Simply put, the law of redemption demands a price for a life. We understand that concept, for in our own legal system there is provision for restitution if there is felt to be neglect on the part of any. This is what is outlined in the Law of God given to Moses (Exodus 21:28-30).
‘If an ox gore a man or a woman, that they die: then the ox shall be surely stoned, and his flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of the ox is aquitted‘
First of all, in the event of accidental death by an ox, the owner is not held responsible. The ox is held responsible, and loses its life, but the owner is not allowed to profit from that ox in anyway. However, in the next verse we find the owner has knowledge that this ox is liable to attack, and doesn’t take the necessary steps.
‘But if the ox has been known to push with its horn in time past, and this has been known to his owner, and he has not kept him in, but the ox has killed a man or a woman; the ox shall be stoned, and his owner shall also be put to death.‘
In this case we see the principle of a life for a life. As the owner had knowledge, but was negligent in providing adequate safety, then the owner is also held responsible, and his life is required.
But, here is were we see divine mercy at work, and provision is made for the owner through this law of redemption. This mercy applies, and this redemption is available because the death was not premeditated, but accidental and due to negligence.
‘If there be laid on him a sum of money, then he shall give the ransom (redemption price) of his life whatsoever is laid upon him‘.
So we see a price is determined, and the owner of the ox is able to pay this price instead of giving his life.
This is the basis of all redemptive acts, and so it is a good place to start. As we further examine the Bible we will find one story of redemption after another. In each case, the principles outlined here are in play.
- A serious wrong has been committed.
- There is a serious penalty that hangs over the guilty one.
- Instead of the guilty one facing this judgement, a price is determined, that when paid, sets the guilty one free from any further condemnation.
Note, that the guiding characteristic is righteousness. Yes, mercy is offered, and freedom from judgement is gained, but it is not done without reference to the wrong.
Many agree that when it comes to our standing before God, we have done wrong. But then the mistake is made in assuming that because God is love, He will simply forgive them of that wrong. This thinking is flawed because it is, at its core, unjust.
Let me give you an example. I was once speaking to a young woman who had endured sexual abuse from her father’s friend. I had been preaching about the love of God, and how that in Christ there is to be found, a place of forgiveness for all.
Understandably, she baulked at this, and asked me the following question:
‘Are you saying that this man, after all he has done, could say a prayer and be forgiven?‘
Her problem was that she had not understood the basis of God’s redemption. She assumed what many assume – that God’s forgiveness takes no account of the wrongs done. In effect, that they are just brushed under the carpet. There is no justice here.
I trust you now can see the flaw in this thinking, and can understand how any forgiveness we gain from God, any redemption we find, has a righteous basis.
Every wrong, every sin, must be paid for. The law of God demands a price, and until that price is paid, there can be no redemption. The problem for us is that eternal redemption requires an infinite price; a price none of us can pay.
We will consider the role of the redeemer in more detail in later posts, but for now I’ll conclude with the words of Hebrews 9:11,12.
‘But Christ … by His own blood … obtained eternal redemption for us.‘