BY CHUCK SMITH
In Ephesians 1, Paul gives thanks to God for all of the spiritual blessings in Christ. I feel this is important to note because of the heavy emphasis some evangelists place on material blessings today. A spiritual man is chiefly concerned with the spiritual blessings; only a carnal man is more interested in material blessings.
Listing these spiritual blessings, Paul points to Jesus, “In whom we have redemption through His blood.” (Ephesians 1:7) In our culture today, we do not have a full understanding of the word redemption, and thus lack a full appreciation of what the Father has done for us in Christ.
The word redemption has its roots in the Old Testament, where the word could mean buying back property or freeing a slave by paying the price or amount he owed. According to Jewish law, a Jew could be sold into slavery for a maximum of six years. The seventh year, called the year of redemption, he must be set free. If he was to be set free before his six years were over, his master was compensated for the remaining years in his contract. Redemption also applied to the recovery of land. In the selling of property, there was always a redemption clause written into the deed stating the time and circumstances whereby the property might be redeemed. The deed was then sealed with seven seals. The law included a clause that made provision for a family member to step in and redeem the property if the seller was unable to do so himself at the specified period. The idea was to keep the property in the family. The family member who would fill this role was known in Hebrew as the “goel” or kinsman redeemer. If no redeemer, or “goel”, stepped forward at the specified time, the property was then permanently transferred to the new ownership. This law is explained in Lev. 25.
A classic example of this law in practice is found in the book of Ruth. In this story we read of a couple, Elimeclech (God is King) and Naomi (pleasant) who lived in Bethlehem. At a time of drought, they decide to sell their field there and move to Moab with their two sons, Mahlon (sickly) and Chilion (pining). Often children were given names related to their birth. A classic example is when Rachel died in the childbirth with her second son. Before she died she had named him Ben-oni (son of sorrow). After her death his father renamed him Benjamin (son of my right hand). Evidently, when the first child was born to Elimelech and Naomi he did not look very well so they named him “sickly”. When his brother was born, he must not have looked much better, and so was named “pining”. Some time after they came to Moab, Elimelech died. The two sons, who had married girls in Moab, also died before they had any
children. The sad turn of events causes one to believe the boys were well-named. At this point, Naomi announced to her daughters-in-law her intention to return to the land of her people, claiming that the
tragedy of her life in Moab was too much to bear. She sought to relieve the young women of any sense of responsibility for her welfare, and entreated them to return to their families to perhaps marry again and
find happiness. One of the girls, Orpah,, wept, kissed her and returned home. Then Ruth made her beautiful, impassioned plea: “please do not ask me to leave you or to return from following after you for wherever you go, I will go. Wherever you lodge I will lodge, thy people shall be my people and thy God shall be my God, where you die, I shall die and God forbid that anything but death should separate us. (Ruth 1:16-17) So Ruth returned with Naomi to Bethlehem.
When they arrived at Bethlehem, friends of Naomi greeted her with excitement and declared their happiness at her return. She replied, “Don’t call me Naomi (pleasant) call me Mara (bitterness) for the Lord has dealt bitterly with me.” (Ruth 1:20)
Because Naomi and Ruth were poor, it was necessary that they take advantage of an interesting Jewish welfare law described in Deuteronomy 24:19 which states that fields or orchards were only to have one
picking at harvest. The fruit that was green at the time of picking was to be left for the poor. The grain that fell on the ground could not be picked up, but must also be left for the poor. God wanted them to
remember their hardship in Egypt and be sympathetic to the plight of indigent. So Ruth volunteered to glean in the fields, and the scriptures tell us that she found herself in the fields of Boaz who happened to be a relative of her dead father-in-law, Elimelech.
At noon, when Boaz came to his field to check on the progress of his laborers, he noticed the beautiful young girl among the gleaners and he questioned, “Who is that?” When he discovered that she was Ruth the Moabitess, the daughter-in-law to Naomi, he invited her to remain on his land and to follow his maidens to his various fields. He informed her that he had commanded his young men not to touch her and told her to feel free to drink from their containers and eat a portion of their bread She asked why he was being so gracious to a stranger and he answered that he knew of her great kindness to Naomi and admired and respected her for it. As she departed, he told his servants to treat her well. If she happened to roam into an area where they had not yet harvested, they were to allow her to glean there. He also requested that they purposely drop handfulls of grain so that she might have them.
In the evening, Ruth returned home with such a large amount of grain that Naomi asked her where she had gleaned that day. Ruth answered that she had been in the fields of Boaz. Naomi cautioned her to stay with his maidens so that he wouldn’t find her in other fields. She told Ruth that Boaz was one of their near kinsmen. We remember that the word kinsman in Hebrew is “goel”, which means “redeemer”; a member, of the family qualified to pay the price to recover a slave or property sold earlier by his kin.
When the harvest season had ended and Ruth had gathered a fine crop, Naomi advised her to slip down to Boaz’s threshing floor in the evening after bathing and anointing herself with perfumes. She instructed her to hide and watch the workers as they ate and bedded down for the night, reminding her to make special note of where Boaz lay down. When all had gone to sleep, Ruth was to creep in and lie at his feet, covering herself with his blanket. Naomi knew that Boaz would take the lead and tell Ruth what to do.
According to Jewish tradition and law, if a man took a wife and died before any children were born, his brother was to marry her and the first child they had was to be named after the dead brother so that his
name might be kept alive in Israel. This is first mentioned in Genesis 38 in the case of the sons of Judah and Tamar. It was codified into law in Deuteronomy 25:5-10. In Matthew 22:23, when the Sadducees
wanted to challenge Jesus on the subject of the resurrection, they referred to what was probably a hypothetical case of a man, who married and died without children, and his brother, who took the wife also died without children and the subsequent process that continued until seven brothers had married her and died without children. Their question was whose wife she would be in the resurrection. Jesus answered that they were ignorant of conditions and relationships in the kingdom. “For in the resurrection, they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels of God in heaven.” (Matthew 22:30)
The Mosaic law in Deuteronomy 25 provided a way out for the living brother who did not wish to marry the wife of his deceased brother. Should he say something like, “I don’t want anything to do with her, I
saw what a bad time she gave my brother,” he could take her before the judges and make known his desire to be rid of her. He would then remove his shoe and hand it to her and she would spit in his face. This process relieved him of his family obligation but he received the disgraceful title of “the man from whom the shoe was loosed” in Israel.
With Elimelech and his two sons dead, there was no descendant to carry the family name. What Ruth did in asking Boaz to cover her with his blanket was tantamount to a proposal. Boaz was very excited by Ruth’s advance, for he was very attracted to her. There was however, one brother of closer kin than he, who had the first right to redeem both Ruth and the field that Elimelech had sold before his move to Moab. Boaz explained this to Ruth then filled her veil with grain and instructed her to return to the house of Naomi while he sought to work out the details.
As Ruth returned, Naomi excitedly opened the door and asked what happened. Ruth explained what Boaz had said and how he promised to see what he could do. Wise Naomi told Ruth to relax, as Boaz would not rest until he had taken care of everything. Sure enough, at dawn Boaz sat at the gate of the city where the judges convened and as soon as his brother came by, he called him over and explained his situation, telling him about the field that he had the right to redeem. To the dismay of Boaz, his brother volunteered to redeem it. So Boaz mentioned that whoever redeemed it would have to take Ruth as a wife and raise up the inheritance of the family by having a child by her. At this point, the brother said, that his wife would never agree to that and asked Boaz to redeem the land. He then removed his shoe and gave it to Boaz who excitedly finished the redemption of the field before the judges. Ruth and Boaz had a son they named Obed,, who had a son named Jesse, who had a son named David who became the glorious psalmist and King of Israel.
If you think Boaz redeemed the field of Naomi because he desired another field, you have not paid careful attention to the story. He was deeply in love with Ruth and thus purchased the field that he might obtain a bride.
As we turn the pages of our Bibles to the New Testament, we look at Matthew’s gospel, Chapter 13, where Jesus said, “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in a field which when a man discovers it,
causes him to joyfully sell all that he has to buy the field. ” (Matthew 13:44) In interpreting this parable, what is the field?
There is a law of hermanuetics called expositional constancy, which means that in seeking to interpret the scriptures, a word used as a symbol in one parable will symbolize the same thing in another parable.
When Jesus explained His parable of the tares He said the field is the world. So it is correct to assume that in this parable the field is also the world. The next question is, who gave all that they had to purchase the world? The answer is, Jesus gave His life to redeem the world. He desired, as Boaz did, to possess the treasure, or bride, that was in it. His bride is the body of Christ, His treasure. Jesus so
loved us, He bought the whole world that He might take us out of it.
The world originally belonged to God by the right of divine creation. When God created man and placed him on this earth, He gave the world to man, declaring that man should have dominion over the things on the earth. When Adam sinned he forfeited the world to Satan. In Romans 6:16, we are told, “Do you not know that whoever you yield yourselves servants to obey, his servant you become?” When Adam obeyed Satan’s suggestion to disobey God, he became Satan’s servant and the world came under Satan’s control. This is why it is so wrong for people to try to blame God for all the evil and problems in the world today.
We often hear people say, “If God is a God of love then why is there so much suffering in the world today? Why are babies starving to death? Why are people handicapped with blindness, deafness or other maladies?” It is essential to realize that as Paul said, Satan is the god of this world. Twice Jesus called Satan the prince of this world. All the suffering of humanity is attributable to him. As you look around today you do not see the world God created, nor do you see the world God intended. Instead you see a world suffering the inevitable consequences of its rebellion against God. The kingdoms of this world today are under Satan’s control.
If you have made your choice to rebel against God and His Word then you are responsible for the continued suffering of humanity and have no right to curse God. Jesus told us to pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth even as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:9-10) This presupposes the truth that His kingdom has not yet come. When His kingdom comes, the wolf and the lamb will lie down together. The desert will blossom as a rose and become a fruitful place. There will be no tears, no pain, no death. The blind will see, the lame will leap like deer, and the dumb will sing praises unto God. “They will beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up a sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.” (Isaiah 2:4) The Lord is saying through the prophet that the military budgets that are bankrupting the world today will be diverted to agricultural development. No wonder we pray for His kingdom to come!
When Jesus came to this earth, His expressed purpose was to redeem the world back to God. He said, “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which is lost.” (Luke 19:10) He also said that He did not come to condemn the world but that the world through Him might be saved. (John 12:47) This is one of the main reasons for His becoming man; that He might be next of kin in order to be our “”goel”” or kinsman redeemer. Satan evidently realized this. Just after the baptism of Jesus and His anointing of the Spirit and forty day fast, Satan took Jesus to a high mountain and showed to Him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them. He then said, “All of these I will give to you if you will bow down and worship me, for they are mine and I can give them to whomever I will.” (Matthew 4:9)
Jesus did not dispute this claim by Satan, He knew that man had been deceived into turning the world over to Satan. Later Jesus said, “The enemy has come to rob, kill, and destroy.” As we look at the world
around us we see that he has done a very effective job. Don’t blame God for the miseries of the world. The people who like to fault God for the mess the world is in are the ones who are to blame, for they have joined Satan in his rebellion against God. When Satan offered Jesus the kingdoms of the world, he was suggesting that God’s path to the cross was not necessary; that Jesus could have immediate fulfillment by turning from God’s path. Later in Matthew 16, just after Peter had confessed Him to be the Messiah, Jesus was talking to His disciples about the necessity of the cross when Peter cried, “Be that far from thee” or “Spare Thyself.” Jesus again recognized the origin of this philosophy of ease and said, “Get thee behind me Satan.” (Matthew 16:22-23)
Satan still holds forth to man the prospect of immediate satisfaction if he will just turn from God’s path. He so often suggests that God’s path of self-denial and the taking up of the cross are not necessary to
achieve our goals of happiness and fulfillment. He tells us that the answer lies in possessions or drugs or alcohol or an extra-marital affair. People often plunge into these traps and at first are thrilled with the excitement of the immediate gratification that they feel. Gradually the glamour wears off though, and they discover they are in the miserable clutches of hell. Jesus answered Satan’s offer with the scripture, “It is written, thou shalt worship the Lord thy God and Him only shall thou serve.” (Matthew 4:10) Jesus continued on God’s path to the cross and purchased the redemption of the whole world.
Jesus paid the price for redemption: His blood on the cross. Peter tells us that we are redeemed from living empty lives not with corruptable things like silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Jesus who was slain as a lamb without spot or blemish. (I Peter 1:18) Jesus has not yet laid claim to His possession, thus the world goes on under Satan’s control. Satan’s control of the world is easily seen by
just looking around. It is also evidenced by looking at the scriptures.
In Revelation 13, we read that Satan gives his throne or authority and power to the Antichrist who then rules the world. The revelation of the Antichrist is still in the future, so Satan is still in control of the
world. It is not until the return of Jesus in glory that it is triumphantly proclaimed, “The kingdoms of the world have become the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ and He shall reign forever and
ever.” (Revelation 11:1 5) In Ephesians 1, Paul tells us that we have been sealed with the Spirit which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession. In Romans 8, we are
told that all creation is groaning and travailing as they wait for the manifestation of the sons of God that is the redemption of our bodies.
In Revelation 4 and 5, we have a beautiful picture of the future process of the completed redemption. In Revelation 4:1 John said, “And after these things” (Greek “”meta tauta”). After what things? I believe it is logical to conclude that this refers to the things of chapters 2 and 3; church things, the messages of Jesus to the church as it witnesses of Him upon the earth. John continued, “I saw a door opened in heaven, and the first voice was like a trumpet saying to me, come up hither and I will show you things that will take place after these things.” John then tells us that he was immediately in the Spirit in heaven and He was first attracted to the throne of God and the brightness of the glory of God. He saw an emerald green rainbow around the shone and a sea of glass before the throne. He saw twenty-four lesser thrones where twenty-four elders sat. The cherubim before the throne declared, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God almighty, which was, and is and is to come.” (Revelation 4:8) As they worshipped God thus, the twenty-four elders fell on their faces before the throne of God and cast their crowns on the glassy sea as they declared, “Thou art worthy O. Lord to receive glory and honor and power for You created all things and for your pleasure they are and were created.” (Revelation 4:11)
One thing we should especially note is the declaration of the elders. They declare that God created everything for His own pleasure. That includes you. Though some people object to this truth, it is a basic
fact of life. Many declare that they do not appreciate God making them for His pleasure. They do not feel that this is fair. Object as you may, this is why He created you and if you will accept and seek to live
to please Him, you will have a rich, fulfilling life. If you rebel, and live to please yourself, you will be like Solomon who withheld nothing from himself. He had more and did more than any of his predecessors,
yet ended his life bitter and cynical, declaring, “Vanity, vanity, all is vanity and vexation of spirit.” (Ecclesiastes 1:7) His life was empty because he lived to please himself and thus never strove for the
basic purpose of his existence, God’s pleasure.
In the fifth chapter of Revelation, we see a seven sealed scroll with writing on both sides held in the right hand of God. There is an angel inquiring in a strong voice, “Who is worthy to take this scroll and break the seals?” (Revelation 5:2) When no man is found worthy in heaven or earth or under the sea to take the scroll or even to look at it, John begins to sob convulsively. What is the scroll and its significance that John should have such a strong reaction to the unworthiness of any man to take it? It is no doubt the title deed to the earth drawn up almost 6,000 years ago when Adam forfeited it to Satan and sold man into the bondage of corruption of sin. If no one redeems it at this time, it remains in Satan’s ownership forever just like the property sold in the time of Ruth and Boaz reverted to its new owner if no “”goel”” or “redeemer” stepped forward to claim it. This prospect is so horrible to John that he begins to sob. One of the elders near him said, “Don’t weep, the Lion of the tribe of Judah has prevailed to take the scroll and to loose the seals.” (Revelation 5:5)
John tells us he now turned and saw Him. Have you ever tried to imagine what your first view of Jesus will be like? Paul tells us that we now look through a dark glass, but then face to face. I would like to
suggest that your very first glimpse of Jesus might be a shock. I do not know for sure, but there are scriptures that seem to point to this. In Isaiah 52 and 53, we read that those who looked upon Him were
astonished for His face was so marred that He didn’t look human. Remember that when Jesus was standing before the High Priest being tried, they put a cover over His face and began to hit Him. Later they pulled out His beard probably bringing chunks of flesh with it and then they smote Him with reeds. Isaiah said that we hid our face from Him, and there was no beauty to make Him desirable. The hiding of the face seems to indicate a shocked horror so great that you couldn’t bear to look. Isaiah goes on to remind us, “But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities, the chastisement of our peace was upon Him and with His stripes we are healed.” (Isaiah 53:5) He also said, “He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter.” (Isaiah 53:7) It is possible that, for a time, He will still bear the marks of His suffering for us for as John said, “I saw Him as a lamb that had been slaughtered.” (Revelation 5:6) We know that in His resurrection body He still bore the marks of the cross, for He said to doubting Thomas, “put your finger in My hand and put your hand in My side.” (John 20:27) We are also told that when Jesus returns that Israel will look on Him who they pierced and will ask the meaning of the wounds in His hands. In any case, John saw Him as a slaughtered lamb as He stepped forth to take the scroll from the right hand of the one sitting on the throne. As He takes this scroll, the elders come forth with golden bowls full of odors which are the prayers of the saints offered before the throne of God as incense.
Have you ever prayed, “Thy Kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, even as it is in heaven.”? The time has now come to offer these prayers before God. We are told that they began to sing a new song. (Revelation 5:9) Who began to sing? Listen to the lyrics and it is obvious. “Thou art worthy to take the scroll and loose the seals, for you were slain and have REDEEMED us by your blood from all nations, families, tongues and people, and you have made us unto our God kings and priests and we will reign with you on the earth.” (Revelation 5:9-10) Only the redeemed church can sing this song. The angels can sing the chorus and thus one hundred million plus millions join in the declaration, “Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessings.” (Revelation 5: 12)
When we think of redemption, we must think of the cross and the awful price Jesus was willing to pay to purchase the world in order to free us from the tyranny of sin. He then makes us sons of God that we might be joint heirs with Him to share the joys and wonders of His love and kingdom in the new world without end.
Paul said, “What shall we say to these things?” (Romans 8:31) What can we say? Words and the language of the human mind suddenly become totally inadequate. All we can do is bow our hearts before Him and
worship Him in spirit and in truth.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR Chuck Smith, a well-known Bible scholar and teacher, is the pastor of Calvary Chapel of Costa Mesa, one of the most extensive teaching and evangelistic ministries in the country. His
radio program, The Word For Today, is heard weekdays nation-wide.