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Jesus Redeems. What Does That Mean?
We Christians use a lot of "insider" terminology. One of the words we frequently use is the word redeem. We say that we are "redeemed" by Christ, or that God is our Redeemer.Whatever does that mean? Usually in today's world, the only time we see the word redeem outside of a Bible study is on a coupon! For example, "Redeem this voucher for one free Chik fil A sandwich!"
Of course, in Hebrew, early Latin, and in New Testament Greek, the word redeem had nothing to do with coupons for free fast food items nor other prizes. The Biblical term redeem always meant to buy something back, or to rescue from a distressful situation - usually as part of a legal-type agreement or even as a ransom.
If you check a modern Merriam-Webster English dictionary, you will see all of the early Hebrew, Latin, Greek, and the modern definitions represented.
You will see that the word redeem means to buy back or to re-purchase.
The word may also mean to free from something distressful or harmful, or
to free from captivity by the payment of a ransom, or
to extricate or rescue something or someone from a detrimental situation.
In Job 19:25, Job confirms boldy that he knows that he will be redeemed, or rescued, -- not by chance, and not by a coupon -- but by a Living Being who is present throughout the ages.
In Isaiah 43:1, we are told that our redemption by God is individual and personal. In this verse we are told that God redeems each of us by name! God tells us,
When I read this verse in Isaiah, the first image that popped into my mind was an image of when my daughters were little. They would often argue (loudly!) over the ownership or possession of some object. Often, in order to boldy end the argument, one girl would grab the object, hold it close to her chest clasped in both arms, plant her feet down, and then adamantly declare, "It's mine! So-and-so gave it to me. It's MINE!"
And in a way -- this is what God does for us when we believe on Him and call on His help in our times of trouble. The enemy may be out to cause trouble for us or to defeat us; or we may just be experiencing the ever-pressing difficulties of living in a fallen world. Yet, when we call on God, He metaphorically grabs us up in the safety of His arms. He seizes us right out of the enemy's grasp, and protects us and declares, "She is mine. I have paid the price of her ransom, and she has accepted my offer. She's MINE!"
Of course, this example is not a perfect reflection of the way God rescues us. He is much more mature than children rescuing their toys from another child who wants to take it away. But in effect, when an enemy is about to influence us, or when we find ourselves in a depressive, fearful, or turbulent situation, we can call on God and ask Him to redeem us, to rescue us, because we are His. We have the right to call for Him to rescue us, because He has rightfully redeemed us by paying a ransom that competely covers our redemption for life!
And as God does this for us, He declares,
The good news is that God offers to be the Redeemer for all humanity. We all can accept His offer, or we can reject it and try to unsuccessfully rescue ourselves. During our difficult times, including during the time of spiritual judgement that comes after death -- God, as our Redeemer, does for us what we cannot do for ourselves. We cannot rescue ourselves from the spiritual traps and pitfalls that we cannot see. We also cannot earn the right to enter into eternal life in God's spiritual kingdom on our own.
We simply cannot redeem ourselves.