did He determine at the beginning to redeem a tiny portion of it and burn the rest of it for eternity?
How many times have I heard teaching that “God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son”?? Yet that teaching is so often accompanied by the teaching about how God wishes so much that He could save everyone, but His hands are tied, because “He is a just God”??
In other words, He would dearly love to save everyone, but the law stands in his way. “He is a loving God, but He is also a just God,” they say. His justice will not allow Him to save creation. Having studied the law, I disagree. The law is on Jesus’ side! The law of redemption does allow Him as a Kinsman-Redeemer to claim all that He purchased. There is nothing unjust in this.
Those who teach these things have never studied the law of redemption. The only qualifier is that he must have enough cash to pay the amount of the debt note.
So where is the problem? There is no legal restriction.
There is, however, one thing that the law does NOT mandate. It does not say that a man must redeem his kinsman IMMEDIATELY. There is no time frame attached to this law. The law only tells us that if he is NOT redeemed in those years, then he must be set free in the year of Jubilee. Lev. 25:54 says,
54 Even if he is not redeemed by those means, he shall still go out in the year of Jubilee, both he and his sons with him.
The time of bondage is the time of potential redemption. But these years of redemption end when the redemption laws are swallowed up by the law of Jubilee. Under the law of Jubilee, all debtors are to be set free from bondage at the end of each 49-year cycle. Lev. 25:8-10 tells us about this year of Jubilee:
8 You are also to count off seven sabbaths of years for yourself, seven times seven years, so that you have the time of the seven sabbaths of years, namely, forty-nine years. 10 You shall thus consecrate the fiftieth year and proclaim a release through the land to all its inhabitants. It shall be a Jubilee for you, and each of you shall return to his property, and each of you shall return to his family.
At the end of seven Sabbath years, the Jubilee was proclaimed, and all remaining debts were cancelled by grace alone. This prevented perpetual debts and also prevented never-ending punishment for sin. This is the Law of Grace in Scripture.
The fact is that when we deal with the outworking of the Plan in real life, most people on earth do not consent to be redeemed, either out of ignorance of His provision or because they have rejected it in the attempt to redeem themselves.
God will not force this redemption upon them, in spite of His love. But He knows that in the end, after the time of redemption has run its course, and after all sin has been judged during that time, He will invoke eminent domain over all creation by the law of Jubilee.
All that was His at the beginning will be restored to Him. It is written in the law of Jubilee, for “even if he is not redeemed by those means, he shall still go out in the year of Jubilee.”