Redemption Part 1

Thomas Fitzgerald, Bath

Part 4 of 6 of the series Familiar Words

An interesting approach to the study of another familiar but little understood theme.

THERE are two books in the Old Testament which vividly set forth typically the Bible doctrine of Redemption. One is the Book of Exodus, and the other is the book entitled Ruth. These books exemplify one of the laws of Scripture—mentioned in the writings of the late Dr. A. T. Pierson—the law of Parallel Mention. According to this law a twofold aspect of the same subject is presented by which we learn that one aspect is the complement of the other.

In Exodus we find the work of Redemption by blood and by power. In Ruth there are presented the Person of the Redeemer and the purchased possession.

Although we have called attention to these two books particularly, we would point out that the doctrine of Redemption runs like a scarlet thread throughout both Testaments. We open the Scriptures at Genesis, “the seed plot of the Bible,” and discover that no sooner had Adam sinned than a Redeemer and Avenger was promised (Gen. 3. 15). From that mystical, germinal promise (protevangel) there follows the development of the Divine thought and purpose for Man's Redemption. The subsequent history was a preparation for the final triumph of “the seed of the woman” over Satan, the arch-enemy of God and man. We see another law—the law of First Mention—in which Gen. 3. 15 is the starting point of this great doctrine of Scripture, and in the light of which all that follows must be read and understood.

The preservation of the appointed “seed of the woman” is throughout Scripture a record of miraculous interventions of God in human affairs. We must press this upon our fellow men, that God has intervened in human history, where His purposes are concerned, and will again intervene when His own set time arrives. Man cannot prevent this Divine intervention and he cannot escape from the consequences when God does intervene. A profound student of Scripture has written: “Whatever theory one may hold as to the possibility or a priori probability of a Divine intervention in human affairs, the Bible is pledged to the fact that such an intervention has taken place. A study of its pages leads to the conclusion that, if their testimony is to be relied upon, it is as much in accordance with God’s nature to help men out of the difficulties in which sin has involved them, as it was to create them after His own likeness in the first instance.”

From the original announcement of Redemption recorded in the third chapter of Genesis, down to the accomplishment of Redemption by our Lord, the Messianic idea was in process of formation. At first vague and general, it gradually became precise and well defined. In the first announcement there were disclosed two elements which were permanent, that the Redemption was to be accomplished by a Person, and that this Person was to be human. The “seed of the woman,” a man, not an angel. The “seed of Abraham,” a Hebrew, not a Gentile. Space will not permit of fuller details, but we quote the following from a writer, who has devoted patient study to the subject, “It was the work of slowly evolving ages to develop this germ (Gen. 3. 15), and to elaborate a tolerably complete image of the Person and Work of the Redeemer. The first long and little-understood period of human history left as its result a broad distinction in character between three races of men; and revelation, keeping step with history, then disclosed from which of these races the Redeemer was to spring. A shorter period sufficed to narrow down the expectation to a single nation. As time went on, a single tribe (Judah), and then a single family was indicated as that from which the Redeemer was to arise, “the seed of David.” In the language of Paul, God’s time of intervention had arrived, “When the fulness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Gal. 4. 4, 5).

Man, gifted as he is with great intelligence, and constituted by his Creator to have dominion in the earth (Gen. 1: 28), cannot by his own natural reasoning know anything as to whence he came nor whither he is going. He needs a Divine revelation of the nature and character of his Maker, and this has been vouchsafed to him in the Holy Scriptures, from which also he may learn the story of his own origin and destiny. These same Scriptures disclose to us how Adam, by listening to the voice of the Tempter, fell from his high estate, broke the law of his beneficent Creator, forfeited his rich inheritance, and sold himself and his race (of which he had been constituted Head) to sin and Satan. Death and Judgment became the eternal portion of mankind. Man’s condition was hopeless, but in the wisdom and love of God, a way of recovery was found in the Person and Work of the Kinsman-Redeemer, the Son of God, the Man, Christ Jesus. The Old Testament foreshadowed the Person and Work of this Kinsman-Redeemer (the Goel), but we now turn from the type and the shadow, to the New Testament Antitype and Substance.”