Friday, October 23, 2020

Full Redemption

"For you know that it was not with perishable things such as silver or gold that you were redeemed from the empty way of life handed down to you from your forefathers, but with the precious blood of Christ, a Lamb without blemish or defect" (1 Peter 1:18–19)

To redeem means to buy back. In the Old Testament, redemption took several forms, each of which pointed to the full work of the Redeemer to come. For instance, the Hebrew word translated as “redeemer” also means “avenger,” and sometimes in the Old Testament people were redeemed when their avenger destroyed their enemies. We see an example of this in the Exodus. God did not redeem Israel from Pharaoh by paying Pharaoh anything; rather, God redeemed Israel by avenging their blood against Pharaoh and destroying him.

When we understand this, we can see that the sacrifices of the Old Testament were redemptive. The people were redeemed from sin when the Divine Avenger poured out His wrath upon the sacrifice. The killing of the sacrifice represented the destruction of the sin that held the people in bondage.

A less extreme form of redemption involved paying a monetary ransom to the slave-holder. A slave could be redeemed from debt-servitude if someone paid his debts. This aspect of redemption was also pictured in the sacrificial system. For example, the Trespass Offering did not have to take the form of a blood sacrifice but could consist simply of the monetary worth of the required ram (Leviticus 5:15, 18). Such “blood money” symbolized the sacrifice itself.

Every domesticated animal and every child born in Israel was considered to be born in slavery to sin and had to be redeemed or else put to death. The offspring of sacrificial animals were sacrificed, while sacrificial animals were given to the Lord as substitutes for children and other animals (Exodus 13:12–13). Also, if you dedicated something to the Lord and then needed it back, you redeemed it with silver and gold (Leviticus 27).

With this background in mind, we can understand why Peter links silver and gold with the bloody death of Jesus Christ. We were not redeemed by the secondary means of money or animal sacrifices but by the primary means of God pouring out His vengeance on His Son. He became sin for us, so that we might be counted righteous by God.

Peter mentioned the bloody death of Jesus as part of an exhortation to live a holy life in “reverent fear” (1 Peter 1:13–22). The Cross shows us the fearfulness of God’s anger as well as the wonders of His love. Let both of these, “stick and carrot,” motivate you to holy living.