In Numbers chapter three, we find the most foundational teaching of Scripture, redemption. There are some criteria in my own observations that an act of rescue must meet to rise to the height of redemption. Have you ever been redeemed?
First, the person needing rescue is otherwise incapable of saving themselves, meaning that apart from the gracious act of the rescuer, the one held captive, either by people or circumstances, is hopelessly desperate. Either their guilt is too egregious to ignore without the intervention of an advocate, their debt too enormous to ever be paid by their own potential of future earnings, the lineage of a husband’s name facing extinction in his death having yet to produce an heir, or a murderous malefactor in need of judgment, and so as the stories of redemptive practices fill Scripture…calling for the intervention of an advocate. Have you ever been redeemed?
Second, the advocate is fully capable of fulfilling the vow of redemption. They have the resources to pay the debt, they are the next of kin to fulfill the role of the kinsman redeemer, they have the physical presence necessary to apprehend a violent criminal…they are willing, knowing that their only reward is the satisfaction of having given themselves to prodigal generosity, or in the case of a ceremonial exchange, the redemptive price is in keeping with God’s economy as prescribed by the Law. Have you ever been redeemed?
Finally, the act of redemption is a moment of last resort. There is no legal statute to otherwise employ, the guilt of the one held captive is not in question, the one in a position to extend mercy is either unwilling or the collective need for the communities’ sense of justice is too great to forgo, no amount of waiting will alter the circumstances…have you ever been redeemed?
Be careful in reading through the Old Testament, especially books like Numbers, that you are not dismissive of their ability to reveal life transformative, life enriching truth. In chapter three, verse 39 we read that there were 22,000 Levites numbered in the census. However, there were 22,273 firstborn males among the remaining eleven tribes. Since God had established that the priestly service of the Levites was a redemptive price in exchange for all the firstborn males that belonged to the Lord (Numbers 3:11-13), there was a gap of 273. There were not enough Levites to fully redeem all the firstborn. Picking up with verse 44, “The Lord spoke to Moses again: Take the Levites in place of every firstborn among the Israelites, and the Levites’ cattle in place of their cattle. The Levites belong to Me; I am the Lord. As the redemption price for the 273 firstborn Israelites who outnumber the Levites, collect five shekels for each person…give the money to Aaron and his sons as the redemptive price for those who are in excess among the Israelites.” Have you ever been redeemed?
The 273 could not just be ignored. The redemptive price demanded satisfaction. So here’s the turn, with Jesus, there is no gap. It took one Levite to redeem one first born male of Israel. Have you ever thought of every sin, every mistake, every moment your choices have displeased God, whether by omission or commission? Jesus is enough. What about every sin of every person who has ever lived, who will ever live, every person since the beginning of time until its imminent end, Jesus is enough. No additional tax is needed, no other sacrifice necessary, no gap exists…Jesus is enough! So I ask again, have you ever been redeemed?
Have you pondered the lack of your life? I have, I do, often. I am not enough. I am indebted to my innate inclination of selfishness. The debt I have amassed in life from my sin is incalculable, innumerable. The circumstance of my spirituality is desperate. My sin demands justice. I need redemption. Jesus is my Redeemer, there aren’t 273 sins remaining that He could not address, He is enough.
Have you ever been redeemed?